Children do not say “I’m anxious”, they say “My stomach hurts”

If your child frequently suffers from stomach pain, they might be struggling with anxiety.

A stomach ache from time to time is normal in both adults and children; however, if you are starting to notice that your child frequently says that their stomach hurts, they might be struggling with anxiety. Naturally, children are too young to understand anxiety and the symptoms which arise from feeling anxious. Thus, instead of saying ‘Mum, I’m feeling anxious this morning’, they might say ‘My stomach hurts’. Upon hearing their child say this several times a week or month, parents consult pediatricians who are unable to diagnose what is causing the child’s pain. Consequently, some begin to worry if there is a more serious underlying condition that is causing the pain while others begin to think that their child is lying or making things up. In reality, your child’s stomach pain could be caused by anxiety.

Your child’s anxiety can manifest itself in numerous different ways.

According to Bright Side, if you think your child might have anxiety, there are other symptoms you should watch out for. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Sensitivity

What can you do to relieve your child’s anxiety?

If you think your child might be struggling with anxiety, it is your job as a parent to share your knowledge, explain what anxiety is, and teach them how to cope with it.

1. Explain and inform

Ensure that your child understands the cause of their pain. Try to explain what anxiety is and let them know that the pain they are experiencing is as a result of worry and fear. In addition to this, pay attention to their symptoms and make note of their pattern; in doing so, you will be able to identify what triggers their anxiety.

2. Positive affirmations

Teach your child positive affirmations that they can repeat to themselves when they start feeling anxious. This can be a short phrase such as ‘I am safe’ or a question such as ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’.

3. Exercises 

Teaching your child breathing techniques and grounding exercises is necessary. These can prove extremely helpful, especially if they become anxious when you are not around to help them deal with their feelings.

Remember that your child cannot understand what they are feeling and as a result, they will struggle to explain it to you. For this reason, make sure that you watch out for the above symptoms and try to identify what makes your child anxious so that you can help them learn how to manage (rather than avoid) their triggers.

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