When School-Age Kids Struggle with Constipation

When a child is first potty training, parents or daycare providers are typically very aware of how often a child is having a bowel movement, if the child is struggling with constipation, and if there are any other concerns related to the child passing a bowel movement. Once a child has successfully potty trained, it becomes less of a focus or topic of conversation, especially once they start school. It is important to continue to have these conversations with your child to ensure they are not struggling with constipation.

It is also important to find out if there are any barriers to your child having bowel movements at school. They may not feel comfortable wiping independently or passing a bowel movement while peers are in the bathroom. They may be fearful of automatic flushing toilets or hand dryers, or worry they are going to miss out on something while they are in the bathroom. Depending on the teacher’s policy for asking to use the bathroom, the child may not like to draw attention to themselves in front of the entire class. Addressing any roadblocks to your child having a bowel movement at school could positively impact their constipation. Some possible solutions may include:

  • Have the option for a child to use a private bathroom or a bathroom that does not have noisy hand dryers and toilets, such as the nurse’s office.
  • Work with the child’s teacher to discuss possible options for discretely asking to go to the bathroom. This could be a written pass that the child can hand to the teacher, using the sign for “potty” to signal the need to go, or permission from the teacher for the child to get up and go to the bathroom when needed without asking for permission.
  • Encourage the child to take time when they get home from school or get to after-school care, to sit and try to have a bowel movement, which can be very helpful if the child has been withholding a bowel urge all day.

If you are not sure if your child is struggling with constipation, talk with your child’s physician regarding how often your child is having a bowel movement and what those bowel movements look like.

If your child continues to have problems with constipation, LifeScape’s Constipation Management Clinic team is here to help. Our team, comprised of a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and clinical psychologist, works in conjunction with your child’s medical team to address the concerns impacting your child’s constipation.