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My two-year old is holding his stool. He's been doing this for quite some time now and is on a prescription laxative so he doesn't have any control. But even on the laxative he still holds it. He's a healthy boy otherwise. I'm trying not to react to his behavior hoping that it will go away on its own. Is this normal behavior? Is there any way I can stop it?


Dr. Steven Kairys Replied: Many toddlers do not get into full toilet training readiness till 2 and 1/2 or 3 years. I would stop the pressure, give him some more time, and look for his cues of readiness.
Posted On 2007-06-20 12:59:10
Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Often children hold their stool because they're in a power struggle with the parent. They feel they must be in control of something. . . even if it's stool. This is where anal-retentive behavior comes from. It's a shame your son must be on prescription laxative, and I hope you keep in close contact with your pediatrician, as this medicine can become habit forming to his little body. Occasionally, if a laxative is overused the body will "need" the laxative in order to release stool. It's wise that you are trying not to react. Be calm and matter-of-fact about it. If you show any distress, dissatisfaction, or disappointment with your son, he will feel he has power over you and your reponse. And that can make the situation worsen. To answer your question - no, this isn't normal behavior. May I suggest you discuss this at length with your pediatrician or a family counselor because, there's a power struggle going on and you want to resolve it early in your parenting career.
Posted On 2007-05-19 22:28:22
Trish Booth, MA Replied: Children may hold stool as a way of having control over their bodies and toilet training. This can lead to constipation and hard stools that cause small fissures in the anus when they are passed. That can make a child hold stool in order to prevent the pain. In the end it becomes a painful cycle. This cycle can also happen after a child has become constipated for other reasons. Softening the stools, as you have done with the laxative, will help make the stools not hurt. That is the first step. Explain to him that the medicine will make his stools easier to pass and that they won't hurt like before because they are soft. You can also offer to put a little petroleum jelly up his anus to protect the fissures and decrease any pain he may still be having. However, don't force the issue. In addition, be sure to quickly treat any rash that occurs from stool coming in contact with his bottom. The goal is for him to pass stool without any discomfort. It may take a month or more for him to stop holding his stools. After he can do that, work with your son's health care provider to transition to not using the laxative. Related to wanting to be in control, remove any pressure to toilet train. Let him wear diapers and stop all comments related to toilet training. When his stools are no longer an issue, you can consider starting a low-keyed approach to toilet training.
Posted On 2007-05-01 13:25:13
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