DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my children is constantly complaining that something hurts. I realize that as an active child, she does sometimes get some bumps and bruises, but the way she seems to exaggerate these minor injuries is becoming annoying. I have taken her to the doctor many times when she complains of some part of her body hurting, and there is almost never anything going on. How do I address this? I don't want to ignore her concerns, but I now believe she is doing it primarily to get attention. She is 10 years old. I think it's time for her stop all of this nonsense. -- No More Complaints, Washington, D.C.
DEAR NO MORE COMPLAINTS: Speak with your daughter's pediatrician about your suspicions that she is making up her aches and pains. Get her a complete physical to ensure that there are no underlying health conditions that could be the cause of her woes. If she gets a clean bill of health, perhaps your daughter's pediatrician can talk to her about the dangers of exaggerating illnesses. The story of the boy who cried wolf may be appropriate here.
You may also want to make her a few appointments with a child psychologist to see if he or she can get to the bottom of why your daughter is craving attention in this way. Apart from professional help, you can also observe your own behavior as a parent. How much time do you spend giving your children one-on-one support? Does this child frequently experience a bit of alone time with you? Since you have multiple children, you need to pay attention to this. Often children fake illness -- without realizing why -- so that Mom or Dad will give them special attention.