Should Your Child Stay Home From School?

Sometimes children complain of not feeling well in order to stay home from school. These tips can help parents decide whether to let them.

Throughout history, it seems, kids have tried every trick in the book to get out of going to school:

"Mommy, my head hurts. Can I stay home?"

"I have a stomach ache."

"Maybe I'm getting sick."

"Do I feel warm to you?"

A quick check with the teacher will confirm that in a high number of these cases, a test or assignment is due the day your child reports feeling ill.

But at other times a young pupil may indeed not feel well. Working parents anxiously try to assess their child's symptoms since they will need to contact the school and in some cases arrange child care while they head off to work.

Although no one but a doctor can say with certainty whether a child is truly ill or feigning symptoms, here are a few guidelines that may help you decide whether to send him off to school or take her to the doctor:

1. A fever means that the body is fighting off an infection. Not only do feverish children feel tired from this warfare, a person with a fever may be contagious, so it may be best to let your child rest at home for the day. Some fevers last a matter of hours, while others rage for days. Call the doctor for directions about what the temperature may mean and how to treat it. The doctor's nurse will let you know if your child needs a medical examination.

2. Skin rashes need to be checked by your doctor. Broken skin, welts, raised pustules, and other types of breakouts should be professionally evaluated and treated with the proper medicine before your child returns to daily contact with other kids. Even "pink eye" (or conjunctivitis) requires antibiotic drops for prompt healing.

3. Heavy colds or "below the neck" viruses can be cause for concern. These can lead to conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, and pleurisy if left untreated. Runny noses, coughs, and general malaise may make your child feel tired and listless, so schoolwork probably is out of the question.

4. Unusual symptoms need to be evaluated by your doctor. A stiff neck or jaw, extreme fatigue, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and other non-typical symptoms require prompt medical diagnosis, as they may reflect a serious underlying condition.

5. Generalized malaise, lack of appetite, or not feeling well. Sometimes kids just get overwhelmed by hectic lifestyles. Parents will be the best judge of whether to send a child to school with these symptoms. In general, most school age children need eight to ten hours of sleep each night, and should drink six to eight glasses of liquid each day, along with eating balanced meals that include all of the five food groups. If your child has not been getting these vital nutrients and rest, a day home from school may help a weakened body to recover. If the symptoms persist, make an appointment with your doctor.

Your child may be telling the truth in saying "I don't feel good." If you are unsure, insist on complete bed rest for the day; if they agree, they may truly be ill. Never take chances with your son's or daughter's health.

© High Speed Ventures 2011