Going back to school can be stressful for little ones. Worrying about new teachers, making friends, and new surroundings can all add up to tummy troubles.
"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 often how they experience stress when they're really young," explained Dr. Katie Lamparyk, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.
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.
"Making sure and encouraging them to continue to engage in the things that they would normally be doing and then also helping them learn strategies to help them overcome that so relaxation strategies, working with a counselor or psychologist and making sure it's not something more by talking to your pediatrician," said Lamparyk.
Doctors with Cleveland Clinic say parents can help their children by remaining positive, even if the parent is having back-to-school jitters themselves. Doctors also say it's important for parents to share similar experiences they may have had in school and draw on them for their children.