As you wake up in the morning and start getting ready to head out for work, there’s suddenly a familiar voice behind you, “Mom, Dad, I feel sick”. This is when you find yourself wondering whether your angel really is as sick as s/he claims or is s/he just faking it to stay back from school. Maybe your daughter has started complaining about a serious stomachache the day she has a big test. Or perhaps your son has developed this bout of mysterious cough and wants to stay home. No matter what you say or do, you can’t figure out whether your child is really sick, or has just got sick of school. As an experienced parent, I can tell you with utmost confidence that there are certain telltale signs that can help you spot the fakers and have them running off to school without feeling a bit of guilt. Here’s what you need to watch out for:
7 Sign # : Your child has fallen sick on the exact day that s/he has something unpleasant going on at school
A majority of kids out there tend to use the sick route so that they can stay home and avoid things at school that they find unpleasant. This includes tests, PE class, performances and a whole lot more – pretty much anything that your child is anxious about. Parents typically consider this as the number one sigh that their children are faking illness. However, if this continues to happen on a routine basis, then there are things that require your attention.
The fact of the matter is that it isn’t really common for . Why so? Well, simply because children simply can’t comprehend the sort of ‘deception’ that is required to put up a good faking session. What basically happens is that when children start feeling anxious about something at school, they comprehend the ‘anxiety’ as symptoms of illness. So, if your child isn’t a math genius, there is a good chance that things associated with math – such as classes and tests – will trigger feelings of anxiety in them, thereby leading to early morning claims of stomachaches and what not. Irrespective of what it is, things that trigger negative feelings in your child will lead to symptoms of illness accompanied by requests to stay back home. Hence, if your precious angel has been routinely falling ‘sick’ on days when a certain test, class or event has to take place, there is a fair chance that the illness is being faked.
Even if your child is faking it, as a parent, it is necessary for you to ensure the overall well-being of your child. To begin with, you need to figure out whether your child really is ill or not. Take him/her to the doctors and see what they have to say. In case it is just a case of anxiety (the doctor rules out any possible problems), it is vital for you to talk to your angel. When doing so, make sure that you maintain a very friendly attitude instead of getting angry on him/her for faking things – remember, your child is facing a problem at school, which could include bullying and other conflicts, and you need to deal with him/her in the friendliest, most polite manner possible.
6 Sign # : Your child’s complaints are like a moving target – they keep changing
Inconsistency is the word here. Seriously speaking, if there is one major give away for this entire situation, it is this. Kids who fake illness typical suffer from rather vague symptoms, all of which seem to transfer from one part of the body to the other in a very short time period. If your girl has a stomachache to start with, she will soon have a headache, which will turn into pain in the eyes and paining feet in just a while. In short, if your child is faking illness, there isn’t going to be any consistency in his/her symptoms.
No matter how ‘clever’ a child wants to act by faking illness, the fact of the matter is that s/he is still a ‘child’ – an innocent child who does not understand what deception really is made of. For them, just putting up an act and making tall claims of illness is a major achievement unto its own. They just don’t know, with their innocent minds and all, that their symptoms needs to stick – that they shouldn’t be moving around their entire body. That, or well, they just forget their claims and continue to make new ones with just thoughts of staying home running through their minds!
It isn’t really going to take a lot of time for you to figure out this particular bit of their faking session. Your parental suspicion is going to receive confirmation in just about 15 minutes, as kids typically change their symptoms every 5 minutes or so. if your child says, “My head and stomach hurt”, and then comes back in another 5 to 10 minutes to claim that his/her eyes and right foot are paining, well, that’s a sure shot sign that the little one is lying about it all. But with that, it is necessary for you to bear in mind that certain illnesses can at times also embody the ‘migratory’ symptoms, but it is a major give away when there are way too many of these problems. My son actually told me about his aching head, stomach, left foot, eyes, and ears in a span of 15 minutes – if that isn’t a giveaway, I don’t know what is!
5 Sign # : The symptoms of your child’s illness come and go
The thing with children who fake illness is that they can easily be distracted and have their symptoms come and go. This is yet another telltale sign that a majority of parents actually swear on when it comes to figuring out whether their child is a ‘genuine’ patient or a fake. For instance, my son had a severe bout of cough the other day at about 7:15 AM, after which he was laughing away on a cartoon at 7:30 AM – where did that hacking cough go in just 15 minutes? I fail to understand!
Kids are kids. As genius as they wish to act, they tend to get excited out of their minds over the smallest of things. In the midst of it all, they end up forgetting that they have just lied their way all through the ordeal. Less do they know that kids who are genuinely ill continue to drift in and out of their sleep. The pain, the disease, the whatever-you-want-to-call-it typically tends to make them drowsy, leading to them falling asleep every now and then. Without this particular bit of knowledge at hand, children fake their illness, and upon convincing their parents that they just ‘have’ to stay at home, their excitement takes over as they go about doing whatever they want to – and this is just where you can catch them red-handed.
The best way to go about things, particularly if your child is being very persuasive and just doesn’t want to go to school, is to give your child the satisfaction that s/he isn’t going to school – that they can stay back and rest it out through the day. If your child is really faking it, there is a good chance that you will witness him/her getting completely immersed in an activity of their choice with no signs of fatigue. It is this bit of rapid change in the overall behavior of your child who is supposedly ill that will give out the truth – that your precious innocent little angel is merely faking things, and in this case, it is best for you to question your child to see why such an act was put up!
4 Sign # : Your child gets distracted and forgets all about his/her illness the moment you announce s/he is staying back
This sign is somewhat associated with the previous one and involves your child getting totally busy with something of his/her interest the moment you announce that s/he is staying home – that there is no school for them to go to today. Once again, upon achieving their goal of making mum agree to them staying back from school, they forget that the entire act of being sick needs to persist for a while – at least till mum’s at home. With that, they instantly get busy with an activity of their choice, such as watching cartoons on the TV, and forget keeping up with their illness symptoms. From your perspective, they stop coughing, don’t have a terrible stomachache that could stop them from doing anything – they’re having the time of their lives doing whatever they want to!
If truth be told, I would totally want to call this the ‘distract and watch’ technique. From my experience, this is one of the safest bets you have in terms of validating whether your child is really not feeling well or is just putting up an act. What I basically do is that I momentarily distract my son for a bit to another activity and then watch his behavior for a while. On a personal level, I am no fan of grilling him to find make him confess that he is not ill and is faking it just because he doesn’t want to go to school. For this reason, I just give him an empathic nod and tell him it’s alright – I say the magic words, “You can stay home”. With that, I suggest him to play a game, watch a bit of TV, do a little drawing or just go about doing whatever he wants through the day. This is where the catch is – if he instantly gets down to doing things like building a LEGO tower or watching cartoon, I know it was all an act. To confirm things, I give him his favorite snack, and if he starts gobbling it up right away without being ‘so tired I can’t move’, it’s a sure shot!
3 Sign # : The minute you tell your child s/he can stay home, s/he yells “Yay, there won’t be any homework today!”
Kids have the tendency to go to any extremes possible just so they can rid themselves off a day at school. Believe it or not, my son actually emptied a can of vegetable soup into the loo one day and pretended it was his vomit – just the sight of that soup there was enough to drive me crazy. However, one thing that I noted was that at times when I told my son that he can stay home, he immediately screamed out “Yay, there won’t be any homework today!”. With time, this became a bit of a pattern and each time that I hear these joyous yells now, I know that my son is faking illness and just wants to avoid doing a bit of homework. Oh, and the second giveaway in such a situation was that he’d run off to watch cartoons right away and not doze off for even a moment’s worth of sleep.
The fact of the matter is that we live in an extremely fast-paced world these days where children face far more challenges than we did back in our school days. Things like challenging math problems for homework, strenuous science projects and grueling spelling can all have a major impact on your child and in the long-term, these may even dampen your child’s interest in and enthusiasm for school. If your child wants to stay at home and skip on school just so s/he doesn’t have to attend his classes and avoid homework, then it is about time that you provide your angel a bit of support. if you do not provide the right sort of support to your kid, there is a good chance that s/he will get frustrated with the entire ordeal and will start hating even the notion of going to school.
The best thing to do in such a scenario is to help your child out with homework. With you taking an active part in homework, it will be easier for your little angel to focus on homework and doing things together will also make it more fun-filled for him/her. While you are at it, make sure that you give out ample praises for his/her work.
2 Sign # : There isn’t much medical evidence to support your child’s claims
If your child is complaining of things like flu, then it is necessary for you to validate their claims by seeing if there is any medical evidence for the same. What this means is that you should look for common flu symptoms to ensure that your little one is really sick and isn’t just making up the whole thing.
Now the sort of symptoms that you should look out for are inclusive of extreme fatigue, fever, body aches and dry cough. On the other hand, if your child claims to be suffering from a bit of cold, then the symptoms that you should look for include a mildly runny or stuffy nose. With that out of the way, you should take your little one’s temperature to see whether s/he really is feeling as bad as s/he claims. The thing that you need to remember here is that pediatricians in general do not consider a fever worthy of being concerned about until the temperature goes up to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more. If it is anything less than that, there isn’t much for you to worry about and your child is well enough to go to school. Anything below this particular reading, such as 97 degrees or even 99 degrees is commonly considered normal temperature depending on what time of the day it is. So unless it is at least over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit, there really isn’t much for you to worry about and your child definitely can and should go to school.
Moving on, your child may also complain of pain in the throat or in the tonsils. In such a case, it is highly recommended for you to check his/her throat and tonsils to see what is wrong. On the whole, if it is the tonsils that are bugging your child, they are going to look somewhat like a raw hamburger or moldy strawberries. If this is the problem, don’t let your child go to school, but if it isn’t, then it is off to the school for the little faker.
Also, if your child is complaining of a headache/stomachache etc., then use the previous ‘distract and watch’ trick and see what happens; you’ll find out soon enough!
1 Sign # : See how your child reacts to ‘Staying home isn’t going to be fun for you’
There are many different reasons why children prefer staying home than going to school and not all of them are as bad as one might imagine. For instance, kids are known to want to stay at home just because they a bit on the lousy part. Heck, my son even faked illness just because he was the only one in his class who had not yet caught the flu. To him, it was about time he took a break too and hence, ended up faking his supposed ‘flu’ – and got caught at it too.
On the other hand, children at times also want to stay back home just because they do not want to miss out on something fun-filled at home or because they need a break from the constant rushing and busy schedule at school. For instance, if your child’s aunt has come down for a visit for a couple of days, and the little one is pretty close to her, then there is a good chance that s/he will fake illness just to be able to stay home and have a bit of fun time with his/her aunt. However, instead of giving into his/her fake claims, try to make your child see that staying at home isn’t going to be any fun. If you tell this to your child, there is a good chance that s/he will be rushing off to school without any illnesses to complain about.
So how do you go about it? Well, a good place to start is to tell your little one that s/he will not be able to watch any television while at home. Also, add in that s/he will not be allowed to play considering how sick s/he is. If that doesn’t work too, tell your child that s/he will not be allowed out at all for any reason whatsoever. To sum it up, make staying at home as boring as possible for your child, and if the little one really is faking it, then there is a good chance that s/he will be desperate to head out to school right away instead of wanting to stay in.