Is Your Child’s Tummy Ache Really a Tummy Ache?

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Recently we’ve been made aware of a college admissions scandal that involved families partaking in some unethical and possible criminal actions to secure college admissions for their children. Some of these acts included; paying to have doctor’s falsify claims of special education needs to allot their children longer test taking time, paying coaches to fraudulently recruit and admit their children into collegiate athletic programs in sporting events that their children had never participated in and paying people to take the SAT for their children. While these claims involved some high-profile people and some very prestigious institutions, the pressure to get our children into the right college can be a daunting feat that can lead to stress on the whole family.

Stress in Children Starts Early

Stress in children start as early as kindergarten, when at age 5 they start competitive sports. Last week Johnny and Alex were playing ball together at the park and this week they are opponents in their first t-ball game. In addition to that Johnny got student of the week so Alex is trying hard to be recognized in the same manner, because his mother told him how great it was that Johnny was student of the week. Call it having great expectations, call it friendly competition, call it challenging or call it preparation for your child’s future; it can all equate to pressure and stress.

Today more than any other time in history, children have the burden of starting to work towards there college future as early as age 5. This can cause parents to apply certain expectations to children that may not be age appropriate. Often parents can be preoccupied with trying to make sure their children are successful and competitive that they become intolerant to anything but their idea of perceived excellence for their child. As a result, children start to experience different negative emotional reactions that they may not understand how to process. The response to this unknown territory, typically manifest as a tummy ache. Most children (and some adults) have trouble articulating the fact that they have anxiety, or they are a little stressed. As children start to feel the pressure of being student of the week, the pressure of winning, the pressure to maintain good grades, the pressure to be perfect, the pressure to please their parents, this can be very overwhelming.

Statistics have shown that at least 1 child out of every 8 will develop an anxiety disorder. If untreated, anxiety disorders can cause difficulty developing and maintaining friendships, sleep trouble, and substance abuse issues. Unfortunately, untreated anxiety can also cause feelings of worthlessness and manifest as depression into their teen and adult years. It is crucial that we pay attention to the unnecessary stress that is placed upon our children. Some of the signs to look out for include:

Continuous stomach aches

  • Easily agitated

  • Restlessness

  • Meltdowns or crying spells

  • Extreme perfectionism

  • Withdrawal from social situations

  • Self-harming behavior: scratching, biting, hair pulling or cutting themselves

If your child is showing signs of constant stress by exhibiting one or more of the above symptoms, please seek the help of a trusted doctor. The sooner the better. Karen DeBord, PhD, a child developmental specialist says that pressure is not needed to get kids to perform. She suggests that we build on a child’s inner motivation. Provide them with positive feedback instead of monetary rewards or gifts, provide a steady home environment, be present and spend quality time with them. Communication is most important. Listen to your children. The first sign of stress is usually expressed as a tummy ache. Not all tummy aches equal stress that can lead to anxiety and depression, but at least make sure you know child well enough to the know the difference between a tummy ache that is from too much junk food or one that is manifested by undo stress and pressure. For information on children and mental heath issues please visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

This article was provided by Limai Academy as a public service announcement. If you want to learn more about our school, contact us at Limai Academy in Gardena (424) 329-0471 / /

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