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Holding poop! Help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm really hoping to find some encouragment here! I feel like I've been all over the web, lol. My son just turned 4 on Tuesday. Last October he had one bout of constipation with a painful bowel movement, and he has been terrified to poop ever since. He had been completely potty trained for 7 months prior to this. His doctor told me to start Miralax and said he'd get over his fear after a few easy BMs, which he kind of did at first. After a time or 2 of it not hurting, he would begin going like normal again with no fuss whatsoever. I'd think we were over this and back off the Miralax (he doesn't have chronic constipation, the Miralax was just to insure that he would not have a painful BM) but as soon as his poop would get firm again (the Miralax makes it pretty runny) he'd freak out, and the cycle would start over.

It has progressed now to the point where it does not matter how soft his poo is, he is always terrified. I've had him to his regular pedi several times and to a GI specialist. He's had basic blood work and a stomach x-ray, which checked okay. I believe this is purely psychological, and its really affecting our everyday lives.

He can hold it for up to a week, even with the Miralax. When he has to go, its usually a big dramatic scene. Afterwards, he will agree that he was making a big deal over nothing, but then he goes right back to holding it. He doesn't eat nearly enough and in fact has lost 4 pounds recently. His stomach stays distended and full from the withholding. He's not the same child. He doesn't want to play or eat. It makes him miserable, and it breaks my heart.

I've done everything I know to do. I've offered rewards. I bought him the It Hurts When I Poop book, I've sat him on the potty and tried to make him go, and lately I've just tried giving the control back to him and not mentioning it, but nothing is making this better. I'm afraid my next step is therapy, and I don't really want to go that route.

Has anyone dealt with this and overcome it? How? I'm so frustrated, and I'm afraid he's going to cause himself serious health issues. Please help!
post #2 of 15
No answers but big hugs to both of you
post #3 of 15
We had some of the same problem, except our DS didn't hold his poo for that long. He is 4 1/2. After having been almost completely potty trained he started pooing his pants, and also tried to hold it in, so that he had some quite big and painful poos as a result of it. It was a bit of a vicious circle, since the dislike of the toilet makes him hold it in, which makes it more painful to poo, which makes him dislike the toilet more.

We have basically tried everything, except medication. He never kept it in more than a day, so it didn't affect him as much as you describe that it affects your poor boy and your family. It sounds really awful.
It was still stressful that pooing took up so much of our daily life. Even though it was a long time since he had had a painful poo, he had such aversion against the toilet that he would prefer to poo in his pants after holding it in for as long as possible. A lot of the day would be spent trying to hold it in, and he would avoid being with other children while doing this, so it affected his social life. It was also very embarrassing for him when other children discovered that he had pooed his pants.

We tried to encourage toilet habits, we tried to give him control, we tried rewards (which goes against our parenting beliefs), nothing had any effect.

In the end I began to suspect that he finds the toilet itself uncomfortable too, not just the pooing. He is very sensitive to all kinds of physical discomfort. I asked him if he wanted a special, extra comfy toilet seat, but he said that he wanted a potty! I never thought he needed one, my other kids have always just used the toilet and haven't had any problems with potty learning. I always thought it was really simple...

We went to a baby shop and let him pick out the biggest potty they had, one of these: http://www.kidsandcare.no/index.cfm?...2&b_kid=490237

I tried to stay serious when he showed his enthusiasm in the shop, and I am sure the woman who sold it to us did too, as he is tall for his age and looks like he is 6 years old - and so excited about getting a potty!

It has actually worked really well, even though he still rarely says that he needs to go, he doesn't mind trying when we see signs that there is something about to happen. We have had many days without pooey pants, and he is really happy and proud every time he poos in the potty. He likes that it can be brought to different rooms, so that he doesn't have to sit in the boring bathroom to poo. He likes pouring the poo in the toilet and even insists on cleaning the potty himself... it's just like a potty learning phase all over again, in that he is really interested in this body function instead of trying to avoid it.

I'm sorry this turned out so long! And I don't know if any of this is any use to you. I hope you figure something out, or it sorts itself out soon!
post #4 of 15
We don't have as severe a problem as your ds. DD holds her poop too, for as long as she can, but she does go at least once in 2 days. The only advice I have for u which our specialist gave us is to never let the poop firm up since we have let it yo-yo in the past. We were afraid of Miralax because of any side effects. Well, according to the specialist it has none which was good to know. I just posted about this on a different thread. At first dd was on Miralax and Pedialax gummies and gradually we stopped the Miralax. She takes different qtys of it. Some days it's only 2 and other days she'll have 6. Her poop is v. soft but never runny. I tried to push her to go in the potty again but it was a bad idea. I am going to finish about 3 months of her having consistent soft poops and then try again.

Hugs and good luck.
post #5 of 15

I feel your pain.  My dd has been holding her poop.  It really boggles me because she is so advanced and didn't have any problems potty training.  She used to flush and say bye bye poopie.  It was all fun and games for a year or so.  Our dr. suggested we give her Little Tummies three nights in a row at bedtime and mix a small capful of Mylicon in her morning juice (not in milk).  It worked to get her to poop and she was relieved and started pooping normally again but then went back to holding it in after a week.  We gave her an enema once and it will be a last resort as she hated it.  Tonight I found a site, (http://gettingyourchildtopoop.blogspot.com/, that has an idea I'm going to try and my fingers are crossed that it works for my dd as I don't want her to go through this any more. 

post #6 of 15

Wow, I was about to post pretty much this exact same thing!

My son (4 yo too) will go over a week without pooping and then he will only go in a diaper. He stops playing. Stops walking. Throws up. It is absolutely awful to see him so sick. And of course we are pretty much trapped at home waiting for poop!

I have zero advice. We have mostly been trying the wait-it-out and be gentle route. I try to offer him a diaper daily so that we can at least get him back on a normal schedule and then worry about the potty, but he is usually very adamant that he does NOT have to poop and never will.

The only advice we have gotten from our pediatrician is a daily stool softener (for a bit) and a set time every day for the potty. If only it were that easy! I guess we're going to give it another go though. Sounds like you've BTDT.

post #7 of 15

I know this is an old thread, but I really need the advice now, so I'm hoping some of the recent posters have found help...


My DD is 27 mos. and refuses to poop.  She last held it for 7 days, until I finally gave her a glycerin suppository.  I've been giving her prune juice, limiting crappy food, making sure she gets enough fiber...no luck.  I'm really distressed about it and she is miserable.  What to do?!

post #8 of 15
I'm concerned about this too. We just started with ds wearing underpants or naked at home and he (3 yo) is doing well with pee. But he won't poo even when I put him in the diaper. I don't know whatnto do. This is his second day without pooping....but he already seems stressed and won't play. He's been a grumpy nightmare all day. I've trying to get him to drink a lot of fluids--- any advice would be appreciated.
post #9 of 15

With my DS, we had poop issues for awhile at first. Then they went away, and then came back again. Now they're not so bad anymore.  He goes about every other day. He does not like going, but he goes. We never did Miralax or anything. We read the book Everyone Poops. I also told him that he is in charge of his poop. And that when his body tells him he needs to poop, that he should listen to it and poop. And that we need to poop so we have more room for yummy foods in our bellies. I told him about which foods help his poop feel better. And that when we eat healthy things like .... it helps our poop, and that drinking lots of water helps our poop, etc. I also tried to hide my anxiety about the whole thing. At first when he had issues and started holding it, I'd get upset try to tell him he had to poop. That did not work. Really leaving all the control up to him really helped him.  

post #10 of 15

If this hasn't been said yet (I didn't read all the responses) look into a condition called encopresis.  My 6-year-old suffers from it, and while it's a really frustrating thing, the sooner you seek treatment, the better the outcomes.  Holding poop for a week at a time (which is how my son functions, if left to his own devices) does damage to the colon and anal sphincter, which further exacerbates the problem.  I think, technically, it's not labelled as "encopresis" if he is not leaking stool in between bowel movements, but it really sounds like that's the direction this is headed, if it's not there yet.  

Good luck (to everyone)--it's not an uncommon problem, but it can be very frustrating for both parent and child.  Like I said, the sooner you begin to address the problem, the better.

post #11 of 15

That's what I'm worried about. DD doesn't communicate well enough for me to feel confident that she understands what I'm explaining to her.  She just refuses and gets upset.  She likes to look at poop (other people's) and knows where poop goes, but doesn't want to do it.  I gave her a glycerin suppository this evening and it didn't work, so now I'm really worried. 

post #12 of 15

have you tried watermelon? it's in season and my kids gobble it up. that's sooo good for loosening poops. you could make it a daily "treat" all summer long. as much watermelon as they like! slice after slice. try to hold it in after eating your way through half a watermelon. 

post #13 of 15

That's funny, I'll try the watermelon.  Day 4 with no poop, so I gave her another suppository this morning and still nothing.  Not good.  I called the doctor's office and am waiting for the nurse to call me back.  This sucks.  She refused to eat this morning, but did manage to pee on the potty.  Ugh.

post #14 of 15

Soon after posting here my son started pooping every other day and even two days in a row once! I am THRILLED. He feels so much better and we are having less discipline issues too of course.

We've really been stressing that the reason he feels so bad is because of not pooping. He's a bit older (4) than some of the other children posted about on this thread; I don't know how well that would work with a little one. It has taken him a long time to "get it." I also think it being hotter has helped some because he is drinking more. Another thing is that his little brother (2 in June) has just started using the potty, pooping and everything. He's very excited for him and I think it has given him some reassurance that pooping is not some horrible thing. And instead of waiting until he had not pooped for days before using a laxative like we usually do, I gave him a partial dose after one day of not pooping. It worked and he didn't have to experience a huge bowel movement. Haven't used a laxative since and he's been going somewhat regularly. Previously he was only going after taking a laxative. We have been giving him tons of praise every time he poops, which probably seems ridiculous to some, but I think he was beginning to truly believe he could only do it with the help of medicine.

That said, he's still only pooping in a diaper. We're not going to worry about that until we are confident he has the whole pooping daily thing down. Hopefully it won't just start the withholding process again.

Wish I had some magical new tip for everyone else! GOOD LUCK!

post #15 of 15

In case anyone else decided to start putting ground flax seed in the meatloaf to help their DD's constipation, GO EASY.  The rest of the family might not need it.  There are suggested serving sizes on the container for a reason.  redface.gif

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