Our 6-year-old son is crying almost every day when we try to leave him at school. He will start to cry and complain of stomach pain. This stomach pain only shows up in the morning when we are about to go to school or on the way to school. He does not have stomach pain at home, nor during after-school activities nor on week-ends.
To be sure, we have been to the doctors to have him checked. They could not find anything. He has some intolerance to gluten, and he had a period last year when he complained about stomach pain but then it wasn't "only when going to school".
He is very social and has generally had an easy time to make friends and adapt to new environments. We moved to a new country 1.5 years ago, and the first week he cried when we left him at kindergarten - but he picked up the new language and made friends and it took about a month and he was genuinely happy to go to kindergarten. This year he was looking forward to start at a new school.
The first weeks went fine. Unfortunately, there were three (maybe four) incidents between him and some older children at the playground where he had been hit by them. All these incidents occurred at the time when several grades are waiting to enter the canteen. We have of course taken this up with the school and the director. We believe this has been resolved and there hasn't been any more incidents since then. He is now eating at home instead of at school (as do many other kids).
We have met with his teacher and we have seen him during a break at school. I trust his teacher and he seems to get along fine with his classmates. On the way to school and home from school several kids want to talk to him - he seems to do well socially. The teacher says that she can see those mornings when he has been crying, but that he is happy in class and does well in school.
However, he is crying and is complaining of stomach pain in the mornings, often just at the time when one says "OK now it is time to put on the shoes and go". We have asked for a meeting with the school psychologist.
We are not sure exactly how to handle this. Initially, when we were not sure what was going on, we would have him stay home instead of going to school. He would play with his toys as normal at home (but no screen time!).
Once it was clear it was not a physical health issue and after meeting with the teacher and it felt that school should be safe - we said he has to go to school - even if he feels he has stomach pain.
We have tried to ask him about his stomach pain but I'm not sure he knows himself what exactly he feels or why he feels he has pain.
He has complained that school feels long. He might be bored. It may not be what he expected school to be like (it is different from kindergarten). He might also not feel safe (yet) due to the incidents.
To complicate matters, where we live (Barcelona), the school is in Catalan, while most social interactions on playgrounds etc., are in Spanish. In kindergarten it was more relaxed (teachers would speak English/Spanish and Catalan), while at school all teaching is in Catalan (although his teacher is fine if he replies in any language he wants). And the teacher does not think he needs support in Catalan as of now - (he has less of a vocabulary than some other kids, but there are also many kids like him who know only Spanish. Our son also speaks English and Italian well).
How can we help him with this?
Should we bring him to school even if he breaks down and starts to cry on the way complaining about stomach pain?
I'm not sure, but I think his sense of pain is real, but I think it may be due a lot of factors that he is not himself aware of. I think he is not as aware of his feelings as she is. I think one of the factors is that he simply thinks school is not fun and he prefers to be home - but I also think that this is not the only factor.
Today, my wife brought him to school and it ended up with him laying down on the street refusing to go. So she took him home. I spoke with him and told him that he has to go to school - even if he has some stomach pain - that he will do fine and that school is important. I said eventually that he will go to school even if that means I will carry him to school. And so I did, I carried him to school. He cried for most of the way but once he had accepted it he stopped crying. Just when leaving him at school he wanted to hug a lot and he was sad but he did go to his classroom.
I think I did the right thing, but I'm not sure. Thoughts and suggestions are very welcome.