Preschooler Spending Too Much Time on the Throne?
After dinner, Bob (my Dad) would snatch the Wichita Eagle & Beacon newspaper and disappear into the inner sanctum of the master bathroom. He would be there for a minimum of a half hour each evening. Luckily all we could hear was a distant hum of the exhaust fan as he sat and waited for his bowels to move. My mother and my mother-in-law had no time for such nonsense and instead aided their infrequent bowel movements with a laxative addiction. Maybe they were the Greatest Generation, but from my point of view many of them were the Greatest Constipated Generation. I’ve been around people with chronic constipation. But luckily most of them have been adults.
The other night after speaking to a large group of preschool parents one of the teachers in the audience came up to talk. Seems many of the preschool children she teaches are being given Metamucil on a regular basis. “What?”, I said, “How often? How often are they giving the kids Metamucil???”. “Everyday.” she flatly told me. “What!” I shrieked.
I’m picturing grumpy 4-year-old perched on the potty. The parent reading Goodnight Moon over and over waiting for the plop. Exasperated parent now insisting on the Metamucil Fiber Multi-Grain wafer as part of the child’s morning meal. Next I see the child as a teenager with a major Dulcolax habit. Then an adult with their own personal colonic therapist and a closet full of Fleet enemas. I’m worried.
Have we so lost touch with common sense that we are giving laxatives to kids barely out of diapers? I mean I guess I could understand it in an extreme case scenario. But everyday?
The colon is a muscular tube that is about 5-6 feet long in adults. To work right it needs to be strong and flexible. If we abuse fiber supplements and laxatives, the colon won’t get any exercise and will lose its ability to function just like any unused muscle. We have to start examine our daily habits to discover the cause of our ills, not just treat the symptoms. Right? Don’t be lazy colon enablers. If your preschooler is constipated please try these things first.
Take a walk everyday with your child. You’ll both discover all kinds of benefits.
Make drinking water a regular routine. First thing in the morning and again when coming home from preschool are two logical times.
Serve your child whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and beautiful beans. (Steve gives the bean talk in this video). Because cereal bars, chicken nuggets, French fries, mac and cheese and pizza don’t have any natural fiber to speak of. Or orange juice. I don’t care what it says on the label.
Back off giving your child cow’s milk and/or sugary foods. Both can constipate and neither is particularly health-giving. Even Harvard’s School of Nutrition took milk off My Plate and replaced it with water recommending that 1-2 glasses of milk was not necessary, definitely ample. Don’t get me started on sugar.
Check in on the family stress level. Negative emotions play a role in keeping bowel movements healthy.
Read up on the side effects of any other medications you might be giving your child on a regular basis. Even stuff like cold remedies can sometimes be constipating.
Holy toilet bowl. I never thought I’d be writing about this. Let’s make sure our children are fed well enough to have an easy poo each day. Shouldn’t that be some kind of innate right?