5 Tips for Determining if Your Child is Sick or Faking It

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It is understandable for every mother to want to protect and take care of their children, especially if they have any reason to believe that a child is sick. However, it is important to develop a good sense of what is real and what is fake so that each child is able to acquire a good education. After all, there are numerous reasons that someone might want to stay home from school, and the majority of them do not involve an actual illness. To help you out, we have compiled a list of tips that will make it much easier to figure out if they actually need to go to the doctor.

1. Take Their Temperature


Although not every illness will show itself via a thermometer, this is still a good starting point for figuring out whether or not they are genuinely ill and have a fever. Keep in mind that traditional options can be manipulated with a hot light-bulb, so you may wish to use a wireless thermometer instead to get a more accurate result. Wireless thermometers are comfortable to children, and the wearable design is often tolerated by kids a lot better than traditional thermometers.

2. Stay Up to Date on Their School Schedule

kids writing in winter


It is always possible for someone to get sick on the day of a big test or presentation, but if this happens frequently, the odds are high that they are simply feeling intimidated by the idea of going to school. By staying up to date on their school schedule, you can more quickly determine if they have test anxiety instead of a real sickness.

3. Pay Close Attention to Their “Sick” Symptoms

child watching tv

Most children and teenagers are unable to stick with a fake symptom for an extended period of time, so look for any obvious gaps. For example, if they are talking like they have a sore throat, they should not magically recover their normal voice while talking on the phone or watching television. Additionally, it is common for children to make vague complaints that keep changing when they are not really sick. Therefore, if a stomachache quickly changes to a sore throat, it is a good idea to be skeptical of their claims.

4. Look for Psychological Symptoms

depressed child


It is important to note that not being physically ill does not mean that your child is not feeling sick. If they are having psychological issues such as high stress or depression, it can make them feel run down or tired, and they might even exhibit other physical symptoms such as a migraine. Stress can lead to a long list of problems, including insomnia, asthma, gastrointestinal discomfort, depression, and obesity. With this in mind, if your child or teenager appears to be highly stressed out, they may need to begin seeing a counselor to help them deal more effectively with their daily stressors.

5. Observe Their Behavior

playing with toys


Did your child tell you they were sick this morning and then proceed to stay awake all day while watching TV and playing with their favorite toys? If so, the odds are high that they are just faking it. The reality is that feeling under the weather makes most people feel lethargic, and it can be really difficult to gather enough strength to do something fun. In other words, if your child is truly ill, they will typically be more interested in sleeping than in lugging out their toys for an extended period of playtime.

Please note that some illnesses can cause ups and downs throughout the day, and anxiety is often very difficult for children to deal with. When in doubt, it is always best to make an appointment with a pediatrician. As an added bonus, the simple act of making this appointment can often make it clear who is really sick and who is just faking it.

How did you fake sick when you were a kid?



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Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.


  1. Such great tips I remember the days when my daughters would try and make me believe they were sick and couldn’t go to school, if I knew they were faking it I would take the aside and have a talk about why they really wanted the day off and if they were honest which they usually would be and explained that something was happening at school they really didn’t want to be part of and it wasn’t really important I might have left them have the day off just to show them that I would listen and decide, if it was something like a test they didn’t want to take I would explain that they may have to take the test when they went back the next day and so better to just get it over and done with because at times they would thing if they didn’t go they wouldn’t have to do the test at all and often that wasn’t the case

    • I bet they trusted you more since you actually got to the root of why they didn’t want to go. Good job! My mom used to let me stay home when I wanted. I always made good grades and if it didn’t effect that she didn’t mind.

    • Good point Jo-Anne. My daughter wasn’t bad about it, but my son was. I am glad that we have ways to get at the root of the problem because one day I thought he was faking it and sent him to school (no fever). I had to go pick him up 2 hours later. He had a stomach bug. I should have asked more questions.

  2. Sabrina QUairoli says:

    Great tips! I tend to have kids that don’t want to miss anything so I sometimes have to tell them that they can’t do something. They are just like their mommy and daddy. We tend to get sick on weekends and holidays. =/ Thanks for sharing.

    • We get sick on holidays a lot too. Back on our 5th anniversary my son gave us croup just in time for a Vegas trip. We were sick the entire week 🙁

    • Seems like it always happened on our holidays, too. Mainly Christmas break. We started getting flu shots when the kids were older, and that seemed to help the month long flu experience where everyone took a turn getting it.

  3. Honest mum says:

    Very useful tips, my kids are so crazily honest but as they get older I will need to look out for these things. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

  4. Phoenicia says:

    My daughter absolutely loves school and is excited about attending every day. If she claims to be ill – she is.

    If I noticed my child was faking her illness, I would try to encourage her to open up about what the real problem was. I would ask if she is getting along with her friends, if something at school was worrying her.

    • I love the age when kids are still excited for school! I know by the end of the summer my son wishes school was in session. He loves the constant activity.

  5. Donna Janke says:

    Good tips. I don’t think my daughter faked sickness very often. But she tended to react to every little pain and ache, so it was sometimes difficult to ascertain when she was really sick enough to stay home or go to the doctor.

  6. I do not have children of my own, so it is hard for me to comment on it.
    From my experience you have to watch out for when they try to be brave.
    As a kid, I got hurt, and tried to suffer through it, until my mom saw me crying while I was sleeping. After a Doctor saw me, I have a dislocated shoulder.
    Unfortunately, I kept it up and spent 4 days in the military suffering a ruptured appendix.
    I can imagine how hard it would be for parents determining if their kids are sick, or something else.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  7. Beth Niebuhr says:

    I don’t miss the days when I had to deal with this with one of my children. It’s no fun, especially when their feelings cause real physical distress but you can’t let them miss every day!

    • Especially nowadays. We were just sent home the districts policy on absences. Although it’s not as bad as when I was a kid. I remember one time a teacher accidentally marked me as absent even though I was there. A truant officer showed up to my house later that night. I was in elementary school and terrified.

  8. Ken Dowell says:

    I understand that this is an issue but when my kids were younger I was always worried about ignoring, downplaying or minimizing a real health issue because I though the child was if not outright faking it at least embellishing it.

    • Kids do like to embellish so it can be very difficult to know when it’s something real. You just have to know your kid well I guess.

  9. Jacqueline Gum says:

    Ha! I used to fake it, but honestly I never got away with it:) Never was a very good liar. Truth is, I was a stutterer and was teased relentlessly at school. My mother never asked me, but she figured it out. Her emphasis then switched to teaching me to have a thicker skin.

    • I used to stutter too. Well, mainly when it came to doing things in front of the class. From then on I would rather say I didn’t do a project than present it.

  10. I guess I wasn’t a normal kid. I took pride in my school attendance; I had to be really out of it to stay home.

  11. Kire Sdyor says:

    My daughter likes to be “sick” on Mondays (Fridays if it’s a long weekend). Her younger brother then gets “sick” as soon as she feels better so he doesn’t feel like he missed something.

    • Haha. The last time my older son stayed home because he was sick my younger son threw a fit and didn’t want to go either. He forced to go. Not a fun morning!

  12. Those are great tips!! I have to be careful with my son, he is always faking.

    • That’s funny and frustrating all at once, I’m sure. Kids do the silliest things sometimes.

  13. Thanks for this post it was very informative. But as a mom, we know whether kids are faking or not. A mother’s instinct was very amazing.

    • I have learned to not underestimate my kids. They are pretty smart and as a mother, you don’t like seeing your kids suffer so you’re more prone to give in than think they’re faking.

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  16. It’s difficult too find educated people on this subject, but you seem likee you know what you’re talking about!

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