Using our mobile app? Be sure to check for any new app updates to receive any enhancements.

Get Healthy!

Many Kids Worry About Missing School Due to Illness: Poll
  • Posted March 25, 2024

Many Kids Worry About Missing School Due to Illness: Poll

Most parents are torn about letting their middle or high school students take a sick day.

"In some cases, the decision to keep kids home from school is clear, such as if the child is vomiting or has a high fever," said Sarah Clark, co-director of the Mott Poll from University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. "But parents often have to guess at whether their child's report of 'not feeling well' represents a good reason to miss school."

In the latest poll -- based on 1,300 responses last month from parents of 11- to 18-year-olds -- 2 in 3 said their child frets about how missing school will affect their grades. The same number worry about missing friends or school activities. 

For parents, deciding whether kids need a sick day rests mainly on whether they think they can get through the entire academic day, whether they're contagious and whether they will miss a test, presentation or after-school activity, the poll revealed. How any symptoms are causing them to behave is also key.

When it's not clear just how sick a child is, more than half of parents are likely to keep them home, according to the poll. Another 25% send them to school and keep their fingers crossed. About 1 in 5 let the child decide.

The same number said they're OK with letting their child take a "mental health day" for any number of reasons.

Clark noted that in some cases face-to-face interactions may trigger or worsen mental health issues, such as after a falling out with friends, breakup with a love interest or a social media embarrassment.

"Facing discomfort is a natural part of life, and parents play an important role in helping kids to learn how to navigate these challenges in order to build resilience and develop healthy strategies for handling social stressors," she said in a university news release.

Parents may want to consider how their child might benefit from a mental health day. The break may offer a chance to help them prepare for difficult interactions, practice ways to stay calm and identify sources of moral support, she said.

And missing school may be necessary to sustain well-being for children who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, Clark said. The child's mental health provider can provide guidance, she added.

Nearly all respondents said their school has an attendance policy, and a majority said kids have a reasonable amount of time for completing missed assignments.

"Parents agreed that attendance policies are important to preventing truancy or excessive absenteeism linked to poor school performance," Clark said.

But adhering to attendance policies can be difficult for students with chronic health conditions, parents said. 

They may often miss class due to medical appointments or to avoid flare-ups of their conditions. Giving teachers and school administrators a heads up is important, Clark said.

"These families may need to enlist the child's healthcare providers for support in requesting school flexibility in completing assignments at home or with additional time," she suggested.

More information

The Children's Defense Fund has stress-busting tips for parents.

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan, news release, March 25, 2024

Health News is provided as a service to The Medicine Shoppe site users by HealthDay. The Medicine Shoppe nor its employees, agents, or contractors, review, control, or take responsibility for the content of these articles. Please seek medical advice directly from your pharmacist or physician.
Copyright © 2024 HealthDay All Rights Reserved.