There might be nothing worse than being cooped up in the house with sick kids. Except for maybe one thing. Witnessing parents who disrespectfully break the number one parental rule of responsibility by bringing their snot nosed, infectious kids out in public or sending them to school with a fever so that they can pass on their illness to the rest of the otherwise healthy world!
Seriously folks! If your child is running a fever, has lice, is suffering with pink-eye, has been vomiting or experiencing explosive diarrhea – giving them an over the counter symptom masking medication and sending them off to school or taking them out to be with others is downright rude! And irresponsible. And truth be told, it seriously is the easiest way to irk other parents and become a victim of their judgment. By all means, please have some courtesy for others and keep your kids home if they are sick.
The best rule of thumb to follow, is if you have any doubt that your child is not feeling well, or that they might be infectious, or that they might not be ready to go back into mainstream society without risking the health of others – you should keep them home an extra day. This is true even if it means taking a day off from work – or finding a family member to baby-sit your child. Sure, it might be a temporary inconvenience but the bottom line is that introducing sick kids at the McDonald playland, or to their classmates – or to their daycare, only perpetuates the cycles of illness.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors recommend that parents keep their children home under no uncertain terms if the following symptoms exist.
- Fever within 24 hours, which not only means the body is fighting off infection, but also most likely means that your child is contagious to others. Generally speaking, a child should be fever free (without using medications) for at least 24 hours before bringing them back to school or to social settings.
- Diarrhea. Stomach viruses are highly contagious, and while diarrhea can be a side effect of something they ate or of medications – doctors advise keeping kids home until stools are hard again,
- Vomiting. Even if your child vomited once before school – or several times during the middle of the night and seems totally find in the morning, your best bet is to keep them home so you can keep them hydrated and keep them from spreading germs.
- Cough and cold symptoms. No one likes to see another child dripping with snot. And kids aren’t clean freaks and will cough spittle and use their hands to wipe their noses and then touch other things – which only spread cold and flu germs. Plus, most kids with severe cough and cold symptoms don’t feel well enough to be out and about, and need the rest at home in order to recuperate. On the flip side, cough symptoms associated with asthma are normally harmless to others.
- Sore throats. One of the most common illnesses of children is strep throat, which in most cases starts with a simple sore throat. Undiagnosed and untreated strep throat can be a serious illness. If your child is complaining of a sore throat with or without fever, you should take them to the doctor and have a quick strep test done to rule out strep throat which is easily treated with antibiotics.
- Rashes. Skin rashes can mean many things from a simple allergic reaction to something as contagious as impetigo. Best bet is to keep your child home and have the rash checked out by a physician.
- Any sort of green drainage. Kids in school and otherwise have runny noses. Many kids keep a runny nose for half of the school year. As long as the drainage is clear, and no fever is present the child can go to school. But if the drainage becomes yellow or green – parents are urged to keep their child home and have them checked out by a pediatrician.
Additionally, before you take the kids out of the house to be others or send them to school, take an honest assessment from a parent’s point of view and decide whether your child seems well enough. The CDC states that more than half of all illnesses could be avoided if parents would keep their sick children at home, or give them just an additional 24 hours to recover before sending them off to school.
Obviously, with parents working and childcare hard to find – it is easy to understand why so many parents will medicate their child in the morning and send them to school to await the call from the nurse when the meds wear off. And if your child has been sick, you might be going stir crazy sitting at home with so many errands to run, and places to go. But most illnesses in children are just temporary, and your child will recuperate more quickly if you keep them home until they are 100% healthy and well. Plus, parents and teachers everywhere will be happy that you did. Some things in this world are meant for sharing. Germs and sicknesses are NOT one of them.
If you are one of those parents pushing the envelope by bringing your obviously not well child into public – then you deserve all the ill stares and judgmental glares given to you by other parents.