Children express their symptoms in various ways, depending on their age, communication skills, and personality. This is especially true for children with GI complaints as they are unable to understand what is happening. It's essential for parents, caregivers, and educators to pay attention to these expressions to address children's concerns and needs effectively. Here are common ways in which children express complaints:
Simple Statements: Younger children may use simple phrases like "stomach hurts" or "I threw up"
Asking Questions: They may ask questions about why something is happening or why they can't have or do something.
Direct Complaints: Older children and teenagers are more likely to articulate their complaints clearly using sentences such as "My stomach hurts when I go to bathroom" or "I have diarrhea after I eat pizza"
Crying or Whining: Infants and toddlers often communicate their discomfort or displeasure through crying or whining. The tone and intensity of the crying or whining can provide clues about the severity of their complaint.
Written Communication: Older children and teenagers may write notes or messages to express their complaints when they find it difficult to speak about them directly.
Body Language: Children may use body language to express their complaints. This can include slumping shoulders, crossed arms, pouting, or stomping their feet.
Facial Expressions: Facial expressions like frowning, scowling, or rolling eyes can indicate dissatisfaction.
Gestures: Pointing at something, reaching for an object, or pushing away unwanted items (such as food) can convey complaints.
Emotional Outbursts: Young children may throw tantrums when they're upset or dissatisfied with a situation. Older children might express complaints through anger, frustration, or irritability
Withdrawal: Some children may withdraw or become silent when they have complaints. They might isolate themselves or refuse to engage in activities.
Artwork or Play: Younger children may use art or play to express their feelings and complaints indirectly. They might draw a picture or act out a scenario that reflects their concerns.
Somatic Complaints: Children may complain of physical discomfort or ailments, even when the underlying issue is emotional. This can include headaches, stomachaches, or feeling tired.
Regression: In response to stress or complaints, some children may exhibit behaviors associated with younger ages, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting.
Social Withdrawal: Children who experience difficulties in social situations (typically when GI symptoms associated with eating) may withdraw from peers or family gatherings, indirectly indicating their discomfort or complaints.
It's crucial for adults to create an open and supportive environment where children feel safe expressing their complaints. Listen attentively, validate their feelings, and encourage them to communicate their concerns in an age-appropriate manner. This helps build trust and fosters effective communication between adults and children.
Visit a Pediatric Gastroenterologist when you are concerned about your child's digestive health.
Dr. Sachin Kunde, MD, MPH
+1 (919) 261 3232