Preschooler Spending Too Much Time on the Throne?

After dinner, Bob (my Dad) would snatch the Wichita Eagle & Beacon newspaper and disappear into the inner sanctum of the master bathroom. He would be there for a minimum of a half hour each evening. Luckily all we could hear was a distant hum of the exhaust fan as he sat and waited for his bowels to move. My mother and my mother-in-law had no time for such nonsense and instead aided their infrequent bowel movements with a laxative addiction. Maybe they were the Greatest Generation, but from my point of view many of them were the Greatest Constipated Generation. I’ve been around people with chronic constipation. But luckily most of them have been adults.

The other night after speaking to a large group of preschool parents one of the teachers in the audience came up to talk. Seems many of the preschool children she teaches are being given Metamucil on a regular basis. “What?”, I said, “How often? How often are they giving the kids Metamucil???”. “Everyday.” she flatly told me. “What!” I shrieked.

I’m picturing grumpy 4-year-old perched on the potty. The parent reading Goodnight Moon over and over waiting for the plop. Exasperated parent now insisting on the Metamucil Fiber Multi-Grain wafer as part of the child’s morning meal. Next I see the child as a teenager with a major Dulcolax habit. Then an adult with their own personal colonic therapist and a closet full of Fleet enemas. I’m worried.

Have we so lost touch with common sense that we are giving laxatives to kids barely out of diapers? I mean I guess I could understand it in an extreme case scenario. But everyday?

The colon is a muscular tube that is about 5-6 feet long in adults.  To work right it needs to be strong and flexible. If we abuse fiber supplements and laxatives, the colon won’t get any exercise and will lose its ability to function just like any unused muscle. We have to start examine our daily habits to discover the cause of our ills, not just treat the symptoms. Right? Don’t be lazy colon enablers. If your preschooler is constipated please try these things first.

Take a walk everyday with your child. You’ll both discover all kinds of benefits.

Make drinking water a regular routine. First thing in the morning and again when coming home from preschool are two logical times.

Serve your child whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and beautiful beans. (Steve gives the bean talk in this video). Because cereal bars, chicken nuggets, French fries, mac and cheese and pizza don’t have any natural fiber to speak of. Or orange juice. I don’t care what it says on the label.

Back off giving your child cow’s milk and/or sugary foods. Both can constipate and neither is particularly health-giving. Even Harvard’s School of Nutrition took milk off My Plate and replaced it with water recommending that 1-2 glasses of milk was not necessary, definitely ample. Don’t get me started on sugar.

Check in on the family stress level. Negative emotions play a role in keeping bowel movements healthy.

Read up on the side effects of any other medications you might be giving your child on a regular basis. Even stuff like cold remedies can sometimes be constipating.

Holy toilet bowl.  I never thought I’d be writing about this.  Let’s make sure our children are fed well enough to have an easy poo each day.  Shouldn’t that be some kind of innate right?

8 thoughts on “Preschooler Spending Too Much Time on the Throne?

  1. Thanks for this! It’s so true. I hear this about kids that I know too. Little kids, 2 and 3 yrs old! Thank you for bringing it up!

  2. Thank you! My 6-year-old has been suffering from constipation for awhile now and I was just wondering the other day if I should break down and buy some fiber type thing to help him, but this gives me some ideas I hadn’t thought of and reasons I didn’t realize for not using supplements, so this came at a good time for me!

  3. This seems crazy to me. I know it is an issue though because my daughter’s urologist has mentioned it to me. She has 1 kidney, so that’s why we see him. He said he was thrilled to see a kid in his office demanding to drink water. At the moment my daughter was throwing a tantrum because she couldn’t reach her water bottle. He said he wished every kid was like that. I feel really lucky that neither of my kids had an issue with constipation, but hopefully that also means we’re eating pretty healthy.

  4. This is a real issue for some Mom’s and can lead to some seriuos medical problems with these kidos. Even if you do have time to make all the right foods, you can not force feed a 3 year old. Mom’s are doing what their Pediatrician’s are telling them. They need our moral support and encouragement to keep trying these foods over and over again. Let’s change the tone here and not judge, I can assure you they want to do what’s best too. If we criticize, we can not teach. There are entire clinics dedicated to Encopresis that you can google and learn what the medical world is recommending.

  5. My daughter struggled mightily with constipation starting when she was two years old. We were puzzled and frustrated seeing as she had a hearty appetite for wholesome foods, requested water, and got lot of physical activity. To make a long story shorter, we did not feel comfortable giving the laxatives prescribed by our pediatrician, so we ended up bringing her to a naturopathic physician, who suggested we give her small amounts of a high-quality fish oil supplement. We also went to a children’s chiropractor who massaged her lower back and showed us ways to help her relax her body and prepare for a BM. All of this was extremely helpful. Over time, our daughter let go of the anxiety that she built up around constipation because she no longer anticipated discomfort. She is now 5 and has no trouble with constipation.

  6. Oh, and one more thing…if ever we do have an occasional bout of constipation, I make a batch of Rosemary Red Soup (going heavy on the beets). Honestly, it works every time!

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