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5 year old daughter won't poo on toilet

My five year old daughter refuses to poo on the toilet. This has been going on since she was potty trained at just over 2 years old. We have seen doctor after doctor, a child psychologist and even been referred to hospital over this. We've had Movicol, Lactulose and Senokot in varying combinations. She refuses to eat anything with any semblance of fiber in (eg. dried fruits, brown bread etc) - the only thing she will eat that helps any is grapes but she can't live on them!

It seems to be all in her head, as the only answer we get out of her in regards to this is "It hurts when I go". So, then comes the explanation that the longer she holds it in, the more it will hurt and she's much better off letting them come when she feels the urge and she will be able to poo like everyone else. This advice 99.9% of the time will fall on deaf ears and it's back to poo in her knickers.

This is beginning to pose an even bigger problem of late though; where she will withhold and refuse to poo, it's starting to affect her stomach and on the days where she's been nearly two weeks without a proper bowel movement, she's quite often sick. I am really beginning to panic about the long term damage she is doing to her digestive system and a solution is looking ever further away and bleaker.

Please, send help and clean knickers!

2 Replies


My 4 year old is exactly the same, only poos in a pull up so I know how frustrating it is. I'm afraid I don't have any answers for you on that front as we are still trying to figure that one out too but with regards to the withholding I would up the dose of movicol to maybe 4 sachets a day so she finds it really difficult to hold on and keep it at that for at least 2 weeks as you don't want to get to the situation we were in a couple of weeks ago where my daughter couldn't physically pass the stool she had been withholding for 19 days and so had to have an enema. Not pleasant although necessary!

I know what you mean, we have got books and explained over and over about how food travels through the body, that it won't go away and needs to come out etc etc but no amount of explaining makes any difference. Thankfully my daughter is going daily at the moment with 2-3 sachets of laxido a day but still very loose at the moment. Dreading reducing it down further in case the withholding starts again though!

Good luck with it and know you are not alone in dealing with these issues x


My daughter is 6 now and still poos in a pull up! 😕

It was VERY interesting when she recently was diagnosed with Lichen Sclerosis which a a skin condition that can affect the genitals. It thins the skin and makes it very sensitive...it’s not majorly obvious but the skin was slightly discoloured, paler than it should..... it’s now made me think it might be the root cause of our ongoing battle to get her to poo directly in the loo and has now become psychological. I do wonder if that’s been the root cause all along....!!!

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