Strategies for getting your child to school when regularly complaining of feeling sick in the mornings
My child often says that he is feeling sick in the morning when it is a school day. What do I do?
Find out how he is faring at school, by asking him in the afternoon or evenings. Is he managing the work ok? Is he content at school? Is he being picked on or bullied in any way? Check with his teachers.
Ask how he is feeling each night.
Tell him that if he stays at home because he feels sick, he will need to go to bed for a couple of hours at least, and may need to visit the Doctor.
If in the morning he says that he is sick once, say calmly “That’s no good (or similar). Then say “What sort of sick?” with a matter of fact tone. You could also say something like “You will need to go to bed early tonight to have a good rest.” Keep a close eye on him for the next half hour to hour, and see if he acts differently. If after that time he doesn’t appear sick, just continue on with your routine and ask him to get ready. Encourage any efforts, improvements and co-operation you notice from him.
If he says he is sick twice that morning, ask exactly what is wrong. Do not put words in his mouth. eg. Do you have a headache? It’s better to say “Where does it hurt?”
Ask “Are you too ill to go to school?” if unsure whether to send them. If yes, keep home. Tell him to go to bed for a couple of hours at least.
Check list of reasons for keeping home (below). They often look unwell when they are sick though. Sometimes you may need to take their temperature (over 38 degrees C) if they say they are sick.
This following information is taken from www.thedoctorstv.com:
‘As a parent, deciding when to keep your child out of school can be slightly more tricky. Keep your child home in these cases:
- Diarrhea (frequent, watery, mucousy): Most diarrhea is not contagious, but some is. When complimented by a fever and vomiting, it’s most surely contagious.
- High Fever: Any significant fever is cause for concern.
- Cough with green or yellow mucus: Coughs are worse in the morning, so don’t make a decision within the first half hour of waking. If a child continues to cough, he or she should be kept home. The color of the mucus is important. While white mucus is fine, thick yellow or green mucus is cause for worry.
- Rashes: The most contagious rash is chicken pox, and it will remain contagious for the first seven days.
- Head Lice: Head lice will look like small pieces of sand against the scalp. While always contagious, once treated, a child can go to school the very next day.’
If he doesn’t have any of these things, tell him “I believe that you are well enough to go to school today. If you don’t feel well at school you can always tell your teacher, and she will contact me, so that I can pick you up.” Again, praise the child for any positive behaviour – effort, improvement and co-operation.
It’s important not to engage with him too much in the morning, but to give plenty of positive attention and positive power, the rest of the time he is with you.
The following is taken from webmd.com
‘At some point during their school days, up to 10% of kids try to dupe their parents into letting them stay home by feigning illness, experts say. Sometimes, the guise is relatively innocent; but sometimes it masks serious problems, such as anxiety, depression, or their wish to avoid a bully at school.’
If your child has a problem with depression or anxiety, he/she may need to see a child psychologist for a time to work through his/her issues.
Here are a few more snippets of information from webmd.com
‘Kids who are truly sick usually doze off while watching TV, she adds.’
‘Vague symptoms and those that move from one body part to the other may be a sign of faking it.’
‘Anxiety about a looming test or other challenge is a common reason to fake it. “It could be anxiety or fear, because of a test or some class that is hard for them, Mazyck says.’
‘Mazyck recalls a student in a school where she worked who would begin to feel sick at the same time day after day. She discovered it was always right before math class and linked the symptoms to anxiety.’
‘These scenarios are more common, he says, in younger children who haven’t yet learned to verbalize their emotional feelings.’
‘Children in “high achieving” families whose parents have very high expectations often have high anxiety levels, Anton finds.’
‘Children from “chaotic and disorganized families” in which the parents themselves may complain about physical symptoms due to psychological stresses are also more likely to fake it, he finds.
So if a mother complains of a bad headache the day before her salary review, her son may do the same before an important math test.
If this sounds like your house, Anton says, consider getting professional help — for you and your child — to learn to deal with the anxiety and depression and other problems that may be leading to the physical symptoms.’