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The words every parent dreads.
But the question is, how do you know if your kid is really sick...
Or faking it?
How do you know your kid isn't making up physical symptoms to get out of going to school or an activity?
At one time or another during the parenthood journey, my kids have faked being sick. I've always had to dig deep to find the reason behind it--was it really something physically wrong or was my kid wanting a day to stay home and watch cartoons? If they were faking it, I usually figured it out pretty quickly, because it's tough to act sick when you're really not. Sometimes it was related to something happening at school. Sometimes it was just something going on within them--something they were personally struggling with. Sometimes they were just plain 'ole tired and wanted more sleep.
And sometimes they just wanted life to stop spinning a bit so they could take a breath and regroup.
So how do you know if your kid really is physically sick or just faking it for other reasons?
Of course, there's the obvious: testing for physical signs of being sick. Fevers are pretty tough to fake if you take a temperature every five minutes without leaving the room. Noting changes in skin color is another sign. Stomach aches, headaches, or physical aches are impossible to gauge the depth of seriousness that's involved with each.
But if your kid is continually coming to you with one symptom after another, you'll need to get down to the bottom of it. Sometimes personal situations at school or with friends can cause physical symptoms within a child.
A lot comes down to what you know about your child--what's normal, and what's not. A parent's intuition can be a valuable guide as well. There were times my kids tried to pull off a day to stay home and I had to evaluate each situation to determine whether or not the request was valid--and if it wasn't--off to school they went. Sometimes I discovered situations at school that were causing stress--and we had to work through those situations either by connecting with school officials or the parents of the other kids. Counseling was also an option we used as well.
And as a family, check to see if things at home are contributing to "I'm sick" symptoms. Chaos, arguments, tension, and stress between parents can contribute to a child's declaration of illness.
I let my kids take a "Mental Health" day every now and then. As long as they kept up in school and put in a good overall effort, the Mental Health days would happen. When they were younger, it became a special time for us to do things out of the ordinary. When they were older, they had to pitch in at home to accomplish something throughout the day.
Of course, if a parent fakes being sick so they can spend a day in bed and get the kids to clean house and cook dinner, that's a whole other ballgame.
But shhh, you didn't hear that from me.