3 year old withholding - what to ask doctor?

My nearly 3 year old started withholding about 4 months ago. He's been potty trained for about 10 months and this was initiated by him and we had no problems. He was always very regular with his poos but preferred to go at home. A while back we were out of the house a couple of days in a row and so he held it in. Then when he finally went it was a very painful constipated accident. This must have been quite painful for him as ever since he's been withholding every few days.

It's now got to the point where he goes 2-5 days without a poo. Every day that he's holding it he gets more and more uncomfortable, irritable and doesn't want to run around or even walk sometimes. It's obviously so uncomfortable. When the poos do come they're soft looking and there is a lot there. I'm worried it might be overflow and he's backed up more but I'm not sure how to tell. Often on a poo day he will go a few times in the day. The difference in his behaviour and happiness are incredible after a poo! It's like our old happy little boy returns.

In worse episodes he's had poo accidents where it seems like it's leaking. He's also woken up a few times in the night really distressed and we've taken him to the toilet and he's had quite a long and uncomfortable sounding poo.

We've really been working on his diet and talking to him about it. It seems to be more psychological than physical now. Sometimes you can see him shifting around trying to keep the poo in. I think we've been making it into a huge issue for him though so I don't know if we should talk about it less. In the past rewards (a kinder egg for a poo) and sitting with the iPad have helped. I'm not sure if any of these are very good for him though and they don't seem to really work now anyway.

We have a doctors appointment in a couple of days. I want to know what to ask him, what's relavemt to tell him and what has worked for others? Also what will the doctor do? I don't want to freak him out - any tips on how to explain the appointment to him?

Any help would be so so so much appreciated. I feel so sad and stressed out about this and I just want him to be happy and carefree again x

2 Replies

I know exactly how you feel as do most of us on here in the same situation.

I would tell the doctor exactly what you've posted here. The gp will probably feel his tummy to see if he is backed up and maybe check his bottom for signs of a fissure/tear.

You might get prescribed movicol or similar to soften the poo.

I am by no means a medical professional so please don't take what I say as gospel.

It sounds like he had 1 painful poo episode and doesn't want to feel that ever again, which seems to be the most common cause of withholding.

Sadly it does become a psychological issue more often than not, which is the hardest part, in my opinion, to solve.

Best of luck at the doctors, hope it gets resolved soon for you x


I agree with what Nikki said, you just need to tell GP what you have written here. One tip, I find it helpful to write stuff down when feeling a bit nervous or flustered. I go in with a bullet point list of symptoms/time lines/when it started/for how long etc. Helps me think more clearly. Sometimes I don't look at the list but helpful to summarise for myself that way.

Best of luck with the doctor.


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