Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Fear Of Going To The Bathroom

Thank you, your book is great and it's helping us with our 10 year old son. One thing I need to know. Our son holds on to his number 2 for weeks because he's afraid of going to the bathroom. How do we handle that?



Hi A.,

Children fear elimination for a variety of reasons. For example:

Some kids don’t like the splash...

Some see the toilet as a trap and they are afraid they will fall in or that something will pop out of there and get the... get them a smaller seat to go on top of the adult seat

It’s scary to be sitting on a throne in the middle of a room doing something so private...

Some kids say it’s like a part of them is falling off...

Sometimes it’s because their feet can't rest on the floor (ever try to poop with your feet off the floor?)... get them a stool

Some kids don’t like the bathroom because the toilet seat is cold... get seat liners / covers

In some cases, they simply have stage fright (you're staring at him, waiting, waiting, "you can do it", "come on big boy", etc.)...

A lot of times children hold it in because it's a form of control for them. They feel the rest of their lives are controlled by their parents - or other outside influences - but they can hold it in and control that one thing.

We may want to investigate the possibility that your son has Obsessive Compulsive tendencies (OCD):

OCD is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that cause severe discomfort and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are unwanted and cause marked anxiety or distress. Frequently, they are unrealistic or irrational. They are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems or preoccupations.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals (like hand washing, hoarding, keeping things in order, checking something over and over) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding).

In OCD, the obsessions or compulsions cause significant anxiety or distress, or they interfere with the child's normal routine, academic functioning, social activities, or relationships.

A younger child with OCD may have persistent thoughts that harm will occur to himself or a family member, for example an intruder entering an unlocked door or window. The child may compulsively check all the doors and windows of his home after his parents are asleep in an attempt to relieve anxiety. The child may then fear that he may have accidentally unlocked a door or window while last checking and locking, and then must compulsively check over and over again.

An older child or a teenager with OCD may fear that he will become ill with germs, AIDS, or contaminated food. To cope with his/her feelings, a child may develop "rituals" (a behavior or activity that gets repeated). Sometimes the obsession and compulsion are linked; "I fear this bad thing will happen if I stop checking or hand washing, so I can't stop even if it doesn't make any sense."

If you need more info on OCD and its treatment, just let me know. I’m out of time for now.


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