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Poo with holding

My little boy is 3.5 years and has been with holding his poo for the last 15 months. This coincided with an illness where he became constipated and the arrival of his baby brother. He has been on and off movicol and Laxido and the occasional use of lactulose when needs be. Even on movicol he is still holding for around 4 days on average. He makes signs that he needs to go everyday but I cannot get him to routinely sit on the loo. The thing that I'm most concerned about is his behaviour, on the day that he has a poo or the day after he is a happy funny little boy but as the days pass without pooing he has frequent tantrums and quite odd behaviour. It is almost OCD like where I will have to do things in a certain way for example when I'm helping him to get dressed I have to begin with my hands on the floor or on my knee or I will have to give him a cuddle and a kiss before doing anything like going upstairs or making a drink. Even today he had a total melt down because I washed a cup and he wanted me to make it dirty again and it spiralled from there. His tantrums are terrible and upsetting and it is difficult to keep up with his demands. I have tried reasoning, ignoring, doing as he asks but it is hard to calm him down. As the poo becomes harder for him to hold he will also start holding his wee which has resulted in a few UTI's. His appetite is also affected as the days pass and being quite slight and fussy anyway this is a concern. The only advice I've had from drs is things like sticker charts, treats and ignoring him. He is taking 1 sachet of movicol a day as this is all the dr has said, should I/ could I up it? I'm certain that this is a control issue rather than constipation. When he can hold it no longer he will go on the toilet and sit there for a good length of time laughing about having a poo. After 15 months we finally have a referral to a paediatrician however I've been told the waiting list is huge. I'm not sure what to do next. I'm so worried that if his behaviour continues that he will adopt this behaviour permanently. Sorry for the huge message. I really hope someone might be able to help. Thanks for reading x

7 Replies

Hi there.

I read a really good book called 'The ins and outs of Poop' it's on Eric website shop and Amazon. Helped me understand the issue I was dealing with.

Basically in a nut shell you have to give enough movicol to make poo too soft to hold in. So I would up the dosage if he is only on one sachet, try adding half a sachet extra at a time. Although messy it breaks the cycle of withholding.

My daughter never held for that long but has suffered constipation/with holding and general toilet avoidance in the past until quite recently (now 6)

I have read a lot from various forums about children's behaviour changing the more they hold poo in. I can imagine it must feel awful and take quite an effort to do and make them irritable.

Hope your appointment comes through soon. We had to wait about 12 weeks for our initial one with a consultant.

Best wishes...

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Your son sounds almost exactly like my daughter! Including the appetite and OCD!

I was told by my gp that it was a control issue and to basically ignore it but that wasn't something I was prepared to do.

Luella 19 is right - the poo needs to be soft enough to pass easily and be passed daily, so I would up it too.

Movicol does seem to work well on the whole, but it didn't for my daughter. Then again, she can hold for up to 10 days at a time.

Best of luck

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You have my every sympathy have been dealing with this for four years. He really can't help it even though it's so frustrating. Have a look at a you tube video by a nurse called Sandra Hanson on the use of macrogol( movicol) for treating constipation and soiling. She says it all so much better than I can! Good luck x

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Ps my daughter got put in detention for laughing at a t.a about going for a poo. But I feel that this is embarrassment and trying to cover up their true feelings. I definitely agree with luella about upping the dosage. It takes 36 hours to kick in so try over a weekend . Bless him he must feel horrible and you too. Take care x


Thank you for your replies, I feel better just knowing we're not alone. I'm going to up the movicol at the weekend and see how it goes. I'm waiting for delivery of a couple of books from the Eric website so hoping that can help me to understand a bit better. I'll also take a look at the you tube video, thank you.

Do you all find talking about it with your children is best? We seem to be talking about poo all the time but I'm not sure if to stop going on about it and just leave him to tell me when he wants to go and me to stop asking if he needs to. It's just when the tantrum begins I know it's just because he needs the loo, almost impossible to ignore and far too upsetting. Thanks again x


We used to tell my daughter that she would feel better/happier if she just let it out! And that it wouldn't hurt if she went everyday. - however, after a while I realised that we were making more of an issue of it by talking about it all the time, so we stopped talking poo, ignored her when she was obviously withholding and I stopped bringing her to the bathroom with me to show her what was normal.

I can't speak for every child, but I find with mine, the more I talk about something, the more important she thinks it is to me and the more she can control me with it - little monkey that she is!

What I do now is, when she does something good, like passing a proper bm, I say "well done! it makes me so happy when you have a poo!" And then no more talk of poo until the next one. She seems to enjoy pleasing me, and it works for other things like manners, tidying up, etc.

There's no reasoning with any child when they're in full tantrum mode - just make sure he's safe and can't hurt himself or others and run to the kitchen for a cuppa while he cools off. Tantrums are far less rewarding when there's no audience!

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When my daughter was younger, 3/4 we used to have a big fan fare when any positive poo behaviour happened. She loved that. Dad would be called in to see the potty/toilet, grandma phoned etc! I tried my best to not make too much of a fuss about messed underwear, just dealt with it (and then would often have to go and compose myself in another room, get upset etc) I think simple prompts and reminders can be good. It's so easy for it to become a battle ground and from experience never helped.

As she got older we did discuss it more but from a positive angle, about healthy eating and drinking and how bodies work. She has a great kids book about the body with lift up flaps and she particularly likes the page about digestion as it has a poo in transit in the bowel!

From about 5 I could discuss consequences of not going to the toilet more and would not allow her to do things like going in the garden etc, unless she sat on the toilet first. She would often poo her pants whilst playing in the garden. It's easier to be a bit stricter as they get older I found.

She is now 6 and pretty much over her troubles but we still discuss poo but in a different way. She likes to ask me if it looks like a constipated poo or a good poo and we discuss how pleased her doctor is going to be about her progress. We discuss how proud she feels now that she is getting better and better.

Away from my daughter I have talked about poo for more time than I care to remember to so many people. And I'm sure it's the same for many people who read this forum. It's good to talk though 😊


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