I have 3 kids who seem to use medical reasons for excuses, most often to not go to bed. For instance, my 7 year old periodically "Can't move" at bed time to get to his bed, but when he gets in there, he suddenly is able to move out of his room. I'm not sure quite what to do about it. On the one hand, I feel like giving him attention because of a fake illness is a very bad thing, but on the other hand, a part of me wonders if it really is something. What can I do? Thanks!

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    Well, I don't really know, but I would more or less ignore it. Especially I wouldn't let the excuse work. If their excuses doesn't work they probably stop using them, right? Aug 12, 2011 at 14:12

4 Answers 4


Our son sometimes became "ill" to avoid going to school. When this behavior started becoming a habit, we dealt with this challenge by acting just as if he WAS sick for the rest of the day.

He was allowed to stay home, but was reminded that people that are sick must rest to get better. Therefore, he was confined to bed or couch and unable to participate with the other family activities or exert himself with play or other pleasures all day. Television or gaming was not allowed because he needed to rest his eyes and body. Meals were bland soup instead of some yummy favorite the rest of the family got, because sick people need special diets.

If illness was not validated, the imposed rest and limited diet resulted in a quick recovery; however, the "bitter pill" of restrictions remained in place fall longer than the spontaneous recovery "just to be sure" all is well.

There was rarely a need to repeat this "lesson" when reminded of what we do to help our loved ones recover!

  • 9
    Parents are conniving sneaky bastards
    – user3143
    Oct 22, 2011 at 13:47
  • 2
    @DVK Probably because we got lots of practice as kids outsmarting our parents. :P Oct 22, 2011 at 15:48
  • 1
    @DVK Parents should be conniving sneaky bastards.
    – SQB
    Feb 24, 2014 at 10:53

Assuming of course there is no real medical problem, it is either playful, or it is defiant. Decide which it is, and treat is as such.

If it is playful, and you have time, play along. If it is playful and you don't have time, or when you are done playing, say so. Then, continued refusal is defiance.

For defiance, you need to respond to it as you would other direct refusal to do what is told or what they know is expected. Substitute "NO! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME" for "I can't move", and act accordingly. My wife and I were never ones to tolerate direct defiance, so we would act swiftly and harshly. We would do something like pull her off the couch, drag her to her room, and leave her there with a valued possession in my hand.


If you think that the kid is giving you a hard time with a fake "medical problem", then ignore him. He'll figure out after a little while that you aren't falling for it, and that'll be the end of that.

When a child who frequently pretends to be sick or injured actually is sick or injured, he'll find a way to tell you that he's not faking. Don't worry about it.


Call a hospital and ask for a nurse who is in contact with terminally ill patients. Tell her your child thinks being sick makes its life easier, and ask if you can come visit. Perhaps she will let you. At most I expect she will give you 5 minutes of her time, during which she can explain how much it sucks to be dying from an arbitrary illness.

She may know a few old timers who want to do a good deed before they pass into the great beyond. It would be wonderfully constructive if they could scare your child into not being quite so whiny.


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