Tantruming on Toilet Right Now Bc She Is Scared to Poop

Updated on February 10, 2012
K.L. asks from Orland Park, IL
28 answers

I am at my wits end over here. My 4 y/o is sitting on the toilet right now having a temper tantrum because she does NOT want the poop to come out. She is screaming at the top of her lungs and I cannot put my 1 year old down for a nap bc she is so loud. I have tried EVERYTHING. She will NOT drink enough water so that is a huge problem and part of why she only poops once a week. I have tried Little Tummies and mineral oil to make her poop and it just gives her stomach cramps and makes her vomit. I have tried bribing her to drink water. I put probiotics in yogurt and give her fish oils. II have been doing 1-2-3 Magic this week and so she cannot get me riled up anymore--I am very calm. Would you believe that I think this is her final frontier of being able to control me? Because I know she is afraid of pooping I drop everything I am doing when she says that she needs to poop--I hold her hands, I am calm and I don't ever get mad or yell. Well, she has gone thru about 6 or 8 pair of undies since last night in her effort to keep the poop in. I did not come running this time bc I was busy and told her she had to wait for me to come wipe her. She had this throw down fit. Can anyone please tell me how you got your kid to stop being terrified to poop? This feels never ending.
In light of some of the anwers I have been getting I should say that my child has a great diet. My friends wish their kids ate as many raw fruits and veggies as my kids does. Our ped was shocked that she has a constipation problem based on how well she eats. All the fiber in the world doesn't help if you don't get enough water--I've done the research and I've read all about the various poop issues/disorders. I am convinced it is genuine fear and also some control but a major factor being that she DOES NOT drink enough water. I bribe her, I do all I can to get her to drink. She's like a camel! All she gets is water, btw. When she was little I did not allow juice and now she won't touch the stuff! I WISH she would drink some watered down juice bc then I'd be able to get more fluids into her. I've let her sample more kinds of juice-the kid doesn't like anything but water. We've given her those metamucil cookies, too. The problem is that everything we give her works exactly ONE time and then never works again! I've been avoiding miralax like the plague bc I thought it was a laxative. Also, the reason I hold her hands when she has poop coming is because she used to be so scared to poop on the potty at all that that was the only way I could get her to start going on the potty. Now I do it bc she is so freaked out by the poop-it really scares her. She seems to have no problem with sitting on the potty now and I will never do pull-ups again. They were a huge mistake for us that I feel contributed to all the potty training problems we were having. It's the poop itself-I told her that drinking water would help make the poop slide out and not be painful--she said it freaks her out when it slides, too! And she has no problem flushing it away--doesn't seem to think of it as part of herself. I think the reason she had a meltdown tantrum was bc I told her she had to wait for me to wipe her bc I was busy with her brother and couldn't leave him. I ALWAYS wipe her buns with a wet wipe bc I don't want her to have crusty buns. Maybe I should work on getting her to wipe herself now. I've noticed she is the most freaked out when she feels it coming and when it is actually exiting her body. I don't feel suppositories are an option as there is no way she would allow me to put one in and I would never force anything into an opening of my child's body and traumatize her that way. We will try the miralax and let you know what happens. So grateful for all the posts!

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R.A.

answers from Wausau on

My sons was holding in his poop so much that when I finally took him to the Doc. he was literally full of [email protected]%&!! There were only 2 little air pockets in his tummy! So They gave me a perscription for a quart size bottle of miralax and I started with 2 adult doses until the poop ran almost like water. From there we went down to once a day adult dose. He is still fighting the potty, and still trying to hold in his poo. Mind you we went to the Doc. on 12/30 so its been a nightmare the last 6 weeks.

Otherwise something cool that I heard but can't remember where they had their child sit backwards on the toilet and then they could hold onto the back of the toilet seat as a handle and its suppose to help with the pushing motion. Keep us updated because I think a lot of us mommys and daddys are in this same boat

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K.

answers from Chicago on

Miralax works wonders! We used it for my daughter and the situation was resolved within days. Best of luck!

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

Try to stop giving her so much attention about it. My kids and I drink more water if I use one of those plastic reusable cups with a straw, just more fun. Also feed her a healthier diet. Tons of fiber. Doctor might be needed.

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi there. First off, I feel your pain. My daughter (who is now 8) went through the same thing just before she turned 3. In my opinion, it is not a way to control you nor is it a way for her to get attention. She probably IS very scared to poop because, simply, it hurts when it comes out! Warning, here comes the gross part (but it is what it is) What is most likely happening is her poop is compacted. It is now like a giant baseball, sitting there ready to come out. You can imagine the pain it'll cause when it finally does. She's going through several pairs of underwear because liquidy poop is leaking around the baseball sized hardened poop. It's called encopresis. Google it and you'll get much more info.

Here's what we did: start off by getting one of those liqui-gels you stick in her rear. This will soften what is already there and help her pass it. Then I bought Miralax and mixed it with whatever she was drinking that day (usually water) It is tasteless and colorless, so you can put it in everything. I also made sure I brought fruit wherever we went. If we were going to McD's, I made sure she ate a bowl full of strawberries first! (she still eats strawberries like they're going out of style!) The other thing I did - I can't remember when on the timeline, I guess before she passed the big poop - I put her on the toilet backwards. My brother, who is a pediatric surgeon, suggested this. He said it would be very hard for her to hold it in when her legs are spread this way. It worked. I must've done it after the enema? I can't remember.

Anyway, she was on Miralax for about a year. It was a long road, but she's completely fine now. I'm glad you're being calm with her - that's huge. This is not her fault! I hope she gets better soon, for both of your sakes :)

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L.C.

answers from Dover on

Oh, K.L., do I ever feel what you're saying.

My daughter is also four and AFTER she turned 4 we went through this. She got constipated one time and it hurt to poop and after that she refused to go. The more we tried to encourage, bribe, talk about it, the worse it got. It was a combination of fear and good old fashion rebellion. What we ended up doing was backing off completely. We went back to pullups and didn't stress any toileting, because the more we stressed it, the more she backed down and the constipation was causing her to have pee accidents because of the pressure on her bladder. She refused to poop but would cry because her bottom hurt from trying to hold it in. It took weeks. I was so flipping frustrated.

We put her on miralax in her water, juice or any other drink for that matter. One teaspoon in a drink twice a day (I'll go double check in a minute). She got to where it was soft enough that she would poop in her sleep when her body relaxed enough.

About two months after we backed off and with consistent miralax treatment along with lots of fruit, juice and whole grain, it didn't hurt anymore. And one day she went poop on the potty all my herself, we celebrated like she'd won the nobel prize and she's been pooping every since.

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H.M.

answers from Dallas on

My son had issues going when he was little and we had to use sepositorys on him. They worked really well They told us to use them every few days. But if she is holding for and only going once a week that can cause a blockage and I would get her checked out and see what her dr says to do for her. If it's hard it probably hurts and that may be why she does not want to go!

Good luck and God Bless!

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K.B.

answers from Detroit on

Have you discussed this with your pediatrician?

My daughter was having some issues with being afraid of going poop, then withholding stool, which of course only made things worse. The pediatrician recommended Miralax on a daily to every other day basis - it softens the stool and it makes it easier for her to poop, and impossible for her NOT to go poop. Also, make sure she is getting enough fiber - fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, cooked pumpkin (i.e. muffins, etc.). Prunes and prune juice are good too for softening the stool. Also some foods (like bananas) bind them up more, so I would either eliminate those from her diet, or cut them back drastically (I only let my DD have 1 banana a day, and it's not every day).

But if she has not pooped in a week, that is serious. She may need an enema if she is that backed up and she should be seen by her doctor. They can also give you a Miralax dose to use at home and get her on a schedule. I've been trying to get my daughter in the habit of sitting on the potty and trying to poop once every day, whether she thinks she needs to go or not. Her pediatrician said it is definitely a control issue with her and by having her on the Miralax, she can't hold onto the stool so easily - she has no choice but to just go when she has to and then she can be rewarded for it. Call her pediatrician and discuss with them what an appropriate short-term and long-term plan would be.

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E.S.

answers from Chicago on

My son was like this. First of all, let me just assure you - it WILL get better! After years - yes, years - of dealing with this problem, it finally just went away. I would try the Miralax. I really think that helped my son get over his fear of pooping. It doesn't make them go (my doctor said it's not a laxative, it's a stool softener). Once he discovered it didn't hurt to go, thanks to the Miralax making things softer/easier to move, he got so much more comfortable with pooping. I would mix the medicine with 8oz of juice or water & give him a few ounces a day, more or less depending on when he last went. When he was REALLY bad, I used Miralax AND a laxative, per his doctor's advice. At one point (after a lower GI test to rule out any abnormalities - yikes, that was fun with a 2 year old!), his doctor said that it was time for his body to force him to go with the help of the laxative. Trust me, after a dose of that, he had no choice but to go! So you might need to do that for a while as well. I know how frustrating this is. I've spent many hours pleading on the bathroom floor, bribing with treats...toys...anything - all for poop! I used to have to make our family plans based on how long it had been since he pooped. Some days, we couldn't leave the house. Eventually, the problem just went away - but only after using the Miralax & sometimes a laxative. Now (he'll be 5 next week) he goes almost every day with no issues at all & has been this way for over a year. I promise, this too shall pass! Good luck to you.

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R.P.

answers from Portland on

When we dealt with this we were giving our daughter fruit leathers thinking that the fruit would help, but it did not, it just contributed to the constipation. Real fruit or vegetables, apples and pears, potatoes, with the skins on, the skins have the fiber to help push the poo through. And lots of liquids. A couple brands of baby food, like Plumbaby have the prunes and plums in those squeeze packs that kids can just suck it out of the package - fun for kids. Whenever we use one of those we see at least some BM within a couple hours. Because of the back up it would really hurt our daughter to poo so we would try to encourage her to squat to poo (just like having a baby!) or distract her to look at magazines or watch a show on the laptop in order to get her to stay on the toilet as long as she needed to in order to have the BM. Also lots of holding hands and encouragement and explaining it will only hurt for a little bit and then she would feel better. We also had to avoid peas both with and without shells, for some reason those would constipate her more.

My nephew had a more long term problem, maybe somthing like you child has, and he ended up going to a pediatric gasto-entologist (I think that is what he was called) and was prescribed medication that cleaned him out. It took about 4 weeks and then he had to take the medicine regularly for a long time. When he pooped he often hollered and yelled (again, kind of like having a baby) because it hurt and he was scared of it hurting.

Good luck

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A.C.

answers from Chicago on

I am so sorry!!! I am going through the exact same thing with my almost 4 year old, again. I thought we were over it, but recently she started to do the same thing...we are back on miralax, which has been a huge help. We use it in the morning (she goes to preschool in the afternoon). We "hide" it in yogurt otherwise she wouldn't take it because she knows she'll have to go :( but my pediatrician told me to be VERY consistent (same time everyday). That way she'll get on a schedule, and it will be easier for her to "cope".
I also let my daughter pick out her own water bottle (anything she wanted). This helped her drink more water.
Good Luck!!!! Know you are not alone!!!
PS. I had to do a double take to make sure I didn't write your post because it is totally, exactly what we are going through :) :) :)

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S.L.

answers from Kansas City on

I think if you could add some flavor to water, lemon or something, maybe you could get that down her or find some other way to get water into the diet more. I used to think it was not true that kids were afraid to go or wouldn't go but these days it is such a common problem. Why I'm not sure. I wish I knew. I think regular schedule for it helps. But the food surely must be a big part of it. Look online at constipating foods and cut those out and see if that helps. If you go sit with her at timed periods it may help. We have grandsons going through this right now. It's very upsetting I know. I did have one grandchild prove the point one time that they do not always want to flush it as it seems an extension of themselves. This may not be the issue with her though. Keep at it and watch the diet. Timed trips to the potty and explain to her that it is not going to hurt if she goes regularly and it won't hurt to flush it. Sorry.

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E.M.

answers from Chicago on

I too have been through this with my daughter. If you haven't already, you should definitely talk to your doctor because as many have mentioned, she could be very backed up and unable at this point to go without some help from a suppository or an enema. My daughter started this at 3 and now at six we continue to have to "work at it". It started out simply as constipation but because of the pain, she became scared and later it may have even been a bit about having control over something which often young kids don't have over much. Because of my daughters issues with holding her poop and the accidents this caused, she began to have reoccuring bladder infections which can cause serious issues later. She also often had bad stomach cramps and sometimes even threw up. I tried everything medically and emotionally i could to help with this but I finally ended up taking her to a specialist who helped me better understand what was happening and how to stop the cycle that some others have mentioned. The doctor recommended a full cap of Miralax daily initially and then eventually we would go to half cap when she was able to go daily. We also had a time each day that we went to the bathroom. She chose before bed which is what we still do today. This is not a problem that often goes away quickly but takes persistence from you and patience. It was a very hard year but now she is doing great. I still have to remind her to go each day but we no longer need the Miralax although she will ask for if she has a "bad" day so it is easier the next. It really challenged me as a parent but I did find that this is a very common thing in young children and some just have it worse than others.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Don't give her anything to drink but water. Also, if she is only pooping once a week talk to the doctor about giving her Polyethylene Glycol, it is a fiber/laxative. it does not make them runny, just helps keep things moving along. Also, talk to her about where her fear is coming from. Is it because of the feeling of it coming out? Does it hurt (is the poop to hard)?

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A.B.

answers from Chicago on

We went through the same issue with my daughter. We found out from our ped. that kids are supposed to poop either everyday or every other day. Your daughter is probably in pain and that's why she is scared to poop. Per our doctors orders we gave our daughter Miralax (for three months). You want to give her about a half a cap to start with in her water or juice cup and make her drink it all. We did this twice a day. It makes it soft to go. Be warned there will a lot of poop and it will seem like she is going to much but she is so backed up that is why their will be a lot. The first time it might hurt but after that all the rest will be soft. Tell her you are giving her medicine that will make her poop not hurt anymore. She will feel that it won't hurt anymore and she won't be scared anymore to want to go poop. Once the poop is soft you can cut back a little at a time with the Miralax until she doesn't have to depend on it. You will have to give her Miralax for at least for three months until she can be regular again. My prayers are with you because it will be hard but you are a great Mom and I know you can do this. Let us know that she's okay.

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M.W.

answers from Chicago on

I see that you have received alot of responses here. I know my sister gave her daughter Miralax. With my son....I find that pears do the trick. My oldest son was also hard to get on the potty for a BM. I ended up taking one day and keeping him out of underwear...when I saw that he could not take it anymore..I held him on the potty for what seemed like 20 minutes....but it probably was only 5 , and whispered you can do it in his ear....he finally went and said"THAT WASN'T SCARY". I was like phew...finally...Good Luck!!!

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

There may be a control issue but I suggest that the main problem is that it hurts to poop. In addition to improving her diet and giving more liquids I'd take her periodically every day to the toilet. Don't wait until she says she has to poop. Once that poop builds up in her intestines it dries out and not only does it hurt to poop but her abdomen probably hurts and she's uncomfortable. Make sitting on the toilet 2-3 times a day a routine.

Miralax is now OTC. I would consult with a doctor if the Miralax doesn't help. If you haven't already discussed this with her pediatrician I suggest you do that first to rule out any medical conditions.

I also wouldn't force her to sit on the toilet. I'd tell her she is to sit there for 5 minutes and then let her get off. Forcing her to stay is feeding into any control issues that might be going on. By making sitting on the toilet 2-3 times a day a routine you take away some of the control issues. Sitting just becomes routine. No emotions. You may have to work up to 5-10 minutes. Make it pleasurable. Read her a story. Give her toys to play with. Let her get off before she starts the tantrum.

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A.W.

answers from Kalamazoo on

You should have her tummy Xrayed by a doc. She could have poop all backed up in there. She could be put on a prescription of Miralax which softens the stool and makes it come out :)
Give her a basket of books to look at while she sits there. Make sure feet are flat on floor or stool - NOT dangling. When feet are flat muscles relax. Also, when you blow out your mouth (like when you blow bubbles) it activates those muscles down there and in the intestine.

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C.B.

answers from Boston on

It is called Voluntary or Functional Fecal Retention and is very common. My daughter would poop in a pull up but not in the toilet. Daily much-smaller-than-recommended doses of Miralax (polyethylene glycol) for about 6 months did the trick (recommended is a tablespoon daily or the cap size, but for us a flat teaspoon in the morning sippy cup was enough). You need to shrink the colon back to a normal size. Since they withhold it actually stretched the colon (where the poop gathers to a certain size before you feel the need "to go"). Since the colon is larger, that feeling of needing to go comes later which makes the poop bigger and stretches the colon more, so it is a bad negative spiral. To break the cycle she needs to poop daily, so that the colon has time to shrink back again and give her that "got to go" feeling much sooner. For one child, sipping hot pear juice while she was sitting on the toilet (as hot as she could take it) seemed to help stimulate her bowels. For the other nothing but Miralax would work. I have heard of parents how use supositories that stimulate the bowels about half an hour after you insert one, but I always felt that if they are already so full, getting something else shoved up there must feel awful. So we used to get Miralax by prescription but now it is over-the-counter.
http://www.aboutkidsgi.org/site/about-gi-health-in-kids/f...

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A.M.

answers from Champaign on

My son is 4 and was chronically constipated. He started potty training at 2 but by 4 he still wasn't pooping on the potty. He was afraid that pooping would hurt his bottom and would hold it in until he just absolutely couldn't anymore. Then he would refuse to go unless we put a diaper on him. He would then roll around on the floor and whimper for 30-60 minutes before he was finally able to push the poop out. We would have multiple pairs of stained underpants daily when the poop was trying to come out but he was trying to hold it in. We had been to the emergency room once because he was so backed up. We had to go to the doctor once because he gave himself a prolapsed rectum from pushing too hard. I finally couldn't take it anymore - for my own sanity and because he just seemed so miserable. Right after his fourth birthday we finally went to a pediatric gastroenterologist and here's what we were told:

1. Give him Miralax daily to soften the poop. The most important thing is to make it as easy as possible for the poop to come out.
2. For the first couple of weeks if he didn't poop daily, give him a suppository.
3. Limit juice but no other dietary restrictions. Give him fiber supplements (I have been giving him Pedialax fiber gummies once daily) and push fiber rich foods whenever possible.
4. When he sits on the potty, help him get on then go about my business. Don't make it a big ordeal. Check on him and help him wipe. If I stop everything I'm doing whenever he poops, he has control and he knows that's how he can get my attention.

It took about a week of giving him the right dose of Miralax for everything to soften up enough for him to go regularly. I decided to not do the suppository the first week in order to give the Miralax a chance to work and because it was going to be unpleasant for both of us and I feared that trauma would further hurt my cause. When things finally started working, he refused at first to go on the potty. After 5 (FIVE!) full diapers worth of poop (think blowouts, 4 year old style - gross!) I finally convinced him to sit on the potty. This worked because he was aware that he had pooped several times without trying very hard and it didn't hurt him.

Since then he has been completely successful going on the potty and we rarely have stained underwear.

Our specialist did say that about 5-6 percent of kids are chronically constipated. And, for those who are, they need assistance (stool softener) for years before their bodies get going on their own. However, no other special medical attention is needed as long as the stool softener is doing it's thing.

I would suggest working with your pediatrician if this continues. It's a combination of physical issues and behavioral issues (trying to control her bowels and you).

Good luck! I know how hard this is.

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B.R.

answers from Naples on

My daughter was afraid to poo on the toilet too, finally she was able to tell me that she was "afraid of the plop". 1 I bribed her (some call it positive reinforcement) with something she desperately wanted and didn't already have.....I had already tried bribing with stickers, candy, toys, shoes she wanted etc... None of it worked because she had other stickers, toy's, candy, shoes etc. When she said that she wanted a fish like the ones we had just finished babysitting for someone (a Betta fish), I told her that if she went #2 in the potty for 7 days straight she could go to the store and pick out the fish of her dreams. Thst's when she told me that she was "afraid of the plop". I just told her "thank goodness you finally told me, because that's easy, I can fix that right away so there won't be a plop", and I immediately made her a little nest of toilet paper on the surface of the water for a "soft landing with no plop. She IMMEDIATELY started using the toilet and was the proud owner of "fishy" one week later and I wasn't bleaching undies any more! Good luck!

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T.K.

answers from Chicago on

I am not sure if you are past the pull up stage but when we had this problem (my son would not poop on the toilet - only in his pull-up) we had him sit on the toilet with his pull up on. After a few times we cut a hole in the pull-up and he got over his fear of pooping on the potty. Good luck!!

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

My stepson has been chronically constipated for his entire life. The only suggestion the doctor has given us is Miralax (we've also tried apple juice/other diet adjustments and counseling-not only for this, but it was mentioned), and it doesn't really work. He poops about once a week (he's almost 10) and clogs the toilet about 9 out of 10 times. Sorry, no advice other than some people are just constipated and it doesn't seem like there is much we can do.

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M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Been there done that, just last week. We try to calmly talk to her about anything and everything. Get her to use both her hands when talking, then she can't brace herself against the poop.

We have given suppositories that help, but giving them is a big issue! We have also been to the ER in the middle of the night where they gave her 3 bags of suds suppository before she went. I use that as my ultimate, 'you have to go...'

We give our 5y a 1/2 tsp of Miralax once a day mixed in chocolate milk. We call it her go juice. In fact she just asked for some! Yes its just because she wants chocolate milk, but whatever works.

Talk to your dr. about putting her on Miralax daily

S.L.

answers from New York on

Read up on encopresis to understand the problem better. My doctor recommended Metamucil Clear and Natural, made the poop softer so they stop dreading the movement

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Give her Miralax in her water/milk/juice every day. It won't make her poop, but it will make the poop softer, which will help. Keep her on it every day until she is routinely pooping every day without all this drama. (It's not habit forming, and it's safe for children.)

That being said, hold her on the toilet, if you have to. It's very unhealthy for her to hold it in like this, and she could even cause herself permanent damage by doing so. Yes, it's unpleasant to have to hold your screaming child on the toilet so she will poop and not try to hold it in, but on the plus side, she'll get the poop out, and then all you have to do is keep her regular after that.

Good luck, this is a tough one!

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S.H.

answers from St. Louis on

while it could be a medical issue, based on your story....I believe you are right in assuming this is a "control Mom issue".

I have had this happen with many children & once you get past it, life does level out.

On the other hand, tantrums while sitting on the toilet....forcibly holding it in....proves she has phenomenal strong will. Stick with the "1-2-3 Magic". It is a lifesaver!

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K.H.

answers from Detroit on

Also been there. The only thing I can add is that PediaLax makes gummy fiber supplements for kids. I have given them to my kids with great results.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

IS she afraid or is this a way to get extra attention from you? It sounds like a control issue to me, so I'd stop giving her so much. If you've already tried the medical route, calmly explain to her that pooping is normal and natural and you know she's a big girl and can do it. Leave the door open and let her do her thing. You might give her Kandoo wipes so she can clean herself more easily. I would not hold her hand, especially since you have a 1 yr old to watch, too. As long as you drop everything she will keep screaming.

If she soils a lot of underpants, would reverting to pull ups be an option? She can have the big girl underwear back when she earns them? Or do you have her wash her accidents?

I also wouldn't even make it about proper bodily functions. I would make the water or milk or whatever liquid be a part of the meal that she should consume, just because. I would give her fruit to help soften things up and make her more regular. Blueberries should do it.

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