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My 3 y/o has started to complain that his stomach hurts. I don't want to disbelieve him, but I'm not sure if there's really a problem.

He is not acting in any way unusual, and he is eating fine. He is potty-trained, but has not had any signs of GI distress. He may be withholding a little bit, and may be constipated, but he eats tons of fruit and beans and generally has a BM every 1-2 days.

When he says his stomach hurts, he often gives a reason, "I ate too many Cheerios" or "I drank too much milk" or "I ate too much dinner." (These are the reasons whether or not he has recently eaten--we believe that he heard it from us and is repeating it.) He will often say his stomach hurts, lay down for one or two minutes, then get up and either go back to playing or eating.

He has also taken to saying, "I'm not feeling very good" on a regular basis, but we can see no external evidence as to why.

Is this a phase? Something to get attention? Playing/pretending? Could he be feeling hunger pangs and calling it pain? Could he be confusing fullness with pain? Or is this something I need to take more seriously? If I did, what would I even tell the doctor?

I don't want to overlook a real problem, but I also don't want to overreact.

Thanks, wise mamas!
 

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DS has done this over time. Once he was pretending. (Then it was actually his leg, and we really thought he may have fractured it from a fall.)

For a bit, though, he did seem to have excess gas, and he would say that his stomach hurt. We watched his dairy intake, and that seemed to help.

With the weather right now, it also could be post-nasal drip that's got his stomach upset. I have really bad problems with this, and it could be making him nauseous, even if he doesn't act like anything else is going on.
 

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It's a good age for mimicking and pretending that sort of thing. And hard to get real info if the child is really sick! I used to ask ds to point to where it hurt. Then I could see if it was the same place each time and see if it was actually the stomach or another area. It's not as likely he'll point to the same place if it doesn't hurt. Young kids don't usually know where in their abdomen their stomach is so pointing is good for pinpointing the source of distress.
 

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Perhaps he is just saying it to get some attention.

Or perhaps his tummy does hurt. My son (3) has always had some issues with constipation...we went to a pediatric enterologist because he was also having rectal prolapses. The dr told us that he should have a bm everyday. I find if he has missed a day that he will complain of a tummy ache one minute....will lie on his tummy...then jump up and go on with his play. It isn't until he has his bm that he truly looks comfy. I suggest paying close attention to his having a bm daily and see if that helps.
 

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Ah, yes.

We discovered, at that age, "my tummy hurts" without any other sign of illness meant she needed to poop. Then, after awhile, she learned we'd drop everything and run if we thought she needed to poop (as she was newly potty trained), so "my tummy hurts" became a way to get attention.

Even these days, at 7, her tummy invariably hurts when we tell her she needs to go somewhere boring like the hardware store. It miraculously gets better after we leave the hardware store and ask if she wants to go to the park.
 

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Adults get headaches, kids get stomachaches. It can be stress. It can also be that he can't pinpoint his discomfort, and one time you did something that made him feel better when he said he had a tummy ache.
 

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Dd is 5 and gets tummy aches regularly.

For us, it's a combination of:
Gas/needing to poop
Something in her diet
Stress

When dd gets gas, her tummy hurts. When she needs to poop, her tummy hurts.

I think there's also something in her diet that is bothering her, but I haven't been able to isolate it yet as I can't find a pattern. I'm going to try another food diary for a couple of weeks and see if it helps.

I also know that when she's overtired/stressed, she gets tummy aches.
 

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aaaaaaargh i beat myself so much over this.

it was circumstances that later led me to believe that those were stress related complaints.

my dd has anxiety. and they come up as stomach aches.

the moment the reason for her stress goes away, her stomach ache disappears magically.

it was good to know because sometimes i am not good at guessing dd's stress level. for instance she chooses to tell people what they want to hear. so she was telling her dad how much fun she was having in K. then i asked her if her tummy hurts. and she said yes. and then went on to admit she is still scared of the unknown there. so her dad got to hear that K is not 'just fun'.

maturity and growing up has helped her with her stress.

in 90% of dd's stomach aches - its been anxiety.

however i am excited to share that since she started 2nd grade - and i think its maturity and growing up - she has hardly had any stomach aches. doesnt mean she doesnt have anxiety. it just means its not to that extent that causes a tummy ache.
 

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We had similar issues with DD. She was regularly complaining of tummy aches but 5 minutes later was up and bouncing around again so we pretty much ignored it.

After a while it became obvious that she was in pain and that while sometimes a visit to the toilet would fix it that wasn't always helping to we took her to the doctors. We kept food and poo diaries for a while to see if we could spot any patterns and ended up giving her a daily dose of lactulose for constipation. She was pooing most days and it certainly wasn't hard but she was quite irregular, some days she would go 3 or 4 times, others it would be a couple of days.

Once we started the lactulose was a different child, no more tummy aches and she suddenly started eating so much better. Up till then she had always been quite picky and messed about with food rather than eating much. She had a huge growth spurt and was generaly much calmer.

We've recently stopped the medication but we're considering going back as she has gone back to not eating well and having huge meltdowns (which I think are due to not eating much)

I would definitely recommend keeping the food/poo diary for a couple of weeks seeing if you find any patterns. I'm not a huge fan of medication but it has made a huge difference for us.
 

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My DS1 who is 3 also does this.
He has finally learned to associate a sore tummy with having to use the toilet. Other times he will self diagnose - "My tummy is upset because I ate too much supper" and other times he just needs attention.
If he insists that he has a sore tummy and going to the bathroom won't help, I give him a tums. Harmless and makes him feel like we are taking his concerns seriously. It rarely gets to that point though
 

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It may be that he is starting to realize that his stomach hurts when he is hungry, when he eats to much food, or when he needs to go potty. As long as he eats healthy food and continues to go potty when he needs to I don't think you should worry about it.
 

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My ds (3 and a half) is going through a phase of saying 'I'm sick' or 'I did xyz because I was sick' or 'I can't do xyz because I will be sick. The other night we had tears at bedtime so in an attempt to distract him I told him that I'd invited his best friend the following day. He replied 'but I'll be sick'. So I told him that he'd better not have any of the cake I was going to make. He said he'd be better for the cake but then he'd be sick again after his friend had gone home. Hmmm, something tells me he is not really ill
 

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My dd just turned 3 and does this too! I've noticed it's almost always leaving the dinner table, and I think it is because for some reason, she thinks she needs to say her tummy hurts in order to be excused. Even though I have never pushed 'cleaning your plate'
I guess we do occasionally comment on little food eaten...but I've never tried to make her sit and eat.

could be she actually is full and is now aware of that and saying 'my tummy hurts' to say it I don't know.

she is fine all the rest of the time. occasionally she will say it because she needs to poop, usually then it is "my tummy hurts, I need to go potty" and then she does and all is fine.
 

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It's so tough to know what's going on at that age. If he's constipated, it could be that's what is going on. Even if he's going a little, he may be really backed up inside and that causes fullness and gas and cramping, esp. when you eat. Maybe focus on a "clean-out" diet for a few days and see if that helps. Pears and blueberries are really great for that, and add lots of butter to the food.

My oldest presented similar complaints and symptoms at that age. Her tummy aches continued on and off for years and the ped just told me that she was withholding and that's what was going on. Finally at the end of her 1st grade year, after she missed lots of school, I took her to a ped GI specialist. She was given a simple blood test for Celiac Disease that came up positive, and then she had a biopsy to confirm it. Since taking her off gluten she is 1000% better.

How could I have known she had Celiac this whole time? I am only human, but I feel bad for not taking her to a specialist sooner to at least rule out things more serious. She gained 6 pounds and grew a couple of inches within three months of her dx and diet change! And last year and this year so far she has perfect attendance because her health is so much better.
 

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I'd say to put his tummy ache into context with other behavior. Meaning - does he play around with aches and pains regularly? Or is this a pretty consistent place he says he hurts?

As a baby my son drank BM voraciously and was off the charts for weight. He was a bright and interested baby on the go. He ate lots of food and a great variety. He continued to be active and healthy as a toddler. When DD was born, I went back to giving him expressed BM and suddenly he started complaining of a tummy ache. He only complained about it when he was lying down to go to sleep. This was probably because it was the only time in the day where he wasn't busy moving, eating, or focusing on something. We finally figured out that onions/garlic gave him tummy aches. Looking back, those same foods were also probably causing him to spit up a lot as an infant.

DS does play around with other aches and pains, but they have some sort of connection to things that are happening around him - like Mama fell down and sprained her ankle, so DS is falling all over and holding his leg in "pain."

Keep a log tracking what he eats, when he poops, and any pains he indicates. Also include what sorts of other things have been going on - a general what happened during the day kind of thing.

Good luck.
 

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It is also good to help him learn what the different tummy "pains" feel like....does he have to pee? Does he have to poo? Is he hungry? Is he thirsty? Does he just not want to do something (making him feel queasy)? Was he running around too much (again queasy-my son made himself dizzy and threw up all over the place)?
These are cues we learn to read and understand...
 

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DS does this... he often says it's cuz he ate too much. He's completely potty trained and doesn't need any help going to the bathroom, so this is what I do:

I ask him why his stomach hurts.
I suggest he take a drink of water, then lay down for a minute (this almost always solves the problem).
If the problem persists, he often asks for medicine like what I take (I use tums alot...
) so I give him a certs.


That pretty much solves the whole issue.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Wolfcat View Post
If the problem persists, he often asks for medicine like what I take (I use tums alot...
) so I give him a certs.


My only concern with this is that I want my child to respect medicine and we don't always take it.
....He was on Lansoyl daily for his prolapse issues and now he only gets it if his bm is very hard and dry....he will still ask for his tummy meds as it tastes yummy. I remind him that he doesn't always need it. I tell him because he is having his poos everyday and they aren't giving him an ouchy bum (prolapse) that he doesn't need it right now.

So even though you are giving a candy and not meds...to me that isn't teaching how to understand your body and respect medicine and their usefulness. It is like putting a bandaid on a bruise...we use them only for cuts. When my son had a sore throat I gave him a freezie to help....then he would tell me his throat hurt and he needed a freezie. So I would ask....does it really hurt? Or do you just want a freezie? I told him you can ask for one without a sore throat.

But again that is just me
 

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Yeah, I already thought of that one. I approach it as this... medicines can hurt you. So he must never take medicine unless mama says to. As he gets older and able to understand better (he's 3.5), I will show him the difference between chemical medicines and natural medicines (which I consider certs to be a natural medicine for upset tummies since peppermint is known to settle stomachs).
 
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