Constant battle to get son to drink/poo/take medicine... - ERIC


6,601 members2,455 posts

Constant battle to get son to drink/poo/take medicine/sit on toilet. Anyone else struggling?

OhBoy07 profile image

My son is 4 and has been struggling with soiling for over 6 months now. He’s been on Movicol/Laxido since Feb and now on Senna since April. What I’m struggling with is the constant battle with my son to get him to drink/sit on toilet/drink sachet/poo. He will only poo in a pull up sitting on toilet, he doesn’t tell me he needs one, it’s me telling him he needs to do a toilet sit before bed which is when he finally goes (after screaming/shouting he doesn’t need one) I’m struggling to get him to drink, I’ve tried: who can drink the fastest, games ‘oh you rolled a 3, 3 sips’ maths ‘what’s 10 minus 5? 5, well done, 5 sips) I bought him his own water dispenser with a tap so he could help himself when ever he liked but novelty wore off after 3 days. Bribing, taking stuff away until he drinks, it’s the same every day. On Thursday I ended up in tears when come the evening he’d only just about managed 400 ml all day. It’s the same with toilet sits, he just sits on the toilet and holds it in, and actually threatens me with ‘if you don’t make up another story I won’t do my poo’ this will be before bed when I need him to go (and he needs to go) but it’s getting later and later and all I can think is if he holds it in, that’s more poo stuck inside him going hard and dry. I am a single parent and I work 3 days a week and hopefully upping it to 4 days when my son starts school, I feel drained and frustrated and angry and worried on a daily basis. I’ve sat down and explained how the doctors/nurses said it was so important to drink enough, do regular toilet sits and don’t hold it in so he will finally beat sneaky poo, and he understands and agrees what he has to do but next day, it’s back to screaming at me, hitting me, running away, threatening me with not doing a poo if I don’t do this that or the other, oh and refusing to drink. The soiling is bad enough, and I can’t even begin to re address the pooing in a pull up issue at the moment. The toilet is just a stressful place for both of us, I’ve tried to take a step back and make it fun, bubbles, stories, singing etc., but when it’s an hour later and 8pm and we’re both tired, and he’s telling me that unless I make up yet another story he’s not going to do it, it makes me so cross and fed up. Some nights I would love to tell him, don’t go to toilet then, and walk away but I can’t risk him withholding even more than he does. Please tell me my son is not the only child with soiling issues who behaves like this. I am at my wits end. I feel alone and stressed out and fed up with this whole situation. I would add I do not get cross if he soils, I just say never mind but the time wasting with drinking and pooing makes me so angry. Advice, anyone? Or at least tell me it does get better? Sorry for long post.

23 Replies

Sorry to hear of your struggles, sounds hard for you both. Haven’t experienced it like you have but saw it on my feed and wanted to share a couple of things that might help - sorry if you’ve already tried..

How about a hands off, not bothered approach for a few days? So leave lots of drinks around but don’t ask / tell to drink. We found that when we take our daughter shopping & she chooses a new drink she’s more likely to drink it as she’s excited to have chosen it in the show (aldi have loadsa kids juices atm & whilst water is better, it’s better to have some liquid that no liquid in their bodies).

We still add water to our daughters milks so it’s probably 80% water & 20% milk. I also mainly add water to her cereal with a dash of milk. And we enjoy homemade lollies & ice cube eating...

Can you do poo prizes? This was a hit with us for a while & then pooing became the norm without the prizes... I think I had some little prizes for “listening to mummy & trying for a poo” & also prizes for doing a poo etc.

Sorry if not helpful - but good luck x

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to CheshireMama

What juices does your daughter like? My son will only drink water though I mix the Laxido with apple juice but that means he now associates apple juice with medicine. I tried orange juice but he wasn’t keen and I’ve just ordered some ‘summer fruits’ fruit shoot drinks. Yes water is best but I would be over the moon if he drank a carton/bottle of juice a day too. I just want him to drink. Who knew it would be this hard!! Thank you for taking the time to reply. It is much appreciated.

CheshireMama profile image
CheshireMama in reply to OhBoy07

Hi. Well she only drank just water for a very long time, smug mum alert that she didn’t drink juice! Fast forward & now she loves juice, ha! We have fresh OJ & then I water it down 9 parts water 1 part Oj at a guess. Same with Apple juice. But fruit shoots, mini cartons of summer fruits, OJ, Apple are all drank happily. We also gotSome fun cups and reusable straws to make it all more appealing. X

CopperJay profile image
CopperJay in reply to OhBoy07

My son won't drink plain water unless he serves himself out of a tap or steals mine...He loves fruit shoots and I give him flavoured water.

He's just discovered smoothies. I know they are full of sugar, (at least its naturally occurring) but its fruit/veg and fibre which his diet really needs so I feel the positives outweigh the negatives!

Would your little one drink flavoured milk? You could try the 'Crusha'? Use it like squash and its sugar free...

I know your pain! I foster a 9 year old boy. He moved in just 3 weeks ago, though I was his respite carer for 16 months. I contacted the GP as soon as I had him registered at mine and he wouldn’t see him, just said he’d refer him to paediatrics. I got a letter this morning saying paediatrics won’t see him because constipation in children is common and all you need to do is follow the advice! I haven’t had any advice as he only just moved in and nothing certain has come to me from previous carers etc, it’s all very vague. I have read up on the issue and bought a tracker bottle for him and me to encourage us both to drink more water. Within 3 days the novelty had worn off and I’m reduced to constant nagging. He’s been on laxido for at least 4 years, but I’m not sure how consistent the previous carers have been in keeping him on it. We agreed to eat an apple a day, but again the novelty quickly wore off. I’ve never known medical support and advice to be refused on the basis that it’s ‘a common problem’. This little boy has lived with this for 4 years, he’s being written off by the medics because it has been suggested it’s ‘behavioural’, I have no idea what that means as I have not been privy to previous advice or diagnosis. Apart from ERIC, which is the only resource the medical profession has referred me to, there appears to be no other help. These children are being forgotten and left to just struggle through. I can’t believe it. You have my sympathy, I wish I could do more.

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Samnon

Your poor boy! That’s terrible. Shame on the GP and Paediatricians for not seeing him and talking to you. Has your foster son been disimpacted before do you know? In my case, I feel doctor’s have been supportive so far but I just don’t think they know how far to go with this eg the GP was telling me to go up to max 4 sachets, paediatrician said to go up to 8 max sachets ;which it said on packet) parents on here (who probably do know better as they are the ones living with it) said go up to 12. My son is on 2.5ml of Senna daily but the general feeling on here is that a small amount like that won’t do anything. I actually feel now I’m just resigned to how best to manage it rather than ‘fix it’. I see no light at the tunnel right now. What do you think you will do now in regards to getting help? Could you ask to be referred to a constipation nurse if there is one in the area?

Samnon profile image
Samnon in reply to OhBoy07

Persistence has paid off! I phoned them today stating my case and within a few hours the decision was reversed. We have an appointment for August. Just so grateful. I don’t know if he’s been disimpacted, but I can’t see how he has not. If nothing else it will be good for him to hear the consultant now he’s 9 and has a bit more maturity to understand I am not punishing him by wanting him to drink more and eat his fruit and veg.

Yes! Getting my 5 year old to go to the toilet is a constant battle. She knows she needs to try and sit after every meal but she needs constant reminders and refuses to listen to her body and acknowledge warning signs she needs a poo.

I’m at my wits end. It feels like this has been going on for years, with small periods of respite. But as soon as anything unusual happens (moving house/changing school) or even just the slightest change to routine (half term) the bad behaviour and soiling starts again!

We’ve managed to get the morning sit after breakfast down most of the time and she sits and blows bubbles in her water bottle. 9/10 she poos doing this. But at the weekend it’s like routine isn’t there, even though we still try to stick to it, she refuses.

I’ve just come to the conclusion that this is my life now and there’s nothing I can do about. I only hope that eventually she’ll start caring enough about dirty pants that she’ll start doing it by herself but I’m concerned about bullying etc

I feel your pain.

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Bambie83

I’m worried about bullying too. I don’t know how he will cope when he is at school all day if he needs the toilet. At least if he went in the toilet he could use the school toilet to poo but if he holds it until he can get home and into a pull up, he’s bound to have an accident. I feel the same as you, this is my life now until by some miracle, my son suddenly decides he can poo in the toilet and the soiling stops. I really hope things improve with your daughter. Hang in there as everyone says, after all what other choice is there!

Bambie83 profile image
Bambie83 in reply to OhBoy07

Definitely look into getting him to blow things, bubbles, balloons, straw in a bottle of water… not only will it help with pooing but might make it fun enough to persuade him to have a go on the toilet.

Hi. I feel your pain too. My 4 year old son has the same issue. He withholds his pooh when ever he can. We have rewarded positive behaviour so if he does a pooh in the toilet he gets one chocolate and 20 mins tv (other rewards haven’t worked). He is in reception at school and the school nurse has put him on a drinking water plan with movicol. He has cup of water before breakfast, and 1 Movicol sachet. Cup of water mid morning, one before lunch, one mid afternoon before snack and one before dinner with Movicol too. We say he can’t have his food until he has drank most of his water and this ensures he drinks it despite moaning. We sit him on the toilet before school while watching 5 mins of tv on our phone, as soon as he returns from school and before bed. This has resulted in an improvement- he poohs in the toilet every day so is not blocked up. He does still have some small pooh/skid accidents though. I think changes are unfortunately slow but he will get there in the end. Remember you’re not alone!

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Brommie12

I’m glad your son at least poos in the toilet, I feel I’m never going to get there with mine. Did you just email the nurse at school to get on board with the water or did the doctors write to school. If I knew my son would drink at school that would be a weight off my mind. I’m pleased your son is making progress. It’s not easy.

Brommie12 profile image
Brommie12 in reply to OhBoy07

I think every school has a school nurse so I would ask the office for their details and make contact. This is a Heath issue so they need to treat it as such. We also emailed the school to tell them what we need them to do eg ensure my son has cup of water mid morning, is encouraged to sit on the toilet after lunch. Best of luck!

CopperJay profile image
CopperJay in reply to Brommie12

I'm so glad your school is on board - that must be a big help. Ours are very dismissive when I raise the topic. I tried asking what their toilets are like in case the setup/size/layout or something scares him and just got told flatly 'oh they are all lower for the kids' and that was it.

I send our son in with a full bottle of water daily and it often comes back more than half full which is worrying given that he is there from 9 -5.

He does wraparound and after school club as both of us work full time. - I was fuming when asked to collect him early, (as he had nodded off) to discovered he was soaked in urine and by the smell had been like it for some time. When he woke up and realised he was wet the poor boy was really upset. I know they aren't expected to deal with toilet accidents but surely there is a basic duty of care all the same!

Brommie12 profile image
Brommie12 in reply to CopperJay

Schools should not be dismissive and have a duty of care for their children. Eric has a school plan on their website you can complete and give to the school to agree the help needed. Toileting issues are meant to be treated as a health issue and framing it this way means schools have to get on board.

I understand your frustration. Perhaps try and different approach instead of the bathroom. Maybe do massages on his belly back and legs before or around evening time using funnel essential oil . This will help you both relax and maybe he will feel the urge this way or at least be able to go. And I know you are probably drained but maybe taking him outside for vigorous physical activities like chasing him or swimming or a ninja line. This will help his body naturally push it out without you having to verbally encourage him. Maybe during the times where you feel the urgency of needing him to sit in the toilet you instead read a book or put your phone in a book while reading other moms post who are going through the same thing; or doing some yoga in front of him. It will definitely throw him off coarse and perhaps begin to take the responsibility or the weight of the bathroom off you and a little more on him by showing you beleieve he can do it by not saying anything.

I’ve done the same with my boys and even tho it hasn’t cured them ; the bathroom battles are not a tensed topic anymore. It even may seem like It is a form of enabling them but when it’s a matter of me trying to understand the mental aspect of most kids who have encopresis; they suffer from immense guilt and shame and Ive just decided to not react anymore instead build them up in things they are good at! Or when helping them clean up I will say things such as “you’re all clean now! Doesn’t being clean feel good!” Etc . Or after a bath or brushing teeth commenting “wow you smell so good!” Most of our kids are has to hearing the opposite :/ so I’ve seen my kids light up when I say this to them

You’ve hit the nail on the head there. I know it’s because my son feels shame and guilt at soiling that he acts up. I’ve tried explaining to him I’m not cross when he soils but I do get cross when he refuses to drink/sit on toilet or try to blackmail me into doing something by threatening not to poo! I also know that my anxiety and stress over this is not helping. My son loves his back rubbed and his feet and head massaged so maybe I need to make this part of the evening routine to relax him. I’m going to persevere with getting him to sit on the toilet and go (with or without pull-up) without me having to read/make up endless stories. Tonight I was saved by Tesco delivery, by the time the driver had gone, my son also had gone so I know he doesn’t need me there all the time despite him telling me he can’t poo if I’m not looking at him!!! Thanks for all the ideas.

I feel your pain! So glad to see that we are not alone in our struggles! We have a 3.5 year old boy who since starting school has begun withholding poop.

The GPs treat him for constipation with Lactulose and Senna although we are convinced the issue is more psychological as he tells us he is scared of poop as it's 'dirty' and 'bad'. We see him straining to hold back and he is very anxious and panicky about letting go.

Despite the laxatives he still only poops every 4-5 days and has a meltdown if we ask him to go near the toilet 😩 We managed to get him to sit by introducing a timer and getting him to count down but the novelty has worn off. Now we have a tantrum and the response 'I'll go tomorrow'

He won't eat when he needs to go as he feels full and has a bad tummy/bottom. We tell him that going to the toilet will help his bad belly but he won't even try. I'm afraid to nag too much as I just think he'll just resist more but its tearing me apart not being able to help.

The issue seems to have completely taken over our lives. The school aren't helpful, he barely drinks when he is there and they have been quite critical of his soiling. We are at our wits end and don't know what else to do - any advice welcome as I just want a happy child.

Hi, saw this and didn’t want to scroll on by. The school should be supporting you. I’d request a meeting to gain support on this. Having someone - TA/teacher to remindOn toilet breaks at school and to ensure water is being consumed regularly will help immensely. No point you doing all the hard work & then 5 days a week little water is being consumed & toilet breaks aren’t being factored in etc. Hope you get some support

Hello,Thank you or your comment. I did raise the subject during our virtual parents evening but as we only had 3 minutes we didn't get very far.

As we are in the last week of term I think we are just going to see the week out and then use the holidays as an opportunity to try and make progress.

We have decided not to use the on site wraparound service after September as we feel that is a contributory factor. They aren't brilliant at changing/cleaning him when he has an overflow accident and consequently we have had some nasty bouts of nappy rash 😢... Hoping the holidays will serve as a 'reset'.

I just want him to poop - nothing for 4 days, again!

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to CopperJay

I’m so sorry to hear you going through this too. It’s so hard because there’s the good advice from GPS, ERIC, other parents, then there’s trying to put it into practice with a child that resists every step of the way. This has taken over my life too. Everything revolves around my son drinking/ doing a daily poo, figuring out what liners are best to put in pants if necessary, when to fit in the Laxido, and feeling sick every time my work phone rings in case it’s nursery saying he’s had an accident. Do you know if your son is impacted? I disimpacted mine over Easter but there’s still soiling. I’ve asked for an X-ray several times but they said no unless absolutely necessary. I don’t know if he’s doing because he’s still impacted or because his bowel hasn’t gone back to normal size. We may have a couple days of no soiling but mostly every day. It’s just becoming the norm now and I’m so sick of it and the bad behaviour. I know however bad I feel though, my son is feeling worse because he’s 4 and embarrassed and therefore takes it out on me. It’s hard to take a step back because the bottom line is, we don’t want them to get more blocked up. I really wish I could go back in time and start toilet training again. Maybe I’d do a better job this time round!

CopperJay profile image
CopperJay in reply to OhBoy07

I don't THINK he's impacted? But I could be wrong. What he does produce seems to be of normal consistency. When he does eventually let go, his stools are huge!

At present I can even get through to the GP for an appointment, even the online form was rejected 😩

I know what you mean about starting again - we left it fairly late as our son showed no interest or signs of being 'ready' and we ended up trying to rush so he could start school. He's nailed peeing on the toilet and loves to stand up like daddy but won't go near for a poop 🤷‍♀️

You may also like...