Caring for Children with Mono

When I was 16, I contracted mononucleosis. The initial mono symptoms, such as sore throat and fatigue, were less bothersome than the lingering sense of malaise that seemed to hover over me.

I mentioned this to the sympathetic ear of my cousin's husband, who is a physician, and he told me that all major viruses, including the Epstein-Barr virus, are accompanied by depression to a lesser or greater degree.

It amazed me how this simple piece of information lessened my sadness.

Boredom and depression

Mono can leave your child feeling unwell for months. Long periods away from school and out of their routine can contribute to them feeling bored and depressed.

Although, a positive outlook can do a lot to help a sick child, the reality is more complex. So speak to your child and watch him for signs of depression. Bring him to see your family physician if you are in doubt about his emotional well-being.


The symptoms of mono cause your child to have fevers, sore throat and fatigue amongst other things. On days where the symptoms are acute, your child is unlikely to want to play or be entertained. However, there may be days when you child is still too sick to be in school, but feeling well enough to be bored or frustrated.

Here are some tips to help you and your child cope better:

  • Remember that a healthy diet, including the important vitamins, is something you can do that is proactive. There is no magic cure, no medicine that can heal your child's illness. A healthy diet is your best weapon against the mono virus.
  • Displaying a positive attitude to sick children helps keep their morale up.
  • Lozenges, soup, and hot drinks can be soothing to sore throats and help keep your child nourished and well-hydrated. An anesthetic throat rinse or spray can be effective; make sure you choose one that is age-appropriate for your child.
  • Use Tylenol as directed, but be careful not to use it for too lengthy a period of time and no more than 3 or 4 times a day. Check with your physician for instructions on exact dosage.
  • Keep family members as quiet as possible while your patient is resting and praise his siblings when they care enough to speak in hushed voices.
  • Rest, rest, rest is what your child needs most. Some soft music can help lull a contrary child to sleep.
  • Check with your doctor before your child returns to school and to regular activities. A half day of school might be advisable at first. Participation in contact sports is ill-advised until the spleen returns to its pre-virus size.

However, contact your physician if your child's skin is yellow, or he has trouble breathing. These are signs of complications and require treatment.

Activities for Kids

You're taking care of your child's physical needs during his bout with mononucleosis, and provided him with interesting activities that won't wear him out.

Still, it's important for you, the parent, to take time out of your busy schedule to spend quality time with your sick child. A parent's nearness is always reassuring and such comfort during time of illness can be a factor in the speed with which your child recovers from this debilitating virus.

 Sit Quietly With Your Child

In the earliest stages of his illness, just sitting near your child can be enough to engender the feeling in him that you care about his wellbeing.

Take some knitting or other handiwork into the child's bedroom with you. The click-clack of knitting needles or the sight of you wielding a needle and thread can be hypnotic and help lull your child into a more peaceful state.

Being near your child without focusing your sole attention on him as you knit or sew can make it easy for your child to express his fears. Ailing children are often anxious and need information about their illness.

Concentrating on your handiwork instead of making eye contact with your child can help him escape the impression that you are very worried and relieve his doubts about the relevance of his various questions. If your child expresses an interest, teach him how to knit, embroider, or crochet.

Read a book together

If handiwork isn't your style, just read a book. Choose a classic such as Little Women, or Treasure Island, and offer to read it aloud to your child, a chapter at a time. The sound of your voice can be very soothing to a fretful child.

Board Games

When your child has a bit more energy and is starting to get antsy with boredom, it's fun to play Madlibs or checkers.

A magnetic game board is a real boon to the parent with a sick child. Don't play a game that requires a great deal of strategy. Just aim for diversion and some fun.


You don't have to be an artist to enjoy craft activities. You can enjoy simple activities together, such as making cards or writing letters to family and friends. This will help your child feel less isolated from family and friends.

Scrap books are also a fun activity. Your child can collect postcards, get well cards and objects of importance and turn them into a scrap book, which can help to create a positive memory of this time at home.

In general, you don't have to spend a lot of money on craft activities. With a little creativity, you can collect things you no longer need from around the house and turn them into environmentally-friendly art supplies.


Kids may find that they lose their appetite, especially when their throat is sore. One way of encouraging your child to eat is to involve them in the activity of cooking and menu planning.

By making it fun, it may encourage their interest in food. This is particularly important for kids who have been sick for a while and whose immune systems need boosting.

You can apply the concept of the five food groups and the need for vitamins and minerals in a practical activity in the kitchen. Succeeding in cooking projects can also give children a confidence boost.


Many children will miss a lot of days at school. Your child may be anxious about the missed work or lack motivation and energy to do the homework.

This is where online learning can provide an invaluable resource to your sick child. There is an enormous amount of study material available online that is presented through games and interaction and relevant to children of all ages. It's a fun way to learn and feel involved.


There are so many activities that you can do with your sick child at home. Even a child with a fever will enjoy simple games, such as playing with toys in the bathtub.

With a little imagination, you can help your child to feel happier and keep him/her occupied until he/she is able to return to a normal routine.

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