6-yo boys and poop smearing at lunchtime - Mothering Forums

6-yo boys and poop smearing at lunchtime

Doula Gina's Avatar Doula Gina (TS)
08:25 PM Liked: 0
#1 of 21
04-13-2007 | Posts: 271
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I picked up my oldest s (not so much a ds right at this moment) today from kindergarten, when his teacher told me he was caught smearing his feces on the walls in the bathroom at lunchtime.

This is frustrating for a few reasons:

1-He has continuously had problems in the bathroom at lunchtime for most of the school year. We had a nice discussion after the last incident a few months ago in a conference with him, his teacher, and the principal where it was agreed that he would go to the bathroom in the small potty adjacent to the classroom before going to the lunchroom instead of excusing himself to the multi-stall bathroom across from the lunchroom (where there are usually other children and where supervision is less likely). This was his idea, and he seemed to think it was reasonable.

2- The teachers just will not follow through on their obligations regarding supervision. I know that they have several children, but I find it irritating to say the least that I get these complaints about behavior, which would not be a problem if someone was just paying some kind of attention to him.

3- I can't switch schools right now. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and we already have to drive him to another school in our district because of the very poor achievement of the school that is closest to us -- and we are only about 7 weeks from the end of the semester. I have no idea what we are going to do for school next year. There just aren't that many options around us and public schooling is our only option. If I ever want to finish college and make some money so my kids can go to college some day, they can't be homeschooled.

Does anyone have a novel idea for how to deal with this issue? I'm trying to see both sides (and I have my own worries on my side!), and I'm very angry with my son and the teachers right now. I am also feeling overwhelmed, and prone to screaming at somebody if given the slightest reason (hormones.).

??? Help?
4evermom's Avatar 4evermom
08:36 PM Liked: 601
#2 of 21
04-13-2007 | Posts: 8,752
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I have no experience with this sort of thing (my ds is sort of the opposite. He has sensory aversions and won't touch anything messy). But the one thought I had is maybe if someone did a ton of tactile/sensory exercises with him, he wouldn't feel like doing it so much. I'm thinking of things like finger painting but not just with finger paint (clay, mud, whatever) or kneading bread dough or smearing shaving cream.
gr8tmama's Avatar gr8tmama
08:37 PM Liked: 0
#3 of 21
04-13-2007 | Posts: 17
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I have no ideas for school.

If it were at home, I would have him help clean it up.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka
10:08 PM Liked: 91
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has anyone suggested getting to the bottom of why he is doing this? I don't know but it doesn't sound like normal behavior to me. But maybe it is.

supervision is tricky because if supervision is too close then it becomes a privacy issue. teachers are at such risk for accusations. we won't ever touch a child to help them go the bathroom and I have three year olds. and they are usually potty without supervision. we check on them if we here the water running too long, start wondering where they went, but it is usualy just a knock on the door and a "hey everything ok in there?".
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial
11:04 PM Liked: 186
#5 of 21
04-13-2007 | Posts: 4,449
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
has anyone suggested getting to the bottom of why he is doing this? I don't know but it doesn't sound like normal behavior to me. But maybe it is.
This is definately not normal *IF* he is doing it because he just WANTS to.

*personal story* I have a six year old daycare boy who went to the bathroom... five minutes go by, and I wondered what he was doing. I walked in on him smearing poop on the sink. He had already smeared it on the walls.

I was livid! Seriously livid. I immediately thought he did it on purpose.

But, he had waited too long, by the time he ran into the bathroom, someone else was there, he tried to wait, but it was too late. He took it out of his undies with his hands. when he tried to get toilet paper, he couldn't get the toilet paper to unroll, so he smeared the poop on the wall, and tried the toilet paper again. SOon, he just got up to wash his hands, and wiped it on the sink, so he could turn the faucet on.

So, what first looked to me like a weird act of grossness, was actually this poor kid trying to clean himself up.*

When my daughter first started Kindergarten, the school had an orientation with the parents. The teachers told us they CANNOT go into the bathroom with our kids. They CANNOT tuck in a shirt or buckle a belt. So, that if we had any concerns about our kid's pottying entirely by themselves, we should either make sure their clothes are easy enough for them to work alone, or reconsider putting our child in school until next year.

In this world, unfortunately teachers cannot put themselves in the position of being alone with a child in a restroom.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka
11:30 PM Liked: 91
#6 of 21
04-13-2007 | Posts: 17,896
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yuor illustration made sense (poor kid. he must have been so embarrassed. That hapened to my dd once. she tried to wipe and things just went down hill from there - but ti happened once). but that would not happen often. maybe once or twice in a kids life time unless they had sever digestive issues in which case that would need to be addressed also.
flyingspaghettimama's Avatar flyingspaghettimama
12:20 AM Liked: 10
#7 of 21
04-14-2007 | Posts: 4,486
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This doesn't sound right to me either. It sounds like something that a younger child would experiment with; or if he's feeling seriously angry at six. Can you meet with a child therapist? I don't think just getting angry at him will help, it sounds like maybe a deeper issue.
BusyMommy's Avatar BusyMommy
12:26 AM Liked: 1450
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Ask for help from the school nurse. She needs to be involved. Bet she has a b'room in her office--could he go down there when he need to use the b'rm? Leave the door cracked a tad?

I had serious issues a few years ago in my K classroom (I'm a teacher) with boys peeing on the b'rm walls. Our nurse was awesome. She did several classroom talks and helped supervise.
Demeter9's Avatar Demeter9
02:10 AM Liked: 12
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My DD goes to a school with a special program for autistic / asperger's children that is also in the school. I believe this is sometimes an issue for children with autistic spectrum disorders. Have you considered having your child tested for some high functioning autism?
Evan&Anna's_Mom's Avatar Evan&Anna's_Mom
02:22 AM Liked: 430
#10 of 21
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He's 6 -- he has, I assume, reasonable communication at this point. What did he say about it? Did he give a reason for it? What did the school do or propose to do?

Because of all the legal policies and such, I don't think you can blame the teachers for poor supervision. Well, you can but they can't change the policies so better supervision can't be the answer.
mamaduck's Avatar mamaduck
10:35 AM Liked: 6
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I agree with the suggestion to get the school nurse involved. Also posssibly the school counselor.
kamilla626's Avatar kamilla626
11:24 AM Liked: 17
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Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I agree with the suggestion to get the school nurse involved. Also posssibly the school counselor.
Fecal smearing rarely occurs separately from other issues or disorders. I would suggest having him evaluated by a therapist/psychologist.
Doula Gina's Avatar Doula Gina (TS)
06:49 PM Liked: 0
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Thanks for your responses.

It wasn't an accident related to having to go badly or anything like that.

As far as what I mean when I say supervision is, when we conferenced and the teacher and my son agreed that it was best for him to go in the bathroom adjacent to the classroom before lunchtime; I expect him to do that, and his teacher to encourage that (reminder maybe?). I don't expect someone to be in the bathroom with him, but with a one-toilet bathroom with a sink outside, it is much more obvious (and he knows this) to others what the last person in the bathroom was up to, if it was anything like this. So he doesn't get into bathroom trouble when he uses the classroom one. He does with regularity in the one near the cafeteria.

He has been dealing with self-esteem issues this year, and we have not been able to get a referral for the school counselor. Our district has one counselor per region, so the counselor is only in the school for 3 hours per week. We cannot afford to consult with a paid professional outside of the school in this capacity.

I guess we'll work this one out on our own. Thanks for all your positive input.
mamaduck's Avatar mamaduck
07:26 PM Liked: 6
#14 of 21
04-14-2007 | Posts: 6,596
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Geez. In our state. There are school counselors, and then there are school psychologists. The counselors are available 3-5 days a week. The psychologist maybe only a few days a month. To see the counselor, you can usually walk in or call, or fill out a referall slip. The counselor would observe and meet with your kid, and then decide whether or not to refer him to the psychologist. So -- she/he would sort of screen him, kwim? Can you check your school staff list again, and see if there is a different position such as counselor, student advisor, or even interventionist? Finally -- I really strongly agree that the school nurse should be involved in all this.
TheTruth's Avatar TheTruth
07:57 PM Liked: 0
#15 of 21
04-14-2007 | Posts: 148
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spank him
LoveBeads's Avatar LoveBeads
01:48 PM Liked: 0
#16 of 21
04-15-2007 | Posts: 2,549
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I agree with mamaduck. I think that it is more the rule than the exception that you have to fight to get services for your children when they are supposedly provided by the school. Please keep trying until you get them to agree to evaluate your child - he is giving you a loud message.
littlemizflava's Avatar littlemizflava
08:05 PM Liked: 11
#17 of 21
04-15-2007 | Posts: 1,393
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is homeschooling a option? i see it is his was of expressing his feelings maybe overwelmed in the school setting?
flyingspaghettimama's Avatar flyingspaghettimama
09:34 PM Liked: 10
#18 of 21
04-15-2007 | Posts: 4,486
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Originally Posted by Doula Gina View Post

He has been dealing with self-esteem issues this year, and we have not been able to get a referral for the school counselor. Our district has one counselor per region, so the counselor is only in the school for 3 hours per week. We cannot afford to consult with a paid professional outside of the school in this capacity.

I guess we'll work this one out on our own. Thanks for all your positive input.
Many community service agencies offer free or low-cost counseling, i.e. through Catholic Community Services. You don't have to be Catholic, and the counseling isn't religious.

I would emphasize that this seems like highly unusual behavior, and "more supervision" seems like it's addressing a symptom rather than the source. It might work in this instance, but other issues will probably crop up later on that won't be easily reduced by the school to more supervision and getting mad at him. The younger he is when the source issue is addressed, the easier it will be to help him.
PrennaMama's Avatar PrennaMama
10:25 PM Liked: 11
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04-15-2007 | Posts: 1,071
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This sounds a little like Voluntary Encopresis, given his age, and the circumstances...
Voluntary encopresis
A person with voluntary encopresis has control over when and where bowel movements occur and chooses to have them in inappropriate places. Constipation is not a factor, and the feces is usually a normal consistency. Often feces is smeared in an obvious place, although sometimes it is hidden around the house. The APA classifies voluntary encopresis as encopresis without constipation and overflow incontinence.

In young children, voluntary encopresis may represent a power struggle between the child and the caregiver doing the toilet training. In older children, voluntary encopresis is often associated with oppositional defiant disorder(ODD), conduct disorder, sexual abuse, or high levels of psychological stressors.
Dr. Spock thought that feces-smearing is somewhat normal in some toddlers; they think it's a"fun plaything", or they are exhibiting anger at the birth of a new sibling or some other change. I don't care much for Dr. Spock myself, but you did say you're expecting your new baby, soon, right? He may never be able to articulate the unconscious feelings this causes him; maybe he is reacting physically. Poop smearing from older children and adults, when it is NOT as a result of psychiatric imbalance, or sexual abuse, is usually attributed to protest and/or rebellion... here's an excerpt from The Poop Report (which is very informative and funny, too):

"The practice of smearing feces is clinically known as scatolia. When not associated with psychological impairment, it manifests when an individual faces extreme powerlessness and frustration -- instances in which an individual believes that his rights have been wholly stripped, and that the entire system is conspiring against him. He wants to communicate his frustrations, to lodge his protest, but he believes that the system has even assimilated his protests..."
Could be you have a rebel on your hands, who is at odds with the system as he perceives it. What different ways are there for you to re-direct, or re-focus that energy? Is he involved in any sports or physically challenging activities, yet? Maybe a way to proactively encourage him as a new older brother and such, would be to get him involved in kids' martial arts, or something. I read about a 6 yr old boy whose dad was absent a LOT, and he was a poop smearer... his Auntie advised his mom to sign him up for karate, and he loved it so much, got so much out of it, the incidents stopped altogether.
Doula Gina's Avatar Doula Gina (TS)
04:12 AM Liked: 0
#20 of 21
04-16-2007 | Posts: 271
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Thanks for your response, PrennaMama - these both sound much more plausible for my son than any of the others. He doesn't show any other ASD/PDD symptoms, and it is possible that because he remembers when his brother was born (he was 3), he already knows that big changes come with small babies.

I think we'll also start some sensory work with him -- he has seemed to me like he would benefit from some Feldenkrais work to help him with boundaries, and I think it could help him with this issue. It is not recurring (that we know of), so I don't know what to think of it. We do like to play with floam (he made some in his science club and wants to play with it every day) but play-doh is out of the question in our house (BTDT, carpet will never be the same). We'll make bread dough to play with and try the beans/lentils suggestion as well.

I also recognize that getting angry with him doesn't help the situation. But it still doesn't help me not to get angry. This is hard to deal with, especially at a time when there is so much else to deal with. I'm not saying I take my anger out on him or anyone else (probably just myself and by proxy, the baby, fwiw) but that I am trying to find ways to 'fix' this one problem or to move toward better behavior as quickly as possible.

Thanks again for everyone's input. We'll see what happens and go on from here.
PrennaMama's Avatar PrennaMama
11:52 PM Liked: 11
#21 of 21
04-16-2007 | Posts: 1,071
Joined: Oct 2005
You're welcome, I'm glad it helped a bit... Good luck!

Incidentally, what would happen if you talked frankly about it with him? Asked him why he thinks he is doing it? Talk to him about some of the things it sometimes means when a person is doing this? (ie: "Sometimes when a person smears his poop, it's a way for him to say he's angry. You know you can tell Mommy or Daddy if there's anything you're angry or sad about, right?")
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