When Should You Let Your Child Stay Home From School (Even When They're Not Sick)

A mental health day is a term used to describe a day off of work when you’re not sick, but need time off to rest and recuperate. The day-to-day in our lives can be demanding and stressful, and a mental health day can help get you back on track when you find yourself feeling meh on a daily basis.

The idea of adults using mental health days to refresh when it all becomes too much is common. But the idea of a kid taking a mental health day may seem silly to most. Kids are just mini versions of adults- and the same way there are days when an adult needs a personal day off of work, there are days when they may need a personal day off of school.

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Furthermore, kids are under more pressure now than ever to achieve. From the time they’re born, many parents have already mapped out their children’s lives. Living up to those expectations can take their toll on children's developing minds and emotions. Deciding to let your child take a mental health day can be tricky though because it means you have to discern when they really need it versus when they just don’t feel like going to school.

Your child may need a mental health day if they’re overwhelmed. It's hard to relate to the fact that a kid’s schedule can be overwhelming. But relative to their ages and stages in life, their stress can impact them just as much as adult stress affects adults. You know your kid best; and if they seem overwhelmed, constantly nervous or anxious, a day off to reflect and reorganize their lives may serve them good. As a parent, it may be a good idea to evaluate your child’s schedule and how much it may attribute to their burnout. If it seems every minute of your child’s life is planned and filled with activities, you may want to encourage and help them to build in some downtime to allow them to recharge on a regular basis.

via AboutKidsHealth

Children go through many developmental phases- and those developments can take a lot out of them both mentally and physically. If you suspect that your child is going through one, it may be beneficial to them to take a day off to work through it. These changes can be exciting, but also scary for your child as they gain the ability to process information in a more mature way. Pair research with your intuition, and if you feel that your child may be growing developmentally, a day off may suit them well to help them better process the changes that they’re experiencing.

Assuming that your child is doing well in school and a day off won’t affect them negatively- if your child tells you they need a day off, it may be a good idea to listen to them. You have to be able to tell if your child's trying to get one over on you or not. But if your child tells you they need a day off- and they don’t pull this card too often- you should give your child the benefit of the doubt and trust them. This act of trust will go a long way in creating a long-last open line of communication with your child and will make them more likely to open up to you about other issues.

There are certain times where your child may want a personal day to avoid something like a test or a person. As much as we want to play the hero and prevent our children from experiencing pain, letting them take a day off to avoid something may not be teaching them the right lesson in the long run. If your child wants to miss school because they have a test or a presentation they haven’t prepared for, letting them miss school doesn’t hold them accountable. When it comes to avoiding a particular person or situation, conflict is a part of life- and teaching your child to cope with conflict with others is healthy. Letting them avoid conflict by staying home is teaching them to avoid conflict. If you give them the message that it's okay to do it now, they may start to use this as their coping method going forward. It may be hard as a parent to do this because you don’t want your kids to fail. But bailing them out now could create a vicious cycle of you bailing them out in the future as well.

Experts believe that teaching our children to take days off to rest and recharge teaches them to prioritize their mental health. Too often we see adults that overburden themselves and either has to reach a breaking point or a point when they’ve completely checked out before they decide to take a mental health day. Letting kids know that it's okay to occasionally do it- and helping them figure out when and why they should take a personal day- may help to make them more effective, productive and happy as adults.


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