Stooling: Why Kids Withhold Poop And How To Help Them

Stooling: Why Kids Withhold Poop And How To Help Them

When your child keeps withholding poop, it could lead to them being very uncomfortable. However, it could be because of fear or constipation and you can help them through it.

It may seem funny when one hears that a child has refused to poop. But this a real problem, one that parents can help solve. The term is called stool withholding, which can be interpreted as the fear of stooling.

Stooling: why do kids withhold stooling?


Stool withholding is a regular practice among children and therefore normal. The child might be urinating just fine but does all he or she can to avoid pooping. Therefore, it's not uncommon to find parents doing all they can to get their kid to poop. Promises of new toys and a trip to the amusement park will be made. Yet the child refuses to poop.

There are a few reasons why this happens. One of those reasons is that the child knows how you feel about his or her refusal to poop. The more you make a big deal of that refusal, the more the child refuses to poop. Also, children generally don't like having their playing time interrupted. At first, they might like the idea of sitting on the potty because it's new. But over time that changes and they start stool withholding. This is possible because if one refuses to let themselves poop, the urge passes. The more a child ignores the urge, the harder the stool becomes. As a result, when he or she finally accepts to poop, the process is painful, causing the child to think “I'm never doing this again!”

Stooling: Why Kids Withhold Poop And How To Help Them

However, another reason might be chronic constipation. If your child has chronic constipation, he or she might not even get the urge to poop. It would end up coming without warning, causing the child to poop in his or her pants. Stopping this will require stopping constipation, with the help of a doctor. The following are the reasons why kids get constipated:

  • Fluids help keep poop soft. So when the child doesn't drink enough water, the poop might get harder.
  • Stress is another cause of constipation. This happens when the child is anxious about something like homework that's undone.
  • Your kid's bowels may slow down if his or her diet lacks fibre. Reduce sugary and starchy foods and increase fibre rich foods.

What should I do when my child is withholding poop?

what to so when your child withholds poop

The fortunate thing about stool withholding is that there's a lot you can do to help the situation. The following tips will help:

  • Be patient

Even as adults, we all know that poop takes its sweet time sometimes. There are times you sit down to poop and the process is fast. But other times you just have to give it time. Even so, it's hard not to get frustrated with your kid's refusal to poop. But you have to understand that your impatience will not make the child poop. If anything, it will push the child to further withhold their poop. Therefore, acting as if the whole thing doesn't bother you helps the situation.

  • Talk to the child

The more a child refuses to poop, the more difficult things become for the child. But of course, the child doesn't see it this way. You can talk to the child, explaining why it's important to try and poop. Be as gentle as you can about it. Plus, avoid threatening your child or you risk making him or her even more anxious. Don't say something like "If you don't poop right now you're going to start leaking." Instead, concentrate on the benefits of pooping. Say something like "You can't keep eating your favourite foods without pooping because this is an important part of a healthy day."

  • Establish a routine

This is much like establishing a sleep routine. You can establish moments you want the child to try pooping. Exactly the way you get a child to pee before bed. But for pooping it can be after a meal since food helps stimulate the bowels. However, you have to accept that the child might not poop every time they try. But you have to stick to the routine and keep trying.

  • Adjust diet

This might not solve the situation but it surely helps. Constipation is the reason why some kids refuse to poop. Therefore, adding more fibre to their diet would help soften their poop. Natural fibre is found in most fruits and vegetables. However, if your kid's refusal isn't because of constipation, this will do nothing to help with their stooling.

  • Let the child choose

There are cases where a child refuses to poop in the potty but will poop when wearing a diaper. This happens when you're trying to get the child to use the potty. Usually, when this happens the child is trying to tell you that they're not ready to use a potty just yet. Therefore, don't force the issue. Don't insist on making the child use the potty. Another trick you could try is to make a hole in the diaper. This way, the child has the diaper on while also pooping.

Overall, if you notice that the child is having issues with stooling, see the doctor. The doctor will examine and find out if the child is having painful bowel movements.

Read also: Food Poisoning In Kids: All You Need To Know To Keep Your Kids Safe

Kids Health

Written by

Lydia Ume