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Potty Training and Constipation

Dealing with Constipation First, Potty Training Last

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Constipation Can Cause Major Potty Training Setbacks

Now, that you're in a different frame of mind and you've released your own frustration surrounding the matter, you can move forward to figure out why there's so much resistance. Chances are, with less pressure placed on him, he'll be more receptive to the idea of going to the potty. But, there's another issue at play here. In the first part of your letter, you say that there's something wrong but your child won't tell you what. But then in the last part you say exactly what it is. You say he battled constipation for a while and that it's taking him up to four pairs of underwear to complete a bowel movement. Constipation is something that can cause some serious setbacks in potty training. It's uncomfortable at best and extremely painful at worst.

Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene calls the constipation that often accompanies potty training the D3 Cycle. It stands for discomfort, dread and delay. At first, your son experienced discomfort when trying to have a bowel movement while constipated. Then, the next time he needed to go he was filled with dread and so he tried to delay pooping, making the whole situation worse. This cycle can go on indefinitely. According to Dr. Greene, "The rectum stretches internally so that more stool can be held, and soon urges to defecate are not often felt. The D3 cycle becomes a powerful trap. Progress is derailed. The D3 cycle must be broken before moving ahead with potty learning."

That's where you come in, Mom. Put potty training aspirations aside for now and just work on getting your son's poop problem, ummmm... worked out. How? Going back to diapers certainly works for a lot of kids, and in this case, it's what I would advise since he isn't very far into potty training. Get your son drinking plenty of fluids and introduce dietary changes that will encourage healthy bowel movements. If that's not working, talk to your doctor about introducing a stool softener. Then, wait until your child is producing soft, regular poop in his diaper before tackling potty training again. Once you do, make sure all the potty training readiness signs are there and remember to approach potty training in a supporting role rather than as director.

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