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Question: My daughter is 3 and a half. Growing up, she had lots of constipation problems and had to go to the hospital for enemas, etc. Now, she still uses diapers when she poos, she will not go to the washroom to poo, yet she goes to the washroom to pee. Any suggestions?  

DR.PAUL: Constipation is very common, and when painful, can cause the type of behaviour you are describing. Firstly, when hard stool passes the rectum, this can be painful and obviously a child will not  want to pass stool. You can see that this contributes to the fear of going to the potty. Going in the diaper is often associated with security and children feel that it is safer - that is, less painful. The way to help a child is to make sure that there is no irritation or fissures in the rectal area, and if so, the irritation should be treated. Your doctor can help you by prescribing specific creams. If that aspect is under control, try not to make a big deal out of forcing the child to go in the bathroom. Instead, encourage her by rewarding her when she goes in the bathroom and not by punishment or negative reinforcement. 

Click here for more information on constipation in children.

Pediatrician DR.PAUL Roumeliotis is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The information provided above is designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace the advice and care of your child's physician, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that your child has a medical condition always consult a physician.

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