IBD and school

School can be a tough time for kids, especially if they are dealing with a life-long condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If your child feels anxious about going to school, it may help to have a parent, school nurse or a teacher explain the basics of IBD to their schoolmates. It is important that these explanations emphasise that IBD is not contagious and does not limit their ability to play, have fun or participate at school.

Being sick isn’t embarrassing or a reason to be teased. It may be useful to draw parallels to other kinds of illnesses – kids wouldn’t laugh or blame someone who was asthmatic if they had to cough, wheeze or use a puffer.

These types of explanations can encourage sensitivity towards your child’s condition. That said, like any patient, your child deserves privacy – disclosure to their classmates should be their choice. Regardless of whether their peers are in the loop, it is vital that you advise the school and teachers about your child’s condition, just as you would with any other health conditions they may have.

Combat anxiety with preparation

For kids with IBD, the prospect of ‘having an accident’ can cause severe social anxiety. Kids should be taught to expect the best but be prepared for the worst, especially at school or when visiting a friend. Putting together an emergency kit of items like wet wipes, spare clean underwear or clothes, medication and other necessities can help your child feel ready to deal with stressful situations should they arise. Be sure to let their teacher know if they take medication to school.