My child had a fever for no apparent reason. She complained of nausea, so I brought her home from school and she started feeling better. By the weekend she was fine. Monday at noon I ended up picking her up again with a fever. This has happened several times. Can a child will themselves to have a fever?

While generations of children probably wish they could will themselves to have a fever, don’t worry it’s not possible! It is not uncommon for viruses to cause waxing and waning fevers or other symptoms – this time it sounds like your child got lucky and felt a bit better over the weekend. The types of viruses we tend to see over the summer are also more likely to have less obvious symptoms than the cough and congestion which are more typical for winter viruses. Remember too that home is probably a bit more restful than school, and when you aren’t feeling well that can really make a difference for your energy level and overall appearance.

All that said, if you are worried that your child is working to avoid school for other reasons, don’t hesitate to sit down together and see if there is anything that may be bothering them. Sometimes school avoidance can be the first sign of bullying, depression or other concerns that are important to identify and address early.


Lee Beers Lee Beers, MD, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Medical Director for Community Health and Advocacy within the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health and Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Hospital.

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