Note to readers: This week Gainesville Kids’ Mental Health Examiner writer, Kara Tamanini interviewed me about how to know when your kid is too sick to go to school. You can read her article at http://shar.es/1szAb but I’ve also posted it in it here. All tips are from my parenting reference guide, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Thanks for another great interview Kara! You can follow Kara (a licensed mental health counselor) on twitter @kidtherapist or on her website at Kara T. Tamanini. Thanks for another great article, Kara!
Do you ever wonder if your kid is just faking being sick in order to avoid getting out of bed or to escape taking a test? Or what about when you’ve sent your son or daughter to school only to worry all day that you should have kept him home? If so, you’re not alone. The ageless parent question is when do we let our kids stay home because he/she is too sick.
Michele Borba provides these answers as well as countless others in her complete child-rearing reference, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions
Here are a few suggestions to help you decide if your child is too sick to go to school–or if something else may be going on to cause the symptoms:
Fever: A temperature above 100 degree is grounds for staying home. But just make sure you use the “Thermometer Test” if you suspect your kid is faking it. Take her temperature, and then watch your child (and thermometer) closely. Then retake her temperament about ten minutes later to see if it reads the same. (Some kids put a thermometer in a hot liquid to boost those degrees.) Yes parents they do try this!
Contagious: An unidentified rash, pink eye, lice, scabies, open sores in his mouth, a phlegm-laden cough, swine flu (or possible symptoms), chickenpox, measles, hepatitis A, mumps, whooping cough, impetigo, strep throat.
Participation: When your child does not feel well enough to participate in their regular activities or play
Suffering that lingers: A severe sore throat and trouble swallowing (see how she swallows a favorite drink), a constant cough, wheezing or earache (which worsens when she lays down), difficulty breathing, or a stomach ache that lasts more than two hours, vomiting twice or more in a 24-hour period, repeated bouts of diarrhea, and an over-the counter pain medicine won’t alleviate. Severe pain, swelling or deformity to an injured body part or your child avoids using it (go to the doctor).
Against attendance guidelines: The school or day care policy specifies that attendance be forbidden with your child’s specific symptoms.
Parental instinct: You really feel your child is too sick and would be better off at home, because she just doesn’t “look or act right.” Or just ask yourself: “If my child were healthy, would I want him near someone with these symptoms?”
Symptoms lasting longer than 24 hours: Call your doctor A.S.A.P or take your child to the E.R. if symptoms continue or worsen. And if your child is too sick to go to school he certainly should be too ill to be up and about, playing video games, having friends over, or surfing the net. So enforce the “stay in bed” rule and you’ll be less likely to have your kid feign illness.
If you discover your child is “faking it” and really isn’t sick at all, then diagnose what’s going on that is triggering his “episodes.” What might he be trying to avoid (giving a speech, a bully, a book report, baseball tryouts)? Also, look for patterns in their behavior. Does your kid seem to be “ill” every Friday when there’s also a spelling test? Or feign illness every other Tuesday to avoid undressing for gym? Figure out what is going on with your child to determine what they are trying to avoid at school. If your child is willing to feign illness to avoid school then they may be struggling with a very stressful situation. Remember, that frequent colds, nausea and headaches are also symptoms of stress. If feigning illness is frequent, it may be time to dig deeper and set up a conference with the teacher, coach, or other caregiver who can help unfold the mystery.
For more info: The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries by Michele Borba