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Dealing With Constipation in Children

At its absolute worst, acute constipation can make a person wish they were dead.  Pounding abdominal cramps can literally double someone over in pain.  This is precisely why many people rush to the medicine cabinet and reach for the laxatives at the first sign of constipation problems.  But laxatives may use stimulants or other harsh chemicals to stimulate the intestines and colon to push the waste through the digestive system.  These ingredients may be habit forming and at the very least should not be used to treat constipation in children. 

When dealing with constipation in children, it is best to first seek the advice of your health care professional.  When acute constipation is present, the physician will most likely prescribe stool softeners and plenty of liquids as the solution.  Given a couple of times per day, stool softeners will help draw liquid into the stool and make bowel movements easier and less painful.  However, the use of stool softeners does not always treat acute constipation in children.

When children first enter school, parents must be very vigilant in making certain that their child continues having normal bowel movements.  Children are first exposed to the reality of using strange toilets in the presence of strangers when they enter school.  It is very common for children to be shy and embarrassed about peeing in public, let alone having a bowel movement. 

Withholding a bowel movement is a known cause of constipation.  Children may very well want to pass stool when they get home but be unable.  A perpetual cycle of constipation-reinforcing behavior may be born.  The end result may be a blockage within the digestive tract if the child is unable to break the cycle and begin having normal bowel movements again.

In the event of a blockage, stool softeners will not be sufficient to restore normal bowel function.  In such cases, enemas or colon cleansers may be necessary to remove the blockage.  The physician will likely recommend a product that uses all-natural ingredients as those made from chemicals and synthetic agents can actually make constipation worse by killing the good bacteria living within the human digestive system. 

Once the blockage has been removed, the doctor may recommend the use of stool softeners for a few days to keep the system flowing smoothly.  It will be imperative to educate the child about the consequences of withholding bowel movements.  The earlier children of are broken of their fear of using public toilets for bowel movements—the better.  Far too many cases of constipation in children are due to withholding bowel movements at school.  Serious problems can develop if this habit is not broken immediately.  There is a great book called “Everyone Poops” which as you read it with them, will bring the realization that pooping is not only good and normal but ok to talk about!

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