700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Coping with Colorectal and Bowel Management Issues

Aug 03, 2022
Coping with Colorectal Issues

Coping with a chronic colorectal condition can be difficult, but there are common tips and resources for children and families to find a system that works best.

Find Ways for Your Child to Have Control

When a child has a chronic diagnosis such as colorectal and bowel management issues, there are many things outside of their control. Finding and providing choices to your child whenever possible will support them in becoming empowered with their care. For example, your child could have the choice to complete their enema laying on their side or back, or choose what activity to complete during their flush.

Provide a Safe Space for Discussion

Having access to a safe environment with trusted adults can help children have open and honest conversations about their fears regarding colorectal and bowel management issues. Encouraging the child to help create the boundaries and timing for the safe space can help them feel more comfortable and in control of what is happening. This could mean:

  • Setting aside a room and time for conversation at a specific time each week
  • Setting boundaries within the safe space, such as “this is a time to talk about your health”
  • Keeping reactions under control and not getting angry or upset when your child says something.
  • Monitoring your reactions to words so your child is more comfortable in sharing how they are truly feeling.
  • Sharing your feelings of fear and uncertainty so they do not feel like they are the only ones to feel the way that they do.

Help Them Engage with Peers at School

When a child has a short phrase to explain how they are feeling, it alleviates some of the pressure to come up with a description when questions from friends come up. Helping your child create a concise explanation to tell others that explains their situation without going too in depth can some of the stress and anxiety of explaining their situation. An example of this might be “I have some problems with my stomach so when it starts hurting, I have to go to the nurse’s office.”

Letting Others Know When You Need Help

Self-care is not only for the child going through bowel management issues, but it’s also for the child’s caregiver. Just as your child needs to ask for help if something doesn’t make sense or if they are scared about what is happening, so should you. This help could come in many different forms, including but not limited to asking more questions to better understand, offering a couple hours of free time to the caregiver, and more education about what is going on.

Parent Support Groups

Similar to asking for help and needing self-care, connecting with other families via parent support groups can also be very beneficial. Often families can obtain more information, education, tips, and understanding from support groups. Not only are they helpful to parents, but it’s also possible that children can connect with others their age who are experiencing similar situations at home and at school. Some ways to get involved with a support group are Pull Thru Network, The Youth Rally, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Peer-to-Peer Mentor Program.

Learn more about the Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Nationwide Children’s Hospital by visiting our website or calling (614) 722-4086.

Featured Expert

Connor McDanel
Connor McDanel, MSW, LSW
Social Work

Connor J. McDanel, MSW, LSW, is a clinical social worker with the CCPR. His role includes case management, care coordination, facilitation of support groups, and collaboration with other professionals on the team to provide best outcomes for patients and families.

Corinne Syfers, CCLS
Child Life Specialist
Holly Deckling, MSW
Social Worker Non Exempt – Colorectal Clinic

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.