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Signs That Your Child Needs to Change Schools

Lori Freson

Development & Learning

Nothing is harder for a parent to watch than seeing their child suffer. Whether it’s emotional or physical, it hurts the parents just as much, or sometimes even more, than the child. When the pain your child is suffering is happening at school, it is almost unbearable. Parents will do nearly anything to ensure the well-being of their child. So, how do you know when your child needs to switch schools?

When it comes to school, try to think back on how tough it really can be. Children go through a lot of developmental stages, and each one brings with it different challenges and potential problems. Daily tasks in school can seem overwhelming on top of the physical and emotional changes that your growing child is going through. Making friends, dealing with peers, learning the teaching styles and personalities of a variety of teachers are just a few things that can build up to something intolerable.

Here are some signs to look out for that could signal your child needs to change schools:

  1. Your child frequently refuses to go to school. This can look like pretending not to wake up, complaining of a stomach ache, or crying and saying they won’t go.
  2. Your child is acting differently from how they normally act. More tearful, moodier, change in appetite, change in sleep, not doing things they used to enjoy, or not hanging out with friends.
  3. Your child is being teased or bullied. In person or online, both are unacceptable. If your child is being teased or bullied, have you reported it to school staff?
  4. School staff fails to take measure to protect the well-being of your child, even after you’ve reported bullying.
  5. A teacher is singling out your child and treating them unfairly or humiliating them. You’ve tried talking to the teacher and the principal, but nothing has changed.
  6. Your child is struggling academically, and the school is not properly accommodating their needs. All children learn differently, and not every school teaches the same way.
  7. Your child is struggling socially, and despite a lot of effort, things aren’t getting any better. Your child has no friends.
  8. Your child has special needs, and the school is unable to accommodate your child’s needs.

Changing schools is never something to take lightly. It should be reserved for only the most serious of circumstances. Before you even consider making a change for your child, you need to try to help your child figure out how to stay where they are. For example, if you child is having trouble socially, give him or her some tools for how to better navigate making friends and teach them important social skills.

If your child is being teased, teach him or her how to stand up for himself or herself. If your child is being bullied, do everything in your power to either make it stop or have the bully removed from the school and/or arrested. If you child needs something from his or teachers, teach your child how to ask for it, or be his advocate.

Lastly, if you child has special needs, fight to have those needs met at your school.

When all else fails, you must do what you know is best for your child. Ultimately, that is your job as a parent. You must show your child how to fight for what is right, but also how to move on when problems can’t be fixed. These are important life lessons that will eventually serve your children well. For example, they will learn to give relationships their full effort and try to solve whatever problems arise. They will also know when a relationship cannot be fixed and when it is time to walk away and move on. They will know not to make these decisions lightly and without having put forth effort.

Being a parent is hard work. You know your child better than anyone else. Trust your instincts. Do your best to always be supportive and help solve problems. Most importantly, recognize when your child needs something different, and don’t be afraid to make it happen.

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Lori Freson

Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.