Help & Hope for Kids with Digestive Disorders

Skip to Content

Sublevel Navigation

Connect with Facebook

Our Partners

  • NASPGHAN North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
  • NASPGHAN Foundation North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Foundation
  • APGNN The Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses
  • Print

Managing and Treating Constipation & Fecal Soiling in Children

Treatment of constipation varies according to the source of the problem and the child's age and personality. Some children may only require changes in diet such as an increase in fiber, fresh fruits, or in the amount of water they drink each day. Other patients may require medications such as stool softeners or laxatives. It is often helpful to start a bowel training routine where the child sits on the toilet for 5 – 10 minutes after every meal or before the evening bath.

When children are constipated for a long time, they may begin to pass stool in their clothing. This is called fecal soiling, and children are typically unaware that they are going to have an accident. Treatment of constipation and fecal soiling is a three-step process that may take several months to a year to improve, if not longer.

Step 1: Initial Cleanout
Large, rock-like stool in the colon must be softened and broken down before it can be passed. Usually the cleanout is approached from above and below. Oral agents, such as mineral oil, magnesium citrate, Milk of Magnesia, MiraLAX™ (polyethylene glycol), and lactulose, are used to soften stool by pulling water into the stool.

Step 2: Maintenance Therapy
The objective of maintenance therapy is to prevent stool buildup, allow the colon to return to its proper shape and function, and encourage the child to have bowel movements in the toilet.

Step 3: Counseling
Counseling and behavior modifications may help children who are embarrassed or feel they are “bad” because of the soiling.

Constipation and fecal soiling are curable! Although it may take several months or longer for bowel function to become normal, children who follow the treatment plan will be able to control their bowel movements.

To read more about constipation, fecal soiling and steps to help your child, view our Constipation Fact Sheet  and our Fecal Soiling Fact Sheet.

To locate a pediatric gastroenterologist in your area please visit our website at: