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PARENTING : Sick of Going to School?

October 21, 1994|MARYANN HAMMERS

If children are frequently claiming illness to avoid school, experts suggest parents take the following steps:

* Track your child's complaints. Does the child always feel sick on Sunday nights--never on Friday afternoons? Does it happen the same time each day? Such patterns often point to the source of the problem.

* Don't simply dismiss a youngster's complaints. Take the child's temperature, rub her tummy, offer her a glass of juice. "You never want a child to feel you are not listening," said Encino pediatrician Dr. Kristine Irani. "Don't pooh-pooh what they are saying."

* If you decide your child's symptoms warrant a day off from school, be clear that it is a day to rest and recuperate--not to play video games, go skateboarding or watch television.

* Enlist the support of the school. The child's teacher, for example, may warmly greet the child on the schoolyard and spend a few extra minutes chatting with him during the day. The school nurse can offer TLC and allow the child to lie down for a few minutes before going back to class. Such extra attention makes school seem less threatening.

* If the problem persists, seek advice from the school psychologist or mental health office.

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