The dreaded "I don't want to go to school" tantrum

This morning Jon refused to follow instructions, got a consequence, and then spiraled out of control tantruming. It was time to go to school, so I gave him his coat and book bag and asked him to put them on. "I don't want to go!" he shouted and stomped. Jon has always loved school---until this year. He loves his teachers, but as he gets older, his behavior just isolates him more from his peers and makes it difficult for him to have good relationships.

"You don't want to go to school," I repeated, trying to attune to his needs.

"No! I don't want to go! I want to stay home" he cried.

"I understand that you don't want to go to school. But the law says you have to go to school unless you are sick or there is an emergency; you are not sick and there is no emergency, so you have to go to school," I explained calmly while holding his hand.

He continued to cry and scream, but he put his coat and back pack on and we walked to the car. He calmed down by the time we pulled up to the school. I sent Kylynn in, and kept Jon back to talk.

"I don't want to go," he said with his voice wavering.

"Come here," I said and gestured for him to come close to the front seat for a hug. "Why don't you want to go to school?"

"I want to just stay at home and play. I never get to play."

"You think you never get to play. But what were you doing last night with your cars?" I asked.


"Yup. You were playing with your cars. You do get time to play, but it may seem like you don't get enough time. You sometimes don't get time to play because of the tantrums you throw--those steal your play time," I tried to explain softly and not condescendingly.

And then he just laid his head down on the center console as I rubbed his back.

"I don't want to go," he repeated again.

"I know buddy, but you have books to give Ms. W today, and she'll be happy about that, right?" I reminded him of his old books we were donating to his teacher.

"Yes, but I want to give her more books," he replied, clearly still sad and clearly still unsatisfied with just about anything I could say.

"Well, maybe this weekend we can look through your books and see if there's more you can give her. But now it's time to go to school..." I wished him a good day, hugged him tight, and sent him out--he walked slowly, dragging his feet on his way into door 8--the door to the first grade rooms.

It is too early for him to be this upset about school...I'm worried for what this might lead to for the future. His school and his teachers are great, but I wonder if we should try non-traditional schooling (homeschooling and private schools are our only options here). I wonder if I'm doing enough to support him in school....there are lots of things I wonder and worry about with J (and K), and if I allow it, these worries will put me in a constant state of anxiety.

Prior to the tantrum this morning I planned on having the kids do their chores and then have Jon do his homework tonight. But now I think I'll ditch this plan until tomorrow. I think tonight will be a pizza and movie night with plenty of time for free-play. Maybe I'm being soft....or maybe I'm being smart. I haven't the slightest clue, which is the feeling I most often have with parenting.....

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