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6 year old doesn't want to poop
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6 year old doesn't want to poop

I hope that I'm in the correct forum for this.  I have a 6 year old (7) in June of this year who does not like to poop.  He was potty trained fairly quickly when younger and had no real problems.  A few years ago, I noticed that he would go for days without having a bowel movement.  When I'd ask him about it, he'd tell me that he didn't have to go, though it was obvious that he did and was holding it in. If he was standing, he'd run to a chair or the floor and sit down and rock or shake his legs or something.  I took him to his pediatrician who thought that possibly he'd had a very large bowel movement at one time and it caused some pain. (He is rather small. At almost 7 yrs of age, he is in a size 4)He believed maybe this made my son apprehensive about going for fear of the pain.  He put him on a bulk stool softener.  This did help him go more often, but only because he can only "hold it" for so long.  For a little while it got better.  He hasn't been on the softener for over a year and half.  However, this is still a problem.  I can tell when he has to go, though he will deny it every time.  I've tried everything from trying to explain how it can hurt his body to hold it in, not allowing him to go places if he hasn't gone and I know he has to go, and even rewards for going. On the rare occasion that he does go without holding it, I'm always quick to tell him how proud I am that he isn't holding it in.  Every time he goes, I ask him if it causes him pain and he says no.  He says that he doesn't like the way it feels.  I've explained that he will have to poop for the rest of his life, regardless of if he doesn't like the feel of it.  He's never constipated and his stools always seem soft, though formed.
Then, last week, he said that when he goes, it hurts his stomach.  At first I thought maybe this was his stomach cramping up when he has a bowel movement.  But I asked him to show me where it hurt and he pointed to his lower abdomen and then also pointed up higher in the center of his torso.  
Is this most likely a psychological issue?  Or can it be medical.  It's not that he doesn't HAVE to go.  By his behavior, I would guess that he would have a bowel movement every other day at the very least.  The urge to go is there, he just holds it and holds it and holds it.  If I wasn't watching, he'd hold it for up to 5 or 6 days.  Could this be a medical issue?   Should I take him to a specialists?  I'm at a loss as to what to do.  Any suggestions or comments are appreciated.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I have known other children who would hold it in because they found the act of defecation very unpleasant for some reason or another, even though it was not painful.

If his stools are normal, and he has the urge to go, and this issue has been going on for that long with no other symptoms, then the chances of him having a medical issue are pretty low. However, you mentioned that he is very small in stature. You may want to consult a specialist about small stature/ abdominal complaint/ defecation issues -- just for your own knowlegde and to rule out that there is a medical issue.

In my opinion, it is most likely that he just really has an aversion to defecation. It could well be sensory. It could be that he does not want to take the time to do his business, so to speak, because it will take him away from playtime, or something more enjoyable. I knew one kid who hated the smell-- and held it it until he actually DID develop a serious medical condition.

If it were me, I would rule out with a phone call or two any possible medical causes, and then I would consult with my pediatrician again, to get advice on what to communicate to him so that he will be encouraged to feel more comfortable about this body process. Because as you mention, it ain't gonna stop:)
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376008_tn?1312484756
I'm certain that the "unpleasantness" plays a part in his feeling.  I wasn't really too worried before because he had the urge to go.  This is why I didn't want to keep giving him the bulk laxative. Because he wasn't having a problem going.  His problem is that he won't go when he has to.

It was when he mentioned the pain in his upper abdomen that raised concerns for me.  Though I am well aware that he could also be using this a way to keep me from pressuring him to go.  I've tried to explain to him that he could hurt himself inside if he continues to do this.  

I'm uncertain who to call with questions on the phone.  Possibly I should take him back to his regular pediatrician first who can recommend a specialist.  Possibly if I run this question thru the pediatrician expert forum here I could get some feedback?
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Avatar_f_tn
I think running the question by the expert forum here is a good idea. It might give you some more direction about where to take him for additional evaluation.
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376008_tn?1312484756
Possibly it takes awhile to post question in the forum.  I've tried yesterday and it stated that the max amount of questions had been asked for the day, and to try the next day.  I am able to post only while at work during breaks ect, so I tried frist thing this morning and guess what-said the same thing.  Busy place :-)
Will keep trying.  Tried talking to my son again last night about holding it in and how it's possible that it could hurt him if he keeps doing it all of the time.  I asked him if it hurts "inside" or "outside" when he goes and he said a little bit of both.  When asked, he also said that it doesn't hurt quite as bad if he holds it for "awhile".  The problem is, "awhile" can be 5-6 days if I didn't hold the box of suppositories in my hand for him to see.  I'm wondering if the longer he holds it, the less he has to "exert" himself, for lack of a better term, when he does finally go.  Though he never appears to be straining in any way.  

I'm amazed at how many past posts I've found on children holding in thier BM's.  I had no idea it was this common.  though many of the other posts state that their child won't go in the potty, just goes in their pants.  My son doesn't do this. He just won't go
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Avatar_f_tn
As for getting on the expert forum, yeah-- I definitely find you gotta be up like super early to get in there!!! Sunday AM seems to be best time.
And overall, I am sure that in about 10 years, when he is driving, and dating girls, and talking about college and sports and all that-- you won't even really remember today:)
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Avatar_n_tn
This sounds exactly like what we've been dealing with with my 6 yo son and 3 yo daughter. . .

We've given them daily milk of magnesia / miralax for years. . .  I don't like to, but the alternative is that they'll hold it for, yes, 5-6 days and end up passing very painful BMs. . .

We have them sit on the potty each day after lunch and supper to try to poop.

The fiber/ stool softener combined with 2-3 daily sit-on-the-potty times is what their doctor proscribed when I first asked about it when my son was 18 months old. . .

I wish this condition had a name.  It seems like a fairly common problem with a definite set of symptoms. . .  I guess I'm thinking that if it had a name, we could talk about it more easily and learn more about it. . .

I had constipation issues as a child and I outgrew them completely as an adult. . .    I wonder if we'll just be dealing with daily meds, manditory potty times, poopy accidents, pain and tears, and the frustration of watching them fight their urges to go - until they are all grown up. . .  I remember my mom having to clean up poopy messes, rewarding me for pooping in the potty when I was in elementary school, and giving me fiber supplements even in high school.

It is pretty disgusting and frustrating, but I guess it could be worse. . .

My main concern right now is reminding myself that it is counter-productive to argue with him about whether or not he "has the feeling" to go. . .  This damages our relationship. . .  My job is to give him his meds, maintain the regular potty times, and increase his meds if he doesn't poop in a given day, clean up messes, and wash my hands very very well. . .


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I found this topic because just now my daughter was in so much pain that I thought I was going to have to take her to the doctor. She is 4 yrs. old. She has a tendency to hold her poop for days. But, she has never complained about any pain since she has been potty trained. Back when we were still in the potty training process, she would not go poop for many days. Then, she would go behind the couch and start crying in pain and have a really bad BM. When we caught her doing this, we would set her on the potty. It took her a long time to get trained. She finally just decided a couple weeks before Christmas last year when she was 3, that she would finally just go. But, since then she still holds it. But, she does go eventually and never complained of pain. Back to today. She ate and then all of a sudden said her behind and tummy hurt. She mentioned that she needed to go poop. But, she wouldn't go. Them, when I was explaining that she was hurting because she had to go, she then refused to admit she had to go. Then, she was arching her back so much and said her tummy hurt under her belly button and above it. So, I started worrying that there was more wrong with her. But, then as I was looking up info about abdominal pain and when to seek emergency care, etc., she bent over and started crying and pooped on herself! She has not pooped on herself since she was 3 and going behind the couch. Anyway, I took her to the bathroom and helped her clean up and she had a lot more to go. I mean, it looked like 3 weeks worth of BM, if not more. Anyway, now she is back to normal and that was all it was! No doctor needed. But, it still worries me why she is refusing to go. Maybe there is a medical condition that cause these kids to not want to go. Or maybe it is just part of the potty training. Even though they do eventually go and don't mess on themselves. They still are not fully trained if they are having issues with it like this. Unless of course it is medical.
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So Sorry,  I've not had a chance to be on this site for a very long time.
Kind of an update:  My son is now 8-1/2 yrs old.  He is MUCH bette than he was about holding BM's.  But he DOES still do it.  Many times when he has to go, he'll just go.  But there are still plenty of times where he holds it.   I've gotten very good at seeing the signs of when he's holding it.  I don't make a big deal about it.  When I notice it, I may say to him, "why don't you go in and go to the bathroom.  I can tell that you have to go".   Usually he denies it, and I just say "OK, but if you hold it it will just make you stomach worse, we already know this don't we Nate?".  I do not force him to go, and eventually he will go in by himself.  There are rare times when I know he's held it a long time time and I'm certain he has to go but is ACTIVELY holding it in and I'll tell him that he will not be going to the party he's been invited to the next day (or whatever exciting activity he may have) if he has not gone  to the bathroom. I remind him that he will spend his day finding a place to sit down until the urge passes and won't have near as much fun.  That usually gets him to go.  While it obviously is a concern healthwise when our child holds it, and I do believe we must really be vigilant in keeping track of it, I've learned the best way to handle it "hands down" is to NOT argue and NOT force.  It does no good and only seems to make them hold it more.  I've tried be sure he understands that HE is in control of his body and that HE is the one who can make the decision to go when he has to.  I think he still doesn't LIKE to go, he just does NOT like the feeling.  But he's learned that he will really will eventually HAVE to go-it won't go away. so he's gotten better.  All I can say is have patience.  Difficult as it can be.  It's taken alot of time for my son to get to the point he's at.  Good luck.  
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Thanks for the follow-up.  We have an 8 year old with very similar behavior.  I have been finding a lot more stained underwear.  As others have said, going at school is out of the question.  At times, I am sure we go 4-6 days, but then there are periods of every other day.

While reading the posts, I had was racking my brain for any "regular" activities in recent memory that were followed by a bowel movement.  BATHs.  Jackson hasn't taken regular paths in a few years, but as I thought about it, I would guess that 50% or more of his baths are interupted by the need to sit on the toilet. Not a pretty picture, as I write about it.  We are going to try nightly baths to see if his frequency improves.  I'll report back any results.  -- RS
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Avatar_n_tn
Sounds like he'll need hospital treatment for encopresis - sorry (for both of you)!
Then again...if threatening him with the suppositories doesn't motivate him to do the doo, maybe the fear of an enema will do the trick?!
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My 5 year old son has had this problem for the last two years since he was potty trained. It seems to have gotten worse recently. I'm at my wits end because he just point blank refuses to go. He says he doesn't like how it feels. He will go for up to week without going to the toilet when I can see he is desperate to poo and then has to have his underwear changed about five times a day because they are dirty. I am constantly washing his butt because he smells bad even though has a bath daily. I have to sit him on the toilet and encourage him to stay there several times a day but he refuses to push it out. I try to explain to him that he has to poo but he just ignores me or changes the subject, or he gets angry and covers his ears while shouting at me to go away. Apart from this he is a great kid and doing really well at school and has very good manners etc, but I am so worried that this problem will have medical implications for him. I have given him a stool softener which doesn't seem to work because the poo just comes out in small bits in his underwear. He has also gone in his pants in his sleep and obviously this is only because he is unconscious he is doing it and his body just loses control. I've tried reward charts which have worked temporarily but before long he goes back to holding it in. He will lie on the couch wriggling his legs and arching his back and he's obviously desperate. I can't keep forcing him to sit on the toilet and I want him to go by himself but its been going on for two tears and I really thought the problem would be solved by now. I am taking him to the doctor on Monday and I hope there is something which can be done.
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My 5 year old son has had this problem for the last two years since he was potty trained. It seems to have gotten worse recently. I'm at my wits end because he just point blank refuses to go. He says he doesn't like how it feels. He will go for up to week without going to the toilet when I can see he is desperate to poo and then has to have his underwear changed about five times a day because they are dirty. I am constantly washing his butt because he smells bad even though has a bath daily. I have to sit him on the toilet and encourage him to stay there several times a day but he refuses to push it out. I try to explain to him that he has to poo but he just ignores me or changes the subject, or he gets angry and covers his ears while shouting at me to go away. Apart from this he is a great kid and doing really well at school and has very good manners etc, but I am so worried that this problem will have medical implications for him. I have given him a stool softener which doesn't seem to work because the poo just comes out in small bits in his underwear. He has also gone in his pants in his sleep and obviously this is only because he is unconscious he is doing it and his body just loses control. I've tried reward charts which have worked temporarily but before long he goes back to holding it in. He will lie on the couch wriggling his legs and arching his back and he's obviously desperate. I can't keep forcing him to sit on the toilet and I want him to go by himself but its been going on for two tears and I really thought the problem would be solved by now. I am taking him to the doctor on Monday and I hope there is something which can be done.
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Kind of awkward, but I had this when I was a kid (I'm now 19). I had completely forgotten about it, but it randomly crossed my mind in my developmental psychology class today. I was curious for an explanation and am shocked to see that numerous other kids exhibit the same strange behaviors. Anyway, I thought I'd try to explain what it was like in case it might help you guys.
I think it must have been ages 3-5 when it was really a problem (which seems to be the popular age for this board). I wouldn't poop for days, and often it would interfere with pretty much everything I would normally want to do with my day. Sometimes I would wake up and just not get out of bed because it was uncomfortable to move too much. I wouldn't go out and play with my neighbors--I would just lay there, which, in comparison to the other periods in my childhood, was very abnormal for me. I think my parents were too embarrassed to bring it up very often because I don't remember them doing so, but they would get mad that I'd always leave smears in my underwear. So, I'd hide them from them, and I was generally very honest with my parents, so this was a strange behavior, too. Mainly I posted to say that I believe the problem, if your kids are going through the same thing that I did, is psychological. I think this because it really, really hurt, and it was debilitating, so I don't think it was as though I thought that, in terms of physical comfort and pain, it was the best option; rather, it was like it was happening to me, like I didn't have a choice. In reference to the suggestion that it might be an aversion to the potential pain of pooping, at least for me, that wasn't the case. I think it was a compulsive behavior, which, from what I understand, is like a tic (biting your nails, twirling your hair, etc.), except the individual knows very well that it's in his/her best interest not to do it, but literally can't help but do it anyway. OCD and drug addiction are characterized by compulsive behavior. I wish I could offer some further insight that would comfort a concerned mother and enable you to figure out what to do, but that's really all I got. I can say that it somehow went away on its own--once I started kindergarten I was pooping much more frequently, and by second grade I'm pretty sure it was a non-issue. I'm also doing perfectly fine now. :) I think the "correct treatment" would largely depend on the kid. I can't imagine severe measures are necessary, like feeding your kid a bunch of laxatives or taking him/her to a shrink; I feel like if my parents had done the latter it would have been a more traumatic experience than it was, but I really don't know. Anyway, good luck to all of you. Congratulations on being good mothers--I'm sure you'll do the right thing.
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Spacebound, Thank you SO MUCH for posting on this subject.My son will be 9 in June and while this is not as big an issue as it was a few years back, it DOES still occur with him.  Sometimes he is just fine and goes without saying anything;  Yesterday he called to me from the bathroom and said he needed a new roll of toilet paper.  When I went into the bathroom, he was on the toilet going like it was no big deal.  And yet.......last week, I could tell he was holding it.  There are still times where he'll tell me that he's urinated a very small amount in his pants.  When I ask why, he said he just couldn't hold it.  But I know that this only happens when he's holding his poop.  He doesn't want to poop for whatever reason, and he knows that when he urinates, the urge to poop is almost too much for him to stop, so he just holds the urine.  As before, we've had numerous discussions about the damage that holding can do to his body.  Again, sometimes he's fine, and other times he holds it.  I always let him know that urge will not go away until he goes.  I cannot determine if it is durring times of stress that he holds it or not.  However, I do agree with you Spacebound that this is a psychological issue and that the degree of it varies from child to child.  What I hadn't thought of before is the OCD aspect of it. Lightbulb moment!!    As you said, I don't think that this is an issue of having a painful bowel movement in his past.  On the contrary, I think it is much more painful for him to hold it in.  That much appears obvious when you see a child sit down and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle until the urge passes.  But the compulsive behavior, now THAT makes some sense to me.  The OCD interests me for a few reasons; 1)  I tend to have some obsessive behavior myself, (as does my husband) though it is much less pronounced than before I had my son. I still count steps every time I go up or down them.  My spice cabinet is alphabatized (dont laugh)  and I feel MUCH more relaxes when everything is "in it's place" so to speak.   2)  My son has only recently revealed to me that he strongly prefers EVEN numbers for everything rather than odd #'s.  To the extent that he is much more comfortable having (6) chicken nuggets on his plate, than (5).  That kind of thing.  I never knew this.  I know that he sometimes suffers form mild anxiety and we've spoken with and had him recently seen by a child Psychologist because he gets frustrated very easily and can be very very hard on himself.  At any rate, he is much better than he was 2 years ago, but it does still occur.  As I said, PATIENCE seems to be the key. And I most certainly think it was important to explain to him the physical harm that he can cause himself when doing this.  Spacebound, you are an absolute DOLL for chiming in on this issue. You are the first to give us a "first person" view as to why our children may be doing this. I cannot tell you how much that will help some of us to better understand what our child may be thinking and feeling. i too was suprises at the number of children who seem to have this issue.  I assumed my child was the only one. Bless you for coming out and sharing that insightful post.  I certainly gives me more to think about with my son so that I can possibly help him more. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
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I have a 6 yr old daughter with HFA. She does very well except with pooping in the potty. I have had medical tests conducted all which are negative. My daughter is very sweet except when it comes to the potty then she becomes quite aggressive and physically violent. Screaming, pulling hair, throwing things and biting. Although we have somewhat overcome this she will hold in her stool for up to a week. Her tummy becomes distended and she complains of tummy pain. She says it hurts when she goes but she will go in her underwear with no problems. Dr's recommend miralax which only semi works. she will continue to hold in but now little bits of poop will be in her underwear and this happens several times a day. I am so tired of washing out underwear. She now washes it herself first but then I have to launder it. She has been so out of control with this she has scared my 3 yr old daughter who now also refuses to use the potty. I am at my wits end. I even have a team of specialist working with her but she still wont stop holding in. I read some of these posts and I fear this is something she will be dealing with for a long time. I really hope she can overcome this before beginning 1st grade. Her unwillingness to go has caused her behavior to become more defiant. She is now becoming more somatic with tummy and headaches. She runs a fever of 102 or higher when she is overwhelmed or stressed. As soon as stressor is removed her temperature returns to normal and all pains disappear. I really want to help my daughter but I just don't know what to do anymore. I am more then frustrated and can't undestand why she would rather hold in her stool causing herself pain and discomfort instead of just going on the potty. thanks for reading and would appreciate any comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I just wanted to say I am currently dealing with this with my 5 yr old daughter. She was actually in the hospital last week b/c she was constipated and would not eat or drink, therefore leaving her dehydrated. The hospital gave her an enema and and IV of fluids, kept her overnight. The thing that gets me if, she was sent to the ER on a Thursday. It was the Monday before that that she stopped eating, but she pooped for me on Saturday twice and Sunday once, then on Monday stopped eating, Wed. stopped drinking. I followed up with a visit to my ped in 48 hours who said keep giving miralax.  Here we are, one week later, 1 capful of miralax a day, 3 suppositories and 1 enema and still no poop! She was holding it up until the suppositories, but after I gave them she is trying, just that watery poop is coming out. We have been dealing with this for 2-3 years, saw a GI Dr last summer and I was just told to make an appointment with another 1. I just want her to poop, its so sad! She was tested for Celiac's and that was negative, and will be tested for Cystic Fibrosis next week. I just don't know what to do, calling the ped when the sun comes up.
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Avatar_m_tn
As a young child I suffered with severe constipation and very painful poops. As far back as I can remember I've always held my poop in (even to this day at 26 years old). I am so aversed to pooping I only go every few days. I hold it in until I simply cannot hold it in any longer and run to the bathroom.

When I was a child it was the pain that I was avoiding. Now, today, it's the grossness of pooping that keeps me from going regularly. I think it's just some kind of OCD thing. Not sure really.
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Avatar_m_tn
As a young child I suffered with severe constipation and very painful poops. As far back as I can remember I've always held my poop in (even to this day at 26 years old). I am so aversed to pooping I only go every few days. I hold it in until I simply cannot hold it in any longer and run to the bathroom.

When I was a child it was the pain that I was avoiding. Now, today, it's the grossness of pooping that keeps me from going regularly. I think it's just some kind of OCD thing. Not sure really.
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even though it is a little relieving to know im not alone..i wouldnt wish this on anyone and really feel for others going through this. my 3 1/2 yr old has been peeing on the potty for sometime now but wont poop in it except on a VERY rare occassion. i have done alot of reading and even taken her to the doctor. she is not constipated..if she was she wouldnt take large poops in her underwear.  The doctors obviously have no answers, i feel this is more of a behavioral problem even though the experts dont seem to agree that a child so young could put thought into this. In the last couple of days she has also started wetting her pants..she has never done this since potty trained almost a year ago..she even gets up in the middle of the night to pee and doesnt go in the bed. I am now fearful to take her anywhere, i took her to the park and she wet and soiled herself, there was a bathroom there. i want to do fun things with her but this is getting so frustrating and its hard not to get upset. we have tried everything..positive reinforcement, changing her diet, yelling, crying, reading her books on the potty. Nothings working and i am so scared of what it will be like when she goes to school. I typically have to change her 3-8 times a day and she refuses to wear a pullup. This is straining on my relationship with her because when she has to go and she is holding it she becomes a different kid..and throws violent fits it is very stressful on our whole family. There is no cure for this and i just wonder when and if it will ever end
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My heart goes out to you.  I have a 28 year old son and when he was about 7-8yrs. he had the same problem.  We would have to take him to ER every so often (at the time we didn't know what was wrong).  He would just scream and wriggle in pain.  He would say mom please help me.  It would break my heart.  No one knew what it was.  He was missing school to the point his teacher sent work home so he could keep up.  I would not leave the ER one night until someone helped us. They finally gave us the name of a pediatric gastro. dr. We stayed in the ER until morning (which wasn't long).  When the office opened I went to the Dr. office and told then, I would sit there until they saw us.  After a wait we got in.  Of course all the normal tests then scheduled a colonostopy and light down throat at children's hospital.  This was hard to make him go through but not as hard as the pain he was having.  They gave me a color picture that showed the beginning of an ulcer.  Michael was given a pill to take when he felt the pain and it would relax everything.  We also changed his diet somewhat ( x fried most).  It was by far the worst thing I have ever experienced.  All this to say please take him to a pediatric gastro doctor.  It was the best thing I ever did.  This may not be Nate's problem but the doctor will get to the bottom of what the problem is.  Good luck!!  Michael still has some problems but has learned how to control it himself.  Nate's problem is not uncommon for a gastro dr.  They see this a good bit. I would love to hear how things go:)
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WOW, I am so happy to see all of these responses! More information than I got from any of our doctors.

My son is 9 years old and we have been dealing with this for about 4-5 years. He was worse a few years back, but now that we can talk about how its not good to hold it in, he does better. We have been very careful not to shame him but just to let him know we are worried it could hurt his digestive system. When he finally does go after a few days of holding it, it is HUGE! Sometimes we have to remove it from the toilet because there is just no way it will go down. Once we saw the size we knew it had to hurt. So we gave him mild stool softeners - not laxatives. They have helped a lot. It makes it easier for him to go so we know that it isn't the fear of pain that is stopping him. But he still holds it sometimes.

Another idea is regarding the routine of at least sitting on the toilet at the same time every day - like before a bath - even if you don't have to go. This was somewhat effective.

I used to think that sometimes children, certainly boys, are so busy they don't want to take the time to do. But, I agree that it is psychological, and something that they perhaps cannot help from doing. A compulsion. I really don't know what it's about, but our doctor's have all said that its normal and to use a stool softener. It does worry me that it will carry into adulthood. I never thought it could be OCD related until reading these posts. My son also has a habit of biting his nails. I don't understand why he does either of these things. He is not under any abnormal stress. We have a stable home, a large extended family and a pretty basic weekly routine. He has a very happy homelife as well as school. It may be just part of his personality.

It was great reading everyone's responses, now I don't feel that it is very uncommon. Thanks all!
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Hang in there!   I KNOW that its frustrating.  This forum is wonderful.  For so long I thought that my child was doing something that no other child did.  It's amazing to me how many parents are answering on this forum thread that I first started over 2 years ago.  This situation is much more common than I ever thought and I'm amazed that doctors aren't more aware of it considering that.
Like all of the other people who posted, mu doctor kind of guessed at what was going on.  My son's ped. dr. put him on stood softeners in the beginning like so many others did.  He advised that if it kept up we would need to see a gast. dr.
My problem with those two things was that I knew that his problem wasn't that he COULDN'T go, it was that he WOULDN'T go.  HUGE difference between the two.  When "spacebound" wrote in and mentioned the OCD aspect, it was like bells and whistles went off in my head.  THAT makes sense to me.  We recently tool my son to see a therapist because he gets frustrated and angry very easily.  After many sessions, they said there was no HDAD, nor any other type of disorder to worry about. Said he seems healthy and well adjusted for a 9 years old but said that he does tend to have some issues with anxiety and worrying about things.  That kind of fits with his bathroom issue.  At least to me it does.  Anyway mrsphips, I know how difficult it is but just hang in there.  Believe me, as hard as it is, staying calm and not making a huge deal out of it seems to be the key.  Not to solution by any means, but it certainly worked better for us than arguing, taking away privileges, and forcing time on the potty.  That just increases their anxiety about the whole issue.  Cant possibly help.   I learned that the hard way :-)   As I posted before, Nate has gotten better and better,  But he still occasionally holds it.  He went yesterday and I know he had held it for at least 3-4 days, even though he denied it.  Plugged the toilet up and everything.  It was only after going swimming all day that he just couldn't hold it any longer.  The swimming thing helps I think.  Even more so than a soak in the tub.  Maybe the chlorine?  Or just the length of time they're in the water maybe.  Dunno, but swimming almost always makes him go.  It will get better, just need to be patient.  Other than the one post, I think most kids slowly get past it.  If indeed it is psychological, which I do believe it is, maybe as they get older, the OCD manifests itself in other ways.  There may not be much help explaining this from the doctors, but there is plenty of help on this website.  As you said, its so nice to know there are others who have gone thru this and can offer help, even if that help is only a small comment of support and understanding.
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Hi there - I am just adding to the discussion not because I have a child of my own who suffers with this condition but a child in my class and I am trying to get a bit more info on it. One thing I remembered from my uni days is Freud's Psychosexual stages of which there are five but I think the anal stage is relevant to this... here is a bit of info...

"Anal Stage: 18 months - 3.5 years (approx.)

Physical focus: anus (elimination). Until now the baby has had it pretty easy. Now baby is supposed to control bowels. Freud believed baby?s sexual pleasure centred around the anus at this time.

Psychological theme: self-control/obedience. These things are not just related to toilet training but also the baby must learn to control urges and behaviours (terrible twos). What goes wrong here is either parents being too controlling or not controlling enough (Freud was a great believer in moderation).

Adult character: anally retentive (rigid, overly organised, subservient to authority) vs. anally expulsive (little self-control, disorganised, defiant, hostile)."


It also said that if there is any 'unresolved issues' during these stages, 'fixations' on the stage may occur in later life. Interesting and worthy of taking into consideration as we try to understand this complex issue. Kind regards and best wishes to all who are dealing with this first hand.



...
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My four-year-old son spent a lot of last year witholding poo, as I called it. I too was rinsing out smeared underwear several times a day and losing my mind in the process. I put it mostly down to his apalling diet - he eats no fruit or vegetables and exists mostly on peanut butter sandwiches and various carbs - and give him Miralax daily, but pooping is still an ordeal for him.

He's been very good lately (for the past several months) and nearly always goes as soon as he feels the need, rather than holding it in for a week. So he poops every day or two, but it's very hard for him - he sits and wriggles and cries and his legs are pumping pumping and eventually the poo - lots of it - doesn't look too hard or too soft - comes out. It takes a good ten or twenty minutes.

I always thought it was a control issue, which makes sense with the OCD thing. Now it looks as if his brain and his body are at odds - he really wants to go, but his body won't just sit down and do it, so he fights it the whole time, even while it's happening.

I think it goes in phases. I'm just hoping this phase is over soon. And that there isn't some physiological thing I could actually do something about. I hate to see him suffering when he's trying so hard to be good.
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I just found this forum and I'm so glad to read that other people face this issue.  My daughter is 5 years old and has been on miralax since she was 18 months.  We have battled the "holding of bowel movements" for so long, that I feel like it consumes everything.  Our pediatrician dismisses it as normal(which drives me crazy) and the gastrointernologist keeps saying to keep her on the miralax.  I'm so frustrated with the poopy panties and constant battles to sit on the potty!  My daughter also can become very upset and defensive when she has an accident(which is daily).  It is a battle to even check her panties for poop.  Her friends are constantly telling me that she smells, and she doesn't even care.
I guess I'm not really looking for help, I just wanted to get my own frustration out with other parents who feel the same pain.  My friend always says, "don't worry, she won't walk down the aisle with poop in her pants", but I have serious doubts that it will ever stop.
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My four y/o also has this issue and it has been diagnosed as encopresis. We've been struggling for almost a year now. We use Miralax, too, and try to have him sit on the potty at the same time every day. This is difficult because he has oppostional defiant disorder, so getting him to do anything is usually a battle. I'm so grateful for all the posts because he's still having trouble and I was wondering if I should take him back to the peds gastro. I'm hoping it will clear up as we deal with his anxiety issues and ODD. I can definitely relate to feeling so helpless b/c you know he's in pain, but mentioning it just makes it worse. We've set up a code phrase "I'm taking a little break" that tells me he's having belly cramps and wants to be left alone.
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I am so pleased I have read this site....I was starting to think I was "the only one" with a child doing this. My daughter is 5 and has been withholding poo for the last couple of years. the doctor has perscribed Movicol but this doesn't seem to be helping. Like others I have tried reward charts and bribery but to no avail. She will not go for 4-5 days and then have a massive movement, only because she can't keep it in anymore. When she has an accident she gets very upset, I sit her on the loo where she tries to go, but she tells me the poo doesn't want to come out. I am at a loss as to what to do next, I seem to spend all my time scrubbing and soaking her knickers, As someone else said I too am afraid to go out with her and her brother for fear of an "accident". My son had a constipation episode when he was a year old and the specialist told me it can take a year for the bowel to remember how to work properly. Fortunately once the year had past my son was ok and has had no problems since.
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I'm 37 and used to hold mine in until my early teens.  There is one thing no-one has mentioned (i think) that apart from the scared of going because of a painful stool there is another factor.  It actually feels good to hold it in.  I know this sounds strange but I asked my 5 year old why he does it and he said he likes the feeling.  This took me back to my childhood and it's true, it does feel good to hold it in.  It's very hard to explain what it feels like but I'd say it feels similar to the instant after it comes out.  
So the problem is two fold, scared of the pain and then enjoying holding it in.  Even today I generally wait until the last minute to go (I don't hold it in by the way) which must be a throw back to my childhood days.  All I can say to all the worried Parents is that I have grown up healthy and normal and enjoying my childhood without it affecting any friendships etc.  Try not to worry, you child should grow up normally regardless!!
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Thank you all for your comments on this, it has been helpful for me to see that my 5 year old seems normal enough!!  My 4 year old has been easy as, because I have not put so much pressure on all of this, he prettty much toilet trained himself and we used to just put a nappy on for him to do a poo until he was happy to go to the toilet.  My 5 year old, is curling his toes, sitting and wriggling and dancing, but when I say go to the toilet, he says he doesn't have to.... until I make him, then he is relieved, we have poo books and fart discussions.... but he will hold it in.

One thing I was thinking of, after reading your posts, was that 1/ I had concerns about it being OCD, and also Freud's thing - it is about control.  I think that the best thing is to give my son other things that he is in control of.  

It may lessen the control on this.... he is also very busy, so I think a lot of times he just doesn't want to miss out!

Thank you for your help - I hope that this may shed some light on it for others too!!

I am wondering if I might introduce other things that Oliver has control over
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I also thought i was the only one going through this, my daughter is 5 and has had problems with pooping now for 3 years, it is not getting any better and i was thinking of going for medical help, she says it doesn,t hurt, but she doesn,t like the smell. When she does go she is shaky but really proud of herself, i have tried the gentle approach, but i also get frustrated and get wound up, i have tried to talk to her about why she must go. Recently we started potty training her 3 y/o sister who has autism, and surprisingly acheived this in 1 week. I thought seeing her sister poop in the potty with no problems would encourage her, but if anything i think it made her worse.  I just hope none of this effects her brother who is 2, and as yet shows no inerest in the potty.
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I have never been so relived to have found a post like this, my 8 year old son refuses to pass a BM it has been this way since he was potty trained, i know all the signs and have tried the taking away of things he loves etc, i've tried everything. I go to the doctors and they just prescribe softners and laxatives....which he doesnt need as he can go, he just holds it. I truely beleive this stems back to when he was young, around 3yrs old, he passed a BM and it got stuck, he couldnt physically get it asll the way out and it ended with me having to remove it so his bottom could relax and close, since then he will hold it for a week before the desperation takes over and he has no choice to go. Its causes so many problems, he gets very angry when he reaches this stage, he wont eat, but is hungry, he wont go out or do things as hes forever needing to run off and hide so he can sit and stop it coming. After reading this post it has made me realise i need to be much more than a nodding dog, and to take him tomorrow to see our GP and get some help. He doesnt need drugs, he needs help with his fear of going, and they'll listen to me or i wont be leaving the surgery. Thank you all for allowing me to see that I am not alone, and this 'problem' is a serious issue that needs to be resolved
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I'm amazed at the number of people struggling with this problem! I ended up reading this because my 5yr old has pooped in his sleep the last three nights in a row and I'm wondering what's up. He is very regular usually, though he has a definite routine. He comes and tells me he has to poo and I say "Go ahead, I'll be in in a minute" and he says "Okay, I will tell you when I"m done." It's the same every time, and he has to be naked to poop, he won't go anywhere but at home, and he won't wipe himself (yet...). So it's weird to me that he's holding it in lately. I wonder if it's a control thing or stress related. I guess the main reason I worry is because I held it in as a child and it actually caused a lot of problems. All I can say to all of you is that it's good that you noticed! I think since I was the youngest and my parents were busy they just assumed I was independent enough to be going on my own once I was potty trained and they never questioned that I wasn't. I would hold it in for as long as possible, and like someone said earlier it felt good, physically and emotionally. But it became a pattern, it felt good to hold it in, but then I'd hold it so long that when I finally did go it hurt like crazy, so the fear of the pain made me hold it in, etc etc. It became a cycle. And then it just became habit to the point that I didn't question that it should be any other way until I got a job at a health food store my senior year of high school. So many people would come in looking for natural laxatives saying that they were constipated and only pooped every couple of days. I was incredulous, I couldn't believe a person could go that often!! I only pooped maybe twice a month. And I clogged the toilet each and every time. Which added to the cycle, I tried not to poo anywhere else for fear of clogging the toilet (which happened a lot, I spent a lot of time searching for plungers in people's bathrooms and trying not to let on what was going on in there.) It had gotten to the point that I would often cry and bleed when I pooped. At the store I found a book we sold all about the bodily process of elimination. I got scared and realized it was a big issue and started taking laxatives and changing my diet to relieve the constipation and being very conscious to not hold it in. It took a long time, I think my body had forgotten how to go normally. I'm surprised I didn't have Diverticulitis or something! I still wasn't as regular as I would like but I was going every three days or so. It wasn't until after I had my first baby that I became regular. Pregnancy somehow helped me. But I wouldn't be surprised if I did some lasting damage, I'm almost scared to have my colon looked at. I'm sure I had anal fissures and tearing. I still occasionally fight the urge to hold it in, there is definitely a compulsive element to it. It's a complex issue and every child is different but had my parents noticed and tried to help, I'm sure at some point they would have figured out a way. As an adult when I told my mom all of this she was flabbergasted and riddled with guilt. She had always been as regular as a clock and she said it just never occurred to her that I had a problem. But I didn't realize I had a problem, it's just what I was used to. So kudos to all of you who are actively trying to help your child! I think had my parents talked to me about it and kept on me about it, I would eventually have stopped because I would have realized it was bad for me and been conscious of their concern. But left unchecked it can definitely cause problems! Good luck to all of you!
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I too am so glad to have found this site.  I have been searching for answers for a while now.  My son started potty training just before he turned three in September and seemed to be catching on very quickly.  This was a big relief as it seemed to take his sister forever to learn and she went through a pooping in her underwear phase for almost a year that was very upsetting for all of us.  

My son was doing great pooping and peeing and then when we went to a Christmas village in early december he decided he could not go in the outhouse type style toilet (who could blame him!) and he ended up having a very very large hard bowel movement that night from holding it.  (this is a boy who would poop at least twice a day if not more until that day)  Ever since then he has been holding it.  The longest he went was 6 or 7 days and then we ended up taking him to a chiropractor on suggestion from a friend as suppositories/laxatives were not working, he could hold it through anything.  The chiropractor worked liked magic and we tried this a couple of times out of desperation when he would go days.  Eventually my husband figured out that he could help him get the poop out by putting pressure on his stomach/bowel while holding him on the toilet which we have also done when things get desperate.  (he hates this though and will scream and hit etc..breaks my heart)  
My problem with these solutions is that I believe it has totally turned into a control issue with him, and neither of these solutions help him gain control and in fact take even more control away from him making the whole thing worse.  I really relate to the OCD idea as he definitely has little things that really bug him that he'll fuss about until they are exactly the way he wants them.  He tends to do these things more when certain things in his life are changing (re. we had a new baby last spring and when his older sister went off to full time JK this year, or if his dad is gone working alot)  He also returns to separation anxiety during these times.....

Anyways.....this is clearly a control thing for him now and I wondered if you found any great ways of helping yours feel in control.  Could you share if you have?  I have tried everything over the last few months (potty routines, rewards, charts, fibre, laxatives, withholding things, ignoring it etc etc etc)  I am so worried he will damage himself medically and it is breaking my heart to see him in pain, and so often laying on the couch, missing out on so much and refusing to get up as that is the only way he can ease the sensation to go.   If anyone can help please???????
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Toptrumps brings up a good point.  I agree because I had this problem when I was in the 2nd grade ( 7 years old).  I would hold my poop in for days and then have to deal with the pain of pooping it out, knowing how traumatic it was going to be!  My parents didn't even know.  As a 7 yr old, I kept it a secret, plus my parents must not have been too engaged either.  The one thing that was the motivation for holding my poop was that it felt good to hold it.  I know it sounds strange, like the other poster (toptrump) mentioned, but this is the truth.  One time in 2nd grade class, my poop was coming out and I was trying to hold it, but I just couldn't and it came out like diarrhea, I was so embarrassed and all the kids were complaining about the smell.  The teacher discretely let me go to the bathroom, and she then blamed the smell on the hamster that we had in our class (God bless her!).  But I am on this forum now because i have a high-functioning autistic son with this problem.  Tonight he let out a large, long poop, and my son told me, as best he could with the autism impedement, "I eat and then I have to poop, so I don't want to eat anymore".  So he thinks if he doesn't eat, then he won't poop.  I know it hurts him to have to poop such a big poop, but he says it doesn't hurt.  Eventually, for me as a kid, I just started pooping normal and things were fine for me.  Now I am just struggling to help my son.  
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I am so happy to have found this site!  My son just turned 6 and we have been dealing with this for 3 years. He can only poop standing up in a pull-up. At first we thought it was behavioral...a control issue, if you will. But at 4 he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and while talking to his occupational therapist, I told her of our struggle with BMs. He doesn't hold it but seems completely unable to do it sitting down. She suggested we ask him if we could observe him going (in a pull up) and then report back to her. My son agreed though he was mortified (he is SO private) and what I saw shocked me. I expected to see him squat or push on the counter for leverage or something, but instead, be went stiff as a board, arms straight down at his sides until he was finished. When I explained this to his OT, she told us that his core strength is so poor/weak that he has to rely on the stability of the floor and his stiffened muscles in order to push the poop out. Sooo, we started working on exercises to increase his strength etc. Now, 18 months later he still struggles to get anything out while sitting. Our agreement was at 6 he would give up the pull-ups (thankfully he is skinny and we allowed them while he was working on his strength, with lots of sitting practice in between), over the 3 weeks since his birthday, he has had several "leakage" accidents and is now avoiding urinating because when he does his body relaxes and more poop leaks out, totally humiliating him. Now we aren't sure what to do. He willingly sits and practices, sits when he feels the urge, but as yet, has had no success in the toilet. He is becoming incredibly discouraged and for a boy who already experiences anxiety and worry, this is not a good thing.  His well child check up is in 2 weeks and we will talk to his ped. then, although up until now he has been completely unhelpful "blaming" it on behavior and nothing else. We will be bringing in the OT report to support our claims. My only fear is where do we go from here?? I hate the idea of subjecting such a private little boy to the humiliation of a lower GI...but I wonder if that is our next step. It leaves me in tears most night, frustrated and scared for him. Good luck to all of you, it is comforting to know that I am not alone in this although my son's issues are not identical. Having a 6 year old who still doesn't poop in the potty is a tough row to hoe!!
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I didn't read all of the posts here . . . seems to be a common problem and this is a very old old thread.  

My son has constipation.  We found out the hard way what holding poop can do.  My son's bowel became blocked and it was a trip to the hospital just recently.  His large portion of his lower intenstines was completely blocked.  It caused the symptoms of severe vomiting and abdominal pain.  My son did have a bowel movement every day but it was hard work and clearly not doing the job of elimination.  But with the daily bowel movements, I didn't realize what was happening internally.  I thought he had a stomach virus until I spoke with our doctor that sent us to the ER.  Sure enough, bowel blockage which can turn into a medical emergency.  They took care of things there in terms of cleaning him out.

Now we've amped up the natural ways for regulation----------- juice, vegis, water and fruits and lots of fiber.  He may start taking a stool softener as  well.  And if he has to--------- it is enema city.  (poor guy)

But the pain of constipation was soley to blame for my son's with holding.  That's our story.  But severe constipation can become dangerous in the end.  Best to proactively work on fixing the problem.  good luck to all!
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My Son has the exact thing happening to him.. he will hold it for weeks i make his sit on the potty and he still wont go sometimes i have to literaly open his legs open wide to open his butt to push it out... it kills me in side thinging i as a mother did something wrong.. he was pottie trainded young and at age 3/4( hes 5 now) it still accuring...
im taking him to a phycolo. to see that they say.. and yes i have tried the laxitives and i hate "druging" my kid...
Wish me luck that we find a cure.. beause trust me i have asked God for patinece.. and trust me he has giving it to me!!!
Thanks too for all the comments out there i thought i was the only mother going threw this
Angela
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Thank you for posting the above.  I am dealing with the same with my 5 year old.  Its not that she cannot go, she just does not like to... so therefore she holds her poop in for at least 2 weeks!  I am just freaked out about it.  Do i need to be calling a psychologist or just let her do her own thing??  and of course, we are on the MiraLax.  
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I have a 2 1/2 year old almost three. My son had hydrospadias (small hole in penis) and it was repaired  when he was 1 1/2 years old.  He had to have catheter after surgery for a week wear 2 diapers one for pee and one for poop and we had to change him and put medication on his penis...was very hard to do he screamed all the time. Before the surgery he pooped normal after the surgery he doesnt. He holds his poop in and when does have to poop he strains to get it out. This has been going on for awhile.  He as been on miralax, mineral oil, changed his diet (he eats very healthy lots of fruit love cantalope) and his milk no milk drinks soy.  And he takes 2 ex lax every night! He was doing great for 2 months then he reverted back to straining and trying to poop. Just recently when strains to poop has started to puke too.....I am very concerned and i want him to get potty trained too....he understands the potty has even sat on it but refuses to use it now!.  I dont know what to do i am worried and stressed that my son is going to fall behind in school.. ( he is a very smart kid knows his number and is starting to read)....we try bribing him but he is so head strong that its very hard.....I am reading these post and i am glad that some people are going through what i am and need all the advice i can. Oh he also had the barium enema test and they said his insides were normal nothing no blockages or anything intestines and colon or are normanl...
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Hello, I too am finding this post very helpful.  I have an 8 yr old daughter who holds in her bowel movements.  She will hold it in for 2-3 days.  I watch her and as soon as I see signs of holding I tell her to go to the bathroom.  If we are home, she will comply and this usually works but if we are out it only occasionally works.  This summer is the first time she lost small bits of her bowels on three occassions.  Everytime it was after being in water.   I am afraid my reaction doesn't help, because I get so frustruated and angry.  I also use posivitve reinforcement, tried laxatives when she was younger, and range from being supportive and understanding to crazy angry about this.

When I was a kid I would also hold it in because I was embarrassed by the smell.  I thought it was nasty and stinky .  I don't remember liking to hold it in but I do remember never wanting anyone to smell it.,  I would try to fan the door to air out the room.  I remember hiding behind things so people didn't know I was holdong it in.  I beleive that is why I know exactly when she has to go.  I acted in the same manner as she does now.  
Even with this past, I get angered by her stubbornness to poop.  She can but will not.  We talk about the smell, we talk about the health problems but still the problem persists.  We talk about her body, her choice, her control....does this fall on deaf hears?  
When she was 3, we used to sit in the bathroom stalls and tell stories to help her relax enough to poop.  I would start "once upon a time..." and she would say the next sentence, then me, etc until she was able to pass it.  She really liked this activity and though I felt silly I was sure happy when she went.  Now at 8, I guess that game is silly to her too, but it did help for a while.  I should mention too that this behavior ebbs and flows.  Currently, we are in a rough patch.  
THanks for all your posts!  I feel more at ease hearing your suggestions and sharing in your frustration.  
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You are not alone!! :-)  I started this thread over 3 years ago and I continue to be amazed at how common this issue is.  One would think that the pediatric doctors would be much more aware of this considering how often if apparantly happens.
I understand your frustration.  It is a very frustrating situation.  You worry about your childs happiness and health and its difficult to remember that they don't really think logically at this age.  Their idea of consequences to actions are pretty much related to behavior/punishment things, not how their outside behavior affects the inside of their body. The most important thing I've learned is patience, patience, patience.  Yelling doesnt help, punishing doesnt help.  I think anyone who reads the 3 years worth of comments on this thread would have a hard time finding one entry that shows a good outcome from punishment/yelling/and threats.  It just doesnt work in this situation.  I think its because this is not a typical behavioral issue, at least not in the way other "defiant" behavioral arise with kids of this age.  And is some cases, I do think it starts with a child having a large bowel movement and then developing a fear of the whole defecating process because of it.  But I think many of these situations are a psychological / OCD type of control issue, as best explained by SPACEBOUND.  Possibly it begins as this as then just becomes a part of their "normal" behavior.  My son is now 10 and has really moved past his issues for the most part. Again,  patience is the key, at least that is what I've found in my situation.  dont get me wrong, I continued to talk to him about it for a long time, but I had to let go of the "visable" frustration.  I think it just made him more anxious about it and kind of closed the door on any type of good communication between us about it,     i.e....I couldn't help him if he wouldnt talk about it with me, and he wouldnt talk about it if I was only going to get upset with him.)  I know that there are times that he still holds it.  But it may be for a day,  not 5 days.  
As for your "silly" story time.  I say good for you for finding a gentle and sensitive way to help her relax.  And it worked, so it doesnt seem all that silly to me.  I also think stress does play into it.  Just last year, at age 9, we had a period where he held it again for 5 days.  Would not go, said he couldn't.....said he didn't have to......said he did, even though he didn't.  I finally gave him a mild laxative, telling him that it simply was too damaging to his body to go that long, and if he wanted to keep the "i cant go" story, then I had no choice but to give him something to make him go.   which needless to say did NOT make a 9 year old boy happy.........and it didn't work.  Then, he got scared (so did I) and I again told him that holding it like he did could hurt his body inside.  Had to give him another one.    This little incident gave a little backbone to that warning and that was the last big incident we've had.
This was (and may continue to be in a small way) a "long haul" issue.  I dont know of anyone in the forum discussions so far that has been able to remedy this situation in a short amount of time, which is one more reason I think it's psychological more than defiant behavior.  But stay calm about it (difficult, I know).  Stay focused on helping your child in a calm way, I truly believe that is the key. May not be a "quick" fix, but I think it is most productive in the long run.  And to anyone who takes their child to the doctor and hears "just put him/her on a stood softener".....maybe tell the doctor to take a look on the forum of webmd and they will see how many people have this issue with their children  and who have learned that it isn't about being constipated.
None of us can come up with a perfect fix for this, as each child is different psychologically and emotionally.  But it's good to know that we can come to this forum for support and encouragment on something that we all originally thought we were alone in.
Hang in there!!
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I totally feel your pain. My 7 year old step-daughter does the same thing and she will hold it for a week at a time and when she actually passes the BM it is usually the size of a small to medioum size football. Her father and I give her fiber gummies every day but she still holds it in. We also do the 2 to 3 potty visits a day to try and go but she will sit there for literally 2 hours and do nothing then she will come into the room and say "I don't have to go. Can I try again later?" We know she has to go because she had not gone in days and she eats all the time so it is obvious that she has to go. She won't tell us why she doesn't want to go either. We have asked her several times why she won't just go get it over with when she first feels it coming on and all she ever says is I don't know. Of coarse her all superior grandmother tells us its our fault because fo what we feed her and she always goes when she is with her, which is a lie because we ask her every time she comes back from grandma's if she went while she was there and she always says no
I am at my wits end as well and do not know what to do. My next option is taking her to a specialist to see if she has a blockage or something. I took a picture of her latest forced BM with my phone and she went nuts, crying and screaming because I took the picture. Who knows why she did that. We tried to explain to her that the doctor needed to see it but she didn't care.
If there is any other options that we have not tried please someone feel free to offer them. It is very frustrating because we have to make sure she goes before we travel or else she will hold it in until her body forces it out and if we are on the road or shopping that is not a pleasant experience.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello, my fellow sufferers, I am sooooo glad to have found this site. I am also at my wits end. We have been involved in the Constipation Clinic at Childrens hospital for years................never ending.............lots of Miralax. Ebbs and flows, crying, high fiving, worrying, praising. It is so emotionally draining on me, and my family. It truly is a family problem. It interferes with everyday life, all the time. Now my 6 year old daughter is getiing what I think might be adolescent migraine headaches. So, that is fun too..........I think it is all psycological now with her. We have had all the checks, and GI's and xrays. All fine. She has been this way pretty much since birth. She is my 3rd child, my only girl. She is my midlife baby, had her at 42!!!! I am exhausted!! Thanks for posting all your ideas, and struggles, it helps to know u are not alone!

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Avatar_f_tn
Your post has been most helpful!!  My son is 6 and he holds in his poop too.  As I read your post, it was as if I had written it myself.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there
My daughter is almost 6 now she has had the pooping issues for as long as she's been eating solids. It used to get so bad she would stand shaking and sweating, however she did just let it out most times these times where different, she would usually go and hide somewhere and then do the biggestest poops I have ever seen, I always felt so sorry for her. I have started giving her pears in juice now which seems to get things moving easier for her, it used to be so bad that she would actually have poop seeping out into her underwear, poor poppet, but now we have made it a positive experience and she has great pleasure in letting me no that she has got her poo out :) however I am worried that there could be a more serious problem? Because when I took her to the peds when she was little ( and she got put on all the lacksitives ) that if she had not growen out of it by five she may have a serious stomach issuse? Has anyone else been told this? Or heard anything?
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Avatar_f_tn
My 7 yr old still holds it, gets caught unaware, needs to rush to bathroom. My pediatrician took a class to learn more about it. She saw a surge in her patients with it. It could be triggered by formula or shots. I also note upper intestinal pain. As always, his poops are big- adult size.  Going on 5 years now.  This is not just encopresis. Docs are wrong. This should have it's own name.  Triggered by  what??? Our collective knowledge on sites like this will affect change. Doc said 10 percent of the kids she saw had this. She only took the class after I showed her video of son doing the poopy avoidance dance screaming in pain and vomiting. Take a movie and show your doc. We must be the change we want. This is not just psychological. I have my doubt set on 6 shots at once on 2 year olds. Also hubby was very generous with pediasure formula. My milk dried up when I became pregnant w next child. Look at ingredient list in pediasure. They also are having some class action lawsuits with dairy not soy formulas. Not sure what it's about. Lastly in the horrors of my brains database is the statistic that 1 in every 7 boys is sexually abused. It crosses all classes, races,socioeconomic statuses. We really need to take this further-if my doc says its up to 20 percent of kids-something's wrong.
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Avatar_n_tn
My son just turned 6 years old and has been holding his poop since he was 3.  He was very easily potty trained.  From the time he was born he has been a "sensitive" child.  At first we thought  he was chronically constipated.  Miralax seemed to help the texture but not the tendency to hold. We realized by age 4 that this was much more than constipation and looked to other reasons.  We asked him why he doesn't like to poop and he explained that it "feels good to hold it."  We talked about the consequences of holding, but that did not work.  We decided to take him to a child psychologist.   She explained that holding makes children feel safe sometimes.  They don't have control over many things.  This is one thing they can control.  My son has shades of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Phobia.  We've learned that his holding may also be a sign of OCD.  My son has taught me patience, acceptance and letting go.
The best decision we made was to let him face the consequences of his choices.  It's his poop.  He has the choice.  He knows that if he goes past 5 days that we may have to bring him to the doctor.  His holding never goes past 5.  Remaining calm and not making a big deal either way has helped.  Go to www.worrywisekids.org for more info on GAD, Social Anxiety and OCD.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart:)
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Avatar_f_tn
My son will be 6 in May of this year and won't poop on the toilet.  I was happier than you can know to find this thread of other mothers that are going through the exact same thing I am.

My son's issue is not that he holds it, it's that he just emphatically refuses to poop on the potty.  It has been an ongoing frustration for 3 years and I am now getting pressure from his daycare as well as his school to have the problem corrected.  I have taken him to the doctor (who has told me that this is normal and that he will grow out of it) but as it is becoming more and more problematic I feel this pressure more and more.

My frustration lies in when we have talks about having an accident in his pants, he knows what to do.  He knows that if he needs to go poop he needs to go to the bathroom, when he's at school or daycare, he knows that he needs to tell his teacher so that she can take him to the bathroom.  There are days when he will have 2 BMs, and I mean full BMs and he won't even come and tell us that he's had an accident.

As soon as either his dad or I come into the room he is in, he suddenly complains that he's itchy, but this is only after he's pooped and it's our indicator that he's had an accident.  

I've asked him many times and in different ways if it hurts his tummy inside or out when he poops, if he's scared, if he's worried, or if his body tells him he needs to go poop (I'm worried about damaged nerve endings here, I went to school with a girl who had damaged nerve endings and couldn't feel it when she needed to go). His answer to all is always no, it doesn't hurt, yes I'm scared (but won't tell us why), no he isn't worried and yes his body tells him he needs to go.  

We've been to the doctor on many occassions and the result is the same every time. I've read on other sites to allow him the option to poop in a pull up or diaper and then make progressive steps towards sitting on the potty to poop. Has anyone tried this and have you been successful?  It's just one of many new ideas I've had in the wake of reluctant support from medical staff.

If anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears!  Thank you so much for starting this thread, it's good to know that I'm in good company.
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Avatar_f_tn
omg im glad im not the only one this is soo frustrating my boy is 4years and 2 months and i also have a 1 month old it is sooo hard having to change his undies and clean him upto 14 times a day sometimes not to mention looking after my baby boy aswell its just such hard work... he has always been fine with the whole weeing thats been no problem but with pooing he hates it. he is on pamole and lactose plus cream to put on him 4 times a day (as we found out he did a poo and it hurt and he got a little cut and thats why he is scared of going and just holds on) we have a routine of sitting on the toilet after meal times for 10 min and reading books but he will hardly do anythink then he puts on his undies and dose a tiny bit ... i dont know what else to do...rung up the docotors again and he just tells us to stick at it .. its so upsetting seeing him like this and he gets embarrassed by it expeacily when there are other kids around .. help its been carrying on for 2 years!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I am just joining this group and reading old entries- how did your son's issue get resolved? My niece is the same.  Thank you
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, My Grandson is turning 5 next month & still wears a nappy because he says he can't feel the poop coming & it just falls out. If he didn't have a nappy it would just run down his legs. This is causing a problem because no pre school will take him because of the problem. On checking Google on Bowel Problems I came across articles on "Hirschsprung's Disease" a problem in the nerves of the large intestines that can be cut away to allow the poop to move, there is no censation of the poop being there .Also , "Encopresis " which is voluntary or involuntary bowel movements.Check these out for your kids. Some doctors just think you have not tried potty training them or you feed them the wrong things.My grandsons symptoms was shared by his older brother who is now 12 & still messes his pants if not allowed to go to the toilet when at school, he has to just run out , or he soils his pants. The Father had this problem also, so looks hereditary. I'm taking him to the doctor to get a referral to a pediatrition or bowel specialist, someone that can access the condition for proper medical treatment. It's not all psychological.
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Avatar_f_tn
wow yea i have read a bit up on encopresis a few months ago there are some people who are 20 od and still carry on at holding on to there poo not wanting to go.. the docotor has now givin us movicol half to try him on.. starting it in 2 days time so hopefully he will eventully relize that it isnt going to hurt and to stop holding on..ive tried to put him back in nappies but he doesn't want to at all..so ive recently have been putting pads in his undies which makes it easier to clean.. how long has your grandson been doing it for? aww that is sad that no pre school will take him...its hard aswell because im sure the kids tease him at kindy
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Avatar_f_tn
How does ur son get on with going to the toilet now? I have a daughter who is now 5 and a half and its very similar story now after holding it in for past few years for 4 and 5 days at a time she has now started complainin before and after goin to the toilet of pains in the middle of her stomach??
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Avatar_m_tn
my 6 year old hasn't poop for 8 days now, and I am going to give her miralax, but before this episode of not pooping, her poop has been normal. She gets to it everyday or eveyr other day with no problem, but has been complaining about stomach pain everytime she eats for as long as I can remember. The last time she poop, she did it twice the same day in less than an hour. The first poop was ok but the the second time she asked me it was kinda black with greenish tint to it. I freak out and went to the urgent care, when I showed the picture to the doctor, the doctor said it's not something to worry about. from that day my daughter hasn't poop yet. Anyone experience the same thing? I am worried sick but her pediatrician said it's normal.
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Avatar_m_tn
http://www.practicalgastro.com/pdf/November02/LoeningBauckeArticle.pdf

This is a link to a website where I happened to find the name for this kind of condition that our children are going through (functional fecal retention). I havent finished reading through it but, as I started....I noticed that the symptoms match precisely to those of my child (and most of your children). I hope the information will help us all! best of luck!
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Avatar_m_tn
THANK YOU!!!!! This link is exactly what I was looking for. Now I can explain to the doctor what is going on and get help with the necessary laxatives as well as an exam to check for damage caused by this.
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Amyerineden

Sorry,  Havent been on the forum in quite awhile.  My son, who is now 11 has progressed wonderfully.  I do still think that there are times he has to go, and he doesnt go straight to the bathroom.  But those  are few and far between, and it isn't a case of holding if for days like it was in the past, he just may hold it for 1/2 of the day.  
He's progressed to the point that I no longer have to monitor to be sure he isn't holding anymore.
He never really was able to cleary explain to me why he held it so much.  He always said,  I don't know why I held it.

As I've said so many times in this forum,  while there ARE medical causes for some children to hold their bowel movements, it isn't ALWAYS the case.  Dont jump to the conclusion that they are constipated or  have Encopresis.  Yes, have a doctor look at the child. Rule it out.  I'm just saying that it isnt always a physical cause.  I truly, truly believe it was psychological, at least with my son.  Can't explain to you HOW it was psychological, or WHY.  But it wasn't physical.  
Patience and understanding is what won in the end.  Difficult as frustrating as that is,it was the only thing that helped for my son.  Good luck to you!!  I feel your pain and know how difficult and worrysome this situation can be
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi there,

Thanks for the detailed information. Very much appreciated and very informative.

My son is now 6 and has been struggling to poop for around 3 years, he seems very lazy as though he is too busy 'Playing with his toys/games etc' to sit still for 5 minutes to go to the toilet. It is becoming very frustrating for both myself and my wife, we are at a loose end as to what we can do with him? Every day we can smell him as he has marks in his pants as he doesn't go to the toilet, he doesn't wipe himself clear or anything.

He say's he doesn't know how to poop and it hurts him. He has been to the doctor several times as we were worried that he could hurt himself internally with this issue. However, the doctor only gave him some kind of laxative which just made the stool even more loose. This is becoming highly frustrating as I seem to spend 30+ minutes daily cleaning him up.

It is getting difficult to take him to friends etc as we can smell him and worried that they will too. We don't want him getting bullied at school etc. He is a very clever boy and can grasp things very quickly, this is the one thing he doesn't seem to be able to do. Any help/assurance would be fantastic.

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My son has had horrible constipation and something that really helped us is simply giving him grape juice to drink every day as well as increasing his water and fruit intake.  good luck.  It really can be painful for these little guys.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been to a pediatrician for my son who has had constipation issues since 18mths old, he is now 4 yrs. The reason for the leaking poo, is because he is so blocked with hard poo, (sometimes this can get so chronic it backs up & their inflated bowel can fill their tummy, therefore lack of hunger & further fear of B.movement) and soft bits of stool are escaping around the edges of the hard stool. He is probably experiencing this yukky leaking, which he can't feel, its just being forced out. Thing to remember is - it's not his fault, he doesn't want this either, he has just built up such a fear.
It can all start with one incident of dehydration. Then its game on, they are pretty good at holding & then they figure out they get more attention for holding than passing a movement.
We used parachoc, liquid parafin, this gets the stools moving, a softener, literally softens the stools in the bowel making them softer to pass. The catch is Stool softeners can make it easier to hold it in, leaving the bowl over inflated with soft poo and as we know kids will do the minimum movement possible when they do go, its just the tip of the iceberg. You need to get the bowel back to a normal size, with something like parachoc, this is more like a bowel lubricant & just helps the movements happen & the bowel to get back to normal size. Its a tablespoon a day kinda thing and its a long term project to get the bowel back to normal size. Like a year or so! It's not a fun ride, and kids remember how to hold for years to come, so you can have good weeks and difficult weeks. Esp. as when it does occur, it reminds you of a frustrating time. stay cool, & remind em - this is what we're doing.
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow, As many have said, so glad I am not the only one! My 6 year has the same history, had a bad bowel movement at 3 and holds it. It is better, but I have to hold his pinky then he goes no problem. But will not go unless he is with one us "pinky" holders are there. Today he had a poop explosion in kindergarten and I was mad, sad, frustrated. I told him no more pinky and he had to learn to go by himself. But he got scared and held the poo again. Should I continue to hold his pinky because that is better than his holding his poop and constipating?  
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Avatar_m_tn
I have really loved reading the progress that your son has made.  I have a boy that is almost 8 and we have been dealing with this since he was 3.  He is much better now and usually goes every other day.  If he waits longer than this it becomes an issue with tempermant.  I wanted to see if you had any issues with your son not wanting to participate in sport activities as a result of this.  Sometimes he runs off the field in the middle of the game.  He says that he's confused and doesn't know where the coach wants him to stand.   This might be the case but I think other things are going on - like he has to poop.  I know that he can't run when he's holding it and his stomach hurt so sometimes he won't even get on the field when we arrive.  I'm just curious if you have experienced similar scenerios.  Thanks again!
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Avatar_m_tn
My son has had this same problem since he was 5 yrs old he is now 10. \he is diagnosed with PANDAS which main symptom is OCD. It took us 4 years before we figured out it was a compulsion. He is on daily Miralax, which forces him to go,he  ended up stretching his stomach lining so we had no choice but to do the daily laxative :(otherwise he would not be going poo at all. Hope this helps
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Avatar_m_tn
Like everyone else here....thank you so much for talking about this.  On one hand I am so happy and relieved to see that I am not the only one dealing with this.  On the other, it does make me sad to realize that it is probably not going to get better any time soon.

My son is 5 1/2...we've been dealing with him holding his poop since he was 2 1/2.  We've tried everything from bribing, punishing, rewarding, basically promising him the world! Nothing works.  We took him to a pedi gastro in NYC that had us give him an enema and miralax.  He still takes a cap of miralax a day.  It has gotten better that it is not so hard but still holds it in for days.  One thing with my son is that he has NEVER complained of stomach aches!  Only complaint of pain was when the poop was so hard coming out.  After the enema he was doing better but about a week or so later he went back to holding in.  What also makes it so frustrating for us is that we also have a 4 year old daughter who practically potty trained herself!  She even tells my son that he stinks and won't let him in her room.  So it really is affecting the whole house.

After reading what everyone has said on here I came to a decision.....I am no longer going to bribe, punish, promise the world.  I am going to just try my best to deal with it, praise him when he goes and just be as calm as I can when I have to change him 5 times a day.  

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Avatar_f_tn
Wow... I'm so glad I've finally found others in the same boat as me!!  I too have been struggling with my 4 1/2 year old son for the past 2 years.  He refuses to poo, and holds it for up to a week until he eventually has no other choice but to go.  We have had him at doctors and paediatricians so many times but their only solution is to put him on Movicol to treat his constipation.  The trouble is, its not bloody constipation - he can poo ok, he just chooses to hold it in!  I find the movicol also makes his poo too runny and can't get it to the 'right' consistency.  This whole issue has completely taken over our family life and has at times been hell.  My son constantly has overflow and can have to change him 3-4 times a day sometimes.  I now at 4 make him clean himself up in the hope that it will make the whole clean up process really unpleasant for him and that he will see the toilet as a much better place to poo.  I agree that it is completely psychological which I feel all the doctors/paeds are overlooking - they just say we have to retrain his bowel etc.... Well that's all well and good, but he CHOOSES to hold on to the poo, so I feel like I have to work on his mindset as well as the medical side.  I also resonated with the thought that it could be OCD, meaning that he knows he should poo in the toilet but he is so used to holding on and lying around with the sore tummy that that is all he knows now and is comfortable doing.  I have been doing a bit of research on hypnotists for children - has anyone gone down this path???  I feel like if the holding on is an 'addiction' just like smoking or over eating would be say to an adult perhaps I would be able to alter his response to it through hypnotherapy.  Has anyone any thoughts on this, or had any other therapy or approach work for their child.  Sometimes I feel like this whole issue is ripping our family apart through frustration especially family and friends who constantly badger us with 'what are you doing about it' and 'have you fixed him yet'
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Avatar_f_tn
my little girl is 6 now and has suffered with this since 2 I no how you feel she holds on for 14 days and then ends up in aldery hey for a clear out she has been on movicol utter rubbish is under 2 peaditricians had a biopsy on her bowel and counter tablets to see how many she got rid of which was none she is on sodium picosulfate now daily and enima every other day still no joy it has serious effects on her education and social life she is due back to have a dye test to see if her bowel is damaged I am so angry that they have let it go on so long I thought it was just me and scarlett living this nitemare glad I found this site and well done to all you mums I no how hard it is if no one in your family has been threw this good luck everyone
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm 20 years old. I still have this problem occasionally. And I feel helpless when it happens. For me it is totally psychological. I know it. I know that its is worse if I withhold. I know it will hurt much more later, but I can't help it. I don't like pooping, it scares me. I don't really know why..


I can't really help you with solving this problem as I still have it and have had it since childhood. My mom also did the charts, rewards systems, homeopathy, acupuncture, laxatives, everything. She was very supporting, never got angry at me for this problem.

I can only suggest you the same.
It is very frustrating for the child because it's not really voluntary. You just can't let go. It hurts, it's unpleasant, it's scary. Don't add up your frustration to your child's.
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