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Constipation makes for difficult and painful bowel movements, a complication that a preschooler in the midst of potty training can do without. But before you use laxatives or stool softeners — which you shouldn't give your child without the go-ahead of her pediatrician — try altering her diet first. Fiber-rich foods such as such as whole-grain breads, broccoli, and cereal can help keep her regular. A good rule of thumb: Children should eat enough grams of fiber to equal their age plus five. (For example, a 4-year-old needs 9 grams of fiber each day.) This is not as daunting as it sounds — an apple has 4 grams of fiber; a packet of instant oatmeal has 3. It's also best if the fiber is distributed equally among all three of your preschooler's daily meals, rather than eaten all at once. Make sure, also, that she's getting adequate fluids: Water, diluted fruit juices, and prune juice are all good choices. And be careful not to give your child too many dairy products, which can cause constipation.
If, after modifying her diet, your preschooler is still constipated, you may want to consider giving her a teaspoonful of raw honey each morning to help to soften her stools (check with her pediatrician first). Honey is a mild natural laxative that can be given without the recommendation of a healthcare provider (but never give it to a baby younger than one year — babies are at risk of getting botulism from all types of honey). If nothing else works, talk to your child's pediatrician.
Once your child is having regular, soft, formed stools, give her some time to gain confidence that she can move her bowels easily without straining or pain. It can take weeks, sometimes months, for a child to get over having had painful bowel movements, and she's likely to be anxious about trying to poop on the potty until her memory of this experience fades. When she seems ready to resume training, keep track of when she has bowel movements to see whether there's any pattern to them. If you can tell that it's about time for her to go, encourage her to sit on the toilet. Once she poops on the potty successfully a few times, she'll be well on her way to being toilet trained.