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Should we let our kids stay home from school, just because?

Should I let my kids have a mental health day?

Don’t you find it a bit disturbing that our children sometimes enjoy being ill because it means they get to stay home from school? I do, and it’s left me thinking that I might start offering my children a ‘Mental Health Day’.

Kids become stressed and overwhelmed, just like adults do, and sometimes they need a day to just unwind.

A few months ago, my oldest child, Philip, 10, started faking illness in order to score a day off from school. Now, I don’t believe him when he says he’s sick and he has to start vomiting or develop a raging fever for me to even consider letting him stay home.

Sometimes I’ve sent him to school when he is ill, because I didn’t believe he was really sick, only to get a call from the school to say he has vomited or is ‘burning up’, accusation in their voices.

Are mental health days the solution to all of this drama?

Technically, parents are not meant to allow children to stay home from school unless they’re sick. According to the Department of Education website, “Parents are required to explain the absences of their children from school promptly. An explanation for absence must be provided to the school within 7 days of a single day absence or within 7 days from the first day of a multiple day absence.”

But a couple of days here and there can’t hurt, can they?

Last night on Facebook we asked for your thoughts and it turns out the Mental Health Day is more popular than I first thought.

Rebecca said:

Yep I do when my son seems overwhelmed or tired or teary we have a day off together and stay in our pjs and watch movies. Sometimes kids just need time with mum and time out of life.. Same as adults do. Good mental health care and self care should be taught early… Our kids will have much better skills to cope with life and stress as adults if they learn how to recognize when they need some time out and give themselves permission to take it every now and then.

However Grace warned:

Don’t let them get to used to it – because when they get a bit tired and stressed at high school you’ll never be able to get them out the door.

If Ferris' parents had let him take a couple of days off from school, he wouldn't have had to chuck a sickie.

The other concern I have is that I might be setting them up for failure when it comes to their future career. I don't want my children to think they can take days off whenever they likes. There have to be rules.

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I spoke to a friend of mine whose mum used to give her Mental Health Days and here's how they did it:

* Two mental health days allowed per year, max;

* Mental Health Days were not allowed on days when there was an exam or something else the child is trying to avoid;

* The day is for resting and unwinding, not playing technology all day;

* If the words, "Mum I'm bored" are uttered, mental health days are cancelled until further notice.

Our children are young, school hours are long and the work is tiring. Giving them the chance to reset doesn't seem like such a bad idea in theory.

I just wonder if it has the desired effect in reality.

I've always tried to teach my children personal responsibility. When my son doesn't want to go to soccer training or to a soccer game on particularly cold Saturday mornings, I explain that he has a responsibility to his team to show up. They are counting on him. He has to turn up every time.

Is it possible to tell my kids that school is sometimes optional, but make sure they don't live lazy lives full of rest and relaxation and little devotion to everything? Especially when they have the good example of parents who do their best to turn up, every time.

Do you ever let your kids stay home from school when they're not ill? 

If your kids have ever tried to fake illness to get out of school, learn from the tricks presented in the movie Ferris Buller's Day Off, and you'll never be tricked again.

Like this? Then try:

Schools don't want our sick kids. So now what?

The biggest sin a daycare parent can commit.

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