If you have a child poop withholding, you know this is a painful process to walk through. When we potty trained my almost 2-year-old, he started poop withholding immediately.
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My toddler would ask to use the bathroom literally every 60-90 seconds. We would beg him to sit down on the potty, offer a diaper to use, movies to watch, and favorite juice to drink. He just cried and asked us for help refusing to sit or go. After this week of war, he developed a very low fever. I knew this was his body’s way of getting ready to fight the bacteria festering.
I desperately turned to the internet searching for terms like “child won’t poop”, “refusing to poop,” “not constipated child won’t poop,” then I finally found the term “poop withholding”. Essentially, they are refusing to poop. They need to go, they cry and ask for help but refuse to go to the point of sitting down or clenching their butt cheeks towards prevention.
I read horror stories where the child would hold it for a week or more. Then consequently, lose the urge to go because of a stretched-out rectum. We did not want this to happen, so we took some helpful measures to relieve his discomfort. Soon after, he decided he would poop on his own! Here’s how I did it:
In my opinion (not a doctor), the first and most important area when walking through poop withholding is diet. No one likes to poop with hard stool. Soften it as much as possible with diet.
In addition, I doubled his vitamin intake, knowing the fruits and vegetables in our gummies would soften his stool, making a bad experience a little better.
I have a picky eater (or so he thinks), so I tried my best to offer fiber-rich foods, but I also let the gummies help with this since spaghetti (his only approved food) doesn’t offer much.
Probiotics are also an incredible tool to use during poop withholding. They promote and aid in regulating the system.
I will admit I lost my cool a few times (not in front of my toddler). I screamed at my husband to “switch me out I’m done!!” Poop withholding is extremely difficult to navigate. Just know, your toddler isn’t doing it on purpose. Well, they are doing it on purpose but not out of spite and not really even knowing why.
Researchers make their best guesses about why, for instance, losing a part of themselves (poop) or being vulnerable or unrelaxed.
Keep these ideas in mind. They have never gone through poop withholding, just like you. They are scared, hurting, and over it, just like you. Never scold or act upset with them. Do that behind closed doors. Trust me, you can’t go through this without releasing anger.
I took action when my toddler developed a small fever during his poop withholding. His temp never reached 100F, but it was clearly a cry for help.
We bought these suppositories. We used one and put a diaper on him. He cried for over an hour while we held him. Finally, out of desperation, we put him in his bed with juice. Walking out of the room was horrible because I felt him saying, “I need help, and you are leaving me alone!” He settled down in a few minutes and pooped!!
Anything was progress at this point! I noticed his stool was soft and pliable like playdough, so I knew he had the ability to pass it. That’s when I realized we were dealing with poop withholding.
We used the suppositories a few more times, and each time it was horrible. It hurt me to use them because he was forced to comply with something he didn’t want. He was miserable for the next hour and then left alone in bed to go. It worked but felt broken to me.
In the chaos, I looked for a new solution. We found liquid glycerin. We tried it, and it was like magic!! We used it and immediately sat him on the potty to go. It was instant!
Even better, after training him 3 times with the liquid glycerin, he started asking to go to the potty without the glycerin!!
Once he started asking to go poop on his own, I asked his permission to set him on the potty and wipe him. Remember to be very gentle.
I always try to let my kids make their own decisions when possible. Every 60-90 seconds he asked to go potty during poop withholding. I always helped even knowing it would yield no results. When I noticed he couldn’t on his own, that’s when I intervened.
As a result, I have built a strong relationship of trust with my kids. I don’t lie to them and always try to aid their efforts if they ask. Otherwise, I let them be them.
This allows them to come to me if they need help, knowing I will help them even if they don’t like the process. Make sure to tell them the process and help them understand the importance of pooping.
Sing songs and stay positive, then give lots of hugs and kisses when they poop in the potty!
I pray your days of poop withholding are short, friends!