Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 10 Dec 2010

My nine-year-old is reluctant to go to school and complains of stomach pains. What shall we do?

Hillary's Advice

At this late point in the term I would simply coax her through to the Christmas holidays, then give her lots of TLC and see if you can get her to talk about any problems. You say she is struggling with maths, so why not help her with this? You could ask her teacher to suggest some practice materials, and at the same time see if you can find out from the teacher about how your daughter seems in class. You also say your daughter has had a falling out with her friend. This could well be a main root of the problem, since nothing is more important to a nine-year-old girl than her friends.

But with the wisdom of hindsight I would say: leave that situation alone. You could easily start trying to resolve it, only to find out that, just as you do, your daughter has found a new friend or made up with her old one.

Donít discount a physical source for her stomach aches. Although unlikely, it could be that she is starting to react to certain foods, or has the beginnings of a gut condition. Watch to see if there is any relationship between the pains and when and what she eats, and also make sure she gets plenty of fresh air and exercise over the holiday.

If the situation continues next term, then talk to her school, or her doctor, as you think best, although I suspect it may well have blown over by then.