Surely you have ever heard the case of a child who is afraid of pooping , or it may even happen to your own child, as it is something that happens relatively frequently in childhood.
Although this phobia coincides, in most cases, with the moment the diaper is abandoned, it can also occur in older children. We explain the causes behind this fear and how we can help them overcome it.
Causes of the fear of pooping
Constipation in childhood is a common problem that, according to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics , occasionally affects 34 percent of children between the ages of four and 11.
The causes of constipation can be organic (due to certain pathologies or diseases ) or functional , which occur in 95-97 percent of cases. Check out more at our site.
Functional causes include psychological factors and the fear of pooping caused by:
- The withdrawal of the diaper supposes for the child an important change in his routine and in his body awareness. This leads some little ones to associate the fact of pooping with the loss of a part of themselves , so that they consider feces as their own and fear expelling and losing it.
- According to psychologists , for other children the retention of feces is due to a hygienic issue , that is, they are afraid, ashamed or disgusted that something dirty and unpleasant leaves their body.
- Emotional situations such as the start of school, the arrival of a little brother or a change of residence can upset the preschool child, and begin to suffer from leaking pee , fecal incontinence or, on the contrary, retention of feces.
- Some children do not feel comfortable going to the bathroom outside the family environment , such as schools, camps, public bathrooms… And others simply do not want to interrupt their activity to go to the toilet, voluntarily retaining their stool.
- The retention of feces makes them harder and more difficult to expel (even causing pain and even anal fissures), so that the time to go to the bathroom ends up becoming a drama for the child.
- In the end, a vicious circle is produced from which it is difficult to get out : stool retention for fear of pain – stools that are harder and harder due to retention – more and more pain on defecation.
How is it diagnosed
In most cases, this episode is something temporary that ends up being solved over time. However, it is important to consult with the pediatrician so that functional constipation can be diagnosed through the clinical history and examination.
The doctor will be the one who determines if it is necessary to continue some type of treatment with laxatives, in addition to referring the child to the gastroenterologist if it is a complex episode or one that requires special attention.
What can we do to help our child overcome this fear?
Apart from the treatment and recommendations offered by the pediatrician, parents can also carry out some simple guidelines to help our child overcome that fear of pooping , so that the time to go to the toilet does not become a nightmare for them.
The removal of the diaper must be a respectful process with the child
If we are going to start the process of removing the diaper , we must be aware of the importance of doing it respectfully with the rhythms and times set by the child , because only then will we avoid this and other problems associated with early removal.
Of course, we must avoid putting pressure on him , as well as mocking, getting angry or punishing him, and at all times the child must feel comfortable and calm with the process.
Review the child’s diet
Likewise, we must make sure that our child drinks the recommended amount of water , as this will help soften the stool and that the time to evacuate is not annoying.
Be patient and empathic
As with any aspect of parenting, it is essential to respect our children and be empathic with their situation . In this way, we cannot make the mistake of ignoring him, downplaying what happens to him , much less making fun of him.
We must understand that if the child has had a previous painful experience, he will experience the moment as something dramatic, so we must understand him and help him overcome it by showing him our support.
Involve the child in his problem
Since this episode occurs in children from two or three years old, or even older, we can already try to talk to them about this issue, encourage them to tell us what happens to them and explain why it is not good for their health that they retain the feces .
If they don’t want to poop because they’re afraid of losing a part of themselves, we’ll explain to them that adults go to the bathroom and nothing happens to us. And if the retention occurs because they do not feel confident in a bathroom other than their home, we must insist on the importance of attending to their needs as soon as they arise, as well as taking care of their diet to avoid this type of unpleasant situation.
The time to go to the bathroom: a pleasant routine
Until the problem is resolved, it can help to create a routine for going to the bathroom , where the child feels comfortable, confident and calm. Go with him to the toilet and turn the moment into something pleasant, even helping yourself with resources such as games, songs or stories.
Physical exercise is essential at any stage of life , and of course also in childhood. And it is that the movement helps intestinal motility, favoring the moment of going to the bathroom. It can also help to give our little one a soft belly massage .
In no case should we stimulate the child’s anal area or administer any laxative that has not been prescribed by the pediatrician. Likewise, if the situation does not improve after a few days, or even we feel that it is getting worse, it is very important to consult the pediatrician immediately for a new assessment.