How To Know If Your Child Is Pretending To Be Sick

Pretending To Be SickCold and flu are very common nowadays and kids are the first victims. Here are some tips to know if your kid has the bug or just simply faking it to get away from school.

The symptoms of cold and flu are easy to tell with kids and once these are evident it’s time to take your kid to the doctor; in some cases, however, it’s quite difficult to tell if the kid is sick or not. Your kid might look perfectly fine to you; so, before you panic and start to worry about the kid’s temperature, prepare the chicken soup or call your boss, you might want to confirm first if your kid really has the bug, or something else.

There are millions of reasons out there for your kid to fake sickness, and you have no way of knowing what those reasons are, what you have the upper hand at, is of course trying to find out if the kid is only faking it.

There are studies that show that up to 10% of kids try to fool their parents into making them stay home because of a ‘supposed’ sickness. Most of the time, the reasons for feigning disease are very innocent, but sometimes these incidents may outline an underlying problem like anxiety, depression, or wishing to avoid someone at school, perhaps a bully. These reasons can affect a healthy lifestyle.

If your child looks and acts very sick, then it’s really time to call a doctor, but if otherwise, then maybe you should send your kid off to school and let him/her know that you can’t be duped.

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Here are good ways of telling whether your kid is faking sick or not:

Know the Medical Evidence

Fever, extreme fatigue, dry cough, and body aches are the common symptoms of flu; in a cold, you can have the same, milder symptoms, including a runny or stuffy nose. Check the child’s temperature first. The fever should not alarm you if the temperature of the child does not reach above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If the kid is complaining about his tonsils and throat, then have a look see – sick tonsils look like moldy strawberries or raw hamburger.

Look for the classic signs of faking

Kids who fake it are not usually consistent, they may be coughing crazy this minute and chatting on the phone the next. Really sick kids have the tendency to doze off so if your kid is attentively watching the television, wide awake, then he/she is most likely faking it. Symptoms are to be taken seriously, but when these are vague and move from one body part to another, chances are, the kid is faking it. An ache does not just transfer from the head to the foot in a matter of minutes.

Knowing what the problem really is helps, except of course when there is no problem

Once you’re sure that the kid is faking it, try to know why he/she is doing it. There are some kids who feel that because it’s the cold and flu season, they also need a few days off like other kids who are really sick. This is ‘the sense of entitlement’. There are serious reasons, however, like when the kid is being bullied at school; faking sickness becomes a strategy to avoid going to school and being bullied again; sometimes it’s an anxiety or fear attack for a test or class that they think is too difficult. Psychological problems that lead to physical problems can be called ‘malingering’ or avoiding something by assuming a sick role. In such a case, the child may not even know that the cause of the problem is actually psychological. The child is really in pain at this point, but the cause is not physical, rather, it is psychological. Most kids are unable to verbalize their emotions like most adults, so they tend to resort to anxiety to resolve their feelings. Watch out for depression – this can also be a reason for the child’s faking.

Try to find out if you are part of the problem

Expecting too much of the child can cause anxiety problems. Disorganized and disorderly families where parents also reflect physical pain caused psychologically are also most likely to have kids who will fake it – this is because these kids pattern themselves after their parents.  Very often, the symptoms of the child are similar to the symptoms of the parent, so if the mother says she has a terrible headache before a job interview, the kid may do the same thing before a chemistry exam. If you think you live in this kind of household it is best to seek professional help in dealing with anxiety and depression as well as other psychological problems that may lead to physical problems.

If you have confirmed that the request to stay home because of illness is really just a dupe, then don’t encourage or reinforce ‘sick behavior’. Don’t offer the chicken soup or a TV show, otherwise, the kid would enjoy staying at home and this would cause him/her to fake it again in the future because it was a pleasant experience.

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