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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Tummy aches as cry for attention?

(6 Posts)
Whotookallthegoodnames Sun 07-Dec-14 13:11:48

Hi all,

My DNiece is 5, and has been complaining every day of tummy ache for the last few weeks, and frequently needing the toilet, but my Dsis and her DH are adamant that it is a cry for attention, and are not, in my opinion taking it seriously. They don't think they need to take to GP, and when she says she has a tummy ache, they just say, "oh dear, give it a rub and it will soon feel better".
At first, when my Dsis told me about this going on I wasn't overly concerned, but yesterday I was round theirs, and I actually saw DN bent over, screaming and crying seemingly in pain, and my bro-in-law ignoring her, saying that she was doing it for attention (Dsis was upstairs bathing the baby) and this really upset me. I went to DN to give her a cuddle, and Bro in law said, "she'll stop now that she's got what she's wanted" and was then really off with me for the rest of the evening, and I know I was out order to intervene in the way he was handling it, but it just really unsettled me the way he was ignoring her when she was gripping her tummy and screaming. I gave her some water and a cuddle, and she did settle, and after a couple of minutes she went to the toilet for a number 2, although I didn't see if her 'movement' was loose or otherwise because she goes independently. I said to my bro in law, "she will probably feel better now she's been to the loo", and again he said to me, "there's nothing wrong with her It's her latest ploy for attention, she'll soon move onto something else".
Then at dinner, she was refusing to eat and complaining that her tummy hurts and she wanted to go to the toilet, but bro-in law said she had to finish her dinner and refused to let her go, and Dsis supported him. Eventually, she stopped crying and had a few mouthfuls, when bro-in-law told her that she would have to go into Time Out if she didn't stop.

When I brought it up again later, my Dsis was adamant that there is nothing wrong with DN, and it is all for attention, despite the fact that this has now been going on for nearly 3 weeks.

The baby, my Dnephew was born 3 months ago, and admittedly, DN has not really taken to him all to well, especially once the novelty wore off. She has displayed some attention seeking behaviours in the last couple of months, such as pushing boundaries, being cheeky, but in my opinion, this just seems too far for a 5 year old to go, and I am now really worried that something is wrong with her, and Dsis and Bro in law could me making her even more poorly by failing to notice.

Any thoughts on this?

Wolfbasher Sun 07-Dec-14 13:17:58

That does sound worrying. I know that tummy aches are very variable - it's clearly not a question of her 'making it up' but it could be how she 'feels' stress and upset.

However, it could also be something medical such as coeliac disease - I have two children with this, and I will always feel awful about the 2 years it took for my first child to be diagnosed (eventually diagnosed at the age of 4).

Other symptoms of coeliac include bloating (especially a hard 'pregnant-looking' belly), tiredness, irritability, anaemia, tiredness, 'zoning out' mentally for minutes at a time, vomiting, steatorrhea (which is pale, 'bubbly', floaty very smelly poo). Some people have none of these symptoms, others have many of them.

I don't know what to advise, since you are not her parent, it is quite difficult. My eldest also experiences stress as tummy aches, on top of being coeliac, so when he gets tummy aches I am always weighing up whether to take a 'just give it a rub/go to the loo and it'll be better soon' or a 'let's think about everything you've eaten and whether some gluten could have got in' approach. It is a balancing act.

Whotookallthegoodnames Sun 07-Dec-14 13:46:34

Thanks for advice wolf, does Coeliac disease come on suddenly? I thought maybe people were born with intolerances and allergies? I don't know though so I'm probably wrong, up until recently she has never had any apparent problems before

Wolfbasher Sun 07-Dec-14 22:42:48

Coeliac can develop at any age. You have to have a genetic predisposition but something environmental triggers the gene to "switch on" and start producing antibodies in response to gluten. All sorts of things can be a trigger - stress . Physical trauma,, a virus etc etc

Namelesswonder Thu 11-Dec-14 10:58:49

I would be concerned - my DD turned out to be dairy intolerant after I ignored her tummy pains for weeks! I would try and find out if having diarrhea to rule out, or in, physical symptoms. Abdominal migraines also common in girls that age. A tough situation!

DeWee Thu 11-Dec-14 13:20:39

I don't know about that situation, and I would suspect that her parents are able to judge generally.

My dd2 does use medical things as an attention getter. She can be doubled up in pain and then something distracts her and if you ask a few minutes later how the pain is she looks blank, and either denies there ever was pain or then doubles up again with the cries of anguish.
She's a good actress, can produce tears to order, and even manages to look thin and grey-she'll do a demonstration for you if you ask. So very hard to tell if it's an act or actually true pain.

If she settled in a couple of minutes with a cuddle, then I would suspect it's at least exaggerated for attention, as realistically a cuddle would not stop real pain.

Dd2 does tend to have a particular pain for a while, then move onto a different one. And yes, I have taken her to the doctors at times to have her checked when one's been ongoing.
But my general ploy if she's in apparent total agony is to produce something she will be distracted by. If she's still in pain after starting it, then I investigate further-however most of the time, she forgets the pain totally and gets involved in what she's doing.

She's done this since she was about 2yo and is now 11yo. Dd1 is the total opposite-she hates being fussed round, so won't tell until things are completely on top of her, which is equally hard to deal with.

However there is something called abdominal migraine which dd2 had at that age, which is stress related. it is a genuine pain, but no physical signs, and actually nothing you can do about it.

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