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Child Being Sick Every Lunchtime Advice Needed


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Hi I teach reception and so far there have been no issues with children at lunchtime. I now have a child in my class who is quite a confident little girl who has been sick almost every lunchtime for the last 3 weeks. At first I sent her home straight away thinking tummy bug but mum has since decided to tell us 'oh she's always sick when she's anxious' so I've not been sending her home and being determined to get to the bottom of why she is so anxious. We had a couple of days where she ate her lunch in the classroom with me-still sick, I've tried sitting her on her own table set back in a nook that we have in the hall with a friend (still sick) I've done a social story for her to have at school and at home and I am talking it through with her every day and so is mum but she is still sick. It is now getting to the point that she is so worried about being sick that she is anxious from playtime onwards and then it is happening almost immediately that she starts to eat. (except she does eat her mid morning snack without any issues) I have talked to her at length about why she thinks she is worried and she says it's the noise (which we find very strange because her parents run a noisy pub!) but my TA and I have observed her closely at lunchtime and we think it is because she is desperate to be friends with and always sit next to a particular child, she has developed almost an obsession with this child and can't cope if she is separated from her and while she is eating doesn't take her eyes off her. The child in question has lots of friends in the class and is always in demand and on the odd occasion she hasn't been sick it has been because she is sat next to her. For an easy solution, I could make sure they are always sat together at lunchtime but I don't think it is fair to the other child and doesn't ultimately solve the problem.

I speak to mum daily and we are both scratching heads about what to do next, I'm almost at the point of saying to mum she will have to take her home for lunch for a short while because the other children are beginning to get fearful of sitting near her and she has been sick over other children and their lunches (it's rather projectile!)

 

any advice would be gratefully received!

Deb

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Gosh what an awful situation for everybody including the child!!

 

I'm studying for my Foundation Degree and somehow retain lots of case studies and snippets of ideas and information!! One thing I was reading recently was how stressful lunchtime can be for children whose friends go off to play after they've finished eating and then they can't find them again once they get outside. I really connected with this because it must be really scary especially in a big school to be in the playground and not be able to see any of your friends.

 

I just wondered whether this might be the problem and with some hand-holding and reassurance perhaps once she's eaten with a friend and stayed with that friend you could make sure she is 'delivered' to a friend outside as well so there is no transition anxiety between the hall and the playground.

 

I hope I've explained that well enough - it makes sense in my head!!!!

 

Hope that might be some help.....

 

Good luck!

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Oh bless her. I can empathise so much in how this child maybe feeling, as this was exactly how i was in every situation that made me anxious when i was tiny.

Unfortunately my daughter was the same when she was little too.

No rhyme or reason for it, just one of those things of which we both thankfully grew out of.

This must be very distressing for everyone involved. As a suggestion in the short term would it not be possible to sit her next to her friend she so craves to be with to see whether this could turn it around for her.

You say she eats snack without vomiting, has mum said if there is a pattern of when she is sick at home to get to the root of the problem.

Is mum able to come in to support her for awhile or is this not practical to do so.

Not sure any of this is helpful, but hoping for a happy conclusion really quickly for you all.

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How is she with regards to this friend the rest of the time? Does she follow her round the classroom or playground in the same way? Is there any way you could help her to make other friends in the clas that might then relieve her anxiety if she sits with them at lunchtime?

 

It does sound like she might be worrying about being left 'on her own' so to speak with no friends for when she goes to the playground after lunch as someone suggested so perhaps that might be something to look into as well.

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Hi,

I had almost exactly the same sotuation with a boy in my class. He was sick every lunchtime for several weeks and he also started to get worked up earlier and earlier in the day. We had no idea what the real problem of the anxiety was and nor did mum. After trying lots of things like you, mum was happy for us to say that he didn't need to eat anything at lunchtime - just take his lunchbox to the hall and try some drink. To begin with he couldn't even do this, but after a few days he could have drink. He was obviously very hungry towards the end of the afternoon and after a while would eat a snack mid-afternoon. With a lot of encouraging (but trying hard not to put any pressure on!) he ate a tiny amount of his lunch. With a lot of praise this increased over a few weeks. We are now at the situation where most days he will eat all of his lunch, but he does go home for lunch 2 or 3 times a week which he much prefers.

 

Good Luck!

Rosie

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Thank you all for your advice and suggestions. The head and I took the decision to have her sit on her own to eat her lunch in the hall slightly separated from the other tables. This was more for the other children than her as some were beginning to get anxious about whether they would end up sitting next to her when she was sick (we've had a couple of parents understandably complaining about their child or child's food being vomited upon!) . Mum wasn't particularly happy but understood why. On Friday I sat with her on her table and encouraged her to eat very slowly and promised her that her friends would wait for her to go outside to play which they did. She managed to eat her lunch without being sick (I didn't get a lunchbreak but I think that's how it will have to be for a while!)

One of my TA's who supports a statemented child and who has followed the class from the feeder playgroup says that the dynamics of friendships have evolved drastically since playgroup. This child was easily the most popular and children always made a beeline for her and she always had a crowd wanting to play with her. That is not now the case for reason we can put our fingers on, perhaps others have grown in confidence and don't need to follow her anymore and also there are children who joined the playgroup children from elsewhere so the dynamics are different and she is having to make an effort with friendships where she didn't have to before.

Hopefully we can build on Friday's success and gradually reintergrate her with the others.

 

Deb

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poor you/her!

difficult when parents complain, and i can see why you and your head have made the decision you have. Its also not a great solution to have lost your break- let's face it as much as we want to care fro our charges we need to re charge!

 

Was wondering..if she eats her snack ok might it be worth allowing her to graze on her lunch throughout the morning? That way she could sit with everyone at lunch without the vomit(having already eaten her lunch). You could then slowly begin to leave more and more food in the lunch box, re-introducing her to the eating with others concept but perhaps backed up by the fact that there has no stress in the lunch hall for the days leading up to that point...

she may need a second lunch to graze on in the afternoon if she has then gone too long since that morning...

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