Children often become constipated because they hold in stool. As a result, the colon absorbs too much fluid and the stool becomes dry and hard to pass. Children may hold in stool because they:
- Don’t want to stop whatever activity they’re doing, such as playing.
- Are embarrassed to use a public bathroom.
- Are worried the bowel movement will be painful.
- Are nervous about learning to use the bathroom or are not ready developmentally for toilet training.
Other causes of constipation in children include:
- A low-fiber diet
- Not getting enough fluids
- Certain medications, including antacids, anticholinergics for muscle spasms, narcotics for pain, and some treatments for depression
- Health problems that make the stool move slowly through the colon
- Problems with the way the gastrointestinal system works
- Irritable bowel syndrome (the colon muscle tightens quickly)
- An illness that causes a loss of appetite
- Stress caused by school or by changes in routine, weather or travel