How do I solve my child’s chronic stomach pain?


If your child has stomach pain, or nausea, and all of the test results are normal, she may
have a condition for which medication is not helpful.

The first thing is to have your child evaluated by her primary care clinician to be sure that
there is nothing medically that is contributing to the problem. Not every patient needs to
see a gastroenterologist, and not every patient needs blood tests or other tests. This will all
be up to the good judgment of your clinicians.

Once medical conditions have been excluded, there are many things that you, as a parent,
can do.

  1. Have your child learn self-hypnosis (similar to guided imagery and visualization)
    methods to control the symptom.
  2. Have him learn cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies to control the anxiety
    that virtually always accompanies patients with this problem.
  3. As parents, it is important for you not to call too much attention to the problem.
    Studies show that the more parents get involved in the process, the worse it works.
    Now we know that parents want to help their child as much as possible. But, in this
    case, what you focus on you amplify. And, when parents inquire about the
    stomachache or other symptoms throughout the day, it causes the child to focus on
    the problem and this actually makes it worse!
  4. Parents are instructed to stay out of the process, as much as possible. So, I ask
    them not to ask their children if they have done the homework I assigned or are
    practicing their self-hypnosis exercises. The parents and the child are reminded that
    the stomachache is their child’s problem, not the parents’ problem.
    Parents who have learned CBT strategies have been able to help not only decrease
    their own anxiety, but by doing this, they also decrease the overall anxiety at home
    and in their children.

Again, it is often hard for parents to stay out of the process, because they love their children
so much. And, the best advice I give parents is to give their child the unwritten and
unspoken message, “You can do this. Although it may be difficult, we have confidence in
you.” This is not to be done as a cheerleader, but rather, as an attitude.

My program, “Controlling Your Gut Feelings®,” is a comprehensive online home video
program that incorporates medical hypnosis, cognitive behavioral strategies, and
motivational interviewing techniques to help children, adolescents, and adults gain control
over these intestinal conditions.