“Maa, my tummy hurts”, Rehan would refuse to get out of bed and get ready for school. But today, Rehan’s mother decided she would take it no more. This was becoming a fortnightly feature – he would cry piteously in the morning and as soon as an hour or so of pampering had gone by, he would be merrily tucked in bed watching his favourite cartoons! By afternoon, he would zip around the house in his superman costume so fast; you would never believe that he was sick a few hours ago.
This question troubles a lot of parents quite often: Is my child faking a stomach ache? Here are a few pointers that will help you answer – is your kid sick or just faking it.
The Other Signs:
While there may be no way to know if subjective symptoms like headache or tummy ache are real, there are certain objective signs which can guide you. Flu is often accompanied by fever, runny nose, cough and extreme weakness. A stomach infection may be accompanied by vomiting or loose motions.
Noting the body temperature is a good step. Normal body temperature varies through the day and 99 degrees F may still be normal. Usually doctors consider a temperature of more than 100.4 Degrees F as fever.
When your child’s symptoms move from one part of the body to another, it may sometimes be a clue that the illness is being faked. Children who are really sick tend to sleep off while watching TV or are not enthusiastic doing activities that they normally enjoy. So if your child is wide awake on a TV marathon session or if your teen is talking away nonstop on the phone just minutes after a ‘long coughing bout’, keep a watch on the symptoms.
Raised temperatures can be faked, but it is difficult to do that for 1-2 trials consistently. Hence do recheck the temperature within an hour or two if you are in doubt.
The Timing of the Illness:
You may not know it then, but may realize this in hindsight – Your child may fake illness when they are anxious about certain events – tests, stage performances or sports events. If your child does not feel comfortable enough to share the reason, you may talk to their teacher to find out if any learning disability or bullying is at fault. Do talk to your child, empathize with his or her anxiety and help them face their fears.
If you consistently find yourself wondering – is my child faking a stomach ache, do consider if there are any underlying psychological issues of anxiety or depression. Yes, even children can get depressed! Do take off some time to introspect if your performance expectations are pressuring your child. Sometimes, the pain may be real even if the cause is psychological especially with younger children who haven’t learned to vocalize their feelings.
On the other hand, if you are not sure if your child is faking it, but your ‘mother’s instinct’ tells you that something is genuinely wrong, do take him to your local physician. The below pointers will help you know that you need to take your child’s health seriously:
Fever: If your kid’s temperature has been more than 100 F, keep your child at home for at least 24 hours after his temperature has returned back to normal.
Vomiting / Diarrhoea: If any of these are associated with fever or happen more than once in a day, it is better if you do not send your child to school.
Skin Rash / Red Eyes: Skin rashes that are associated with fever may be a sign of a contagious illness like chickenpox or measles. Similarly a red eye that is accompanied with yellowish discharge or crusting may be a sign of conjunctivitis. In such cases it is better to keep your child at home to prevent passing on the infection to other kids.
We hope these little pointers help you answer the question – is your kid sick or just faking it? If you have any suggestions or comments, do not hesitate to let us know in the section below. If your child has been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, homeopathy could help your child in addition to psychotherapy. Do give us a call at +91-22-66888888 or write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to Dr Rajesh Shah’s Associate Doctors at LifeForce Homeopathy.
– Dr Amrita Sodhi, Associate Doctor to Dr Rajesh Shah, Team LifeForce