This seems to be one of the most common complaints of children and occurs when there is difficulty passing stool. The frequency of bowel movements varies between children and their diets. There are several reasons your child could be experiencing constipation. They could be ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, this is especially common if they have experienced what is called the “pain retention cycle.” This happens when they have experienced a hard, painful stool and then are trying to withhold future stool to avoid the pain. The longer the stool is retained in the rectum, the harder and drier it becomes causing the next bowel movement to be even more painful. This can create a cycle, making the goal of soft, regular stool more difficult to attain. The best treatment requires patience and time.
Children who have constipation or who soil their clothes (encopresis) do this because they have large amounts of stool in their colon. This must be evacuated before any stool softeners will work. The gastrointestinal specialists at the GI Associates Clinic will be glad to discuss the various options with you to help eliminate the problem.