When you have to go, you go. However, when your young child has to go, they hold it in, as if it will magically disappear if they wait long enough. Sometimes, they will eventually go, and sometimes, they may end up making an accident in their pants.
You may wonder why they’re holding in their bowel movements. Is there something wrong with them, or is this a common occurrence? Let’s look at a few reasons why it’s happening.
They Had A Painful Movement
Sometimes, you have a bowel movement that hurts, or you may have been constipated and had a hard time getting it out. However, you deal with the pain or get yourself a laxative.
A young child doesn’t know any better, and they may hold it in because they don’t want a painful movement. This can create a vicious cycle, because holding in your bowel movements may make your child’s constipation worse. With worse constipation, it can lead to some painful movements that can involve anal tearing or bleeding. Ouch. A child’s logic isn’t fully developed yet, so this may be the reason why it happens.
They Find The Toilet Intimidating
By four, many children can use the toilet just fine and have no problems doing it. The keyword here is many. Some kids are still not 100 percent toilet trained, and they may even find the toilet scary.
To an adult, the toilet isn’t scary at all, unless you’re in a public restroom and someone forgot to flush. But for a kid, a toilet can seem like a scary concept. It makes a loud noise when you flush it, and for a kid who may still have some sensory issues, a flushing toilet can overwhelm them.
Also, as a kid, did you ever have a fear of falling into a toilet and being flushed down into the abyss? If so, your kid may experience the same irrational fear.
They Want Attention
Sometimes, a kid won’t use the bathroom because they want attention. It does sound a little silly, but there are many kids who will do some odd things for attention. If this is the case, your best move is to not give them attention, and they should stop.
However, most kids aren’t doing it for this reason, so please don’t automatically assume it’s because the kid is faking it.
Another Medical Condition
There may be other medical conditions that could lead to this, but they are rare. If you’ve ruled out all of the above, maybe take your child to the doctor to make sure it’s not something more serious. Chances are, it isn’t, but you never know.
How To Treat This Problem
With that said, here are some ways you can treat this problem.
- A Change In Diet
If your child fears using the bathroom because they are constipated, perhaps you can give them foods richer in fiber, or take fiber supplements. Also, make sure they are drinking enough water as well.
Lessen foods that may be causing constipation. Too much dairy can cause constipation, so if they are always eating dairy products, reduce the amount your child eats. This may be the quick fix that you need.
By having a diet that makes it easy for them to pass stools, there’s less of a risk. Talk to your family doctor before you make a major change in your child’s diet.
- Stool Softeners And Laxatives
If the change in diet doesn’t work, you may need to get stool softeners or laxatives for your child. Now, this is something you should talk to your doctor about. You want to give your child relief, but not make them dependent on these meds in order to have a good bowel movement. A doctor can help you walk that tricky tightrope.
- Toilet Anxiety
If your child is having a hard time using the toilet because they are scared of it, help them. Go along with them. Give them earplugs if the sound of the flushing toilet is too much. Make sure the toilet isn’t that big so it doesn’t intimidate them. Make sure the seat is nice and secure. You may want to find them a smaller toilet as well.
- Use Positive Reinforcement
If your kid is having a hard time using the bathroom and is holding in their stool, you may be tempted to punish them or get angry. However, this is not the way to go about it. Be patient and kind with your child when they are experiencing this issue.
Tell your child that it’s okay to have a poop. Give them the book “Everyone Poops” in order to show them that it’s okay. By being positive, your child can get over their condition easier.
- It Takes Time
It takes a little bit of time for constipation to go away, as well as withholding stools. When you’re dealing with it, be a little patient. Keep giving your child a good diet, and give them rewards when they succeed. Usually, this is a one time problem that you won’t have to deal with.
- Look At Your Family History
If you’re still having a problem, take a look at your family history of the disease. If you have cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, or Hirschsprung’s disease, it may be the culprit of why your child is holding it in. If that’s the case, your next move is to
- Seek A Doctor
If your child is still having a problem with using the bathroom, you may want to seek the help of a doctor. They will take a look at your child’s medical history as well as your family history. The doctor may take a rectal exam and make sure that your child isn’t suffering from anything inside that would cause constipation.
Your 4-year-old holding in their stools can be frustrating, but by following these instructions, you make sure they have the smoothest bathroom trips possible.
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