Q: Our four-year-old son was so excited to start preschool this year, but it hasn’t turned out the way we expected. He’s had to stay home due to colds, fevers, vomiting, and a rash. He’s never been sick like this before. Is this a sign that there’s something wrong with his health?
A: I’m not a doctor, but I’m going to make a few predictions. Tell me if I’m correct: Your child is either an only child or is your oldest child, and he did not attend daycare.
If I am correct, chances are good you’re experiencing what happens to all first-time preschoolers. Regardless of how clean the environment, your son is being exposed to a host of germs he has never before encountered. Because he hasn’t had the opportunity to build up immunity to many common illnesses, his body is fighting them off as quickly as they come. Please don’t blame yourself or your son’s school for this; it’s a common phenomenon that happens to first-year teachers and nurses, too.
That’s not to say there aren’t steps you can take to prevent more illness. Teach your son to avoid putting any toys or fingers in his mouth. Remind him not to rub his eyes or pick his nose, and encourage him to wash his hands thoroughly and regularly. And always, always talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Recurrent illnesses or illnesses that take longer than normal to shake need to be evaluated by a pediatrician.
Although it’s miserable that he’s been sick so often this school year, take solace in the fact that his body is developing a healthy immune system that will last him the rest of his life. And since you’re dealing with all this during preschool, your son may just turn out to be the healthiest kindergartener in the entire school!