A child can be constipated for many reasons, from stress to food, but in all cases, it is important to find solutions to his discomfort.
We speak of constipation when a child has difficulty passing stools because they are too hard or too big. Normally, a baby should have at least one bowel movement a day and a slightly older child should have at least three bowel movements a week. If your child goes to the toilet more rarely, if he complains of stomach pains, if he alternates hard stools and diarrhea or if he sits on the toilet for a very long time, it is probably because he suffers from constipation.
Causes of constipation in children
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, constipation in children is common and is rarely caused by physical problems. In general, it is rather caused by a sedentary lifestyle, a lack of fiber or liquids or a level of stress that is too high. It can also be caused by a major change in a child's habits, during a trip, for example, or by taking medication.
Finally, and this is common, constipation can be linked to the toilet itself. It can find its source in stressthat surrounds toilet training, by holding back too long or by always being in a hurry when the child is in the toilet. A lack of privacy or an inadequately sized toilet can also be the cause.
The consequences of constipation
Constipation has many effects on children. First, it can cause them a general feeling of unease. It can also make them afraid to have a bowel movement and thus make the situation worse. Severe constipation can cause anal fissures and cause stools to be doubly painful in addition to containing a little blood. Again, this pain can cause the child to hold back and make the constipation worse.
Constipation can eventually cut children's appetite, in addition to giving them cramps and being the cause of isolation or a drop in self-esteem. It is therefore important for parents to intervene when they notice constipation in their child.
Treating through education and organization
First, it would be useful to explain to your child that you should not hold back too long before going to the toilet. If they tighten their sphincters to hold back each time they have the urge, the urge passes, but their stools build up and harden. Better go when they feel like it.
By discussing this subject with them, you may discover some things. Maybe learning thecleanliness has been too strict and intense and you will have to give them some respite. They may also be afraid of wiping badly, and you will have to explain to them how to do it again. Maybe they are embarrassed to go to the bathroom in public and need to be reassured.
Finally, maybe the toilet is too high and they are afraid of not going and prefer to hold back. In this case, you can get them a small step stool that will also help them reach the sink to wash their hands.
You should also keep a stool diary so that you can see if real progress is taking place as a result of the measures you have taken.
Treat with food
Obviously, solving constipation problems must also go through diet. Your child needs to drink enough water and eat enough fiber if you want the stool buildup to stop.
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society: "A balanced diet that includes whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables is recommended as part of treatment constipation in children. Carbohydrates (especially sorbitol) in prune, pear, and apple juice can increase stool frequency and water content. »
There are several easy things you can do that will greatly increase fiber intake. Add field fruits or dried fruits to cereals, salads and yogurts, for example. You can also add beans to soups and salads and buy breads that contain at least two grams of fiber per slice. Give your child whole, raw fruits and vegetables regularly.
When nothing works
Although it is rarer, it is not impossible that a functional disorder, food intolerance, hypothyroidism, mineral deficiency or neurological disorder may cause the constipation. If the situation persists, it becomes important to say a word to the doctor. He can investigate further, give you tips and prescribe laxatives or other medications, if he thinks this is the best solution. Maybe he'll send you to a gastroenterologist.