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Psychogenic constipation in children. How it can be treated

Psychogenic constipation in children. How it can be treated

Children sometimes go through periods when they are afraid to go to the bathroom. Simply, even if they feel the need, refuse, become stressed and irritated. The reason may be what doctors call psychogenic constipation (or constipation "On the nervous system"). The little one is likely to have recently experienced a painful chair episode, and now he fears not to suffer again and practically blocks the elimination of food debris.

Normally, a child removes the seats daily or at most every two days. When, for one reason or another, defecation does not occur for a longer period of time, constipation occurs. When the time comes to release the bowel, the child may experience pain due to hardened fecal matter.

About one in 10 children suffers from episodes of constipation periodically. In 25% of cases, the constipation starts from the first months of life.

Why constipation occurs


Insufficient hydration and low fiber consumption cause hardening and drying of faeces, making them difficult to remove. Also, changing the diet, as it is time to diversify food, can bring episodes of constipation. Excess milk intake is another cause.


The administration of some drugs can have the effect of installing constipation. Codeine, for example, some of the antitussive or anticonvulsant drugs, iron supplements and antihistamines can cause constipation. Also, aspirin and ibuprofen can promote constipation when used frequently.

Lifestyle change

The children who stay today at one of the grandparents, tomorrow at the other, and in the next two days they stay at home and so they can also face episodes of constipation. There are changes in the daily routine meant to affect an adult, even more so a child. To the same extent, travel can also cause constipation.

Lack of physical activity

A child who is kept most of the time in the house, possibly in an apartment where he is not allowed to make too much movement, will choose with a slower bowel, from where the weight of the fecal matter is eliminated.

Genetic constipation

The presence of constipation in family members increases the risk of constipation in children.

Delaying walking to the toilet increases the chances of constipation. In this case we are talking about psychogenic constipation.

Psychogenic constipation: why it appears and how it can be treated

Children who have had one or two strong stools, painful to remove, may have a tendency to hold fecal matter weekly in a row, for fear of repeated pain. In time, the retained faeces strengthen and thus a vicious circle is formed. Even if the parent is persuaded to make efforts to remove the chair, the pain he feels will cause him not to do so. Basically, in psychogenic constipation the child associates unpleasant feelings and sensations with the act of defecation, producing a blockage. It refuses to tighten the muscles of the colon and relax the anus, inhibiting the removal of fecal matter. This will accumulate a large amount of residues in the intestine, which will become increasingly difficult to eliminate.

Psychogenic constipation may also have a cause and conflict between parent and child, after an episode in which, say, the little one escaped at one point and was quarreled or even humiliated, so that, for fear, the little one will avoid at any cost to have a chair.

Practically, in the case of children suffering from psychogenic constipation, the intestinal transit works absolutely normal, but the blockage occurs from the mental level.

How can you "treat" psychogenic constipation

The cause is the one to be eliminated in the case of psychogenic constipation. Specifically, the child must be determined to relax, to calm down, so as to ease the defecation process as much as possible, and thus make it difficult for time to pass. Explain why it hurts and tell him that you are there with him to make things easier. You can sing a song while sitting on the pot, so he doesn't even notice how time goes by. Explain to him why it is good to do poop and that everyone does this day by day. If you have animals, you can give them as an example. It will be much easier to make him understand.

To eliminate the anxiety, you can do a little massage on the abdomen to relax the muscles that support the bladder, helping to intensify intestinal activity. Praise him when he succeeds, turn it into a victory, a moment of general joy. Encourage him to do the same tomorrow.

Once the problem is resolved, make sure the baby has a regular program of walking to the toilet, so as to avoid repetition of constipation. You can set a ritual about going to the toilet. It can be after breakfast or before the evening bath. An alternative for treating psychogenic constipation is also the administration of laxative preparations, which keep the chairs soft.

Tags Constipation