07. Mar 2019

Mag. Marie-Thérèse Fleischer BSc

A child’s belly as a tyrant

Between homework, studying, and fully packed free time, nowadays there is often little time to just be a child. This can have a negative effect on a child’s digestion.

Every sixth child feels overwhelmed in everyday life. School is the number one stress-factor for boys and girls: Disputes amongst friends or class mates perturb a child’s psyche. Just like fights in the family or the separation of parents. Even free time can lead to stress: A full time schedule and almost no time to play freely can throw a sensitive soul off the tracks. Parents should also scrutinise their own handling of stress: Don’t forget that as role models, parents have a big influence whether their child will be able to handle stressful situations is an appropriate manner. If a child is constantly stressed there are a number of tell-tale signs which a parent should pick up on: problems with falling asleep and waking up early, unrest, aggressiveness, or frequent crying. Some children don’t want to eat anymore, others console themselves with excessive food intake. Additionally, the gut responds to constant stress with flatulence, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Verdauungsprobleme beim Kind

The fight on the toilet

It begins when the children learn to consciously control their bowel movements. When the little ones begin to hold back their stool because they find the school toilet disgusting or would rather play outside than spend time on the toilet. This results in the thickening and hardening of their stool. The longer it is held back, the more difficult and painful it becomes to expel the dry stool-mass. Thus, the fear of such an unpleasant “sitting” can lead to a vicious cycle. Parents should therefore act in a timely manner: natural preparations such as papaya as well as prebiotics from the pharmacy help to soothingly loosen the constipation. When the belly pinches, warm baths can act in a supportive manner and mum and dad can massage a painful belly in circular motions. When it comes to our smallest children, it can help if a parent holds their feet and moves the legs through the air as if the child were pedalling on a bicycle. Older children should simply be sent out to play in the fresh air. This not only reduces stress, but also stimulates gut movement. It is also very important to plan a child’s daily routine so that there is enough time for trips to the toilet; especially after breakfast.

Hypnotise the belly

If stress has become a constant companion, then it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome. In this case, diarrhoea and constipation alternate because the gut flora has become imbalanced. The brain learns to perceive pain in the stomach and gut more intensely. This way normal digestive processes are overinterpreted and the body goes into a state of alert. Because irritable bowel syndrome is a psychosomatic disease, the psyche can be employed to heal it: Studies have shown that “belly hypnosis” helps those affected by it. The little patients should figuratively imagine the turmoil in their bellies as waves on a stormy sea and then allow them to steadily dissipate. Furthermore, calming reading or a fantasy adventure can distract the children from their complaints and also fights everyday stress.

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