Potty Training & Fear of Pooping on the Potty
My son is so terrified of pooping on the potty that he's refusing to poop altogether! I took him to the pediatrician because he was complaining about a stomach ache, only to discover he had severe constipation from holding it in. What can I do?
The hardest thing about potty training is that we can teach our children how to do it and we can tell them when to do it, but we can't just make them do it. The more we try to force our children to use the potty, the more they can resist. Sometimes kids are so engaged in playing and choose to ignore the urge to poop, so they hold the stool in to avoid interrupting their play. The longer they hold it, the firmer the next stool becomes because the body absorbs more water from the poop the longer it is held in. When the child finally does poop, it usually feels uncomfortable, which only further confirms their pooping fears.
Establishing a consistent potty schedule is a good way to minimize confrontation. If your son learns to sit on the potty at scheduled times throughout the day, (after eating or naptime), then it won't be such a shock to interrupt his playtime to be told to use the potty. If fear from hard stool is a problem, then a great way to soften the stools is with mineral oil, which makes the stool slippery enough that children can no longer delay pooping and soft enough that the stools no longer hurt when they poop Mineral oil is available over-the-counter in the laxative section of drugstores and comes in a variety of flavors: mint, orange, vanilla, or plain. You can spread it on toast covered with jam, and it's also good in toasted cheese and tuna fish sandwiches. The starting dose for mineral oil is about one teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. You could also consider using a single glycerin suppository to get the stool moving—especially if it's been awhile since the last poop. (Check with your child's pediatrician first before trying either of these options.)
Also, a lot of children think they have 'lost' part of their body when they make a poop and worry that their insides are going to come out and then disappear down the toilet! Saying a ceremonial 'goodbye poop' before flushing helps children overcome this anxiety.