Sick or Faking It? How to Tell the Difference

Filed under: Opinions

child with dogThis morning -- in between bites of Cheerios -- my kindergartner told me her stomach hurt and she didn't think she could go to school. I was suspicious. But over the weekend, she had an ear infection I'd dismissed, so I'm not exactly 100% confident in my parental radar at the moment.

I called her in sick to school, tucked her in on the couch, and turned on a movie. Within a half hour, she said, "Mom. I'm not sick. I just don't want to go to school."

The kiddo has a lot to learn in the art of deceiving parents.

She's missed two days in the last two weeks, one for the above-mentioned ear infection and another for the cold that caused it. I suspect she got a taste of staying home and so is doing a little experimenting with how far she can take it -- an experiment that will end at lunch today when I deliver her to her classroom.

I can remember faking sick on more than one occasion, and I also remember the day my parents finally called me on it. Kids like a "mental health day" as much as the rest of us, but when a child persistently tries to avoid school, it can be a sign of anxiety, depression, or problems with other children.

Not sure if your little one is faking it or sick? ABC News has a few ideas for helping you sleuth it out. Vague symptoms or those that seem to move around the body are a red flag, as are those that disappear once that call to the school office has been made.

Do you let your child stay home when they're faking it?
Yes. But only now and then.99 (44.8%)
No. School is too important.83 (37.6%)
I'm not really sure how to tell the difference.31 (14.0%)
Other -- share with us in comments.8 (3.6%)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.