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Why do kids hate school? Understanding the root causes

why do kids hate school

Most common reasons kids don’t like school

As parents, we may be upset and very concerned if your child announces, “I hate school!” Parents think that school is going to to be this great place with they enjoy learning and hanging out with their friends.

But you must understand that it’s natural for kids to hate school in general. This behavior is backed by many different factors… and it’s crucial to understand every single one of them.

Through this blog post, we’ll uncover the many reasons why your kids and mine conjure up a wave of negative emotions at the mere mention of learning in a classroom.


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When your child says that they hate school

Oh, don’t just hear your kids when they protest that they hate school, LISTEN to them very carefully.

These are the main reasons why kids loathe going to school.

Academic struggles

This is the most common cause of why kids dislike going to school, and perhaps, one thing that you and I can relate to.

Not everyone is motivated academically. Others feel disconnected and not because they’re not intelligent…they just learn differently.

Jackson, a grade 5 student, always struggled with certain subjects in school. He felt like he was stupid because he couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class. Eventually, it was revealed that t he had a processing problem. When he got some extra support things started to improve, and his anxiety level started to decrease.

Bullying and exclusion at school

In school, some students pressure other kids who seem submissive and weak.  Bullying is a typical school scenario, no matter how parents try to avoid it — it happens.

This negative learning environment infuses an intense feeling of dread that prompts a natural instinct of avoidance. It leaves a huge impact on the psychological makeup of our children. It puts a lot of fear in their minds which gives them a reason to abhor going to school.


Social anxiety

A child with social anxiety feels uncomfortable and is overly concerned with how their peers view them. They have nightmares of looking foolish and making mistakes.

As a result, your kid may feel anxious about attending social events like going to school and participating in group activities for fear of being embarrassed.

Lack of interest

If a child doesn’t like what they’re learning or has fear of certain subjects in class, they’ll end up feeling bored and disengaged. 

Restricted learning and fewer subject choices result in a lack of interest. Making it harder to keep the children’s attention in school.

Common misconceptions

The conventional wisdom that tells tales of fallacies and stereotypes — you’ll find plenty in this “Why do kids hate school?” conundrum.  

Here are a few faulty views about why kids are hating school.

Kids are lazy

Lazy? No, this is completely false. Your kids are not lazy.

Parents sometimes over analyze their children’s disinterest in school as being lazy, when most of the time, it’s the challenges in learning that bring out this negative behavior.

When children fail to meet academic expectations bestowed upon them, their struggles can lead to anxiety and depression. This pressure leads to disentanglement causing them to ultimately run away and stop going to school altogether.  

Kids just want to play video games

It’s true that kids find “video games” more fun than school. Reading, writing and calculating on repeat, almost 8 hours every day, five times a week, are all but boring for them.

However, this is not the ONLY reason why our kids don’t enjoy going to school. There are still so many factors that propel this deep aversion.

The main thing is to pay attention to our children and give them the support they need. As parents, it is our job to listen, understand, and address their concerns, so we can help them achieve a positive attitude towards education.

Psychological factors why kids don’t like school

Kids’ school refusal has several significant psychological elements to it…and we’ll explore the two most common of these factors, being “learning pressure” and “social anxiety.”

Learning pressure

Learning pressure is described as an experience wherein a student is troubled by the demands of achieving certain academic goals. Whether it’s from their teachers, peers and parents, many kids feel the intense pressure of performing academically.

learning pressure at school

The stress that comes out of this pressure can impact a young mind’s emotional well-being and academic performance. When we press our children to attain good marks, drawn by our high standards, it can become overwhelming for them.

So, what can parents do to help?

It’s crucial to create some sort of balance. Life is a lifelong skill and the children need to find their footings outside of school or sports. Through failures and triumphs, it’s important that our kids understand that we are proud of them, even if they don’t ace the test and end up as class valedictorian.

The point is that words of encouragement can do wonders in building a positive mindset for our children who are still learning the ways of the world. We need to build a supportive learning environment that emphasizes learning as being educational, rather than scoring skyrocketing grades.

Let your kids explore their interests, make mistakes (as scary as that may sound) and take breaks when they need to.

Also, teachers are a vital piece in your child’s academic life and beyond it. Remember, they spend more time in school than they actually do at home. Hence, you have to work with teachers to make sure that your kids are getting the support and resources they need to prosper academically.

The academic workload made Sophia’s children hate school

My friend Sophia had always been an advocate for her children’s education and believed that a private school with a more rigorous academic program would benefit them in the long run. The reality was far from what she had anticipated.

Her children were struggling to keep up with the intense workload and the pressure to perform. The stress had taken a toll on them, and they had to seek counselling to cope with the demands of the new school. Sophia realized that sometimes, what seems like the best choice may not always be the right one for her children’s well-being.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is not shyness. It’s an intense fear of being watched and judged by others.

This so-called “social phobia” is another psychological factor that can affect your kid’s everyday life; school, confidence and even relationships. They will struggle to participate in class, feel comfortable, and make friends.

When this fear takes root, your youngsters will bend like pretzels to avoid any performance situation — ditch school and choose to stay at home. And the more a child withdraws, social anxiety strengthens.

social anxiety

The way to overcome social anxiety is PRACTICE.

These kids need to be out there practicing their social skills in a supportive environment. You, being the parent, have to encourage them to join clubs, spend time with friends after school and engage in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Getting the help of a therapist or a counselor is also very useful. As experts in this field, they can recommend coping mechanisms to manage anxiety and build confidence.

Addressing these psychological factors goes a long way in instilling a positive attitude towards school in our children. Just remember to be extra supportive, understanding and patient, as navigating through all these is never easy.

With our immense support and guidance, our kids’ sourness towards learning will be overcome and develop into a sweet fruitful experience.

Bullying and exclusion at school

In a Norwegian study, six out of ten children struggle to go to school because of bullying. And over 50% of those children have poor relationships with their teachers. Without support, most bullied kids end up avoiding school.

Unkind people are all around us and that’s why bullying can happen anywhere. In school, kids can get picked on by other kids on a daily basis. It can become a serious problem that can affect their mental and emotional health.

As a parent, it is necessary to identify and understand the signs of bullying, earlier on. Through this, we can support our children who are experiencing it.

Your child may hate school because they are being picked on daily

The feeling of being anxious and scared can range from being bullied. Kids who go through it in a cycle may not want to go to school and go to lengths to stay away from it. 

Dealing with mean kids

Why are there school bullies?

The most shocking thing is that mean kids somehow find bullying a moral commitment that gives them power and popularity. These bullies are quite manipulative which is why dealing with them can be tough.

However, there are a series of actions that you can take to help your kids maneuver bullying, in a healthy way.

Supporting your child with bullying and exclusion

If your child is experiencing bullying, you need to take action.

You can start by acknowledging that your child is involved in bullying. To find a solution to a problem, you have to recognize that it exists. Many parents don’t admit to it and that just prolongs the situation.

We have to be a safe place for our children and give them the feeling that they can tell us anything. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen to them.

Connection is everything. Once we’ve built that trust, we can encourage them to be more confident, calm and to stand up for themselves.

Also, you can reach out and talk to your child’s teacher or a school counselor. They want to help you and your child, so they will take disciplinary actions to avoid similar bad behavior in the future.

talk to your child’s teacher

Just remember, we don’t want to teach our kids to fend off bullies by being bullies themselves. Bullying is never okay. We always have to strive to create a positive school climate for all children to learn and grow.

Environmental factors

If you think environmental factors have nothing to do with your kids’ aversion to school as if it were a horror house, think again.

Two key environment factors that play a significant role in your child’s school-fright are the classroom environment and teacher-student relationships.

Classroom environment

What makes a great classroom environment? We might not know the specifics, but it surely isn’t a noisy, chaotic and uncomfortable classroom. No matter how smart a child is, no one can focus and learn in that type of environment.

On the other hand, a peaceful, well-organized and comfortable classroom is the ideal learning environment that kids need to be more engaged and exuberant in school.

A positive classroom environment has a strong impact on a child’s social and emotional well-being. For instance, if a child feels isolated from their classmates, it breaks their confidence and makes them feel lonely and unwanted.

But a positive classroom environment works differently, it encourages collaboration and positive relationships with other kids, helping them develop social skills.

Teacher-student relationship

Teacher and student relationship is another environmental factor that has influencing powers on a child’s attitude towards school. In fact, it’s fundamental to success.

teacher-student relationship

Think about it this way, when a child feels supported by their teachers, they’re more likely to engage in educational adventures. They even have fewer behavioral problems. Therefore, their learning outcomes are much better and more positive.

The opposite happens when a student has a negative relationship with the teacher. The learning process is more difficult, filled with dread and anxiety. As a result, the kids are more withdrawn and indifferent towards school, affecting their academic success in the future.

In summary, classroom environment and teacher-student relationships are two important environmental factors that need attention.

So, if you want your kids to get all excited about school as if they’re going to Disneyland, it helps to build a positive learning environment and relationships.

You know, it’s not just the parent’s job to guide a child’s educational journey. It’s the teachers too, as they can help create a warm classroom space that will serve our children well throughout their lives.

Academic factors

Wondering what factor tops our kids’ list of the things they hate about school? It is the academic factor.

Here are several academic factors that are likely suspects of your child’s educational institution refusal.

Curriculum difficulty

As we mentioned, every child learns at a different speed, in their own different way. But sometimes, it is the difficulty of a curriculum that is to blame for why our kids are running away from the academy.

Being parents who were once students, this is one of the things that we can empathize with. We were all terrified of Trigonometry at one point, right? Our kids might’ve carried the same fear factor and that frustration can grow into a dislike for school.

So, if your child is struggling with a subject, you can always speak with their teacher. They may be able to help and provide extra support for your child to understand better.

Homework Load

This may be surprising but homework is another academic factor that creates a strong dislike for school among children.

Yes, homework is a necessary material for learning but too much homework can be bad. It can cause stress, burnout and anxiety.

Now, homework might not be directly tied up to all these negative feelings that leads to school avoidance. But it sure does overwhelm a child that it becomes harder for them to make time for family, social life and other activities.

So, if you ever notice your brood having too much homework, it is helpful to speak with the teacher and let them know about it. They can always manage the workload and adjust it, so that it does not become too consuming for your kids.

It’s good to challenge young minds academically, but not to a point that it becomes a burden to them — strike a balance. By working with a teacher and finding balance, you’re turning your child into a schoolboy (or girl) on a Sunday.

Health implications

Having a healthy and a happy child is what we dream to have as parents. However, when a child hates school, nothing about it is robust or gleeful at all. It becomes negative, especially for your child’s health.

Physical health

A child refusing to go to school can lead to physical health problems. How so?

When our children are stuck in the house and not attending school regularly, they miss out on the physical education activities. They gain weight, have poor muscle development and other health issues. 

Aside from that, being anxious and stressing out about going to school can have physical symptoms too, such as fatigue, headaches, and stomachaches. This pain can affect a child’s school performance and make it harder for them to participate and learn.

Mental health

Being mentally healthy is important for a child’s development. It builds strong social skills and mental muscle when there are problems. But hating school has a different resolve, it deters your child’s mental strength.

child’s mental health

Children who are struggling socially and academically are prone to being anxious and depressed. From there, it leads to lower self-esteem and their inability to form healthy bonds with peers and teachers.

School refusal is a sign of a larger mental health issue that needs to be addressed. It’s important to effectively communicate with your child and perhaps, reach out to healthcare providers.

Mentally or physically, your child’s mindset of school being a bad place to be has negative implications. So, if they’re struggling with school, talk to them about it. Work with your child, and together, you can overcome the challenges and help them thrive academically.

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Possible solutions

Don’t worry, if your child hates school (for now), there are several possible solutions that you can explore to help them.

Parental involvement

Parent involvement is the act of actively participating in your child’s education matters. It can be in the form of direct or indirect interaction with your children which includes…

  • Listen to your child’s concerns and talk to them about it
  • Be present (if possible) in every parent-teacher conference or meeting
  • Spend some time with your child’s teacher and communicate with them
  •  Help your child with schoolwork and studying
  •  Encourage and boost your child’s confidence to participate in school     activities or anything that might interest them

By being more involved in your child’s school endeavors, you can make them feel supported. In turn, they’ll be more driven to succeed.

parental involvement

School policies

For a child to learn and thrive academically, school policies must also offer a supportive environment. The values and procedures in school need to be structured and clear.

The changes in school policies that can be advocated to shift a child’s negative school experience can include…

  • Encourage the school to be more diverse and inclusive in their curriculum
  •  Commend for small class sizes, so students will have more individualized attention.
  •  Advocate policies that address bullying and any other forms of harassment
  •  Push for a “school community for all students” to promote a more understanding and compassionate learning environment
  •  Raise the standards for teachers

Coming together with the school can create a more positive environment for your child. They will feel supported, more comfortable and engaged in their education.

As Abigail Adams once said, “Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”

So, for my fellow parents, don’t let your busy schedule interfere with what you can do for your children. Be involved in their lives because no detail is ever small when it comes to your kids. 


Do you worry about your child being picked on? Our Bullyproof Your Child Quickly Guide will show you how to bullyproof your child in just 4 simple steps. The guide includes our letter to the school template. It’s a game changer–get it free for a limited time!


Bryn Todd

I created this site to help parents bully-proof their children and turn bullying situations around… Read more

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