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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 leading to the hardening of the stools in the bowl making them very hard to pass which in turn makes the child fear 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 had to have an enema and large doses of Movicol and Laxido were also prescribed to soften the stools, helping her go to the toilet.

When my daughter finally managed to go to the toilet after treatment with Movicol or Laxido sachets, she had no control over her bowel movements.

Unable to attend school, we spent 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 managed to get into an excellent routine and she managed to go nearly every day; this was alongside my reminding her and noting it on a wall calendar. I found wall calendars useful in keeping track and being able to see at a glance any 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 thing.

Reading Sophia’s book helped us to get into a routine and taught us not to stress too much. She advises encouraging your child to sit on the toilet either in the 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.

For the odd days when my daughter didn’t go to the toilet, I kept Movicol as a backup and gave her a sachet when needed.

Movicol can be bought online and the dose adjusted. This is explained in the book. I always have some on hand in the medicine cupboard.

Fortunately, since writing this post, my daughter has now grown out of this behaviour. I hope this post helps any parent who is going through this.

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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