Photo by jacobsmommy0828Potty training is a big step for toddlers, but graduating from diapers to "big kid" underpants can be daunting for little ones, and some may respond by avoiding the urge to go by holding their stools.
Withholding, or functional constipation, causes more than frustration. It's the most common cause of constipation in children over 18 months of age. When the child avoids bowel movements, the colon absorbs more water from the stool, making it hard and dry. Continuing to resist the urge to go can cause the brain to begin to ignore the urge as well.
If your child is withholding, not to worry; you're not alone, and the good news is once you feel your little one is ready for the big P, there are several things you can do to help make the potty transition more comfortable, physically and psychologically.
1. Get used to the potty: A potty chair may not seem scary, but for a child, it's something entirely new. One idea is to let your child get used to it by letting him or her sit on it fully clothed for a few minutes each day while reading a book together, like Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi or Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel.
2. Reward your child: Once your child is more comfortable with sitting on the potty, don't underestimate the wonders of basic psychology. Reward systems are a great way to positively reinforce desirable behavior -- in this case, going #2 on the potty. You might start out by offering a small treat or a sticker after the child tries to go, regardless of the outcome. As the child progresses, begin offering the incentive only if he or she actually uses the bathroom. For reward ideas, try something your kids already love and incorporate it into their daily diet, like Pedia-Lax Fiber Gummies. They're great-tasting and sugar-free, and they pack a potty-training bonus as a fiber supplement to help your little one stay regular*. You can find more reward ideas and parent resources at Pedia-Lax.com.
3. Make sure your child gets enough fiber and fluids: Fiber is an especially powerful ally in the potty transition because it helps keep kids regular,* so pooping is more comfortable. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children ages 2 to 3 years need 19 grams of fiber a day. Try bringing more fiber into your child's diet with whole-grain bread, cereal, crackers, and pasta. Adding a great-tasting fiber supplement like Pedia-Lax Fiber Gummies can help ensure even picky eaters get the recommended amount of fiber they need every day, with 1.5 grams of fiber per gummy. Remember to incorporate liquids too. Fluids like water work with fiber to help soften stools and make them easier to pass.
With a little patience, these simple tips can help encourage and comfort your child through the process, and before you know it, you'll be cheering, "You did it!"
*This statement hasn't been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product isn't intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.