The Practicing Parent: School Stress

When the back-to-school bell rings, it brings stress to some children. Worrying about new teachers, making friends and new surroundings can add up to tummy troubles.

Cleveland Clinic Child Psychologist Katie Lamparyk says a lot of times kids don't have the words to say "I'm nervous" and "I'm worried".

"They have the words to say "my belly hurts" and that's how often they experience stress when they're really young," Lamparyk said.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, back-to-school tummy aches are an example of functional abdominal pain. It's real stomach pain that's not caused by sickness or structural problems. Lamparyk says this type of tummy ache can have a very cyclical pattern where pain increases anxiety and anxiety increases pain.

She adds, the worst thing a parent can do is help their child avoid things that are causing anxiety, like school.

"Make sure and encourage them to continue to engage in the things that they would normally be doing and then also help them learn strategies to help them overcome that," Lamparyk said.

She suggests strategies like relaxation techniques or working with a counselor or psychologist. She also says to visit with a pediatrician to make sure it's not something more.