When your Child Gets Sick

When your child is sick, remain calm and try to assess whether you need to take her to the doctor or not.  Below are guidelines on what to do and not do when your child is sick.

If you are not sure whether you need to take your child to the doctor, do not worry about looking silly or over-reactive.  It is better to take her and it not be necessary, than to not take her and have something emergent overlooked.

Remain calm and positive

  • Your child will react to your emotions regarding their illness.  Try to stay calm and have a positive attitude so that your child does not become scared or worried.

Explanation and Reassurance

  • Give age appropriate explanations as to why they are sick, what is causing their symptoms, etc. and reassure them that they will feel better soon.


  • Do not tell your child the medicine is candy.  Children may mistakenly overdose on medications when the parents are out of the room, if they think it is candy.
  • If your child has trouble swallowing pills, consult with the doctor as to whether the medication can be crushed and mixed with food such as applesauce.
  • Never tell your child that the medicine does not taste bad, if it really does.
  • Never give any medications without consulting a doctor.


  • Under 5 or 6 years, take the child’s temperature in the arm pit.  This usually takes four minutes.
  • After 5 or 6 years of age, the child should be able to hold the thermometer under their tongues for two minutes.  They should not talk or open their mouths while their temperature is being taken.


  • Fever is the body’s sign that it is fighting an infection.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Never give your child aspirin to reduce the fever.  Use a non-aspirin medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • If the child’s temperature is over 103° and you cannot get it down; the fever is accompanied by a stiff neck, headache and vomiting; the child is having difficulty breathing, or the child is vomiting and/or has diarrhea, contact his doctor.


  • Many times children are not hungry when they are sick.  Do not force them to eat, but make sure they get plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.  If they are not eating or drinking, consult with your doctor.

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