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When Your Child Fakes Injuries

My 6-year-old fakes being hurta lot. How can I know what's real and get her to stop crying wolf?

When there's no obvious bleeding, swelling or bruising, you can assume your child is actually hurt if you can't distract her from her distress or she can't do her normal activities. Ditto if she's still upset after you do something silly or suggest something fun to do. But if she can run and play and move her body parts, chances are there's nothing serious going on.

As for taming the theatrics, give her more attention when she's not trying to pull one over. If that doesn't work, and especially if she seems sad or troubled with friends or at school, get your doctor's advice.

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.