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Kids and Tummy Aches - Real or Fake?

By Blogger November 17, 2013 - 6:12pm

For the past month my daughter Sarah complained often about having an upset tummy.

Some days I believed her. Other days I did not.

Was Sarah's tummy trouble from new school stress including starting kindergarten and riding the school bus?

Was she faking it to get out of eating her vegetables, cleaning her room or getting ready for bed at night?

Being a parent is a tough job, as many of us know and experience first hand. We worry about our kids when they are little and as they get older, and even well into their adulthood. The reason: because being a parent never stops and that's what we do. We love our children to the point that it hurts. We want to protect them from harm’s way and to prevent them from getting hurt emotionally and physically.

However, as our children get older they get smarter too. They start to realize what pushes our buttons and how to get out of things they don't want to do by making excuses.

Let's be honest, the stomach ache was many times the symptom we complained of to get out of doing homework, going to family functions we did not want to participate in, and so much more.

I know for me I did it for years when I didn't want to eat something in particular or go to an event I didn't want to join.

When I was a kid I didn't really have tummy pain. Actually, it wasn't until I became an adult that I was diagnosed with the gastrointestinal issue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My symptoms started after 9/11 brought on by the stress of the tragedy while living and working in New York City and being surrounded by sadness. It was the beginning of what made me realize that my condition was stress induced.

So, as far as Sarah, I questioned the seriousness of her complaints. Were they real? Was she really uncomfortable?

I then decided that if she was uncomfortable and this was real that something needed to be done. We went to the pediatrician who thought that she may be making it up or experiencing stress from her new routine, but that it would be best to get her checked out by a gastroenterologist just to be sure.

And, so the process begins.

Sarah has since undergone blood work to test her pancreatic and liver functions among other things. She also got a urinalysis, which came back negative. She also did a stool sample test. We are awaiting the results on the blood and stool tests.

In the meantime, the doctor suggested that we cut out the cow milk and switch to almond or coconut milk. Additionally, she suggested that we cut out the white flour all together and stick only to wheat, grains and oats.

We are in a wait and see period.

Happily, Sarah has not experienced tummy pain in now two weeks. Maybe it is her diet. And, what she had been used to for so long could be the culprit behind her discomfort.

I will say that I think Sarah is very appreciative that we took her seriously with this stomach complaint. She has been mostly compliant with the revised diet except the alternative milk option. She tried it for a week and then after that had an aversion to it.

We want so badly to believe our children all the time. Sometimes they do fake symptoms and we have to decide whether there is a pattern or an issue that needs addressing either the reasons why the may be making it up or addressing that a legitimate problem could be present.

Have you ever had this happen to your child? What has your experience been? I welcome all feedback and advice.

By Blogger December 10, 2013 - 1:02pm

Thanks Susan for your reply, and welcome to the group. Sorry to hear that your son is home sick.

You are right that we know our kids better than anyone. With both my husband and I having IBS, it's not a surprise for our child to develop since her risks are higher with both parents having the condition.

After all the testing was done the results came back, blood tests, urine analysis, stool samples, etc. -- negative. I will say that cutting back on her milk consumption to only 12 ounces a day is the likely culprit.

I so wanted to believe my daughter and knew that in order to get to the cause and to show her I was taking it seriously we had to go this route to seek medical attention.

I will say my daughter does complain significantly less about tummy trouble now. Part of this could have been stress from kindergarten and lots of "newness" but she also knows that we listened to her and took her needs into consideration and addressed seriously.

I am sure this will not be her last tummy ache, but diet is certainly a significant factor for many issues. Being tested for wheat and gluten allergies was also done. My doctor said that people should not just be on a gluten free diet because but that if there is a need it can indeed be beneficial.

Wishing your son a quick recovery and relief from his tummy pain. :(

December 10, 2013 - 1:02pm
By Blogger November 22, 2013 - 7:37am

Maya - thank you so much for your comment. Glad to hear that Ania is not sick with tummy trouble. It's so hard sometimes, right? We want to believe them. While my daughter's tests all came back negative we did discover a night out that too much dairy does play a big role. Showing her that we listened to her needs and that we were not dusting them under the rug made her complaints real. I would have done the same thing keeping your daughter home, but glad that your step mother was able to uncover the truth.

November 22, 2013 - 7:37am
By November 21, 2013 - 6:48am


thank you for sharing your story, as I had/have a similar problem. My daughter (Ania, 5) has a tummy ache almost every morning before we leave the house (me going to work and she going to kindergarten) and one day I left her home with my stepmother (because I really believed her), when I got out of the house, my stepmother called me and said: "she's faking"! And in time I learned how the REAL tummy ache looks like, and how false looks like.

And I really love this sentence you wrote: "We love our children to the point that it hurts." I might steal it for my Facebook status.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Wish you all the best,


November 21, 2013 - 6:48am

Group Leader


As a parent, over the years, there were many moments of stress around my daughter's health even with the garden variety viruses. These experiences led me to my mommy groups and the Internet for information, support and solace. I thought that creating an environment here for parents it could become our place to support and empower each other.


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