3 year old withholding : Hi- my 3 year old has been... - ERIC


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3 year old withholding

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Hi- my 3 year old has been withholding her poo for a year now, she’s on movicol which makes her go but she never wants me to change her out of her soiled pants. She’s happy to sit in it. I don’t know if she’s embarrassed. We have had limited success in the past with going on the potty/toilet but not for a while. I don’t know what to do for the best, my plan is to keep her on Movicol and I’m obviously happy that she’s just going regardless of where it is. My questions are-

1) how do I broach the subject of changing her pants without making the situation worse?

2) is there anything I can do to encourage her to ask for a nappy to do it or to get her to do it in the toilet eventually?

I’m thinking it’s going to be a slow process, but I just don’t want to make it worse.

7 Replies
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Fortunately I have never been in this situation so I can’t give you any advice but I can give you support. Just keep going I am sure you are doing an amazing job and doing all that you can. Keep pushing through I am sure that it will all figure itself out eventually even it takes longer than you want it to. Good luck and I wish you all the best with it. Let me know how you get on we it all.

I don’t want to give you unhelpful advice and would suggest asking the ERIC helpline. But my daughter withholds her poo and is also on cosmocol to get her to go daily. However she will only poo in a pull-up and goes and gets it when she needs to go and puts it on in the bathroom (she is almost 5). We are struggling to move on from this stage as she simply refuses to sit on the toilet to poo. However maybe if you could incentivise your daughter to put on a pull-up or nappy for her poo that could be a start? Does she tell you when she needs a poo or give any warning signs? Could you use a reward system for telling you and getting a nappy as motivation ?? Sorry if you’ve tried this. Rewards have not worked with our daughter but others have said they can work! X

Thanks for your reply. Yes, we have tried rewards too and they haven’t worked unfortunately. As soon as I see the signs, she’s already anxious about it and she just tells me to go away. Think you’re right, I’ll try and call.

Hi ya. My son would sit in it for hours if he could get the chance. Apparently they get used to the smell so they don't smell it and my son didn't know he had gone to the toilet. Quite often he would say is how do you know i need the toilet!!!! He went through denial behaviour. We found we had to develop patience and not get angry as this made things a 100 x worse. We tried rewards for doing poos on the toilet but we changed tactic and did rewards for just sitting on the toilet

Perhaps something like that may work for you.

Perhaps you could say to her that pants are for people who poo on the potty or toilet and gently suggest that she uses pull ups all the time. If she sees herself as a “big girl” this might incentivise her to try sitting on the potty/toilet? Is she doesn’t, she might be happy to use pull ups all the time until she is ready to learn to use to potty. I put my little girl back in pull ups and within a week she was asking for big girl pants, and we agreed on condition that she would sit on the potty. What also helped was asking her to sit at regular times, mostly after dinner and once she has a couple of successes she never look back. She is now fully potty trained and still on Movicol. Good luck!

My daughter, 4 also with holds and has suffered with the constipation/ withholding cycle since being a baby. She’s was on 1 sachet a day of movicol and despite this and the care of the bowel management clinic things never improved for us until recently when I read a book on stool withholding by Sophia Ferguson. Reading this I realised that what I thought had been pooing in her pants was in fact overspill. Despite the movicol her poo was still firm enough for her to hold onto most of it with only small amounts coming out in her pants. I raised this with the doctors but they dismissed it saying all the small bits of poo added up to enough every day. They only seemed to be concerned with maintaining her weight and growth and not fixing the underlying problem which one doctor even told me was a potty training issue and my problem not his!! Reading this book made me realise she’s not always aware that she’s soiled as she thinks the withholding has been successful. And when she is aware after the event she feels disappointed and gets angry/upset at me pointing it out. The advice in the book recommends increasing laxative dose to the point where they can’t ‘hang on’ to it but firm enough that they can get to the toilet. I increased her dose to 2 sachets a day, 1 in the morning and 1 in evening and since that day things have improved massively. She is now accident free most days aside from the odd lapse. I’ve also found using books/apps helpful to explain things to her in a way she can understand. Stick at it with the rewards, focus on rewarding sitting on the toilet for periods of time rather than the actual pooing in the toilet. Chocolates worked for us. Don’t worry about creating bad habits with rewards, it’s a minor thing compared to the impact of soiling. Keep reading up and researching! Doctors don’t know everything and no one knows your child like you! Good luck!

There's a good app called Poo Goes to Pooland. My 3yo loves it. We still have withholding and constipation and the helpline helped enormously with a plan we have just started, but the app is good for helping my LO understand where poo needs to go. Good luck.

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