I have a friend who is at her wits end with her four year old year and I thought I'd ask the people of COTH for some advice to help her out. At four (almost five) he should be going to the bathroom in the toilet pretty consistently, unfortunately her child is still crapping his pants almost every day.
Some back story her and her husband split last year and from what I read, this is a pretty common issue in children this age when parents split. They have been having this issue since the split
It's usually not a case of the child getting diarrhea and not being able to hold it, but solid clumps coming out. She will constantly ask the child "do you have to poo? Do you have to go sit on the potty for a bit?" and more then once it's happened that not to long after the child has gone and pooped his pants. Or he goes in his pants once and then 15 minutes later goes again.
It's no longer a case of him not knowing when he has to go, because he has gone in the toilet several times before and at this age knows when he has to go. He has gone on the potty before and they have tried the whole making him sit on the potty, and even giving a piece of candy whenever he did go number 2 on the toilet (though usually when he just asks for candy she gives him a piece as well I told her to stop that because then he has no incentive.)
Any advice from any mothers? At 5, he getting really old to be pooping his pants constantly like this.
sounds to me like this issue is getting him LOTS of extra attention, which he might need due to the split of his parents.
I would suggest that he get lots of positive reinforcements in any other area he can, but I would start ignoring the fact that he's pooping in his pants. (I would also not put any undies on this child, but that might viewed as extreme) When he goes on the potty, LOTS of praise, hi fives, etc. When he poops in his pants, absolutely NO comment. Change him, clean him up and go about mom's day. I would also stop asking him every fifteen mins if he does indeed have to go. Make it a non issue, and non attention getting subject, he'll get the message pretty quick. (hopefully)
and, is he in school?? around here they can't go with this "problem"
Take his diaper away. Seriously. Let me find the link to what I'm talking about, but I've had a number of friends who have potty trained their kids this way (various ages) and all with success. Something about the diaper or underpants makes him feel like it's okay to just go. Even my 15 month old won't go #2 without a diaper on (we're no where near potty training).
ETA: Link The first day is ALWAYS a sh*tshow (literally).
He no longer wears a diaper, and still goes in his pants. She spends so much money on underwear He has no problem with peeing in the toilet (except for the occasional accident) I'll tell her to try stop giving him attention about the matter.
When she first told me abut these issues, attention seeking, was the first thing that came to mind. Which I understand, divorce is hard on kids, especially ones so young that don't truly understand why it's happening and why mommy and daddy don't live together anymore.
He doesn't start school until next Fall, he's only in daycare at the moment.
Maybe he's constipated or got something else going on that makes it hurt to go. My 9 year old daughter is the same way. Have her take him to the dr and get checked out
That's a good point. Constipation can make it very difficult for children to poop in the toilet, either because it hurts, or because with the chronic backed up feeling it's hard for them to tell when they'll actually be able to pass stool.
My son was also very late learning to poop in the toilet. He's always been a good eater, lots of veggies and whole grains, so plenty of fiber, but for him, switching from cow's milk to soy milk made a HUGE difference. So there could absolutely be a dietary component.
Encopresis is also a possibility, and a doctor could help the parents with treatments for that, if so.
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I am a Kindergarten teacher. I see this every once in a while. The child will try pooping in their pants as a way to get to go home. My way is for the child that is just not caring or doing it for their gain-attention/going home, etc.
When the child poops in their pants they are taken to the bathroom and told to remove their shoes and socks. They are told to get into the tub to take off their pants and underwear. If/when they make a mess THEY clean it up. They also have to clean their self up BUT using ONLY cold water! Turn off the valve to the the hot water.
This is a kind of tough love when nothing else works. Most times it only takes once and the child will not do it again.
Tell her good luck. She should try the positive first. If that does not do it......move on to tough love.
They have taken him to the doctor already and it's nothing to do with constipation. I think it's an attention seeking thing mostly.
I told her to to try the lack of attention thing. She told me when she was giving him a bath today after I told her this he said "I just peed in the tub!!" and she only said "that's nice" and nothing else. After a few more "I peed I peed!!" and no attention he said "I didn't really pee"
I was at her house later, he actually got up and ran to the bathroom while saying "I have to poop!!" and went on the toilet. So perhaps you're onto something here gabby. gator. He got plenty of praise and a toy that she bought for him a week ago but he wasn't allowed to have until he went on the toilet. Much bigger progress!
I'm not a mother, but I did hear this from a good friend of mine when his step-son wouldn't stop crapping his pants, but at a much later age, like 9. Yep.
One day mom wasn't around to baby Dear Son, and DS crapped his pants. Stepdad made him wash his drawers, BY HAND, outside. Kid threw a HUGE fit, bawled, screamed, laid on the ground (kid had plenty of other issues), but Stepdad wouldn't give in. Kid bawled the entire time he washed his drawers, both pairs, but never did it again.
It probably is about control, although poo is pretty nasty. If it helps, even at age 4 or 5, I would still pee my underwear just a little bit since I was too distracted playing to know I needed to pee and of course I changed my underwear and went to the bathroom.
However at school this didn't happen as I knew I couldn't change my underwear. I never did poo my underwear, likely because the signals are louder for that and it was easier to hold while running to the bathroom.
He doesn't do it at daycare or at the other parent's house all that often. It definitely seems like an attention seeking thing at this point, because he does not go and change himself if he does end up peeing in his pants. From what I've seen the attention always has to be on him 100% of the time, not just regarding the potty training thing.
For instance, we went shopping together yesterday and she brought him along. We could not hold a conversation for 2 minutes in the car with out him screaming about something and having to focus on him.
I won't lie, it was really starting to get on my nerves when I simply wanted to have a conversation with her but he was in the back screaming if the attention wasn't on him for more then 2 minutes. Eventually she told him "adults are trying to have a conversation right now, it's rude to interrupt."
I mentioned to her that she should probably have a heart to heart with him about how yes, the split is confusing and difficult but it does not give him a right to run around like a terror and throw tantrums every time something does not go his way or she doesn't have all her attention focused on him every minute of everyday. I've been around kids his age quite a bit and his behavior is not normal four year old acting out behavior, it's much worse, I think the split is having a very hard impact on him, I suggested she go and see children's therapist with him and try to resolve some of these issues before he gets much older and it becomes worse.
If he does not do it at daycare then it something between the two of them and no doubt the divorce is the big issue here, the pooping is just a symptom. IME, divorce tends to be harder on the school age and tweener as opposed to the toddlers. If parents are ok they tend to be ok too. No doubt the divorce is taking its toll on mom and he is picking up on that. Perhaps mom is the one that needs some therapy and counselling at this point?
I would suggest she ask the daycare for their toileting routine and that she try do it the exact same way at home and that she tend to her own emotional and psychological needs as well. Divorce is alway hard and it really shakes people up, even if they think they are not that affected by it.
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Mozart has good advice. My guess is that the routine is different at Mom's, at Dad's, and at daycare. Everybody needs to get on the same page here, from potty training to handling his outbursts. A bit like a troubled horse or dog, consistency brings clarity.
My DD throws some pretty amazing tempertantrums. We simply walk away or ignore her, and it works like a charm. I know that that's hard to do in the car, and it will take some nerve on everybody's parts, but I would just keep up your conversation over his screaming. When he (finally) goes silent, THEN finish what you were talking about and ask him if he had something to say. Giving in, no matter if it is positive or negative, is going to teach him that he will get attention.
Same with his accidents. It will never, ever work though if nobody is on the same page. Just because Mom and Dad are split doesn't mean his world is ending, it does not give him license to act like heathen child, and Mom and Dad should not feel guilty about maintaining a solid bottom line with him. I AM sorry that YOU have to deal with it, that really does make life awkward.
My son was constipated for years and I did not know. This is b/c he pooped every day, so how can you be constipated if you can poop? I'll tell you how, you get a blockage inside that ends up being so big it stretches out their colon and *they cannot feel when they have to go to the bathroom*. So it randomly comes out.
My poor son suffered for two years with poop accidents. We tried to manage it -- "make sure you poop after eating lunch!" -- AND he absolutely saw the pediatrician several times during this era. *She did not diagnose constipation!* We had to take him to a pediatric gastroenterologist who did diagnose, pretty instantly.
Before everyone puts it down to psychological issues (and it sounds like he has some, the suggestion for therapy is a good one) PLEASE have your friend take her son to a pediatric gastroenterologist for a work up.
Yeah, but if he doesn't do it at daycare....it's a control issue. And it sounds like he has all the control when he's with Mom. Best fix it now...it will only get worse.
That's complete BS, the screaming in the car for attention. There's a columnist in the local paper who gives some advice that just might work.
Tell him the doctor says that his is screaming for attention, pooping, whatever, because he is too tired. Take everything out of his room but his bed. He goes to bed immediately after supper. When he can control himself, you can slowly move the bedtime back and start adding furniture, books and toys to his room. It sounds to me like it's time for drastic measures. However, if he were my child, we would already be in family counseling.