Your school-aged child wakes up sniffling, coughing, and moaning that he
just doesn't feel well enough to go to school. Could it be a cold? The flu? Or,
even the dreaded swine flu? As a parent, how are you supposed to respond?
Sometimes, it's clear that your child has cold symptoms or flu symptoms and
needs to be taken to the doctor. Other times, illness in kids is not so easy to
figure out. Your child may not look so sick to you. So before you heat up the
chicken soup and call your boss, you might want to consider the possibility
that something other than a virus has invaded your home.
Yes, we're talking deception. Faking it. Playing hooky, a la Ferris
Bueller's Day Off. Just as Matthew Broderick, the lead actor in the hit
1986 movie, decided to give himself a glorious day off (including a spin around
Chicago in a "borrowed" Ferrari), there is the possibility your child is faking
it -- for attention, the thrill of it, or a zillion other reasons.
Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts
Get the latest swine flu facts and information from WebMD, the CDC and other
public health agencies.
At some point during their school days, up to 10% of kids try to dupe their
parents into letting them stay home by feigning illness, experts say.
Sometimes, the guise is relatively innocent; but sometimes it masks serious
problems, such as anxiety, depression, or their wish to avoid a bully at
Given the anxiety many parents feel when their children are sick --
especially since the swine flu outbreaks -- how can you figure out which
symptoms are real and which aren’t? WebMD asked three experts who've seen their
share of faking -- a pediatrician, a child and adolescent psychologist, and a
former school nurse -- to clue us in on how clueless parents can decide: Does
your baby need medical attention, chicken soup, or marching orders to get to
school? Of course, if your child looks and acts truly sick, it's time to call
the doctor or take them to urgent care.
But if you have your doubts and are trying to decide if the illness is
really called "don't-want-to-go-to-school-itis," here are our experts' four
best tips, short of hooking up a lie detector: