07. Mar 2019

Mag. Marie-Thérèse Fleischer BSc

School Stress and IBS in Children

First day of school, homework and after-school clubs too – Stress can have a negative effect on a child’s gut.

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 affect 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 them off tracks. Parents should also consider how they handle 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, their guts often respond to constant stress with bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation. If this stress is long-term then this can even lead to IBS in children. Supporting little tummies with kid’s probiotics is recommended to ensure that stressful times do not have long term consequences on their gut.

stomach ache, gut problems with children, school stress

Toilet troubles at school

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.

Long term gut problems

If stress becomes a constant companion, then it can lead to IBS in children. 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. Help your little ones by reading together about fantasy adventures to distract the children from their daily struggles and also fight stress. Probiotics for children are also recommended for stressful times when the gut is effected.

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