Thursday, February 5, 2015

What do you do with a sick kid?

I'm not talking about going to the doctor or medicine or homeopathic remedies. I mean, how do you pass the time with a sick kid, assuming the kid is not sleeping?

I stick the child in front of the television. I think we're pretty good about limiting screen time around here. But honestly, a sick child has unfettered access.

I was telling my mother the other day that I think this strategy is problematic because sometimes I wonder if a slightly sick kid maintains that he is quite sick just to get some more screen time. But the whining of a sick child! I have little patience for trying to rally his mood! Just turn on the tube.

"Well, that's what I did when you were young," says my mother. "That what my mother did when I was young."

So it occurs to me that maybe I just never learned any better.

What do you do with a sick child?


Anonymous said...

Depends on what kind of sickness it is - and the age. I try to tell them that they can help their bodies to recover: resting (which includes the head = eyes = no TV/no smart phone for the older ones), and listening to what their body asks for (hot, warm, a scarf, lying down on the sofa or the bed, water, salty things, hot water bottle, fresh air, dark room...).
Options are: looking at books or reading, listening to CDs, some quiet activities...I am pretty strict on the 'no-TV'-rule, also because otherwise the siblings would all enjoy the TV time, and the sick child would not have any rest.
If they decide they don't need that much rest, they are pretty much on their way to recovery - at least this is what I tell them (and myself).
My advice should be taken with a grain of salt, I have a disturbed relationship with TV. And maybe your children will remember their sick days in a much better light than mine will.

Anonymous said...

Ann's mom here with some comments that I didn't make to Ann when she asked me about this topic:

What I remember about being sick when I was young was that I really didn't want to be in my room, away from my mother. I felt vulnerable and neglected and well, just plain crummy, "far away" in my own bed. Yes, when I got older, it was fine, but not when I was as young as my grandchildren are now. Although I was an avid reader by third grade, I didn't want to read when I was sick; it made my head and eyes hurt. I loved to color, but if I was dizzy, coloring made me feel worse. Those activities that required concentration were for the good days.

Ann's grandmother was an uber SAHM with nine children, so she didn't have time to be sitting with one who was sick. The solution, which we all felt worked just fine, was to make up a "bed" on the family couch in the living room. From that vantage point a sick child was never far from Mom's eye, ear or hand. We saw her as she walked by with the laundry; we could hear her doing the dishes or cooking in the kitchen. She could hear us when we asked for something or started crying. She was close enough to bring us water or more soda crackers. And she stopped by to take our temps, give us our medication AND to read a story from time to time. The thing was, our only couch was in the same room as our only TV. So when we were lying there feeling crummy, the TV could be used as a distraction from that crumminess. Of course, that was before the days of children's programming during the daytime. It wasn't very interesting TV, so it often (but not always) lulled us to sleep!

I don't remember any of the TV that I watched on those days, but I do remember the feeling of having my mom close by when I needed her. I don't remember being held or rocked when I felt really lousy, but I saw Mom do that with my younger brothers and sisters, so she probably did it with me, too.

Ann and her brothers spent sick time in the living room on our only sofa where our only TV was, too. The TV programming was a little better - we had Sesame Strreet for an hour. Ann, that didn't seem to be part of your memories of being sick when you were young. What do you remember?

Memories of the unpleasant things in life tend to dull and we hold on to, even if it is vaguely, the things that were solid and supportive.

So maybe the point isn't what your child is actually doing for those hours or days of feeling crummy, but how you make him or her feel with the things you do. I've watched you respond to them when they are sick and they feel loved and cared for. YOU may feel you are neglecting them because you don't hold them every second, and they are whiney and unhappy. but they will remember that you are close by when they call out. They won't remember the TV.

knittedwings said...

We use the TV too when the kids are sick. Once they feel better they usually care less about the TV and more about running around!
Also, if they received meds to lower a fever they sometimes think they are better and want to start running around. Then a movie will usually help to get them to rest better. If they are really, really sick they eventually fall asleep on one of us so we can bring them to their bed to get more rest.
I always find it harder occupying the healthy kid when the other is sick. If the weather is nice they usually want to go somewhere!

knittedwings said...

Btw, love what your mom said!

Pregnantly Plump said...

When Cheese Puff is sick, I can turn on the TV, and in 5 minutes he's asleep. So, it's a great nap initiator. With the other two, it depends. Baby Plum wants to play games. He has some schedule in his head, and he keeps us to it. But yes, by around noon, I need to get something done, and I'm fine turning on the TV.