“My mouth hurts!” my three-year-old wailed as I went to get him out of bed in the morning.
Upon further questioning, I determined it was actually his throat that was painful, not his mouth.
“I’ll get the flashlight,” my husband declared, and after shining it into the back of my son’s mouth, turned to me and mouthed “S-T-R-E-P.”
I took a peek and sure enough, white spots. Lots of ’em.
And so we began the dreaded sick-kid dance of rearranging schedules, making urgent doctor appointments, and caring for a little one who can’t quite comprehend why he feels so miserable.
If only I had seen this coming, I thought. If only there had been a sign he was getting sick.
Turns out there was a sign, I just didn’t know to look for it.
Sometimes there are obvious hints of an impending illness. Your son begins coughing a bit. Your daughter seems more lethargic than usual.
But lots of times, it seems like our kids get sick out of absolutely nowhere. They’re fine one minute and—BAM!—fever/cough/runny nose the next.
Over the years I’ve learned that anticipating my child’s physical health—or lack thereof—means looking for warning signs beyond the obvious bodily ones. It means observing his emotional state as much as his physical one.
It means paying a lot of attention to his resilience.
You see, when my son is on the verge of getting sick, his resilience goes out the window.
He loses the ability to deal with life’s little frustrations and disappointments rationally (or at least as rationally as a preschooler can). Every molehill becomes a mountain. Every drop of spilled milk is worth a sobfest.
He just cannot cope like he usually does, and the result is a lot of extra whining when I offer the “wrong” kind of cereal or pair of socks or bedtime story.
Usually when this happens I get frustrated with him. I tell him to stop whining so much (which doesn’t work anyway, whether he’s getting sick or not). I plead with him to stop making such a big deal out of everything.
And then he wakes up the next morning with a sore throat or a fever or a stuffy nose. And it all makes sense.
Ohhhhhhh, so that’s why he was having such a tough time yesterday! There’s that sign I was longing for!
Of course, sometimes there really is no way to see it coming. Sometimes kids really do get sick out of nowhere, without a single warning sign.
But if your kid is usually pretty resilient and suddenly loses the ability to cope with the little frustrations of everyday life, stop and consider that maybe his/her body is coming down with something. Unfortunately an illness could be right around the corner.
Does your child show any warning signs before he/she comes down with an illness?
Want more? Check out these brilliant mom hacks for sick kids!