Help with poo witholding

Hi, I've never felt the need to use forums before but I'm at my wits end and have no idea where to go. My 4 year old daughter has been holding her poo in for about two years now. It is getting worse and so is her behaviour. She refuses to do so much now because it means she cannot control the poo e.g. Sitting at dinner table, eating, drinking, having a bath, sitting on the toilet (she's beginning to hold wee in too). Family days out are spoiled by her need to have a poo and meals out she will find difficult and we end up either not doing these things or going home early. I work full time and we have a 1 year old daughter too so it really does impact on our family life. Her behaviour is affected and she is awful, particularly to me when she is needing to poo. She can hold it in for 1-2 weeks sometimes. What does happen though is she gets involuntary seepage, she calls it scrappy poo in her underwear which is incredibly difficult to get clean and so most if her underwear is stained. I just don't know where to turn. Drs have prescribed movicol although she refuses to drink it if she knows it's in her drink and I struggle to get her to drink much anyway. She is awaiting a paediatrician appointment but I've been told that because it's been going on for so long it may not be treated as urgent! Any advice welcome.

8 Replies

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  • Firstly, hang in there. It's tough but there are loads of resources available through Eric and elsewhere. Can you try and engage her to solve the problem?

    However it appears you can be sure that she's not enjoying it either. Look up dr ranj on YouTube, he does a great video with a catchy song about the mechanics of how it all works.

    The involuntary seepage is the bane of all our lives. There are loads of people going through this.

    Sounds like she needs a clear out - if she won't have movicol have you tried less medicated routes - neat orange juice/loads of oranges or 2-3 kiwi fruits at a time usually do it for my two. Really important to make sure they get enough fibre generally.

    There's a really supportive Facebook group (search encopresis) Finally it helps to remember she isn't doing it on purpose and probably wants rid of it as much as you do.

  • Your post begins with exactly the same words as mine! being at your wits end is something i can very much relate to, as do many other aspects of your story affecting family life/unable to clean poo filled pants etc.. Horrible business, completely understand. I found speaking to someone on the ERIC helpline extremely helpful, i left a message asking if they would call me back at a particular time. Do you think that even though its ridiculously difficult to do when you work full time, you could find a quiet place in a lunch hour or day of leave?? At least then you might be able to get on with feeling like you're doing something. And even tho you wont be seen on the 'urgent' outpatient list, it's still good to be referred as you will be seen, hopefully within a couple months.. I send lots of sympathy..X

  • PS i'm sure you've tried the range of movicol flavours but for us best option has been plain movicol which we make up then add squash eg full sugar ribena

  • Hi there

    Maybe it would be worth speaking the the gp again whilst waiting for the paediatric appointment and asking if they can prescribe sodium picosulfate to clear her out (may need to use a pull up for few days) This only involves spoonfuls, so it's easier to administer and from my experience very effective at clearing out backed up poo (it's messy!) Movicol can be very tricky to get down children due to quantity they have to drink.

    My daughter had withholding issues (which she is now, age 6 she is over) From the books I've read, with children who withhold you have to give them enough laxative to not make it possible to withhold. Sounds cruel I know. Then it's a case of breaking the cycle with enough of a maintenance dose of something. If movicol not an option then perhaps Senokot, it acts as a pusher and again can be administered by spoon/syringe.

    You may already have tried this but trying to set a toilet routine every evening after dinner. Just time sat on toilet (or at 4 she may prefer a potty still if that could work) lots of distraction, book, handheld devices. One lady wrote in a post that she bought a small table that fit over her child whilst on the toilet so they could colour etc. This is more just to get used to sitting and relaxing and doesn't matter if any poo comes out.

    It's extremely stressful especially with school looming.

    Would she poo in a pull up? Others have tried that to stop withholding at least.

    Go back to the GP, most I have seen have been very sympathetic especially when they see how much it is effecting family life.

    All the best...

  • Also as someone else has mentioned, fruit. My daughter eats loads. Those easy peeler clementines really help. Shevwill often eat 2-3 of those a day.

  • Hi there, can totally empathise, my 4.5 year old has gone through constipation and withholding issues for over 2 years and were only just breaking free of it at the moment. It sounds as though she's blocked up as well as withholding so the poo is seeping round the edges, I can give you a few tips which have worked for us!

    1) get her drinking. Anything, Ribena, sugary squash, fruit juice, tea, milkshakes (or soya which my daughter loves) anything she'll drink to start getting the fluids into her. Buying a new range of drinks for her to choose from might help. Or a new cup, or both. When my hv said to look at how much my daughter was drinking it turned out she was sipping 2-300 mls a day if that when the average guide for 4-6 year olds is over 1000mls. I got it up to that using 3 X milkshakes mostly and lots of juice, and it helped almost overnight. Important you speak to her teachers as well if she's at school, to explain just how important it is that she drinks. Even having a drink on her desk etc, as a lot of kids are too busy to drink at school. A big drink on the way to school and again on the way back in the car has been helpful for us!

    2) don't tell her the movicol is in there, as long as it's got enough flavour she won't taste it through the drink. You may have to do a movicol disimpaction first to get rid of the big blockage (google it!) but a maintenance dose of 1 a day is commonly used (we still do!)

    3) other things that we tried which seemed to help us was buying a squatty potty (stool that brings knees up higher! They found it hilarious and it works) like a pp said, having a toilet routine after meals, so 20-30 mins after each meal try on the toilet, and I also cut down the amount of dairy my dd was having and that seemed to help. She's now on soya but in future I will wean her off it and see if she's still affected.

    Hope this helps. Xxxx

  • Thank you everyone for your supportive words. It is comforting to know you're not alone with this problem which is so overwhelming for us and for her. I definitely need to get more drink into her and think I need to be less bothered about the situation so as not to make too big a deal of it to her. Easier said than done some days though!

  • When you're cleaning up dirty pants several million times a day (especially when younger children are completely toilet trained) is extremely frustrating, we can all sympathise! As long as I get a minimum of 1L per day into my daughter, her movicol and remind her to go for a wee or poo regularly and watch for withholding she's generally good to go these days!

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