Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. It is a common situation that usually passes on its own. Serious consequences await people who fail to get this resolved. There are many causes and a few of them require medical treatment. Most of the time, however, the problems can be resolved without having to visit a doctor.

In all cases, constipation is not normal and it should never occur, especially in children. Adults are generally fully aware of the benefits from healthy bowel movements, but children often aren’t. In children there may be both a physical and an emotional problem. Something in the diet – or even a medication – can lead to a mild case of constipation in a child. Dehydration is one of the more common causes and it is far easier to bring on dehydration in a small child’s body than in a large adult.

When a child experiences constipation, he/she can become frightened. It is uncomfortable and having a bowel movement can be painful. In the search for relief the child can conclude that not going to the bathroom is the solution. Of course, that can make the situation worse – and no amount of cajoling or logic helps. It is also inadvisable to use drug treatments.

Water is important. It should be water, not a sugary drink of any kind – and that includes most packaged fruit juices. They contain added sugars and sweeteners.

The water should accompany good food, but all processed carbohydrates must be eliminated until the problem resolves. Fruits and vegetables can be helpful, especially the ones that are “famous” for loosening up the works; figs, prunes, and so on. Psyllium powders can add bulk fiber as well.

Those are the physical approaches. The emotional issues are not as straight forward. However, it is clear that fixating on the problem and mentioning it often does little to help. Children crave attention on all levels and focusing on constipation can just be one of those things that meets a need.

In the end, though, constipation will resolve itself when the diet is good, there’s plenty of fiber, and water intake is increased. It is impossible to quell the “call to stool” for longer than just a few days. As they say, “sh*t happens”. And it will.

This is a situation where Larry’s Ten Day Rule may need to be shortened. Ten days without a bowel movement can be hazardous.