• an older child (in school) is 99% of time OK with the fact that sometimes he gets to go to school on days the younger child stays at home. This includes 100% rational agreement from him that there are good reasons for that.

  • Sometimes (rarely) on those days he would have a major meltdown and refuse to go to school when it's time to leave, specifically because the younger one stays home.

What's a good way to handle such meltdowns?


We have 2 kids.

Older one is in elementary school. They have only a limited amount of days allowed for absences in school year, all of which we usually use for sick days.

The younger one is in preschool (meaning there's no such restriction).

Moreover, school and preschool do NOT share 100% days off.

In practice, it means that:

  • When the older kid's school is closed and younger isn't, we keep them both home (for good reason[1])

  • When older kid's school is open and younger is closed, younger one stays home but older one isn't.

On some of the latter days (not all), the older one has major meltdowns right when it's time to go to school, and refuses to go.

What's a good way to handle such meltdowns?

The meltdowns are extremely impactful, because being late for school costs him tardiness points (that detract from his available off days); AND there are health risks to leaving for school after meltdown for him.

Important notes:

  • 100% of time outside those meltdowns, the older one is 100% in agreement with us that it's correct thing to do. He knows very well all the reasons for it, can recite them back and agrees with them.

  • He never voices any issues until it's time to dress for school on those days. As in, we would have a conversation 1 hour before about it, and he would calmly reconfirm that yes, he knows the younger one will stay home, and he's fully OK with it.

  • He almost never has before-school meltdowns on OTHER days (when they both have to go). I'd say "younger stays home" account for ~80% of meltdowns before school.

  • It's not simply about "we have to separate instead of play together", because he never has issues when attendance is reversed (he stays home and she goes).

  • He has some sibling rivalry and jealousy issues in general, but they aren't endemic. But he's very receptive to reasoned arguments over what is and isn't fair.


[1] We get to pay less for preschool for that; AND more importantly it saves whichever parent stays with them ~1-1.5 hours of commute time..

  • does your older son take a bus? is there someone available to give him a ride in the car? Oct 5, 2021 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


I would attempt to reason with the older child. Let him know that he had his times when he stayed home at that age, but now that he's getting to be a bigger kid the rules have changed. Also, that the younger child will also be on the "reduced days off" schedule that your oldest is on now. Our daughter has always responded well to a good explanation of things.

Thank you very much for sharing this... My wife is pregnant with our second (due in 4 weeks) and our daughter just turned 5. I know I have some interesting experiences ahead of me, and this may well be one of them.


I posted a comment asking if your son takes a bus to school, and is there someone available to give him a ride.

If so, assure your older child that your younger one is also going to school by putting your younger child in the car while you or somebody else drives them. If it is a day where your younger son does not have to go to preschool, just make your older aware that staying home isn't cupcakes and rainbows.


I know you have to go to school, but you won't be the only one doing work! Your brother has to do some schoolwork and help mommy around the house as well.

Or something of the like. If possible, give him a day off just to prove that staying home doesn't mean he skips out on work. One day will not hurt.

Another choice (probably the easier choice): Make it clear that having your son go to school is clearly his better choice.

For example:

You can stay home, but no electronics until after dinner, and I have the work you'll miss so you can finish that and all of tomorrow's work as well. You won't see your friends and your teacher may be very sad that you didn't come back.

If he has a crush than just say something along the lines of:

insert crush's (or best friends) name here will be there, won't you miss them?

Overall just make it clear it will be much better for him to go to school. Leave the ball in his court.

If he still says no, add some extra things he will miss, like privileges and friends until he caves and says yes.

Also make sure to explain to him how lucky he is to go to school, and that is a privilege in itself.

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