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Potty Training: Dealing with Constipation

Some children don’t like having bowel movements, perhaps because they have felt pain before, and now resist going. This resistance can cause constipation as the faeces become hard and compacted, making bowel movements even more painful. Here are some questions you can ask to determine whether your child is constipated or not. • have they had a bowel movement in the past few days? • have they had less than their normal amount of bowel movements this week? • were their stools hard and dry? • was it painful for them to pass? • do they have stomach cramps or a distended stomach? • are they complaining of being nauseous? • are they losing weight? • have they been vomiting for no apparent reason? • are their underpants regularly soiled with claylike or liquid faeces? If you have answered yes to several of the above then you’ll know you need to take action and help your child. You can’t make your child have a bowel movement so what can you do? Get your child to drink more fluids, preferably water. • If they are severely constipated and over nine months of age then some prune juice mixed with water should sort them out overnight.

• Make sure their diet is high in fibre – try giving them some dried fruit or grapes and reduce the amount of dairy they have. • Reduce their sugar intake • Licorice can have a laxative effect and is a better option than medication which should only be given with your physician’s approval. • Make sure they are getting enough exercise – it may be reflection of a sluggish metabolism. • Encourage them to go as soon as they feel the need. • If they just don’t like it then talk about the importance of having regular bowel movements and how everyone does it.

• Encourage your child to sit on the potty for ten minutes an hour or so after each meal to see if you can encourage some regularity. • Make sure your child can rest their feet on a stool or the floor so that they feel stable and balanced and can easily push. • Try to make having a bowel movement more pleasant for your child by encouraging them to read a book or listen to music while they sit. If the constipation doesn’t go away then it is best to see your family doctor for advice as it may be indicative of something more serious.


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