Mom lets child take unofficial school breaks: 'It's not gonna hurt her'
Noel LaPalomento shared a TikTok about her daughter's arrangement.
One mom is inspiring a debate about letting children take unofficial days off from school without any repercussions.
Noel LaPalomento shared a TikTok video of her 6-year-old daughter enjoying a break from school in September, captioning it with, "I told my daughter she can pick one day each month to stay home from school without being sick."
The video has since garnered over 1.1 million likes and over 4,100 comments with some saying the practice "should be normalized" and other commenters saying they wish they had a similar choice when they were younger.
The 26-year-old told "Good Morning America" since her daughter Giada started school full time last year, she has noticed a difference in the first grader's energy levels and mental health, which affected her desire to go to school.
"Last year, there [were] times she would literally come home from school, she'd be sleeping on the step before I could get her off, then she'd be sleeping in the hallway. It was like, the kid was a zombie," LaPalomento said. "And then she comes home, and I don't even have time to spend with my kid. I'm making dinner, trying to do homework [with her], and then it's time for bed."
The New Jersey mom said her daughter seemed "drained" and "tired" at times and so she decided to recently give her the option to opt out of school once a month.
"I know she's good in school and she gets good grades, and she does all her work so she could stay home for a day. It's not gonna hurt her," LaPalomento said.
The mom of one said her daughter "loved" her daylong break and she hopes having the occasional time off can even motivate her "to want to go to school rather than being in school five days a week, all day long."
Dr. Kimberly Alexander, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, told "Good Morning America" that children, just like adults, can benefit from the occasional break from school.
"Kids and teens, at times, will have moments where they need a break from school because they're under stress in a certain way or they're feeling overwhelmed in a certain way," Alexander said, adding that break can "be very restorative when done strategically."
The key for parents, according to Alexander, is to try to figure out whether there's a deeper reason behind why a child might ask for a day off in the first place and whether it's necessary to call on external support systems.
"You want to really start with a conversation about why. What might be some of the things happening in their school day … and [do] they need a day off to recuperate and prioritize their self-care?" Alexander said.
"If there is a conflict that is inducing a lot of the anxiety, [then] meeting with the school team to find out what coping supports they can offer in school might be the first step before offering the day off," she added.
Alexander said in many cases, a break for children who are otherwise learning to adapt and cope with difficulties overall, can make sense.
If a child has a valid reason for taking a break, Alexander suggests parents plan their child's day off to avoid unhealthy or unbeneficial habits from forming, such as playing video games or sleeping in all day long.
"When you're making that decision about whether or not to give your child a break, you really want to be careful to not reinforce any sort of anxiety that they might be experiencing, that might be leading to them wanting to not be in school," Alexander said. "[Make] a plan about how to use their day to help themselves feel more rested and rejuvenated."
"Whether you decide to offer a child a mental health day or not, I think it's always going to be founded on a foundation of good communication and really spending … time to really hear their child's thoughts and validate how stressed they may feel at times," she added.
If parents have any concerns about a mental health crisis, they can call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 at 988.