Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Don't use enemas or laxatives — including herbal or homeopathic products — without talking to your child's doctor first.
Once your child has been treated for encopresis, it's important that you take steps to encourage softer stools and regular bowel movements. The following tips can help:
- Focus on fiber. Feed your child a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and foods high in fiber. Offer whole grains, which are brown — not white — in color.
- Encourage drinking water. Water helps keep stool from hardening. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. A general guideline is to drink 2 ounces (59.1 milliliters) of nondairy fluid for every gram of fiber.
- Limit dairy products and fats. These can reduce bowel movements. But, dairy products also contain important nutrients, so ask your child's doctor how much dairy your child needs each day.
- Arrange toilet time. Have your child spend five minutes alone on the toilet after two to three meals each day trying to have a bowel movement. This applies only to children who are toilet trained and are at least 4 years old.
- Put a footstool near the toilet. Your child may be more comfortable, and changing the position of his or her legs can put more pressure on the abdomen, making a bowel movement easier.
- Stick with the program for several months. The relapse rate for encopresis is high.
As you help your child overcome encopresis, be patient and use positive reinforcement. Don't blame, criticize or punish your child if he or she has an accident. Instead, offer your unconditional love and support.
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- Soiling (encopresis). American Academy of Pediatrics (HealthyChildren.org). http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/pages/Soiling-Encopresis.aspx. Accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
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- Ferry GD. Treatment of chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.
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- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 7, 2010.