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Children's Health

holding on to poo

08/16/2006

Question:

My 6 year old son is having problems doing his poo. Instead of going to the toilet when he needs to he will hold on to it. We can see that he is getting uncormfortable by the way he stands, and the fact that he stops playing. He does eventually go to the toilet, but only when he physically finds it a struggle to move. He ends up doing a very large solid poo, but he says that it does not hurt. What can i do to help him to stop holding his poo?

Answer:

Thank you for your question about stool holding. Many children resist going to the bathroom when they feel the urge. Sometimes it is a control issue, such as mommy and daddy really want me to do this and this is something I can control. This is not necessarily a conscious choice that adults would make, but a behavior choice. As a parent sometimes relaxing about the issue and not making it "an issue" may help. In your case it may be as simple as your child being involved in a fun activity that he doesn't want to give up or leave to use the bathroom. If he is not having issues with school performance, eating, growing or sleeping then do not worry. If any child has problems with weight loss, pain with passage of stool or blood in the stool than a visit to the doctor is necessary.

This question does encourage parents to feed children healthy food with good protein such as meat or beans, high fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and starches and cut down or eliminate processed foods and snacks. Also be sure to give plenty of water, only one serving of fruit juice and no soda or sports drinks. This will help kids to have healthy diets and healthy bowel movements.

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Response by:

Allison A Macerollo, MD Allison A Macerollo, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University