Bathroom-related issues can be uncomfortable to talk about, but when it comes to your children, it’s important to watch for changes and discuss them with their pediatrician. Constipation is one of the most common bathroom problems for children, and while it isn’t usually serious, it can get worse if it isn’t caught early. If your child has infrequent bowel movements or hard, dry stools, they may be suffering from constipation.
Bowel movements are voluntary actions, meaning that children can control when they go. If a child experiences pain or discomfort when going to the bathroom, they may start withholding bowel movements to avoid that feeling. Unfortunately, withholding will only make the stool larger, harder and more painful. If you notice your child avoiding the bathroom, it might be time to talk to them or their pediatrician about constipation. Luckily, there are two easy ways parents can help relieve their children at home:
- Keep them hydrated – Dehydration can lead to hard, dry stool, but staying hydrated can help.
- Pay attention to the potty – Is it too tall or uncomfortable for a child to sit on? Position can help ease some their discomfort. Ideally, children should sit and have their knees rest above their hips, which is hard to do on an adult-sized toilet. Consider finding a smaller toilet or something that helps them sit more naturally.
Dr. Richard Quan is a pediatric gastroenterologist with Pediatric Specialists and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He completed medical school at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and his residency in pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital at University of Alabama. Dr. Quan completed his fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at Stanford University.
He has served as an assistant professor on the faculties at the University of Texas Southwestern, University of Nevada, University of California-Davis, and most recently as clinical professor of Pediatric GI and Nutrition at the Medical University of South Carolina. While at University of Nevada at Reno, he established a peds GI division.