At wits end! 5yr old pooping pants after being fully potty trained! Whats the deal?

Erin - posted on 05/23/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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My 5yr old, almost 6yr old, was completely potty trained with a few rare exceptions where he'd get caught up playing or something or just not make it in time.



Lately, he is pooping his pants almost every day sometimes more than once a day.



I don't understand whats going on. Its been the last few months. I've tried being patient and not making a big deal out of it, I've tried talking, tried lecturing, tried yelling. I dont know what to do and he's my only experience with children so I dont know if this is normal.



Last year almost a year ago we moved to our new place were we currently are and he regressed in potty training for awhile and had tantrums again but things got better. Then I stopped having him wear pullups at night which only caused a few incidents of bed wetting and then has been fine.



Over the summer at his new daycare he did have a few incidents of both kinds of accidents. At the beginning of the kindergarten school year he started having accidents, often peeing because he'd wait too long, but occasionally pooping.



Seems like in the late fall/winter things were uneventful as far as accidents as far as I remember.



My grandfather died in April almost a month ago. Im not really sure how this effected Ethan. He only saw his greatgrandfather a handful of times. He did go to the funeral with us, Im not sure he understood what was going on. A few days after this I went on a long planned weeks vacation and the break in routine caused some problems at school, mostly behavioral stuff to be expected I suppose with an abrupt change in routine.



The last few weeks its happening more and more that he poops his pants. Whats the most frustrating is when it happens he'll just stay like that. I'll pick him up from school and smell it on him. It even happens at home so I know that it isnt just a convenience to the bathroom issue, or having to ask to go to the bathroom.



When asked about it he often says he didnt know it came out or that he did hold it back (even though its already in his underwear).



Could there be something medically wrong with him?



Ive thought about putting him back in pullups but I think it may encourage him to poop in his pants as poopy pants was never much of a deterrent when he was younger.



Any feedback is appreciated.



Update August 26th, 2012

An update, I'd forgotten all about this site! My son is now 8yrs old and unless he has diarrhea and doesn't make it he's doing 100% better. Wiping is still a challenge at times but nothing like it was. If I remember correctly 1st grade he had maybe a handful of accidents at school and a few at home, mainly when distracted. He actually got held back and last year for being socially immature mainly and there were 2 so it has definitely improved. Basically I think constipation and being busy were the main culprits. However at home he is 1000% happier it's been a year now since my now husband Andy came into our lives and my son now has a father and he's soooo happy.



Someone replied asking if he had anything traumatic happen around 18 months and actually yes he did. His biological father (whom had only started visitation at 6mos) stopped visitation, his visitation wasn't all that frequent that I think it would affect him. But I had to rehome my beloved dog so that I could afford to move out on my own as a single mom AND not long after that I moved out on my own as a single mom and he was extremely attached to my mother, his grandmother as she had always watched him when I worked or went to school and instead I enrolled him in daycare so there were some pretty big life changes then.



I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to this post!

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Becky - posted on 08/09/2012

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I have a 5 year old daughter who starts school here next month. She has been pooping in her pants for about a year now. Her dad left us about 2 years ago. I don't know if this could be the cause of this or if it's something else. Sometimes it's once or twice a day but other days it's never. I don't know what to do with her any more. I am getting very stressed over the situation as I don't want her to go to school being teased for pooping her pants. I have taken her to the doctor's a few different times for this and they just tell me she is constipated and to get her medication to loosen her up. She has now been on medication for almost 3 weeks and she is still doing it. What ever advice I can get I would appreciate it. I just don't know what to do any more. Please help!!

HEIDI - posted on 05/28/2010

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Has your child ever had a past issue with constipation?.



The problem you speak of is called "Encropresis" and if they wet it's called "Enuresis".Sometimes a traumatic event can cause an onset



.Encropresis starts when the child for some reason"Holds themselves",it could be a number of reasons,sometimes as the child gets older,they tend to get to engrossed in the world around them and what is going on that they surpress the message that the brain signals them to "go" because they're too busy playing,sooner than later they learn to ignore the feeling to go and the urge passes



.For unexplained reasons,trauma can have an effect,I don't really know why but it happens as I noticed with one of my kids that everytime he was shouted at school or had a bad day at school he would soil himself



.In my sons case he was about 3,when he complained of a sore tummy,I took him to the hospital and he was compacted to the hilt.He had to have eneamas but this was short-term and didn't solve the problem.



You'd be surprised to find that you're not alone and in todays' society it is becoming a growing problem amongst many kids.And no-body knows the reason really,not even doctors.



It doesn't start off really as a medical problem,but because they at sometime either become constipated through holding themselves-and god only really knows why?,it soon becomes one,because the constipation causes the bowel to become enlarged more than normal and it has to decrease in size to have normal functioning again



.Once the bowel has become enlarged(by past impactation/constipatation)they won't always feel the need to go,and what happens is...



(its like train carriages,they become constipated and the bowel becomes somewhat blocked with old feaces that the body hasn't been able to properly rid itself of then any new poo that forms is blocked in its path by the old poo and so therefore the new poo seeps around it-hence the soiling of the underwear and the child not sensing its happened),I personally,feel that after awhile of soiling it becomes ordinary and they get used to it-hence the reason for not doing anything about it!.



Punishing them,yelling at them(yelling can cause a onset of this prob too),is not the answer as it's not their fault.



I'm not having a go at you as I've been there and did all the same things.This not your fault or anything you may or may not of done right or wrong,it just happens!!.



Unfortunately,there is no cure,no operation or medication and it can be a long and painful process before the child eventuallly stops.



The only thing you can do is constant routine toilet training all over again,not telling them to go,but actually being there with them and physically making them go.



Also the other thing a ot told me is for them to do bowel exercises to help strengthen the bowel.



For some kids a complete through clean out(in hospital) has helped and worked for some.



My child wouldn't of went for that as he has Aspergers so that was out



.Also the only other thing you can do is a very high fibre diet and exercise and lots of water.And positive encouragement and reward when they actually use the toilet.



Also talking to the childs teacher and telling them to keep your childs prob discreet as it is embarrassing for them,especially as they get older,and telling the teacher that they must be allowed to go,maybe remind or make the child go more so would help and having a school routine time to go and a change or 2 for school for just in case,maybe they could have a toilet or something or a silent/secret message just for him/her if they need to go or is told to go?.



If they have a accident cleaning and changing needs to be discreet as this can cause teasing otherwise.



Or maybe you could ask them to ph you so you can be there to help your child with this or take them home?,whatever works best for you and the school.



But they need to support you too so the child get toilet training routine at school and not just at home.



Other than what I've mentioned have the child take laxatives to help them to keep regular some use microlax but there are others-a good one is benefiber as you can put it in their food or drink and they won't know as it's tasteless and it goes alot further than most other stuff.



My child with Encropresis was 13 before he stopped and he has not long turned 14,we too made him wash his soiled clothes but it's a waste of time as not only do they not like it it won't make them stop unfortunately.



I have a girl who is 6 and she has Enuresis(wee their pants),she too was successfully toilet trained-but I believe that she started because a so-called ex freind of mine (at the time unbeknown to me till later,she'd yell at my daughter for e'thing her fault or not when left in her care,hence no more my freind)...



anyway that I believe and the fact that she once watched her daughter just stand there and wee she thought it was ok for her too,and the yelling is what I believe started it-trauma!.



As she was fine beforehand.



Also when my 6yr old daughter knew her brother had a prob she thought it was ok for her too.



She's getting better and still has the occas problem but she's getting there we just have to keep perservering.



AS for my son,I think he just got to the stage that he was getting older and realised he was missing out on so much in life and the teasing he hated etc so he had to learn to take time out and go from his fun activities and since stopping he hasn't looked back and his life is even better.



Best of Luck,keep perservering!. I know how difficult and frustrating it can be for both parent and child.Chin up!



Heidi O.

Christy - posted on 08/25/2012

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Wow I can't believe what I'm reading here! I thought my situation was so rare. My son was potty trained at 3 and then gradually became untrained. Eventually the problem settled into pooping his pants. He almost never pees his pants. Occasionally over the past 3 years he's complained of constipation, but not regularly, but now I think maybe he just doesn't tell me about it all the time. He never does it at school though, which is why I've thought it was intentional. Now I'm thinking he just holds it there and it comes out at home. I'm def going to try the laxative/fiber thing - this makes SO much sense! Thank you everyone!

Ginny - posted on 05/25/2010

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Is he having full-on poops or just small accidents? My son had this problem until he was 5 and always had the same response when I asked him about the accidents--that he didn't even know he'd gone and didn't feel it coming out. We went through this for 2 years. I thought maybe it was an emotional issue at first but he was happy and well-adjusted so it just didn't make sense that it would be emotional. I became convinced that it was something medical. My son's doctor said it was constipation, which made sense because he'd suffered constipation a lot as a baby, and to increase the fiber in his diet. That didn't work. Finally the doctor had us start giving him half a cap of Miralax in 6 oz of juice every evening, and since then he hasn't had any accidents (it's been several months now since we started him on the Miralax). Constipation can cause accidents because the poop becomes hard, large and impacted behind the anus, which become stretched a bit, and then softer poop can leak out around the obstruction and cause those accidents. Kids who are constipated also tend to hold it in because it can be painful to go. Seriously, giving my son a daily dose of Miralax (a very mild stool softener) has made all the difference. It took a couple of weeks for him to stop holding it in because he had to come to realize that now that he is on the medicine it won't hurt to go, but once he realized that he stopped holding it in and stopped having accidents. Talk to your son's doctor about it, but it sounds a lot like what my son was dealing with.

Julie - posted on 05/27/2010

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This reminds me of my psycology class and it seems to me that he is under some psycological stress. There are stages of developement defined by Freud. First is the oral which is from birth to 18 mos and the pleasure centers are activated in the mouth through sucking. Second is the Anal which is from 18-36 mos and is when the pleasure centers are activated in the actions of pooping and peeing. Third is the Phallic and is from 3-6 years of age and the pleasure center is in the genitals and is activated by "Self-exploration" Fourth is latency and that is from 6 untill puberty there really is no overwhelming need to pleasure any area hence the word latent. Fifth is Genital and thats when they hit puberty and sexual maturation occurs. My question is did something tramatic happen between the age of 18-36 months? Because he seems to be reverting back to that stage when under stress.

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Patricia - posted on 08/26/2012

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I think having him checked out first is a good idea and then see what the pediatrician says.

Renee - posted on 06/26/2012

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My son is 6 yrs old he was fully potty trained but he will not poop in the toilet I spend so much money on underwear he knows when he has to go but still sits down n goes in his pants I don't know what else to do with him I'm so frustrated and tired he even did it in school and the teachers ain't pay attention to him I guess BC he came home like it I would take any advice I can get please

User - posted on 04/21/2012

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My son just turned 9 and is still having this issue. I had enrolled him in a gifted childrens course and the parents get to hear from experts on the problems you can have with gifted children. The biggest thing is that when they are interested in something, they become so engrossed that they do not hear the outside world. That's the case with my son and his computer. He also states that he doesn't feel it and can't tell if his body needs to go. I make sure his gets bathroom breaks regularly but it still happens. I was at my wit's end when I searched for this problem on the web. I think I will try some Miralax and see if he needs a clean out.



Thanks for the information provided here.

Hannah - posted on 03/04/2012

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I think because your a physiologist you all think something has happened in the home to make there kids this way!! Well No ! My kids craps her pants! It's medical or emotional not interfered with!

Nicole - posted on 05/28/2010

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My son regressed with his potty training. If you can, take him to the bathroom all of the time. Especially when a favorite cartoon is on. After awhile he will get tired of you taking him and hopefully he will stop soiling his pants. My son is 5.5 years old and he still wears pull ups to bed. I take him at midnight but sometimes he will still have an accident. The child's maturity level is connected with their potty training. My son is immature, I told him when he is twenty, he will be fully potty trainied. I hope this helps, take care.

Sarah - posted on 05/27/2010

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My 6 year old daughter does the same thing. She waits too long to go or doesn't wipe all the way I have taken her to the doctor and all they told me weeas that she was constipated and when the bowel movement happens she possibly may not even realize it and it just comes out. I try not to get too mad and just tell her to clean herself up and change but it's hard when she has been around other kids playing or I am checking my 2 year old wondering where the smell is coming from. At the beginning of the school year I was getting bags of clothes sent home alot. I wasn't happy. When I took her to the doctor something else they told me was to give her this powder stuff everyday so that it would help her stay regular at the same time each day. Hope this helps! The powder was a miralax for kids.

Karen - posted on 05/27/2010

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Hi...this may not seem very helpful but worth a shot. My son just turned 6. He was doing the same thing. He would mess his pants but was more like a smudge or smear. Found out he was a little constipated and would not want to use the toilet so he would hold it in and that is what was leaving the poops stains or smudges. I now give him once a day a Fiber One Pill. They are quite large...they chew them up and they come in different flavors. You can buy a small thing of them at Walmart for less than $2.00 to try for about 10 days. Just one a day helped so much! I myself did not even know he was constipated at all...but read not enough fiber in a childs diet can cause bowel problems . Give it a shot :) If it is more than just smudging could be that it still hurts when he goes and he just holds it in for so long and than has no control when he finally passes it. Hope it helps...I know it can be frustrating.

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I would bring him to the doctor to make sure theres no bowel problems like I.b.s irritable bowel syndrome, or something.

I do know my child holds her poo in at school and sometimes just makes it once home.

Patty - posted on 05/26/2010

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I agree with all the advice about seeing a doctor first, but I would like to add the comment about the regularly going to sit on the toilet being a gem. I make sure that if three hours have passed, she goes to sit on the toilet. I often find she has to pee or poop. If she hasn't I find she needs more water to prevent dehydration, which is a factor in constipation also. I also have the rule that if we are going out anywhere, she does the sit on the toilet thing also. At first, I got protests of I don't have to go...yet she got used to it as a routine, and like I said, I generally found she had to do something that she was holding. So add that to whatever treatment, if any, the doctor gives you.



In her case, she does not like to go on larger toilet seats, so I got one of those two part ones where one flips down to her size, at Dad's house, he got the soft fuller size one, she worries she will fall in she tells me. So there is that fear too, and with a boy that might matter as that is when he sits all the time to go. You might want to consider either a softer seat or the two part one, if you have a full size one, teach him to hold the sides, with a serious hand washing follow up habit after going. :)

Tammy - posted on 05/26/2010

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My son is now seven and this happened frequently with him. He didn't like to use the bathroom at school so he would hold it. I spoke with my Dr. and she said that sometimes if they are constipated they can't feel that they have to go. She said once a week to give him half an ex-lax and see if he just needs to get cleaned out. This has worked well for us. it only took a few weeks to stop and now we haven't had any problems. I only gave him ex-lax maybe four time.Another thing she suggested is a routine. Like I have my son go in the morning every day before school to take away the anxiety of having to use the school toilet. Sometimes it was just that he wasn't wiping right. we have struggled trough all these things.Before we talked with our Dr. we even started making him scrub his underwear.It is a tough road but make a plan and be consistent. Good luck to you.

Erin - posted on 05/25/2010

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Wow, thanks for the feedback ladies. I wouldnt have thought constipation could be a cause, especially some days when he has multiple accidents but thats usually not the case. I'll get him in to the doc asap. Thanks!

Stacy - posted on 05/25/2010

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I have gone through this twice with my sons when they were young. The first time, we thought he was being lazy, just not wanting to go etc. Finally after several different dr's I finally found one that listened to me.. they did an u/s and found him to be very backed up. We put him on meds for the constipation and he did great. When we started having the same problem with our younger son recently we had a good idea of what were dealing with. Went to the dr they put him on miralax as well and he's doing much better now. Goodluck hope this helps :)

Anita - posted on 05/25/2010

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hi sorry for your trouble , it could be just that when they start preschool they some times hold on not wanting to go to the toilet in a group and then because of this the bowl and kidneys get stressed.he has lost the awareness in when the feelings come he needs to go. i would get him checked by the gp incase there there is a medical reason.but also he is still young and may just need retraining . stress can also cause this and if his bowl is blocked he may just be passing free flow that is small amounts and lose stool which is hard for him to control thats why medical check is needed. a simple x-ray will rule this out. good luck

Amanda - posted on 05/24/2010

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I'm afraid I don't have a solution but can at least confirm you're not alone. My son has been doing this on and off for over a year now (he turned 6 in January). I've also tried everything - ignoring it, making a fuss, losing priviledges, making him put soiled underpants in bucket of water to soak. I really can't link it to anything (he had constipation issues as a toddler but that wouldn't explain the on-off soiling issue). The only thing that does work is to make him go and sit on the toilet regularly even if he insists he doesn't need to go - we invarably get a result, so to speak! If I consistently do this (and he's made to do it at school) then we don't seem to have any incidents. To be honest, I believe it to be laziness more than anything else. He also insists he's done nothing wrong but now has also taken to hiding soiled underpants around the house - nice!
Good luck

Michelle - posted on 05/23/2010

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I agree with Michelle talk to his dr. rule out any medical issues but since this all started to get bad when his great grandfather passed away perhaps your extended trip scared him and this is how he is dealing with it.....Kids understand a lot more then we think and great grandpa left and is never coming back so he may have felt like you weren't going to come back as well....talk to him not about the pooping but about how he is feeling be it scared uneasy that sort of thing keep it simple you may talk it out and the issue will disappear

Michelle - posted on 05/23/2010

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I would talk to his doctor, but remember kids control what goes in and what goes out. I would also talk to his teacher to see what he is like at school and how he gets along with the other kids. He may not have known his grandfather but knowing he died could have upset him more than you know, death can be scary to a child.

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