Our daughter is 3 years old and she complains of pain every time she has to move her bowels. This has been going on for a steady month now. She isn't constipated. The stool is either sticky or normal but she acts Very upset every time the urge comes. Many times she will move only tiny bits at a time, (some days 6 to 10 different bowel movements) all throughtout the day, that may end with a larger bowel movement. The pain and distress this is causing her is very upsetting to her and us. It effects her entire mood and appitite at times. She has had problems in the past with hard bowels and has had several laxitives to aid in the matter. Since she has aged, the constipation has gotten much better, yet now we face a different problem. We have a family doctor, but I'm unsure of what they will subject her to, knowing how sensitive her bottom is already. We are looking for some advice to see if there could be a serious issue at hand or if I should give it some more time to work itself out.
Thank you for viewing my email and we look forward to your input.
William and Christina Smith
(very concerned parents)
You should not postpone medical evaluation, because your daughter's pattern of bowel movements is not normal. Relative to the issue of pain, it's very hard to discern in a child so young. That is, is she actually uncomfortable at the moment, or is she fearing the possibility of pain based on past experience (e.g., when she was constipated, stool was firm, and movements were indeed painful). Probably the most common reason for children to avoid bowel movements is the anticipation of pain. Of course, when this happens, the probability of constipation (and ultimately pain) increases, thuis compunding the problem. Medically-supervised regimens, over a period of time, of laxatives and/or stool softeners eventually return the youngster's functioning to normal and they stop associating bowel movements with pain.
Our daughter went through a similar period at age 3 (now age 6). She hadn't had a bowel movement in days. We addressed it with our doctor and were given some suggestions. His first suggestion was bran muffins....didn't quite work and we had a lot of muffins that nobody wanted to eat. The next was a suppository. Now, I'm just a dumb dad and when it came to suppositories, I had no idea how they were supposed to work; as in, I didn't know they go in, then pop back out like a turkey thermometer. It kept popping out.......I kept plugging it back in. At any rate, that didn't work either.
Eventually it ended on it's own. We did a lot of hand holding and encouraging and that continued on through potty-training. The doc said a large movement was a healthy movement. Just try telling that to a 3 year old while they sit there turning red trying to finish the job. Her issue was the pain that came with the movement and not so much that she "couldn't." In her case, she simply "wouldn't." Our son who is 3 right now is going through a similar situation. In his case, it's strictly diapers. He will not use the toilet (he does use it for urinating though). Pain also seems to be the culprit in that situation. Our doctor reminded us that we should have a stool in the bathroom for him to rest his feet upon when using the toilet. That would enable him to push better and aid in reducing the pain for obvious reasons. I had also mentioned in that earlier post that I used to make him sit on the toilet for 5 minutes before bed but my wife kept up-ending that routine. I'm proud to announce that last evening, she was again working late and after posting that (and spending the weekend thinking about it) I made him sit there for 5 minutes last evening. BINGO. :c)
My youngest son is now 6 and still experiences occasional fear of bowel movements. It had become a great source of frustration for myself and hubby, due to his fear and unwillingness to go when the urge came on (and we have tossed many, many underwear in the trash!). After we spoke with our pediatrician, he determined by examining him that in his case, it was simply hurting him to go and his stools were just too hard (not due to laziness or wanting control). So, once we knew that, we were able to lessen the frustration and ease up on him by offering him more understanding and support. But more importantly, what the pediatrician said he needed was to make his stool so soft that he wouldn't have any other choice than to go by letting him drink lots of white grape juice, limiting bananas and cheese. We had tried a laxative years back, to no avail. Let me tell you, this white grape juice has worked wonders! We also keep him well hydrated with water. I realize giving too much juice to children is not so healthy either, but to me giving him juice for two-three days is worth it to alleviate his pain and suffering!!! Good-luck.
I am glad to see that my 3yr old daughter is not the only one going through this difficulty. I will keep your different tips in mind to get her back on track. Hopefully this will help. Thank you for all the input from everyone...
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