Keep Things Going
With treatment, a child's colon can return to a normal size and shape, and it's critical to continue this treatment while it heals, just as a diabetic child gets insulin or an asthmatic child needs an inhaler. Generally, pediatricians recommend at least three months of ongoing medication, such as a low daily dose of a laxative, after the cleanout. However, research shows that many children need even longer therapy, possibly for years. In 2006, doctors at Yale University compared two of the most popular laxative treatments. Miralax and Milk of Magnesia, in a yearlong study. Most children felt much better after a year of treatment, though Miralax tended to be more effective. However, despite having had a cleanout and long-term treatment, only about one third of the children were completely cured after one year, which underscores the chronic nature of constipation.
As soon as we got Ryan's problem under control - after about three months - he became a more pleasant and cooperative child. In retrospect. I realized that he'd probably been in constant pain. He now had fewer tantrums, ate better, and gained weight, and he even seemed to get along better with his brother.
And after six months of treatment, at age V/2, he was finally completely potty trained. Ryan is now 5, and we're continuing to use Miralax for the time being, because it's gentle and has no adverse effects. We've also tried to encourage more fruits, vegetables, and fluids, but we know it's the laxative that's going to be most helpful. At some point in the next year, we'll try reducing the dose and see how he does. In the meantime, my wife and I are just happy to have moved on to more pleasant dinner conversation.
Dr. Lagattuta. If you believe that your child already has that impression, let him know that they don't. Also, tell him that kindness, honesty, and compassion, rather than looks, are what are truly important in life.
Stave Off Stereotypes
By the time kids are in first grade, they've started to pick up on how TV characters are portrayed based on their size. For instance, kids start to associate shorter people with being weak and babyish, says Dr. Lewis. If you see this happening in a show you're watching together, be sure that your child understands that the story is make-believe.
Sneak In Lessons at Storytime
Pick up a couple of picture books that will reinforce the positive messages about appearance that you've been giving your child. Here are two irresistible tales to check out the next time you head over to the library: What I Like About Mel by Allia Zobel Nolan, and One Green Apple, by Eve Bunting. Read them together, and then ask your child to tell you what she thought about the books, says Dr. Goldman. Talking about the message will help her to remember it, and she'll also be better able to relate it to herself.
These are four treatment methods that doctors rely on to help children get their system back on track. You may need to try more than one.
An over-the-counter (OTC) laxative that hydrates the intestine and leads to softer bowel movements:
It has no flavor (so kids can't taste it), it dissolves in any beverage, it doesn't cause bloating, and it's highly effective in long-term studies.
It works only if it's consumed in a full cup of liquid, and it needs to be mixed before each use.
Like Miralax, it's an OTC laxative that increases water in the intestine, which can induce softer bowel movements:
It's premixed, requires only a small amount, and is generally effective in long-term studies.
Many children don't like the taste (one third refuse to drink it), and it may be dangerous in kids with kidney problems.
An indigestible sugar that pulls water into the intestine:
Children need to drink only a small amount for it to be effective, and it may enhance the growth of good bacteria in the intestine.
Some kids may find the flavor excessively sweet, it's been known to cause gas pain, and it's available only by prescription.
An OTC salt solution that's inserted directly into the rectum to cause bowel movements:
It works quickly and can break up hard stools that obstruct bowel movements.
It's somewhat uncomfortable for children, it's not suitable for long-term treatment, and it doesn't clean out the whole intestine.