They are clinging to your leg at drop-off. They have got tummy aches every day. They are crying over breakfast and before bed on school nights. They won’t get out of the car and refuse to let your hand go. Maybe they will get used to it. It’s just separation anxiety. They need to learn. It’s totally normal.
We are told that it is our child that needs changing, medicating, extra tutoring, therapy. They need to be fixed in order to fit into the school system. And we take their advice because we want our kids to learn, so they can be successful, so they can be happy.
But here’s the thing, children don’t know why we are preparing them for the real world when they are already living in it. They don’t know that it is for their future happiness because our children are already happy. They were happy before we made them go to school.
What if we flip the script? Just for a minute what if we reframe the issue by seeing that it is the school system that is the problem and in need of fixing, not our children.
What if our children are right in their feelings and they are showing us through their behaviour how far we have strayed from our natural emotional and physical needs. What if our children are instinctively aware that school, separation from you and the accompanied stress are unnatural. Let’s imagine that it is not your child with the problem, it is the nature of the school system. A system that normalises taking tiny children away from their loved ones for six hours a day, five days a week and makes them sit still and tests them and then compares them to other children because they are the same age.
As a society, we have become complacent about the strange lives we live where we work all day away from those we love to chase money so that we can enjoy a holiday. This is normalised. And we have been taught not to trust our natural needs and instincts.
Our need to be close to loved ones. Our need to move our bodies as we feel they need to be moved. Our need to go to the toilet and eat when our bodies tell us to, rather than on the sound of a bell. Our need to learn in an environment where we feel safe and secure. To learn from people that we trust and who support us. Our need to learn the way we learned everything since we were born – like walking and talking.
Children all come with different temperaments. They may be outgoing, sporty and love the school environment. Great. They may also be sensitive, creative and insecure in a school environment. Your child may have a label such as ADHD. Neurodiverse. They may easily get overstimulated. They may get their security from being around adults. The list goes on.
Everyone is different but the school system does not cater for these differences. The school system caters for a certain group of children while others need to be moulded differently and fixed in order to fit in.
But children naturally know that things do not feel right. They feel how non-sensical it all is but they can’t verbalise the feeling and why they are feeling the way they do. Then it comes out through problematic behaviours. Behaviour that does not fit in with the socio-cultural context we live in. Behaviour that is not acceptable at best and manipulative or in need of medication at worst. Behaviour that needs to be fixed. Behaviour that can be labeled in so many different ways shame a child and be attached as part of the child’s identity.
As parents, it is our job to read past our children’s behaviours and to understand the feelings and core needs of each of our unique children. And then to connect with our children with an understanding of their authenticity. To build on the strengths of our children and build them up rather than trained them down.
It’s not the teachers problem. It’s not the problem of the GP or principal or psychologist. And it’s definitely not the responsibility of our childen. At the end of the day, if there is an imbalance in the child and they have been disregulated because of going to school then it’s the responsibility of the parent to connect to their core needs. It’s about your relationship with your child.
If your child has given school a go and continues to be frightened, anxious, getting bullied, scared, collapsing into an emotional wreck when they get home each day, I want you to know it is not their fault and they are not manipulating you. I want you to know that your child does not need to be fixed. It is the outdated and toxic school system that needs to be fixed. It needs a complete overhaul. But, in the meantime, you can only concentrate on your relationship with your child. You are the mediator between the two. Trust your child.