Enema: How to distract your child at home

Child distracted on toilet Child distracted on toilet

Giving an antegrade continence enema takes time and involves a lot of waiting for your child. They will need to:

  • lie on their side for five to 10 minutes while they get an enema
  • stay still for another five to 10 minutes while the enema is working
  • sit on the toilet for up to 45 minutes to empty their bowel.

All this waiting and staying still can be difficult, especially for younger children and those who would rather do anything than have an enema. An enema can also be an uncomfortable experience for your child, so it is useful to make the experience as fun as possible. This is when distraction is important.

How to distract your child during an enema

Your child can do a number of activities to pass the time and take their mind off what is happening.

  • Let your child play games on a laptop, tablet, cell phone, games console or any other portable device.
  • Have your child watch a movie on a portable DVD player.
  • Play music for your child and have them sing along.
  • Let your child read books.
  • Encourage your child to do homework if they can – if they do it during toilet time there is more time for fun before bedtime.
  • Have your child colour, draw or do arts and crafts if possible.
  • Give a younger child search-and-find books, puzzles or other games (such as dot-to-dots, word search and so on).
  • Let your child play cards or other travel-size games.

Other tips to help your child through an enema

  • Have patience and don’t rush…take the time that’s needed.
  • For younger children, provide a foot stool and potty seat (if necessary) for comfort while they are seated.
  • Try to talk positively about the enema. Putting a positive spin on something that can be seen as negative and unpleasant will help your child cope with the enema and see it as a normal part of their routine.
  • Remind your child that there are still so many things that they can do and that these do not need to be put on hold. For instance, when your child wants to do anything rather than sit on the toilet, get them to focus on the things that they can do instead of what they are missing.
  • Keep your child motivated with a reward chart. Use stickers or stamps to track their successes.
  • To avoid your child focusing on toilet time, tell them about all the activities they will be doing during the day.
  • Reinforce the benefits of enemas, such as keeping clean, being able to wear underwear and feeling comfortable changing at school.

Key points

  • An enema can be uncomfortable for your child. You can use a portable DVD player, games, books or simple arts and crafts to help your child pass the time.
  • Other ways to help your child include using a reward chart, talking about the other things that they can do and reminding them of the benefits of an enema.

Alexis Shinewald BA, ECE, CCLS​​
Child Life Specialist