It's probably a well known fact that younger kids tend to ape their older siblings. Generally it's possible to handle in variety of ways and isn't that big of a deal.

One way where I'd like some input is the following situation:

  1. Older sibling say something hurts or has some illness symptoms (e.g. say his throat hurts, etc...). It's a legitimate complaint.

  2. Younger one immediately apes this by saying her throat hurts as well.

This is a problem, because:

  • Being a sore throat, it is kind of difficult to verify.

  • Being a pair of kids in preschool, we can't simply ignore her complaint since they DO quite frequently catch assorted illnesses simultaneously.

  • She is one of those kids who LIKES "while sick" treatment in general - our "cold/flu" diet is something she likes, she WANTS to be given medicine (don't ask), she LOVES going to our pediatrician. So the usual approach (recently discussed in a separate question about faked illnesses by schoolchild) don't seem to work at all.

  • While she can generally be reasoned with, this situation is something she listens to our explanations and proceeds to behave as usual, no matter what the reasons, punishment, etc...



2 Answers 2


It appears that your daughter, like most children (and adults for that matter) like attention. She likely mimics her brother's illness because he is getting attention which is needed and she wants in on the action. A solution would be to find a way that his illness gets her more attention because she is well along with ignoring her "sick/fake" behavior.

When brother is sick, award her a special position as "nurse" or "mommy's assistant". Put an apron on her, allow her to help you fix his meals, or be in charge of watching an alarm for timing his meds, Maybe even calling a family member and reporting of his status periodically could be her assignment. Anything that will put her front and center with your direct attention.

If her "symptoms" present, state that you were hoping that she would be able to help you (fill in creative activity) but she can't if she is sick too. Then explain how busy you will be for a while and promptly "disappear" while she is assigned to bed rest. Suggest that if she gets to feeling better she could come help you.

It would be important to award her special attention at the time that her brother's illness is discovered before her fake symptoms appear if possible.

  • +1 since it's a good advice in general. However I can't accept the answer since in our case it's literally the case of aping and NOT of asking for attention (it's clear, because this exact approach - which we tried - yielded zero benefits; AND since she never lacks attention when he's sick - actually, she is a significant beneficiary when he's sick since she can play with the toys he isn't allowed to). The best indicator is that she never fakes being sick if she's NOT in earshot when he complains of the symptoms - e.g. if he's ALREADY sick she never fakes being sick post-factum.
    – user3143
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 13:33

Our son did this for a little while. It was a lot easier for us to spot the fake because he was mimicking his older sister's cerebral palsy symptoms, but the solution is still the same. Just deny her the rewards of the lie. Kids that age can't keep up the pretense for very long if they are missing out on things they enjoy. Since the act is all for your benefit, just observe her when she thinks you aren't watching if you're worried about her really being sick. She's not going to die if a sore throat goes untreated for a few hours.

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