Constipation In Children: 11 Causes And 8 Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Constipation in children is one of the common problems that many kids suffer from and need to visit doctors to relieve it. Difficulty in passing the stool is the most common symptom of constipation in children, and it causes pain and discomfort. And, if you are wondering what causes constipation and what symptoms indicate that your child suffers from it, think no further. Scroll down to know all about constipation in children.

A child is said to be constipated when he passes less than 3 bowel movements per week, he has to strain often to pass the stools, and he experiences pain with dry stool. The child may also experience pain in the stomach, and you may notice blood streaks in the underwear in case the child suffering bleeding due to passing hard stool.


Most parents expect an adult-like behavior in children and expect that the child should go to the toilet the first thing in the morning and pass the stools in one attempt.

But most of the kids

  1. get no urge to pass the stools immediately after waking up.
  2. might need to spend a long time in the toilet before they pass the stool
  3. may pass the stool every alternate day
  4. may go twice after waking up to pass the stool


There is no need to worry till the time your child is getting the natural urge to pass the stool every alternate day, his stool is soft, and he does not have to strain to pass it.

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What Causes Constipation in Children? 

Constipation in children could be due to various reasons. Find common causes of constipation in children below.

  1. Improper toilet training: The right age for toilet training differs from child to child, however parents usually start toilet training around 18 months of age. But, some parents may start very early. They may force the child to sit on the potty pot and pass the stools. This forcing may cause the child to withdraw and hence suffer from constipation. Some parents may lose their patience during the toilet training and abuse the child, thereby making the abuse affect the passing of the stool adversely.

Also, sometimes the parents may train the child at a later age. The child by now develop the habit to pass the stools in his diaper or on the ground and, hence, when he/she is made to sit on the potty pot, may not pass the stools.

Sometimes, it is one parent that takes up the responsibility of training the child. In this case, the child might associate the presence of that parent in the toilet with the urge to pass the stool, and in the absence of that parent would not pass the stool. Once a mother of an 8-year-old girl complained that her daughter passes stool only in the evening when she comes back from work. Mother has to take the child to the toilet. Till the time mother comes home, she will not ask any other family member to take her to the toilet even though the child is pampered and loved by her grandparents.

To avoid this scenario, once the child sits comfortably in the toilet, the parent must wait outside. This gives the message to the child that he can independently pass the stool.

  1. Changes in the diet: Children, often toddlers, experience constipation when there is a transition from a liquid diet to a solid diet. Since the amount of liquid in food reduces, this may lead to hard stool and constipation.
  1. Holding back: Holding back the stool is also a very common cause of constipation. Like adults, children too prioritize their activities and playing is first on their list. So, the kids might ignore the urge to pass the stools, thereby leading to constipation. This may lead the stool to become hard and cause pain while passing the stools in their next attempt. This pain would make them hold back the stool and cause a vicious cycle.

Children may also hold back when there is a change of routine, such as outstation traveling or stay at a relative’s place. Also, they hold back the stool when they need to use public washrooms. Many children experience constipation when they just start going to playgroup or school due to the reason mentioned above.

  1. Stress: Children may also hold back the stools or lose the urge to pass it when they are stressed, such as in the morning rush hour where the child gets up late, goes to the bathroom, and the mother constantly tells him to hurry up and reminds that he is getting late. It can also happen during exam time.
  1. Inadequate fiber intake: Having inadequate fiber in the diet could also lead to constipation. A mother complained that her 9-year-old child was suffering from constipation. On asking the mother about her diet, she said that it was 1 glass of milk in the morning, bread jam in the school tiffin, a fruit with a cookie in the afternoon before afternoon nap, milk with biscuits in the evening, and some rice and curry at night. There was less fiber in the diet, and it was natural that she would experience constipation as there was not enough bulk to push the stool through the intestines. Also, the kids, nowadays, prefer more junk foods, such as chips, fries, noodles, and pastries, that contribute to insufficient intake of fiber.
  1. Inadequate intake of water: Inadequate water intake could lead to dry stools causing pain and, thus, constipation.
  1. Family history of constipation: Having a family history of constipation can make the child suffer from it.
  1. Lack of physical activities: Lack of physical activities is mostly observed in the older kids in cities who have access to technology and who spend more time watching tv and playing computer and mobile games. Also, it is observed in those kids who spend most of their time studying.
  1. Abuse or traumatic experience: Sometimes, constipation could also be a sign of physical or sexual abuse or due to a traumatic event affecting the child.
  1. Certain medications: Medications such as those treating allergies, iron tonics, etc. could cause constipation.
  1. Underlying diseases: In a few cases, there could be underlying diseases that could cause constipation. For instance, having an underactive thyroid, celiac disease, Hirschsprung disease, tumors, polyps in intestines, etc. can cause constipation.


What Are the Symptoms of Constipation in Children?

Here are some common symptoms of constipation in children. 

  1. The child could complain of pain while passing the stools.
  2. The kid might not pass the stool often
  3. The child turns upset when he/she gets the urge to pass the stool.
  4. There could be bloating and pain in the stomach along with constipation
  5. The child may lose his appetite and won’t eat well.
  6. The stool would be hard, crumbly, sometimes, knotty or small ball-like.
  7. There could be bloodstains in the underwear of the kids in case there is bleeding due to passing hard stool.
  8. Besides these, if there is an underlying problem causing constipation, the child would have symptoms of those conditions.

So, if your child happens to suffer from any of these symptoms, he/she might be suffering from constipation. Tune in to learn about the home remedies and homeopathic remedies for constipation in children in the next article.

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