Talk

Advanced search

5 year old pooing in his pants

(47 Posts)
kitmonster Fri 13-Jun-08 09:50:39

This is a behavioural problem, not a potty training problem. This is my first post on this site and one of desperation. I need professional help and if you have any phone numbers / web addresses / organisations that deal with pooing rather than bed wetting please, please let me know. All I can find is about potty training / bed wetting and my problem is behavioural. If you want all the messy details please read on.

My son, Ben is now 5 and a half. He was potty trained at 3 but still wears nappies at night. He's a very deep sleeper and we're dealing with that issue. A year ago he started occasionally pooing his pants. The first time it happened was 18 months after his last accident. I was away camping with him and it was a five minute walk to the loo, so required some effort to ask me to take him and the walk to the loo. It was a little inconvenient and I thought nothing more of it. He then pooed his pants again the following week at home whilst playing. Over the next few months we would have one or two incidents a week.

Now it's almost a daily occurrence. He's done it a couple of times at school but hasn't told anyone. He can quite happily sit in it. I notice it because of the smell. He normally does it after school sometime between 5 and 6pm. He's now started pooing himself first thing in the morning. This week he's pooed himself three times after school and twice in the morning. Even when he doesn't his pants are very dirty - he wont wipe his bottom unless he's supervised.

He's a bright kid and does very well at school. He loves school. He has a good bunch of friends who fortunately aren't yet aware of what's going on. I'm sure the problem is down to changes in his life. These changes can't be reversed and I have to find a solution.

Ben was in a nursery before going to school. He was very happy there and the problems have only started since he left. In September he started school. In October he had a new baby brother. In March my wife went back to work and I became a stay at home Dad. All of these events impacted on him. And it's easy to say speculate which of these events caused the problem. What I need is help resolving it. I think I have tried everything.

I love being at home with my children - it's the best job in the world. I hate what this is doing to my relationship with Ben. It does make me very upset / angry. He is very good at trying to hide the problem from me - I find dirty nappies stuffed behind draws, presenting me with clean pants I know he's taken straight out of the draw. He knows it's a problem. He is very sorry and promises it wont happen again. But it does.

He had a very dirty nappy this morning. There was poo in the bed, all over his pyjamas he he smelt very bad. I lost my temper which was not at all helpful. Later over breakfast we talked about it. He was playing hide and seek with an imaginary friend. He was hiding under his duvet. He didn't want his friend to see him if he got out of bed to go to the toilet. He always has an excuse - it's normally because he's busy doing something and doesn't want to miss out - playing with his friends, colouring a picture, missing part of a film etc.

Thanks for reading all about my problem. I hope you can point me in the right direction. I need some serious help, it's ruining my relationship with my son.

SixSpotBurnet Fri 13-Jun-08 10:05:05

Hi,

My partner is a SAHD too, and our eldest DS was a bit like this.

Firstly, are you sure he is not constipated? I say this because it was completely missed in our son's case - various GPs and HVs opined that if he was pooing his pants every day, sometimes several times a day, that he couldn't possibly be constipated. It took a paed to diagnose him and to tell the GP to prescribe him some lactulose and that helped a lot.

If you are sure you can rule out a medical problem such as constipation, then you might want to try what we did with DS1 (and what he still does now) which is just to get him to go to the loo every day, at the same time of day - either just after breakfast, or just after his evening meal. He can sit on the loo with a pile of books, with music on, whatever it takes to get him to stay there.

I know this might sound a bit draconian, but it has worked.

Littlefish Fri 13-Jun-08 10:05:43

Hi kitmonster

Welcome to MN.

I've got a practical, too-much-information sort of question for you.

Is the poo fully formed? You say that his pants are often pooey, even when he hasn't pooed.

Is it possible that he's constipated? I know that sounds ridiculous, but sometimes, when children are constipated, the old poo forms a sort of plug in the gut as it dries out. New poo can then leak out around the side of it, without the child really knowing they are pooing.

Is it possible that this is what's happening to Ben?

Littlefish Fri 13-Jun-08 10:06:06

Snap SixSpotBurnet grin

Littlefish Fri 13-Jun-08 10:07:36

I also agree with SixSpot re. the regular time thing. You say that Ben often does it between 5pm and 6pm. This would be an obvious place to start, if you're sure there's nothing else going on.

SixSpotBurnet Fri 13-Jun-08 10:11:48

grin littlefish

I was going to say, great minds!

kitmonster Fri 13-Jun-08 10:15:56

Thanks for the quick replies.

Ben fortunately enjoys and loves a healthy diet. We initially thought that the problem might be because he was getting too much fibre. We have been to the doctors who told us that medically there was nothing wrong with him and not to change his diet. From the evidence of what I regularly find in his pants, it is normal fully formed poo and a lot of it. Although the gp helped us medically, she could offer no professional help other than bed wetting / potty training organisations. I know he's a bed wetter and having spoken to professionals it's something we will deal with when he's a bit older.

I like the idea of regular toilet time and making the toilet somewhere he can do things. I've tried in the past but probably went wrong saying - you can do x or y after you've been.

Thanks for the replies.

kitmonster Fri 13-Jun-08 10:16:54

It's dads day at school so I'll be off line for a bit but will check back this afternoon. Please keep posting!

AbbeyA Fri 13-Jun-08 10:17:11

I would go with the idea of the same time each day. Your obvious time would be between 5 and 6. Get him to sit there with a book or something to do. My DS had the same problem at 5yrs, in his case he didn't like using the school toilets. The Head spoke to the school nurse and she said to get in the habit of going at a regular time. The Head then said to go before school and not to worry if we were late! It didn't take very long and he didn't do it again.I think we managed without being late for school but it took the pressure off knowing that we could be late. Your problem may have more to it but is worth trying the regular slot.

SixSpotBurnet Fri 13-Jun-08 10:26:14

My advice would be not to worry about being wet at night. DS1 was still wet at night until the age of about 7.5 when he spontaneously started to be dry. We just let him wear pyjama pants and (on the advice of many lovely mumsnetters) didn't stress him about it.

prettybird Fri 13-Jun-08 10:42:01

We (crossed fingers) had this problem with ds - it lasted from when he was just over 5 and only seems to have resolved itself in recent months... and he is now 7 and 3/4!!!

He did all the things you desrcibed - hiding pants, not smelling it, doing it at school and at home. The only thing that was different is that he was alwys "trained" at night - that was never a problem, so there were never nappies involved (although at one stage they were threatened!)

The problem actually started at school (at a time that we were srtessed at home as I was going thourgh a missed miscarriage)and then spilled over into home. It's now been sorted for some time at school but has only recently (we hope) cleared up at home. The school were great about it - never making a big deal of it, just cleaning him up and putting his dirty clothes in a bag (we always kpet spare pants and trousers in his school bag). He was/is also allowed to go to the loo whenever he wants, no questions asked. In fact, he just yesterday told us that he hadn't need to go to the loo outside of break ttime for the last few days

At home we tried everythign: star charts, postive encouragement, regular times to go - and nthing seemed to make a difference. We tried not to make a big deal of it, calling them "mistakes" and just cleaning up - but I have to admit that there were times that our patience wore thin.

The biggest arguments were when he would deny that he done a "mistake" - espcially as he had the world's stinkiest poos grin - and we had to examine his pants.

We tried to explain to him that he needed to listen to his body, that we weren't angry with him (well, not most of the time) but that we did get angry if he tried to hide it.

Ds seems to have most "mistakes" when he is engrossed in something else and just can't be bothered going to the loo.

Not sure what worked (touch wood) in the end, beyond just patience.

Not sure if that give you much reassurance - expect that, "this too will pass"! hmm

prettybird Fri 13-Jun-08 10:42:02

We (crossed fingers) had this problem with ds - it lasted from when he was just over 5 and only seems to have resolved itself in recent months... and he is now 7 and 3/4!!!

He did all the things you desrcibed - hiding pants, not smelling it, doing it at school and at home. The only thing that was different is that he was alwys "trained" at night - that was never a problem, so there were never nappies involved (although at one stage they were threatened!)

The problem actually started at school (at a time that we were srtessed at home as I was going thourgh a missed miscarriage)and then spilled over into home. It's now been sorted for some time at school but has only recently (we hope) cleared up at home. The school were great about it - never making a big deal of it, just cleaning him up and putting his dirty clothes in a bag (we always kpet spare pants and trousers in his school bag). He was/is also allowed to go to the loo whenever he wants, no questions asked. In fact, he just yesterday told us that he hadn't need to go to the loo outside of break ttime for the last few days

At home we tried everythign: star charts, postive encouragement, regular times to go - and nthing seemed to make a difference. We tried not to make a big deal of it, calling them "mistakes" and just cleaning up - but I have to admit that there were times that our patience wore thin.

The biggest arguments were when he would deny that he done a "mistake" - espcially as he had the world's stinkiest poos grin - and we had to examine his pants.

We tried to explain to him that he needed to listen to his body, that we weren't angry with him (well, not most of the time) but that we did get angry if he tried to hide it.

Ds seems to have most "mistakes" when he is engrossed in something else and just can't be bothered going to the loo.

Not sure what worked (touch wood) in the end, beyond just patience.

Not sure if that give you much reassurance - expect that, "this too will pass"! hmm

prettybird Fri 13-Jun-08 10:42:39

Don't know how that happened blush

Flightybitchreturns Fri 13-Jun-08 10:46:06

I think you are right that it is to do with anxiety and it is very, very common for children to experience regression in some ways, when a new baby arrives - almost their way of saying 'I am still a baby too'. It will pass but I have no idea what to suggest, except maybe being a bit soft with him, like babying him a little - try and reassure him a lot, that sort of thing.
It must be horrid for you both, I am sorry not to be more useful sad

girlywhirly Fri 13-Jun-08 11:19:59

Can I suggest that your DS may be consciously witholding his poo because he likes the sensation of a full bowel? There are a lot of nerve endings in that region, and constantly ignoring the need to evacuate can dull the signals, and the over loaded bowel either empties itself, or constantly leaks. DS may then be unaware of his need until it's too late, when he tries to pretend it hasn't happened, or hides the evidence. Soiling can be the one thing a child has some control over, he alone can decide where and when to do it. Going to the loo is a real drag to most young kids, they think it's an imposition on their fun, and will often hang on until the last minute. It is easier to hang on to a full bowel than a full bladder. Consider the possibility that he may be afraid to use the school loos because of the lack of privacy, they smell, doesn't want anyone to know what he's doing, afraid to ask teacher, etc. Might be a good idea to consult teacher so that she can help.

I would definitely investigate the possibility of constipation, and instigate toilet times, with toys, books etc, anything to get him to poo in the right place so that you can give positive praise/rewards to break the cycle.
Could you let him 'regress' a bit and use a potty again? I know this sounds like going backwards, but surely if he stays clean emptying a pot has to be better than cleaning messy pants. He could wrap a blanket around him so that his imaginary friend won't see what he's doing! Or sit on it in one of those pop up tents, can do this in the garden on nice days! Novel ways of going to the loo might well make it more appealing. A lot of mumsnetters say their DC'S are more enthusiastic about going to the loo when out (beach/park/woods etc) Start a sticker chart or something similar to reward successes, a certain number of stickers at the end of the week earns a small present.

I think that once he settles down, things will improve. Good luck. Do post again when you are making headway with this, as I bet there are loads of mums wanting to know what worked for you!

desperatehousewifetoo Fri 13-Jun-08 14:21:05

Hi kitmonster, as I read your post, I thought exactly the same as most of the repliers i.e. constipation!

My son (now 6yrs) had exactly the same problem. I know it started when we were on holiday a couple of years ago when he lived on chips for nearly two weeks. He did the same hiding of pants and it was not until he had a couple of massive accidents at school (which he denied!) that I took him to the gp. She said that his bowels were full of impacted faeces and softer ones just leaked out (sorry if tmi!) and prescribed lactulose and said it would take a few weeks to retrain the bowel and for his body to respond to the signals again.

During the 2 years, he had a very healthy diet too but that just seemed to make it worse (obviously the softer stools leaking out).

It took about 3weeks on the lactulose (we had to up the dose) to get everything 'moving' regularly. We also made a conscious effort to get him to tell us if he had soiled his pants and praised him if he told us and told him it didn't matter. This actually made a big difference to how he felt about himself.

We now continue to encourage the fruit and veg and also, very importantly, lots of water.

Even if you are definite that ben is not constipated, perhaps the encouragement of being less secretive and not making it 'his fault' might take some of the pressure off. Also lots of praise for even sitting on the loo to 'have a try'.

Good luck. I'm sure someone posted a website on here about these types of problems. I'll see if I can find it.

desperatehousewifetoo Fri 13-Jun-08 14:26:25

This is the post with the website. Might be some other suggestions from the other messages too

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk?topicid=8&threadid=127788#2718437

witchandchips Fri 13-Jun-08 14:28:20

If it is regression driven by the arrival of new baby then perhaps finding new ways of letting feel be grown up and loved and involved might be an idea

stealthsquiggle Fri 13-Jun-08 14:34:49

My money would be on school as the potential root of the problem.

A lot of school loos don't have locks on the doors and I know DS and his friends will do almost anything to avoid having a poo at school (IYSWIM). DS decided by himself that always having a poo before school was the answer - some of his friends have had accidents and are now being encouraged by their mothers to do the same.

By the time he has "held on to it" all day he may not be able to recognise the signals any more - hence accidents at 5-6pm?

Second-hand experience would suggest diaries, star charts, etc are the way to go

desperatehousewifetoo Fri 13-Jun-08 14:50:24

Yes, I have to say that my ds said that the toilet cubicles were for the girls and the boys only had urinals! So we did chat about that

dashboardconfessionals Fri 13-Jun-08 14:56:10

Message withdrawn

stealthsquiggle Fri 13-Jun-08 15:09:16

Not sure that is disagreeing with me as such, dashboard! DS is in Y1 and several of his friends have had similar issues - I am sure the OP's DS is not the only one in his class - so yes, I agree, it is within the spectrum of 'normal'.

Most 5yo boys are fairly goal/reward orientated - have you tried bribes reward systems?

dashboardconfessionals Fri 13-Jun-08 15:12:08

Message withdrawn

prettybird Fri 13-Jun-08 15:22:37

I agree with dasboardconfessionals - in ds' case, it did definitely just become a habit. He was never - or rarely - as far as we could see, constipated - although whe he did go to the loo, he often had pratically adult sized poos as we had been holding them in for so long.

desperatehousewifetoo Fri 13-Jun-08 15:52:47

My ds' poos were huge too (hmmtmi?) as he was only going every 4-5 days. He wasn't constipated in the sense of sitting on the loo and straining to go with no result. But was constipated because the stools stayed in his bowels too long (maybe that should be the other way around). The accidents were mostly when small amounts would squeeze past the large stool and leak out.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now