It’s a common problem, with about one in three parents saying that their child has been constipated at some point. In addition to obvious
signs – painful or infrequent pooping (fewer than three times a week) – there are other symptoms and initial indications.
Examples include a bad temper and lethargy, stomach pain, flatulence, and dry or hard stools. Diarrhea can also be a sign of constipation:
the hardened stool blocks the child’s bowels, so only watery stools can pass.
As with you as an adult, there can be many causes of constipation in children: it’s not uncommon for children to simply hold the poop back – for example because they don’t like using the toilet in certain places, they are anxious because of potty training at home or they have had constipation before and remember the pain. Other possible causes could be a lack of fiber in their diet, not drinking enough water, or the side effects of medication.1
To maintain healthy digestion, children need a high-fiber diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholemeal products and pulses.
Yogurt also provides long-lasting support to the digestive system.
Drinking enough is also important – so long as it’s primarily water, teas and fruit juices with fizzy water.
Regular Toilet Time
It’s a good idea to encourage your child to use the toilet first thing in the morning and after every meal or snack. Particularly for a younger child,
you may get better results by telling, not asking. Instead of suggesting, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” you could simply say,
“Time to go to the bathroom now.”
Note: If you notice unusual or unexpected changes in your child’s toilet behavior or if you simply feel concerned, then do pay a visit to your pediatrician.
1 Constipation. (2019). Retrieved 7 August 2019, from https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/08/09/constipation/
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