We often forget about other factors that may come into play in the academic environment. Early on, preschool teachers watch as young children begin and progress with toilet training. This milestone is a difficult process for many children. While some kids pick up going to the bathroom easily, others struggle with it for multiple reasons. Defecating, in particular, can cause many young children to stress because they don't feel comfortable on adult toilets. Other children are sensitive to public restrooms, which include those in a school setting. Thanks to this, they may avoid going to the bathroom altogether. After some time, what is known as functional constipation becomes an issue for some of these kids.
Research is now looking into the benefits of exercise to help ease constipation concerns. Functional constipation may have a link with weak pelvic floor muscles. This could be caused by incorrect posture and sitting on adult toilet seats. If pelvic muscles are weak, children may have trouble controlling bowel movements. Physical therapists are able to work with children on their posture and pelvic muscle strength. A study in the Netherlands showed that with exercise, many kids showed improvement in the ability to sense needing to go to the bathroom and actually going.
It is important for schools to let families know that they need to be aware of health concerns with students. School nurses are a wonderful resource to help students if they need a safe place to go to the bathroom because of a medical concern. In addition to this, they may be able to secure a special seat for them to use to assist them with bowel movements during the school day. Children may require a 504 Plan or have this accommodation implemented on their IEP.
Another concern might be older students who will not go to the bathroom in the regular restrooms at school. When they are allowed to use the nurse’s office toilet, they may be more comfortable and less likely to wait too long. If children are constipated and it persists, it may lead to behavioral concerns. When kids are uncomfortable, they will have a hard time focusing on class and possibly be in a lot of discomfort or pain. Giving them a safe space and familiar face that knows what they are going through will help them to trust the space and assist. Physical therapists may also work with all classes on posture that will benefit not only the kids suffering from constipation, but all children.