13 answers

2 Year Old Afraid to Poop

First- thank you all for the suggestions about his constipation. I think we may be getting over that! Now though he seems to be very afraid of his poop. He hasn't gone in the potty yet but has gone in the bath tub a few times (while we were working through the constipation sometimes a hot bath would help) and has had a couple of diapers that just went everywhere. He gets very upset and cries, doesn't want his diaper changed, he insists on seeing the soiled pants/ underwear several times. We assure him this is ok - he doesn't get scolded for making a mess (we're just glad he has pooped!). He always follows us to the bathroom so we show him when we poop and talk about it and let him flush it... Nothing seems to ease the fear. So now instead of being constipated he is trying his hardest to hold it in as long as possible. So if we try to go off the Miralax while he is in this state he's definately going to be constipated again in no time from holding it. I am quickly running out of patience with him saying "my butt hurts" when it's been concluded that the only reason it hurts is that he's trying not to go! We all know you can't reason with a 2 year old--Lord knows I've tried!! Is there something else I should do to help this fear, or is it just going to take more time doing what we're doing?

What can I do next?

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We have had similar problems with my 3 1/2 year old daughter. We tried lots of things, but the only thing that seemed to work was a special treat when she went (ice cream, candy, etc.). Sometimes we still do it. She will wait several days to go and sometimes we have to convince her to go. It is very frustrating because she will say she doesn't have to even though we know she does!

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That's a tough one. The only advise I have for you ( having friends who went through it, but I haven't really) is to continue to do as you are doing and maybe, everytime he goes (until this straightens out) even in the tub or his pants, is to praise him and give him a treat. I don't condone where he goes, but that can be worked on later. If he gets praise and a treat of some kind, maybe he will eventually relax and see that is is natural and nothing to be afraid of.


I have a positive reinforcement potty training system, visit www.pot-teeprize.com that has proven successful.
Good luck

Hello J.,
I have responded to a similar situation like yours before. Have you ever asked your doctor or researched Fecal Hording? It's when kids are literally afraid to go poop, and will hold it in until they become very constipated. They are also afraid to have other people (even mom and dad) see them poop or even let them know they have to poop. I'm not sure what the treatment is, but I think it's something kids just eventually grow out of. Hope this helps! Good luck!

Is he afraid of the toilet? Some kids literally are. Try getting the kids seat that sets over the adult one and place a foot stool at his feet so he feels somewhat grounded. You could just set him on there several times a day for a certain time limit so he knows he's going on the toliet wether he goes or not. And maybe you could try reading to him while he is on there so he's not concentrating on the pooping so much.

FIBER FIBER FIBER. Make SURE he gets plenty of fiber so he has the urge to go and it's easier. My daughther went through this. LOTS of water helps, too. STAY away from white flour and sugar. It only worsens the problem.

In addition, spend time (make it something you "look forward to" sitting and reading and talking while he's on the potty. Set a timer if you have to, but try NOT to keep watching the clock. During this time, read, talk and RUB/MASSAGE HIS HEELS. Nerve endings to the bowels are in the lower part of the foot/heel. It WORKS! TRUST ME! We've done it many times. On top of that, NOW she sometimes asked to have her feet massaged, just to have them massaged, not just to potty. It's soothing to them. Massage firmly with your thumbs.

If he likes lemon (and make sure he drinks water after to keep from ruining the enamel on the teeth) give him lemon wedges to eat. Lemon actually stimulates the movement of the bowel. We have used this too. She has asked for it when she knows she needs to go. Again......it WORKS!

Lastly, KEEP HIM ACTIVE!!! It's amazing what good exercise will do!

We had the problem with the constipation and fear of pooping as well here it does just take a while to overcome. But I read something that making a huge deal over it makes it worse. So we just decided not to say anything about it. Not the way it smells, looks or anything. What we say now is poop is poop. I felt like we were making such a huge deal that we were stressing out our child over it and that was making things much worse. I tell you what has worked the best for us every day I give my son yogurt with probiatics in it~like yoplait but acutally I use the meijer brand much cheaper and since we have used that every day we have had less problems with the poopies. I think taking the emphasis off the pooping should help. It did with us. I just pray that my 2nd son~now 2 doesn't have the same problems. Best of luck!!! :)

There is constipation then there is withholding, where they squeeze their bottocks together due to fear that it will hurt, and it will hurt if they haven't pooped in a long time. Nothing is worse than when a child is "blocked up". My son had it and it took a few years to completely get over. Do whatever you can to keep him pooping (in diaper, underwear or bath tub). If he hasn't gone in a while, you can give him Kondremul, which is mineral oil or sometimes called a lubricant laxative. You don't need a perscription but you do have to ask your pharmacist. You can administer in their beverage, like chocolate milk. The mineral oil sinks to the bottom of their stool so when the poop does come out it is lubricated which will protect his rectum. Poop dries out very quickly and when it is that big it can scratch the rectum making them really afraid. I wish we would have known about Kondremul when we first started having this problem. Feel free to call me at home if you want to discuss, M. @ 614/880-1392. Good luck

Wow - this is my 2 year old exactly. She has been on Miralax for over a year, and every time we begin to make progress with her pooping ON the toilet, she starts having a problem with constipation and it's as if we start all over again. We fall back on pull-ups, and this has happened many times during the past year. Right now, we are coming off a really difficult constipation episode, and she is just NOW beginning to pee on the toilet, and talking about pooping on the toilet. We do our best to give her a good balanced high-fiber diet, but she still needs the Miralax to keep her regular.

It seems that she's starting to figure out how it all works, and that is having an impact. If she holds it in, she says the same thing: "my butt hurts" but when she lets it out she feels so much better. We have tried to explain that to her, and she seems to be able to understand it. For her, it seems to be about her mental capacity to GRASP what is happening in her body. She wants to see her poop too - in the toilet or in a pullup - and I don't know if that has helped her grasp what's happening or not.

I think it requires so much patience, and when your child hurts so badly, it becomes extremely frustrating and sad. I have spoken with her pediatrician about this at every doctor visit and they just keep telling me she'll "grow out if it." In the meantime, she suffers, and it's rough on all of us.

But again - I think she is beginning to understand that she can control when she goes pee or poop ON THE POTTY and that means she's a "big girl" and she likes that, so she's beginning to attempt to poop on the toilet because she associates it with being a "big girl" now. Time seems to be what she needs.

The more he holds it the more it backs up and the more it hurts when he tries to go., so he will hold it because it hurts to poop.One tablespoon of milk of magniseia(sp) will work, help him go and keep the bowel soft, and it isn't habit forming. Give it every night and make sure he is getting plenty of liquids.
good luck.

J. B said: "Nothing seems to ease the fear... So if we try to go off the Miralax while he is in this state he's definately going to be constipated again in no time from holding it."

Well, the problem is that the Mirilax probably isn't actually fixing the real cause of the constipation!!!

Say a person keeps hitting their thumb over and over w/ a hammer - the thumb is going to hurt. You can take Advil to try to make the thumb hurt less, and when you stop taking the Advil the thumb will hurt again, but the cause of the pain is the HAMMER and *not* the Advil. Just like your scenario - the cause of the constipation is still a mystery, and the Mirilax is like the Advil trying to help temporarily, but you still need to figure out what is CAUSING the constipation. Does that make sense?

Please know that it is not, NOT normal for a person (child OR adult) to have to be constantly on Mirilax to avoid constipation. Diet is one of the biggest causes of pooping problems! Have you kept an ongoing list of the foods your son eats every day (called a "food diary") to see what his eating habits look like? Is he eating lots of cereals, breads, cheeses, yogurts, and other cow's milk products -- and not as many green veggies, red veggies, fruits, etc? Because that'd be a big, red flag right there.

Have you tried changing his diet yet, as several moms suggested to you previously? If you haven't tried changing his diet yet, please consider doing this ASAP. Just as a reminder, one very typical cause of constipation in young kids is cow's milk -- so removing all cow's milk products for 3 weeks to see if his constipation disappears would be a good place to start. If his constipation goes away, then clearly you've found the cause of the problem - so simply avoiding or greatly limiting his cow's milk intake would solve the problem, and there'd be no need for Mirilax.

Anyway... just another mom's perspective. I don't personally like to take unnecessary medicines, and I don't want my kids on them either -- especially when the problem still exists (for example, hammer hitting the thumb, or cow's milk blocking up my kid's intestines) and the medicine is just addressing the symptoms (thumb pain, or constipation) and NOT really fixing the actual problem.

Whatever happens, I hope your little guy is able to come to a point where he can poop comfortably and without fear. Your patience and love and awareness of the causes of his constipation will help him get there! Best of luck to you!

first of all, make sure he is eating enough fiber.
My son didn't want to poop cause the smell bothered him (which we found out later was sensory processing dysfunction). he would stop himself from going, and only went once a week or so, and it would tear his bottom and make it bleed. The doctor had me give him metamucil at first, but it didn't help. He ended up taking senakot for several months. Even with the highest dosage for his age, it still took 4 days or so before he could not stop it from coming out. Gradually he got used to it (though he would hold a lavender perfume solid by his nose), and I was able to cut down and then stop the senakot.

I don't really know if I have any advice for you, however, I have the same problems with my daughter. She is 4 now, and ever since we potty trained her when she was 2, she has been afraid to poop. She will hold it for days, and when she would finally go, it would really hurt her. She is and has been on a prescription laxative that helps some. I found that a reward system helps a little. She gets a sticker everytime she goes. The doctor also suggested to have her sit on the potty a little each night, possibly with a story, to try and relax her to go. I know how frustrating it can be though to know they have to go and they are only making it worse by holding it. Just hang in there and try to get him into a routine with going.

We have had similar problems with my 3 1/2 year old daughter. We tried lots of things, but the only thing that seemed to work was a special treat when she went (ice cream, candy, etc.). Sometimes we still do it. She will wait several days to go and sometimes we have to convince her to go. It is very frustrating because she will say she doesn't have to even though we know she does!

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