9 Year Old Is Constantly Faking Injuries

Updated on July 07, 2015
S.A. asks from Kill Devil Hills, NC
15 answers

How do I handle my 9 year old son who constantly fakes injuries? In the past, he's fooled the school nurse 2 yrs in a row, pretending he was practically blind so he could get glasses like Harry Potter. Last time was his arm was hurt, so he wanted to wear a splint. I finally just let him wear one & he did for about a week, then has been miraculously cured. The latest has been an ankle injury-he really wants crutches-& has "sprained" his ankle 4 times in the last 3 weeks! He has plenty of attention, but he gets jealous of anyone who is injured or sick. His little brother was running a fever last week-all of a sudden he was sick too! I gave him the benefit of the doubt AGAIN & took his temp-of course it was completely normal.
I KNOW he's lying! He got off the bus today, limping like a 1 legged War Hero, claiming his teacher saw him fall down the stairs & then tripped over him. I told him I was going to call & ask her & said is there anything he should tell me? He stuck to his story. I DID call & the teacher said he "fell" on one stair & she almost tripped on him, but hardly even brushed him. She said she was very frustrated w/him by the end of the day because he claimed he "didn't know how to sit down on the carpet" & was disrupting the class. He never even asked to go to the nurse, but did mention the fact that as of Monday, we lose our medicaid for our boys (because we worked too hard this year & our income exceeds the limit-God Bless America, right???).
Do I baby him or make him fess/toughen up? This is a kid who swore he had a toothache last year to get out of Spanish Class. I told him if I took him to the dentist I had to pay out of pocket, so PLEASE-don't lie to me! He said it was true. The dentist took x-rays & found nothing...he was obviously faking!
We can't afford this now & I can't trust him to tell me the truth, so I need some pointers to outwit his little mind.
Thanks in advance for any help!!

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answers from New York on

my friends son used to go to the nurse all the time saying he was sick.. she told the nurse to just send him back to class.... also when he complained at home being sick.. she would make him lie down.. no tv.. because your sick.. couldn't go out because his arm hurt.. ... he wasn't happy because of the no tv... no playing with friends... he finally stopped doing it.. if your son doesn't stop.. talk to the school about counceling.. it may help and they don't charge you.. good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My first impulse would be to to toughen up but that is kind of how I was raised. My grandparents were nurses in the old days before antibiotics so they raised my mom to be pretty tough with us. We knew if there wasn't some thing substantial (bleeding, fever over 100, throwing up, etc) we had to go about out business without special treatment other than a bit of asprin/tylenol or cold medicine. Maybe insisting on a concrete symptom other than a random part that hurts will help. If he complains have him describe the alleged pain and how it happened. No redness or swelling is probably a fake. But he can always rest it and put a cold pack on it (he can do it himself). You can also do the "Hmm, if you are sick you should be in bed (with no distractions like tv, music, games, etc)" response.

I hear you about the insurance. We have such a high deductible we are still paying for all the doctor visits. My kids are too little to even give me meaningful descriptions yet so we have been there a lot.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you should go with it and baby him. Don't spend much money on this, obviously, but I think you should play along with it -- emphasis on the word play. Let your son know, with humor, that you know he's not really sick, with a kind of nudge and wink attitude. However, as long as it doesn't cost you anything, I think it's pretty harmless. He just wants to be babied. I doubt he'll do it in high school.

He shouldn't be getting out of classes because of it, but maybe a placebo pill or something for times like that.

And I think the Harry Potter thing is funny too, as well as the splint. I really think counseling is unnecessary when this is so obviously a ploy for being babied. It doesn't harm people to be babied occasionally. If you give him what he needs, he'll likely need it less.



answers from Barnstable on

I would seek serious help. We have a child who started out lying and faking sickness and injuries for attention. They are now self-harming and upping the game. I would say there is an underlying issue.



answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like it's time to read him "The boy who cried wolf".



answers from Washington DC on

I would stop catering to him. My daughter used to tell the teacher she was hurt and she would get sent to the nurse who would then in turn call me and disrupt my work - i would have to come pick her up, etc and then I realized she was just nervous at a new school and used it as an excuse to either get attention or leave an uncomfortable situation...so I told the teacher that when she complains, she is a bit of a drama queen, so she should acknoweldge her, give her a hug or something and then DON'T send her to the nurse....so she tried it the next time my DSD complained of her stomach hurting or her ankle being twisted, etc and she gave her a hug and she ran off to play with her friends, completely consoled....not sure why your son needs that much attention, but he also probably likes pretending...kind of like acting his arm was hurt in a sling or something...I have used the 'boy who cried wolf' story....sometimes it works...and I also told my DSD that she can only go to the nurse for an emergency....and then gave a warning if it wasn't an emergency. So, next time he says something to you, I would just listen, say something like 'Sorry to hear that..' - then basically blow it off - don't take him seriously. If he were totally serious, you would probably know it. I'm sure motherly intuition helps and there's a difference between red-faced crying and 'mommy it hurts.' I definitely wouldn't take him in for unnecessary procedures especially if you can't afford it. That is ridiculous and he is playing you!!



answers from Albuquerque on

Maybe you should call and talk to his dr. I know these are fake instances but maybe his dr. could suggest a solution. What about counseling? To be honest I wouldn't even know where to start so I would call the pediatrician. They can direct you in the right place.

You have to admit, the Harry Potter thing is pretty funny! Sorry your going through this at such a crappy time. Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

He sounds like a ham! Like it's hard to be mad at him. But I agree with previous posters. He needs to understand its all fun until the bill comes and
or he is really hurt and no one believes him. I agree with those suggesting consequences such as having to stay in bed and losing video games and trips to McDonalds, etc. Definitely do not take him to the Dr. right away!
Is there some kids' drama workshop he could do this summer? Sounds like
he needs an outlet!!!



answers from Washington DC on

I think its an age thing. My 8y old tries this alot too. So please know that you are NOT alone in fighting this battle.

My kids do the fake fever bit too. I tell them that the thermometer is law. If the thermometer says your not sick...then so be it. They even have ones now that have a big dial area - green is ok, yellow is a low-grade; and red is really sick/high. Another way to keep him from faking sick is to tell him that the only true way to check your temp is to use a baby thermometer where the sun doesn't shine.... that SHOULD do the trick!!!

As for the faking sick with sprains, crutches, etc. My suggestion is a little bit of system shock. Talk to your local hospital/ER about doing a tour or even the Urgent care place that is near the turn off to Duck.. (I must say that your local hospital is a VERY nice one. We visited there for a whole week a few years back due to illness while on vacation.) Let him see kids that don't have a choice about whether or not they can use them.

As for the insurance issue. I'm sorry to hear this. I don't know if there is a low-cost or free health care clinic in your area or not. We have one here. There is a dentist that works out of it too. One visit there, and waiting all day to be seen for a fake illness might cure him too.




answers from Dallas on

I agree with Rachel and Julie. If he is hurt or sick, he should stay in bed with only books and homework to entertain him. I think all kids pull this stunt at some time in their little lives. When my kids tried it, I pulled out the child psychology card and said something like, " Oh, that's too bad you are hurt/ill I had planned a suprise trip to McDonald's for ice cream so I guess daddy can take your brother while we stay home." or "I planned a surprise family movie night, guess you will have to stay in bed while mommy, daddy and your sister watch a movie together and cuddle on the couch." Follow through with the surprise and don't cave in and let him out of bed, the games should stop. If it still continues after this, I would seek professional help.



answers from Norfolk on

Keep track of the situations/family stuff going on when he does this...is another sibling having something special go on? Does he have a lot of homework? A test? etc. See if there is a pattern. He may have chosen this as a way to cope with something (jealousy, learning difficulty, family stress, etc.) If nothing shows then it sounds like time for your son to get some tough love. He is old enough to understand that lying is not okay. Make sure all your family members are sending that same message by being honest to him and around him. You said you have medicaid which tells me you don't have a bunch of money to pay for appointments and it is not fair for the taxpayers to foot the bill for you son's dramatics. Tell him you will have to start selling his stuff and cutting expenses (cable, video games, doing things that cost money) to cover the doctors costs. Then DO IT! Follow through. If it still doesn't stop or you do see a pattern then seek counseling. His school should be able to offer some resources. You don't want your son to grow up unable to cope with life without lying or avoinding situations by lying. Good luck.



answers from Little Rock on

Ok I am a Step-mom and we are dealing with the samething. But I am mostly dealing with this and it is always worst when dad is not home. Plus I have to worry about what will happen if I do something wrong in her mom's eyes.
But we have let school nurse and teacher about what is going on, and our plan is go to bed when hurt and all of these other ideals that everyone has said. Now the one where we sale her stuff is great!! Never thought of this.
Please know it is not always the age group. Her mom has built these habits, and this is how she got attention from her mother. I STRONGLY disaree with playing along with it, because this is a habit that will be carried on for the rest of their life and could stringly effect their relationships with spouses!! This is not a postive way to get attention and should be changed!!



answers from Richmond on

you have a hypocondriac on your hands !what to do about it..
simple, sit him down immediately and tell him that as of right this
minute, he is not to go outside, PERIOD.
why.. because he is SICK, REMEMBER
the next time he cries he is hurt and whines to go to the doctor, tell him that if the doctor finds nothing, HE WILL BE PAYING THE BILL.
make him work it off through doing extra chores, if he is old enough to
fake symptoms , then he is old enough to pay the bill.
my late monster in law was a serious hypocondriac, and she got to the point where she hurt herself in order to be taken to the doctor. make sure that there is someone to always watch him just in case he decides to try this tactic. his is doing this for the attention, but truth be told, when he has to pay for his own doctor visits, even if its just the co pay, it will lose its
allure. plus if he has to pay for someone to drive him to the doctors office,
after its proven that he wasnt telling the truth , he will suddenly decide he is healthy
K. h.



answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like you've got yourself a real smart one there! I used to pull a lot of tricks to try and get out of school/class when i was younger, but usually just saying I had a stomach ache/fever. Once in a great while I might have pulled something bigger and said i sprained my ankle, etc.

I'm not sure if you've tried this yet, but what really worked and got me not to fake ill was being told that I wouldn't be able to do any of the special activities I enjoyed for as long as I was "sick".

Sometimes with a smart/tricky child, you have to be tricky with them as well. Next time he says his stomach hurts & he can't go to school, feign pity and tell him something such as - "Oh no, well this is just horrible! I was going to take you and your little brother for ______ after school, but I guess if you're too sick to go to school, I'll just take your brother by himself."

And the same formula for the various other injuries. In most cases, if it's really something the child enjoys, they will cave and go ahead and go to school. If not, well then you have to do what my parents always did. Go ahead and let them stay home, but make sure the day is not some kind of vacation. If they are "sick", they should stay in bed most of the day and rest. No video games, not a lot of tv, etc. Trust me, being confined to their room and being bored all day will get old very quick!


answers from Chicago on

Babying him is what he wants. I agree with Rachel, if he's sick or hurting, he should be resting in bed. He can read some books, like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

I would also stress to him that when he fakes an injury or illness, you won't believe him when he's really sick!

If he persists, counseling may be in order.

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