Advice from Dr. B
According to a recent survey conducted by Pedia-Lax®, bathroom anxiety is a common concern among school-age children. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64.6%) of boys and girls ages 6-11 said they rarely or never poop at school. Further, nearly 40% always or often choose to "hold it in" rather than use the school bathroom. Often, this type of behavior can result in acute constipation.
"When kids choose to hold their stool in, the colon absorbs the water out of the stool, which makes it hard and dry. If this behavior persists, children's brains can even start to ignore the urge to go to the bathroom," said Belinda Basaca, MD of New Health Pediatrics, P.C. in Glen Cove, New York.
The most cited reason for why children dislike pooping in the school bathroom is "no privacy" (45.8%), followed by "not enough time" (23.8%), "dirty" (18.8%) and "don't have the right kind of toilet paper" (3.7%).
Boys ages 9-11 exhibited the most bathroom anxiety, and for different reasons. This group was 12% less likely to use the school's facilities than younger boys. Boys 9-11 also were more likely than other groups to cite "not enough time" (28%) or "dirty" (28.7%) as the reason they dislike pooping in school bathrooms.
"Parents can help address this withholding behavior and avoid constipation by taking a proactive approach," said Dr. Basaca. "This includes encouraging your child to drink plenty of water, offering high-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables and setting up a regular toilet routine, especially after meals. If your child does suffer from constipation, over-the-counter medicine, like Pedia-Lax oral and rectal laxative options for children, can help parents successfully treat the issue."
Wondering if your child is exhibiting symptoms of constipation? Learn more about Diagnosing Constipation.