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    Flu or Fiction?

    Ever fake sick when you were younger? 10% of kids today try to fake it at some point during their scholastic careers. It’s easy: pressing that thermometer to a warm lamp gives any little trickster a convincing “sick temperature” (anything over 101.4 is the standard) – and let’s not even get started on the various sources for fake vomit. But cunning as your kid may be, it’s important for you to know the difference between faking sick and genuine illness, because both can be cause for concern.


    Talk to Them

    If your child says they don’t feel well, begin by asking them what hurts. Then ask how badly it hurts, when it started hurting, and whether it’s gotten better or worse since they first noticed it. Be persistent. Don’t interrogate, but if vagaries and inconsistencies arise, ask your child to account for them. For instance, if the pain your child claims to feel seems to migrate at will – “My throat hurts…now it’s my stomach!” – it might be a sign that the ailment will migrate entirely away once you declare a sick day.

    Are They Faking It?

    If your child acts “all better” once they’re told they can stay home, it’s time for serious suspicion. Note their progress. Drowsiness is a common symptom of colds and the flu, so if your child is watching TV bright-eyed and focused, they may be faking. But by then it’s too late: you’ve already called your boss and started making chicken soup. So the next time your kid seems really avid to stay home, try telling them you only have split pea soup and that – oh! – the cable just went out. A day at school doesn’t look so bad anymore.

    Why Kids Pretend to be Sick

    Kids pretend to be sick for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just for the thrill of deception. But if you find out your kid has faked sick on several occasions, it may be the sign of an underlying problem. They might be avoiding something at school, like a bully or a geometry test. In these cases, where there is a definite motivation for faking sick, it’s important to figure it out, talk it over with your child, and find a solution. In other cases, deep anxiety can actually manifest itself in physical discomfort, so a kid really does feel sick even though they might not have a cold. This is more common in younger children, who haven’t learned to verbalize their emotions. Luckily, your doctor can help you get to the bottom of these issues before more serious problems arise.

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