Are our grandkids being coddled into being hypochondriacs?

Jun 04, 2023
But the kids never really seem that sick, or is it just me? Source: Getty

As I received yet another phone call from my grandchild’s school telling me they were sick and could I please pick them up, I reflected how when I was a child, we basically were not allowed to be sick, or if we were, we just had to get on with it, unless we were half dead.

I’m happy enough to pick up my grandkids from school if they are truly sick, as my daughter is a single parent who finds it hard to get away from work to pick them up during the day. But the kids never really seem that sick, or is it just me? A bit of a sniffle when half the class has one, or a supposed tummy ache when they really need to use the bathroom. 

I have very bleak memories of the few times I was actually sick enough to be kept home and actually see a doctor. In those days the doctor came to the house.

Once I had such a bad fever that I was actually hallucinating. It was over in a few days and I got to eat nice things and have time to read my books as I recovered. 

The tonsils came out, as did most kids’ tonsils in the olden days. Hospital, jelly and ice cream and soft foods. But as I remember my school days, we avoided “sick bay” as it was in the nearby convent and was guarded by a nun who looked like she needed a happy pill.

As kids, we realised that we had to be tough. If you had a cold you used a big hanky and kindly shared it around with the rest of the class. It was par for the course.

Measles, mumps, chicken pox and other childhood illnesses were another story, however, and we were allowed to stay home for them. Vomiting was frowned on in the school room, but if you wanted to really create a scene, a good projectile chunder was guaranteed to shut the boring lesson down for a moment or two.

The only drawback was that if you were a female, you might be chosen by the nun in charge to get a bucket and mop and clean it up. Worse if it had lumps in it. Ugh.

But back to our current day. Are children now wrapped in cotton wool? are they encouraged into resilience or are they being coddled into being hypochondriacs? I’m certainly not advocating sharing bad viruses and the like, but the odd bump in the playground and a scrape of the knee can be toughened out.

I know teachers have a lot of paperwork now to fill out if a child hurts themselves, but sometimes I feel it’s over the top and the child is being encouraged to make the most of “feeling sick”.

Doctors are very hard to get into these days, so they are still very rare for most children, but as parents and carers of small children, I sometimes think we need to just encourage them to ‘tough it out’ and keep the sick bay and doctor visits for when really needed. 


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