When You Think Your Child Is Faking an Illness

It's Monday morning, time to get moving, but instead of getting ready for school your child is complaining about a stomachache, a headache, dizziness or something similar.

Is your child sick, or is he afraid to go to school?

School avoidance syndrome, is one of the most common causes of vague, unverifiable symptoms in school-age children and may be triggered by stress.

How does a parent distinguish between a real illness and anxiety? Ask yourself the following questions:

"Does the child have a fever? Was she vomiting? Did she have diarrhea? What was her condition the night before?"

If after asking these questions you're still unsure, consult your child's health care provider. If there appear to be no physical factors involved - and this has happened several times before = you can then focus on the source of the child's fears.

Certain children have difficulty separating from their parents and the comfort of home. This anxiety is often aggravated by a specific incident, like the perceived meanness of a teacher or a threat from a bully.

The first step in curing school avoidance syndrome is to sympathize but be firm: Tell your child he must go to school.

Go, they must

Insist your child go to school, but be understanding. Talk with her about why she doesn't want to go.

Emotional concerns

Explain to your child that she is in good health and her symptoms are most likely because of the concerns she has expressed to you.

Get support

Enlist the help of the school staff, including the teacher, principal and school nurse. If you make them aware of the situation, they can help encourage your child and ease his anxieties.

A bully problem

If the problem is a bully or unreasonable teacher, talk to the teacher or principal. He or she may be able to make changes to lessen the pressure on your child.

Stand your ground

Make a commitment to be firm on school mornings when your child complains.

Clubs and sports

Help your child develop independence by encouraging activities such as clubs or sports that include other children outside the home.


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