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dealing with children who filter stress as stomach aches and headaches

(18 Posts)
valiumredhead Fri 26-Jul-13 13:01:09

I use Rescue Remedy for ds.

deepfriedsage Fri 26-Jul-13 12:12:29

Just that bendy children can have different connective tissue, and the associated conditions cause GI and autonomic issues, symptoms include headache, tummy ache.

MERYL Fennel tea is a good idea, that is very easy to get. It is disgusting of course... smile

kalidasa yes medicine does help, but often (not always) "too" quickly, so it seems worth perusing a placebo smile She needs to have the stress acknowledged and helped with where possible, but its a tight rope with my DD as she is also inclined to use being given time to talk it out as a way to get out of going to sleep at bedtime or generally drag it out as a side track from something else she should be doing. She has 2 younger siblings too, which makes doing the "perfect" thing of giving her a lot of 1:1 time to talk things out hard, as obviously she often picks the "wrong" moment (bedtime when her toddler brother keeps getting out of bed, or first thing in the morning when trying to get all of them ready are favourites. I try to give them all 1:1 attention regularly, especially the older 2 (the smallest gets me all morning anyway) but sometimes life gets in the way of handling every incident properly.

deep not especially no, kind of average where bendyness is concerned... smile Why?

cerlew there is a part of me inclined to be briskly sympathetic but no nonsense about it rather than "build it up" so it becomes a dominant part of her life too - as I just wrote in my reply to kalidasa it is hard to know quite what is best (and to have the required uninterrupted time slot to do whatever that might be), as there is also clearly sense to not "sweeping it under the carpet" and discussing the stress factor behind it and teaching her to cope with the stress that causes the stomach and head aches.


curlew Fri 26-Jul-13 09:02:02

"Poss some homeopathic cure in them as peppermint is good for wind. Maybe ginger would help as that's good for travel sickness." Sorry to be a pedant- but that's herbal, not homeopathic!.

I have a child with abdominal migraine. The pain was so severe when he was 9 that he had some investigations in hospital in case it was something else. His consultant was very clear- I was to treat it in a very matter of fact, no nonsense way- give a normal dose of painkillers ^as soon as possible^- (I was always inclined to try lots of other things/put off the calpol)- then try to get on with normal life. Sort of "oh no, what an incredibly inconvenient time for you to get your stomach things- never mind, here's the calpol, sit quiet for a minute, it'll be better soon". The consultant said that children with abdominal migraine often go on to be migraine sufferers in adult life, so they need to learn early how to manage it. It has certainly worked for my ds- he still gets the migraines, but less often, and he is no longer anxious about them, so they have much less impact of his life. We treat it as a inconvenient nuisance, rather than a major event.

deepfriedsage Fri 26-Jul-13 08:48:35

Op, is your child bendy?

kalidasa Fri 26-Jul-13 08:45:40

Do the painkillers help MrTumbles? As you say, stress-related pain is still "real" pain, it still hurts; sometimes painkillers are very effective for it but sometimes not. For instance, I get bad stress related headaches quite often, and sometimes proper migraines and even though I know it is triggered by stress I still find the right painkillers extremely effective. Whereas some other stress-related symptoms are genuinely painful or uncomfortable but stem more from muscular tension I think and don't really respond to much so I think it's a bit pointless medicating them. I would continue to use medicine of some sort if it helps her, though it must be hard to know whether it is working "chemically" or whether what helps is taking the moment to acknowledge the pain in that formal and slightly ritualised way of taking a medicine. Perhaps it doesn't really matter which it is!

On the other hand, these techniques to ease the pain in the moment are not going to help long-term with her stress management. I think you're right about lots of talking, and although "meditation" might sound a bit much at 7 you can definitely learn basic relaxation and mindfulness techniques at this age. I have (depressingly) loads of experience of chronic pain (have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 9) and I find these techniques v. effective.

I think it can be helpful to remember that minor pains of this sort are a kind of communication - they are trying to say something. If medicines or a cuddle or whatever are a way of saying "I am listening" then they are useful; if they are a way of saying "please be quiet because I don't want to hear you" then they are probably not. If you see what I mean!

MERLYPUSS Fri 26-Jul-13 08:28:55

Fennel tea is supposed to be a good digestive too and as it tastes of anniseed it may be 'medicinal' enough to fool them.

Thanks MERYL - good alternatives. We live overseas so the same products are not available here - no gripe water, not investigated peppermint cordial but never noticed it... Definitely going to start with substitute "medicine" for the tummy aches at least though, for placebo effect if nothing else. Also good for my 2 year old who always begs for medicine if anyone else has it, though I'm not sure if making him think he is getting medicine on demand is a good association to build even if he is only getting cold ginger tea or the like in a medicine syringe... shock

MERLYPUSS Wed 24-Jul-13 12:37:44

I 'medicate' my son's belly aches with gripe water or peppermint cordial (undiluted). There is very little medicinal in them I think but they taste strange enough to get them through the problem. He is 5. Poss some homeopathic cure in them as peppermint is good for wind. Maybe ginger would help as that's good for travel sickness.

Sorry to hear that thefog I hope your daughter is over the worst. sad

TheFogsGettingThicker Tue 23-Jul-13 22:59:03

I could have written your post, my DD is even the same age.

Unfortunately she's had health issues and, although this has now been sorted, she's still in I-Am-Ill mode. It coincided with health talks from the school nurse to the class and turned her into a bit of a hypochondriac. She was wary of food being off and being sick/vomitting and her appetite dropped and she lost a lot of weight.

She's getting better, but it's a slow road.

Can't really help, but wanted you to know you're not alone.

Oops something funny happened while writing and it posted!

Anyway she was delighted to be invited and phoned the old friend and chatted (confident) but I think is now worried because the party is tomorrow, so is feeling ill in her standard stress/ worry way!

Some things to try there anyway, so thank you all

Thanks everyone.

Polter I have put that book in my Amazon basket to order when I'm on my laptop.

DeWe thank you, trying to cut back on medication by making her wait a bit longer and have explained its healthier that way. My DD can also be a hypochondriac and try using minor illnesses to get out of things, so it is tricky telling the different causes apart.

Hearmyroar I willl try to find an equivalent to rescue remedy that can be bought here (overseas) good idea. Can't see her meditating tbh... maybe in later years.

lunar good to know you grew out of it. Am as confident as a parent can be that she's not neing bullied - we live in a very small community and I see her with her many friends a lot, and she is very open atm (though things don't always come out the day they happen). The worries etc. are often school work related but equally often tiny things that wouldnt even occur to others to worry about (she had the standard head sche and tummy ache tonight, and has a birthday party to go to tomorrow with a birthday girl she knows less well and hasn't seen in a few months -ago the invite was a surprise and initially she was

lunar1 Mon 22-Jul-13 17:49:02

I was your dd except not confidant. I was very introverted. I expect it would have helped if my mum and school tackled the bullying I was receiving. They stopped when I was about 15/16 and had learnt to manage my emotions better.

I would try an help with coping mechanisms for the anxiety, and see if you can figure out the triggers.

I don't know if this helps but I grew out if it, went to university and have worked in very high pressure jobs and never had a problem. I hope your dd gets through it

PolterGoose Mon 22-Jul-13 17:41:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HearMyRoar Sun 21-Jul-13 21:45:55

Ummm... Well I know I'm not an 8 year old child but I can sympathise with her as I also get awful stomach pains when I am anxious and have done since I was a child. The only long term solution I think is helping her find ways of dealing with the anxiety.

I know this is a bit woo but I find meditation has helped me a lot to find ways of dealing with anxiety without internalising it. I know you can get guided CDs for children so might be worth a shot.

On the medication side you could try swapping the pain killer for rescue remedy. She can take this herself, which might help as she might feel more in control. You can then give something stronger if it continues getting worse.

DeWe Sun 21-Jul-13 18:02:50

I have a 9yo who has suffered for years with abdominal migraines and recently started full blown head migraines, we think with anxiety. She sounds quite similar to your dd.

She would get so worked up that she could actually be sick-usually before things like school trips and special assemblies type things.

I don't tend to medicate with stomach ache, I do with a headache that is stopping her from doing something. She can be a bit of a Hypochondriac so it can be hard to tell if the "headache" is a attention getter, or real. If it's stopping her, then it's real. Attention getters tend to disappear when she sees friends/has something fun to do.

The abdominal migraines have tailed off in the last year, unfortunately the head migraines have taken their place. Apparently this is quite typical.


Just wondered if anyone else has a child who does this, and how you deal with it on a very practical day to day basis?

My DD has very regular head aches and stomach aches, and it is very clear they are when she feels anxious, worried or stressed (sometimes over tiny things that wouldn't have the same effect on other children). She is active, sociable, popular, able (though we have had issues with maths and with apparently daydreaming at school), confident and pretty extrovert on the outside but has these aches and pains and a few other symptoms (we have seen a child psychologist) regularly, and it is clear they are "real" as in she is not making them up, but are stress reactions.

I have dealt with it until today by giving her a half dose of children's pain medicine (as well as trying to give her time to chill out and talk about what she is worried about, if she even actually knows - sometimes she doesn't quite pin it down herself and it becomes obvious later).

DH said today that he hopes she doesn't get "too used to" pain medication, and he has a point!

So I was wondering what others do if they have a child who has these kinds of psychosomatic aches and pains, most specifically stomach aches and head aches? Do you medicate as you would if you did not suspect they are stress related, or not?

DD is nearly 8.

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