Ask Maggie: My Child Hates School. What Can I Do?

November 6, 2018

Dear Maggie, 

My child hates school. How can I get his attitude to improve?

Dear Attitude Adjustment,

Have you ever been to Nantucket? I’ve been there once (full disclosure ... as a nanny in my yesteryears) and I remember the first greeting I saw there. Upon touch down of a “private jet” the sign at the wee little airport said: “Don’t like the weather? Wait a moment, it will change.” 

That always stuck with me, and I assured myself that this was a sign born of the cleverness of rich people who wore big hats and rented million dollar homes wrapped in beachy cedar siding for 10 weeks at a time. Well, it turns out I’ve seen the sign in many towns. It wasn’t quite the proprietary claim I thought it was! 

This moment your child is having ... feels proprietary, but just like Nantucket's changing weather, it’s probably not. Before you do anything, just wait a moment -- that attitude will likely change.   

The hard thing: You don't know how long that moment will take to change. It might be a year. It might be as soon as next week when a new teacher breezes in, the lunch table has a fart fest, a new opportunity presents itself, or an amazing lesson hits the spot.

Or it may be … well, who knows! But that attitude will probably change. And guess what? Then the next week, it'll change again. I’m just being your honest friend. 

While you wait -- be the consistent weather pattern for your kiddo. Offer lots of support, an open door for talking ... and monitor the situation closely. Also, consider nailing a beachy Nantucket sign on the bedroom door in solidarity and understanding.

It can read: “Don’t like school? Wait a moment, it will change.” 

Or probably not. Maybe stick with support, open door, and monitoring.