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When Your Child Says, 'I'm Sick'

What happens when your child says, "I'm sick"? Do you keep them home or send him or her to school?

Following these steps can help you find out, decide, and care for your child. First, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Does your child have an illness that will make other children sick? Examples of this are a bad cough, cold, or vomiting.

  • Will your child need constant care from a grown-up?

  • Will the illness make it hard for your child to learn or play?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep your child at home. If you're not sure, call your child's doctor. Be sure to call the doctor if your child has an elevated temperature, taken with a mouth thermometer.

Decide if your older child can stay home alone, if need be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your child mature and old enough to stay home alone?

  • Has your child ever stayed home alone? If so, was your child good and did it go well?

  • Does your child know what to do in an emergency?

If you must leave your child alone, call every few hours to see how he or she is doing. Make sure your child knows where they can reach you.

If you stay home with your child, help them feel better. Try these tips:

  • Give your child plenty of fluids. This will help prevent him or her from drying out (getting dehydrated).

  • Comfort your child. Hold their hand or hug them.

  • Play with your child. Do a puzzle, color, or read.

  • Change your child's bed sheets.