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Stool withholding is when a child, baby or toddler holds their poop in for days or weeks at a time.

Poop withholding can stem from various things such as being frightened to go to the toilet in case it hurts, or not wanting to use dirty school toilets.

Stool Withholding

Stool Withholding Behaviour

Stool withholding is not going to the toilet for long periods of time leading to the hardening of the stools in the bowl making them very hard to pass which in turn puts the child off more in fear of going to the toilet.

At first, I didn’t realise my daughter had this problem. I assumed she didn’t need to go to the toilet very often or had constipation. But it gradually got worse.

The worst time we had was when she held off going to the toilet for 4 weeks! It was so stressful and I had a hard time trying to persuade her to go to the doctor as well.

Stool Withholding Treatment

My daughter has had to have an enema in the past, also large doses of Movicol and Laxido were prescribed to soften the stools to help her go to the toilet.

When my daughter finally did go to the toilet after treatment of Movicol or Laxido sachets she’d have no control over her bowel movements. 

She couldn’t go to school as we had to spend the whole day in and out of the bathroom until she was fully cleared out.

The Stress of Stool Withholding

Parents whose kids have a problem with poop withholding will be able to relate to how stressful stool withholding can be.

Luckily we now have an excellent routine and she’s managed to go nearly every day for the past 4 months with me reminding her and putting ticks on a wall calendar. I find wall calendars the best because you can see at a glance the progress made.

Stool Withholding Book

I wouldn’t have realised what a common problem it was or how to rectify it without the help of a book that I purchased from Amazon called ‘Stool Withholding What To Do When Your Child Won’t Poo!’ Written by a mother called Sophia J Ferguson who went through the same (see book below).

I highly recommend reading: Stool Withholding: What To Do When Your Child Won’t Poop! 

Reading Sophia’s book has helped us to get into a routine and not stress too much. She advises encouraging your child to sit on the toilet either morning or evening and have it as a set routine to encourage bowel movements daily.

Sometimes your child may need to be on Movicol or Laxido for a few months, my daughter had to take one a day for 2 months.

I don’t think my daughter is totally out of the woods just yet. I still have to remind her to go or she will forget and of course not going to the toilet leads to hardening stools.

For the odd days she doesn’t go I now keep Movicol as a backup and give her a sachet. Movicol can be bought online and the dose adjusted. This is explained in the book. I always have some to hand in the medicine cupboard.

Does your child suffer from this problem, if so have you managed to overcome it?

Stool withholding is when a child or a baby hold their stools in for days or weeks at a time. It can stem for example from various things such as being frightened to go to the toilet in case it hurts, or not wanting to use dirty school toilets.
Stool withholding - what to do when your child won't poop

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