Kids Don’t Say ‘I Have Anxiety’; They Say ‘My Tummy Hurts’

“’Mom, my tummy hurts.’ My daughter tells me this almost every night at the same time. She feels fine all day but when it’s bedtime and I’m turning down the lights, her stomach hurts.”

For kids, the nighttime can be a time of anxiety. All of a sudden, they’re alone, it’s dark and they have no distractions around them.

“We have worked together to conquer her anxiety and she knows I will remind her that her stomach is actually just fine and it’s just her worry. My son, on the other hand, used to tell me his stomach hurt every morning before school. He had separation anxiety and didn’t want to be away from me. Of course, instead of telling me that, he just said his stomach hurt.”

Kids don’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to express their anxiety and therefore they simply say that their stomach hurts.

What is the reason kids say that their stomach hurts? 

Simply put; their stomach actually hurts. The stomach is often called “the second brain” because our enteric nervous system is located there. Nerves and anxiety, therefore, cause pain in the stomach area.


This experience can turn into a cycle because anxiety causes stomach pain, and stomach pain can in turn cause anxiety and so on.

According to a study, 51 percent of people who end up having any type of anxiety disorder at some point later on in life will have experienced stomach pain when they were kids.

When kids often complain about having a stomach ache, it is very important for them to be taken seriously. Once serious stomach issues are ruled out, we must listen to what they’re anxious about. A stomach ache could be a sign of anxiety which the body is trying to signify to us.

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