“Mom, my stomach hurts.”
My daughter tells me this almost every night at the same time. She feels fine all day but when it’s bedtime and I’m turning down the lights, her stomach hurts.
Nighttime is when many kids anxiety intensifies. It’s dark, they’re alone, there are no distractions…
We have worked together to conquer her anxiety and she knows I will remind her that her stomach is actually just fine and it’s just her worry.
My son on the other hand, used to tell me his stomach hurt every morning before school. He had separation anxiety and didn’t want to be away from me.
Of course, instead of telling me that, he just said his stomach hurt.
Why do kids say their stomach hurts?
Well, it’s because their stomach actually hurts.
The stomach is home to the enteric nervous system and is even often called your second brain. Big nerves and anxiousness create a real sensation in the belly area.
It makes for quite a cycle because as the anxiety creates a stomach ache, a stomach ache causes even more anxiety and it continues on.
One study discovered that more than half, or 51 percent of people surveyed who experienced stomach pains as children ended up with some type of anxiety disorder sometime in their lives.
The most important thing to remember about kids that often complain of stomach aches (assuming you have ruled out any real stomach issues) is that they are not making it up. They are not lying or doing it for attention. They’re body is taking their anxiety and manifesting it right in the pit of their stomach.
Handling Kids Anxiety
There are many different approaches to conquering kids anxiety. I’m going to leave several resources here for you, but what seemed to have the biggest impact on my children was a simple $13 workbook from Amazon called, What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kids Guide To Overcoming Anxiety.
More Kids Anxiety Resources
Worry Eaters, these plush dolls where children are invited to write or draw their worries and place them in the Worry Eater’s mouth, so that the Worry Eater can hold onto them.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.
This content was originally published here.