Question:

I am having trouble with my daughter not drinking enough fluids.  She gets really constipated and we all suffer for it. She may be in physical pain, but it messes with our bath and bedtimes. She was on the toilet for 45 minutes last night. She also makes us late for church, school, etc. I hate to see her in pain, but I am starting to just not feel sorry for her.

I've tried fruity water, fun bottles, I've talked to her, let her read about it for herself, taken away privileges, sent her to bed earlier. I am really close to spanking her. Please advise.

Can I give her some herbs or pills that would make her thirsty?

Answer:

First, no child should be punished for what is naturally occurring. I have a brother who used cause my mother no end of concern because he had infrequent bowel movements. In the end, the conclusion was this was just the way his body worked. So please, don't take your daughter's personal problem as a strike against you. This is something she is having trouble dealing with and you should be helping her find ways to deal with the problem.

Second, the amount of fluids a person takes in is only one factor in the possible causes of constipation. See Constipation for more details. Other possible causes are that there is not enough fiber in the diet, an allergy to milk, not enough physical exercise, or even a disease.

So, while trying to find a cause and solution to the problem, you can help come up with schemes to make living with the problem more bearable, such as reminders to use the restroom well in advance of deadlines. Try experimenting with changes in diet to see if it helps. Increase the fiber (oatmeal for breakfast), or eliminate milk for a few weeks, or have a daily walk for the week. See if some changes will make life easier for her.

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