Home parenting My child is holding back bowel movements: why and what can you do?

My child is holding back bowel movements: why and what can you do?

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

Some children tend to avoid having a bowel movement for as long as possible. There are many possible reasons. Most parents find this a tough situation. But often for the sake of the children as well.

If your child is holding back a bowel movement, the following may help:

  • patience
  • take fear
  • create intimacy
  • Create a pleasant atmosphere
  • Praise 
  • Reward
  • Maintain distance or closeness as needed
  • Talk to the pediatrician
  • adjust diet

Why does a child hold his/her poop?


Some kids are afraid of the toilet or monsters in the toilet. You can help by taking a close look at the toilet and flush it together. This will help your child get used to the toilet. Soft child seats can also help in some cases. You may also use potties. They are usually closed, smaller, and cause less anxiety. I recommend the use of colorful but simple potties. 


Suppressing bowel movements can be caused by stress. Stress affects various bodily functions by speeding up or slowing down their normal functions. Stress usually causes a delay in bowel movements. But stress is precisely what leads us and our children to eat unhealthy foods and drink less.

New life event

The birth of a sibling, starting kindergarten or crèche is very moving, and exciting but also stressful experience for our children. Such drastic new life events, whether they are positive or negative, can also have an impact on intestinal activity.

Some children have diarrhea, others have cramps, and still, others have constipation. It is usually constipation that makes our children uncomfortable when they have a bowel movement.

Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep causes our bodies to go into a state of emergency. This can lead to irritability. As I said before, constipation is a very uncomfortable thing for our children. This can make them try to avoid having a bowel movement because of it.


Many people experience constipation or at least flatulence when changing locations. Some children then respond by entirely refusing to go to the toilet.

Too little liquid

Drinking is essential for our health. Dehydration can cause hard stools, which in turn can lead to minor anus injuries or be very uncomfortable. 

Pain when passing stool

If a child is in pain when he or she has to go to the bathroom, that child will naturally associate the bathroom with a bad experience.

If this happens more often, they will develop anxiety and will want to avoid the situation or at least delay it for a while.

This, of course, usually makes the situation even worse, and when they finally go to the toilet, it is often still uncomfortable or painful. It would be best if you, therefore, tried to uncover the reasons for constipation or pain. Your pediatrician can be of great help here.

Here I have selected an article about constipation in children regarding a pediatrician for you.


The higher the fiber content, the better for digestion. Diet is especially important in digestion. Candy, among other things, can often lead to constipation. If necessary, discuss this with your doctor.

Allergies or intolerances and illnesses

Allergies, intolerances, and diseases can cause problems with digestion that cause pain or discomfort when your child has a bowel movement. Your pediatrician is the best place to go.

8 ways how do you get your child to stop holding the poop


We parents need to keep calm in this case. We should be patient with our children and not pressure them. Pressure usually leads to defensive reactions and makes the situation worse. We should try to motivate our kids, but it isn’t always easy.

Take fear

It is important for you to try to take away your child’s fears of unpleasant experiences such as pain or flatulence.

The best way to deal with fears is to take them seriously. Give your child some time to get used to the new toilet. You can take a close look at the toilet and incorporate it into your everyday life.

Your child may be helped by a book or an invented story about a toilet. I have put together helpful tips for dealing with fears for you here.

Create intimacy

The more your child knows about the toilet, the less scared it will be. Tell your child what happens when they press the flush, where the water comes from, why we are doing it, and where the water goes.

The more child-friendly knowledge our children have, the better. It is this very ignorance that brings with it the danger that our children will think about it themselves and, in their imagination, monsters can also come out of the toilet.

You could also take a trip to a technology museum, a sewage treatment plant, or a guided tour of a sewer system.

Create a pleasant atmosphere

A child-friendly toilet is more fun for our children than an ordinary toilet. You could have a child’s seat, steps or stool, a funny children’s towel, children’s soap, or even a nice picture or good scent on the toilet.

Anything that makes the toilet a more comfortable place for children is allowed. This helps to motivate our children to use the bathroom and makes the time more pleasant. I think it is important for our children to have good memories of going to the bathroom.


It is important that we praise our children when they go to the toilet, especially in the early days. The result isn’t important at all. However, the attempt to sit on the toilet and the effort to do so are commendable.


Small rewards are appropriate for attempting to depose. Reward boards are usually especially fun for children. A piece of paper with your name and other details. Perhaps with special decorations as well. A sticker or a funny drawing is allowed when your child sits on the toilet and tries to push.

It is necessary to recognize the overcoming and effort in this way. Our kids learn to keep trying, and it becomes a part of their everyday lives.

Maintain distance or closeness as needed

Diaper changing is a highly social interaction. Children enjoy this. You can also try to balance this closeness either in between or initially maintain it in the bathroom. Other children, however, prefer to be left alone when they use the toilet. You should try to implement it according to your child’s preferences.

Develop rules

With your child, establish rules of conduct for the toilet situation. Make sure you agree on what your child will say when they need to use the bathroom, whether they will go with them or not, or whether they will call you when they are done. The toilet paper can be prepared in the advance.

The problem is usually related to the desire for increased independence. It’s a good idea to figure out in advance what your child needs and what he or she doesn’t. You can set rules together or discuss the best way to do things. In this way, you can reduce annoyances and frustrations.

The toilet refusal syndrome

Toilet refusal syndrome refers to the behavior of some children in refusing to go to the toilet to have a bowel movement. They use a toilet for the small business but demand a diaper for their bowel movement.

It’s not unusual at first. However, this transition phase usually lasts only for a month. 20% of the affected children are between the ages of 1.5 and 2. It often happens in children who start toilet training very late (at around 3.5 years old). The good news is that the condition is temporary and will gradually improve after a few months.

It is especially important to get children used to regular bowel movements when dealing with toilet refusal syndrome. Most therapy programs recommend that the child sits on the toilet for 5-10 minutes after each main meal. Set an alarm clock to signal the time to stop.

Your child can paint or play, it should only sit relaxed with its little feet on a stool by the toilet. When the time is up, you should reward your child. A reward system could also be used. As mentioned above, a beautifully designed plan with a name and tag, for example, on which a sticker can be stuck or a sun or smiley face painted on would be appreciated.

It is also recommended to discuss such plans with the school or kindergarten. When everyone works together, it will be much easier for the children. 
Nevertheless, you should never apply pressure. Encourage your child and let him/her know you believe in him/her.

Home remedies for softer stools

Often, children hold back their stool because it is hard. This problem has been going on for a long time. Grandma’s old-fashioned remedies can also help your child have a bowel movement.

Get fiber from seeds

Linseed and psyllium husks or wheat bran are ideal for this. You can find all of them in health food stores, drugstores, or your regular pharmacy. You should drink lots of fluids with all the seeds. The amount may vary:

Linseed (from approx. 6 years)Take 1 teaspoon, wash down with plenty of water
Flea seed shells (from approx. 5 years)Soak 1-2 teaspoons in water or juice and drink, then rinse with plenty of water
Wheat bran (advertising)*1-3 teaspoons mixed in water or juice, drink plenty of water after
Dietary fiber for constipation

Dried fruit

Prunes in particular, but also raisins, apricots, and all other types of dried fruit have a constipating effect. They are a great addition to a snack or can be used to cheat into granola bars. Some children like to eat prunes that have been soaked in water for a whole night.

Milk sugar

From the age of 2, you can give your child milk sugar (lactose), which is available in pharmacies. Either on the spoon or in the water or juice.

More options

In these situations, pear juice, apple pear juice, or warm water can also help.

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