I have a 4 year old boy that will not stop pooping his pants when he is in pre-k. He has no issues any where else, it's only in school. We have tried everything from taking his favorite toys away, to time outs, to calm talks. School has even joined in with us to try and beat this problem. They have tried "scare tactics" by telling him that if he doesn't stop then they can't let him come to school. They have sat down and had talks with him about the importance of using the toilet and NOTHING IS WORKING! As you can imagine we are extremely frustrated and about at our wits end. I hope somebody has some new advice for me. PLEASE HELP!
My 4 year old won't stop pooping himself at school
Do you know why he is doing it?
Its a bit late now, but I would totally avoid any kind of punishment, threats, or negative consequences (including time out) for potty accidents, especially if you are not certain what is causing the problem.
Treatment for functional encopresis basically involves not making a big deal out of it, expecting him to clean up after himself with as minimal help as possible, no blaming, shaming, disapproving, just matter-of-fact "time to clean up." Then returning to the activity he was in.
But I would take him out of that preK. Any teacher who believes the way to deal with toileting accidents is with punishment is not a good teacher, and is very likely increasing his stress, which is probably why he is having accidents. If she doesn't understand this simple concept, that you don't punish toileting accidents, I wonder what other basic concepts she doesn't get and is causing harm to your child.
Edited by BellinghamCrunchie - 10/25/12 at 6:23pm
Im looking for some helpful ideas. Dont for one second think that we havent already tried being nice. The timeouts dont happen all of the time it was just something new to try. Im sure your not a saint n this is my FIRST child so i am taking suggestions from everybody and trying everything I can. Im looking for some helpful advice not judgement. So if you have something constructive to say then please say it. If not the keep it to yourself. I am a single mother who is completely stuck on this so excuse me for trying everything I can think of. Go and pass your condesending judgement on someone else.
Functional encopresis is a very common, albeit extremely frustrating condition. If you were to google it, I think you would find some good advice. As I mentioned, basically the treatment is to neutrally, without judgment, punishment, shaming, or embarrassing the child, require that he clean up as best he can (the adult performs what he cannot) and then he returns to the activity. As little attention as possible is given to the matter.
He does not want to be pooping his pants. It would be typical for a child to not have much awareness while it is happening, or to have some limited awareness but quickly pushing it out of his mind (It is not happening it is NOT HAPPENING).
In general, especially when you aren't sure the cause of a behavior, punishment is not the best thing to try first. And for toileting accidents, it should never be used, because you can never be certain what kind of control the child really has, it increases the child's stress, it hurts the adult/child relationship, it causes feelings of shame and anger which will come out in other areas.
I understand that as a single mom you probably NEED to make this childcare work. I can understand how that would lead to feeling desperation, that you must stop this behavior as fast as you can.
However, it would be worth it to take a look at some things before you continue on the punishment path.
He is telling you with his behavior that, for whatever reason, this preK school is not working for him. Children will do just about anything to avoid toileting accidents in front of their peers and if he is having them, his environment needs to be looked at. If you are unable to look at another school for him, then perhaps you and the teachers can develop an aggressive positive plan to help him be as successful as he can be. What if he gets something positive for every two hours that he goes without having a toileting accident? Maybe he could choose a small toy from a box. Or maybe (delayed reinforcement tends to be less successful but maybe this is what the school would prefer) he could get a star on a chart for every day that he uses the toilet successfully, then if he has five stars, you and he do a special outing of his choice on the weekend.
The teacher could try a set schedule where he is asked to use the potty every day, and sit there for 3 -5 minutes, with great enthusiasm when successful.
But most of all, please google functional encopresis so that you can educate yourself on the treatment options and not do things that are likely to make things worse or cause lasting difficulties. Here is one website, for example. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7593656
I'm not sure if it's just because you can't read. Or if were from different countries and you just don't understand what I am saying. I am an extremely patient person but you are pushing my buttons. Unless your Mother Theresa don't point out what in YOUR OPINION I am doing wrong. It is very unbecoming of you and makes you look very weak and unprofessional to pass such harsh judgement on someone you don't know. I don't know if you have some issue in your past or some disorder that makes you act in this fashion but this is the last time I will say this and I will put it in CAPITAL letters so I don't confuse you further.
1. MY SON DOES NOT HAVE AN SORT OF CONDITION. WE HAVE BEEN TO THE DOCTOR TO MAKE SURE ALREADY (LET IT GO)
2. I HAVE TRIED CALMLY EXPLAINING HOW TO USE THE POTTY SINCE HE STARTED TRAINING.
3. I HAVE EXPLAINED THE IMPORTANCE OF USING THE POTTY (CALMLY)
4. WE HAVE ALWAYS REWARDED HIM FOR USING THE POTTY BUT THAT STOPPED WORKING
5. WE TRIED TAKING TOYS AWAY AND GIVING THEM BACK WHEN HE GOES
6. WE HAVE TRIED TIME-OUTS
7. WE HAVE TOLD HIM THAT THEY WILL NOT ALLOW HIM INTO PRE-K IF HE IS NOT POTTY TRAINED (SCHOOLS RULES NOT MINE)
8. AND YES I HAVE YELLED AT HIM FOR IT BECAUSE EVERYWHERE ELSE HE IS COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY POTTY TRAINED.
I have exhausted every piece of advice I have ever gotten. Whether it be from Doctors, families, friends, other mothers at the park, the schools and BOOKS!.
I am not ignorant in fact I am working on my Master's degree in Psychology (child psychology is not my focus if you have a drug problem then come and talk to me) nor am I in anyway abusive to my son and I take serious offence to any accusations that I am. Like any GOOD mother should.
Let's get this thread back on track, folks! I think everyone needs to assume more positive intentions from posts and ask for clarity before jumping to conclusions. Please edit any comments that do not live up to the MDC code of conduct:
I have remove a couple of posts on this thread in the hopes of getting things back on track. A few other posts will need to be edited. They contain some good content but need to be cleaned up a bit. Thanks!
My thoughts are that there is a lot of energy (understandably so) around this issue for your family. I understand the pressure for your son to use the toilet and attend the pre-K you have chosen for him but I think I would focus on trying to take a little of the energy out of the situation. I would step away from rewards and punishments. And, even as counter intuitive as this sounds, I think I would try to not even talk about it all that much. Is the pre-K willing to give you a few weeks to work out the situation? Are they willing to change him if he has an accident? I think I would give your son a lesson on what to do if he poops in his pants - shift focus from not doing it to how to deal with it if it happens. Pack him with a change of clothes and some wipes. I wonder if this "permission" to make a mistake and the tools to fix it won't help him feel more in control of the situation?
Another way to go may be to ask him if he would like to start wearing diapers again. Of course this is a risk because the answer may well be "yes". But, it would be an interesting discussion if you can ask it in a non-judgmental way, yk? Perhaps that would open up some insight into what's going on. .
I also wonder if maybe he doesn't feel comfortable going at school for some reason. Can you see about going with him when you drop off or at pick up? Maybe you can pick-up on something that may be bothering him. Another "out there" idea would be for him to see you use the toilet at pre-K. Maybe that would clear up some mental block that he has?
Also, maybe talk to someone in your department - they may have some ideas.
Oh, and a book suggestion: "Your Four-Year-Old" books by Louise Bates Ames. They're great - before discovering these (recently) I was left to tredge through child development texts. Bleh!
I'll see if I can think of some other ideas...
I know your son has been showing a pattern but I wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea for you and the pre-K to respond as if this were an isolated incident. Respond as you may to an adult or older. child in this situation. Imagine what that would look like? You would respect their privacy and be protective of their embarrassment. You would be concerned that perhaps they weren't feeling well. You would help them get cleaned up discreetly. You would ask if they wanted to rest or if they needed anything. I think this way of responding may be a worthwhile thing to try.
Functional encopresis is a rule-out disorder. I heard that you are saying there has been no cause found, which is why its then called functional encopresis. Functional encopresis is just the psychological term for "pooping in pants for no identified reason." The reason I wanted to use the correct term is so that you could google it, and see that first of all you are very much not alone, and second, there is a weath of information about how other people have successfully dealt with it.
Edited by BellinghamCrunchie - 10/26/12 at 5:35pm
Another thing to try is to ask your question in our "Ask the Experts" forum. Here are three that I would read the bio of and see which one may be of most use to you:
:hugs: I understand. My DS1 (5.5) potty trained 100% in about 3 days ~3 yrs. About a year later (~4) he started pooping in his pants. It has never stopped. For a while it was frequent and I put him back in diapers after he'd do it for the rest of the day... that got through. Sort of. Its down to 1-2x a week, although unlike you it is *almost never* at school - he pooped in his pants once last year at preschool. The only pattern I've noticed is that he becomes *much* more likely to poop in his pants within a couple days of seeing my mother (who I do *not* speak to - DH sets up visits), though the latest (tonight) was out of order (he last saw her last saturday) - he hadn't pooped his pants (till tonight) in nearly 3 wks... since 2 days after seeing my mother the *last* time.
At this point, our reaction is very simple: Go get a shower, and go to bed. I really don't have any advice, just hugs and understanding. It sucks. I keep hoping every time is going to be the 'last time'... but it just doesn't stop. :sigh:
I also have to question how the teacher is handling this. I work with kids this age and would never use shaming for any reason. It is a common technique but not one that I have seen work. Taking him frequently to the bathroom also seems like overkill and is probably feeding into this because he gets a lot of attention, more if he resists going so often. I have yet to see the every half hour thing work but I have seen and had wonderful success with minimal to no attention on accidents ever both from teachers and from family no matter how disgusting it is to have to wash poopy clothes.