23 answers

13 Yr Old Step-son Is "Messing" Pants.....

My husband discovered that his 13 yr old son threw away 3 pairs of boxers because he "messed" in them.. This seems extremely odd to me. My husband says he is just being lazy. I think that is not the case....Has anyone ever dealt with this???? Should I call Dr.?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It could be IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome:


***But it sounds more like Encopresis*** Here are some good links about it:




Poor guy! I hope this diagnosis will help him, and you as his parents. In the interim, keeping extra clothes and accidents as private and discreet as possible is definitely going to help him from any shame, embarassment or teasing he may experience. My heart goes out to him....


More Answers

Yes. Yes absolutely. He's being "lazy?" No. Something is odd...and I don't want to insinuate anything bad, but this could be a sign of a few things...medical, emotional.....it can be a sign that someone is abusing him. Definitely take him to the doc asap.

I would say that he was embarrassed and ashamed, I wouldn't make a big deal. I would just
say next time just put them in a plastic bag and let you know so you can clean them.
Maybe he wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it to the bathroom in time. I would ask if he
was having stomach problems, etc. Just let him know you are concerned not that you care
about the underwear say it's no big deal, you are just wondering if he is feeling ok.

Anyway, I hope you that helps,

I first suggest the easy route. Teach him how to do his own laundry. I did it myself when I was 14 (when I started my period) because the thought of my mom seeing it was horrifing to me. I agree with Alyssa comment about wet dreams. We are women so we don't get it, but it is pretty embarrasing.

Also, how many times have we all as wives looked at our husbands underwear...eewwww. I don't think I would suggest to my husband he's got a neurological disorder...YET.

Give it a try.

Yes, W., I would call the Doctor. My nephew just went through that and so did my nephew on my husbands side. Two different reasons why they messed their pants, but I would call the Doctor and get him checked.

Hey W.,

My eight year old step son starting doing the same thing in kindergarten. We took him to the dr. and found out he has intentional encopresis(sp). Definately take your step son to the dr.

With my step son it was intentional which meant he knew what he was doing but couldn't neccessarily control it. A lot of things had happened in his life in a short period of time, his dad and I married, we moved, I had a baby and he started school. A lot for a little boy to take in, especially this little boy. He messes himself very rarely now and when he does we are able to talk about the situation and fix it so it doesn't happen again.

I would also suggest looking encopresis up on the internet. They have some very interesting and helpful articles. It is always a good idea to know what you are up against.

I would be very concerned about your husband's attitude. In fact, his attitude toward his son might be part of the problem, if the problem is emotional. However, it could also very well be a physical problem, as other moms have shared.

It sounds like your son is very embarrassed. Otherwise he would not have thrown the underwear away. I would definitely see a pediatrician or family care doctor as a first step. And I like the suggestion of one of the other moms: let them talk privately.

My 13 yr old gets what he calls swamp butt. It's because at this age they tend to not make great food choices when they are not with me. Too much chocolate/Soda etc. Then they get so involved with what they are doing in the moment that they "forget"to go until it is too late. I would ask him what he's eating at school and I would find out if there is anything (Bully wise) going on, but it's probably that he had mild scuffs and he was too embarrassed for you to wash them.

W., No this is not normal. I would check with a doctor. Also give him a little private time with the doctor. There could be something he is not sharing with Dad or you. You did not say what your relationship with the child is like. If you are close find out if he is ingesting something or maybe there are some bullies at school that are slipping him exlax or something else. There are too many causes besides laziness. If at all possible look at this boy as a boy not his mother's lazy son. He needs something.My prayers go out to you as you love this 13 year old. They can be a real challange but worth every minute of love given them. Hold on tight this too will pass.
God Bless, Vanna

I thought at first my son was doing the same thing at that age but I think it was just a lack of wiping bad. Also this is a thought but neither of my kids will go #2 at school. There are times when they both race in the house to go when we get home. So it might not be something a doctor can help with but more a converstaion your husband can have with him. I know thats not much help..but its my experience hehe with yuckky boy teenagers...hehe it gets worse!!!
Good luck

Dear W.-

Yes, this is very odd. Begin with the Dr., then go on as recommended. An excellent neurologist and/or psychiatrist may be needed. Think about when the behavior began, what the current events in the family and at school were at that time, and do go to the Dr. Hurry. A lot of things show up at his age that may not have been visible before. Toileting/ bowel issues indicate a huge regression. Be watchful of the 13-year-old's behavior with the 19-month-old. Do not leave them alone together.

I have taught school for many years, most of them at ages 12-21. I can tell you that the boy is not being 'lazy'- no thirteen-year-old messes his pants without a major psysical or psychological reason. I can see one time, if he had an illness. But three is beyond strange. Is he being allowed to go to the bathroom at home? and at school? Or is there some crazy out there trying to 'make a man' of the boy, and making him crazy? Is this possibly revenge for something that has been done to him?

Your instincts are right on the money. Go with them. This behavior is a cry for help, and should not be ignored or made to go away.

My thoughts are with you and your family - S.

I am familiar with this behavior however I do have a few questions. How is his behavior at school and at home? And also, How is your sons relationship with both you and your husband? Susan's comment is right, I do not think it is because he is lazy. There is an underlining reason like something could be emotionally wrong with your son. I would tell your husband to try speaking with him and not making him feel like your embarassing him if at all possible.

Hi W.!

My son was doing the same thing about that same time. He is now 16. But when he was 13. He started wetting himself and losing control of his bowels. My husband said the same thing as yours. But I didnt listen to him. I took my son to the doctor and found out he has irritable bowel syndrome. He has little control of his bowels. And also has troulbe when he goes to the bathroom sometime its very painful and he cries. He gets real embarrased. So I try not to make a big deal of it when it happens. We just clean up and move on. I have let his school nurse know the cituation and she is so great she has given him a pass to be able to go to the bathroom whenever he has to. No restrictions. I also let all his teachers know about it and ask them to please be very discreet and sensitive about the cituation and let my son go when he needs without waiting for permission. They all have been great in the past 3 years. The doctors say he should hopefully grow out of it. He is alot better than when he was 13 but we still have spells. I hope this helps a little. Just FYI, your son probably wont want to talk about it. So just schedule an appointment with his doctor and tell him its just a yearly physical. Then call the doctor and let him know about your plan and how your son is embarrased and if hes a good doctor he will ease the doctors wisit right into the stomach exam without your son even knowing. Well good luck. Keep me updated if you want. D.

Hi W., maybe he had a stomach issue and was uncomfortable to tell the two of you, or there is truely something wrong, however your step son being lazy is not the answer. I would talk to your husband again. Don't be surprised if your husband is embarassed for him.
Take care,

Dont freak out. Your son is going through the most difficult time in his life. He is trying to find his place with his peers then he has to figure out how to be a man and make his parents happy. This could be either one.
Lazy or something he is suppressing. I think parents forget how hard it is to be a kid. A teenager. Especially at this day in age. Ka Boom. Our kids have it all. In their face. If we put it there or not.
Is he having a bowel movement or just leaving skid marks?
Teenage boys are lazy. They have to be reminded how important their personal hygiene is. That by doing this for whatever reason will make him sick. Remind him that NO matter what you will help him figure it out. If he is just being lazy then that is not acceptable. If we talk in loving ways and non accusatory then our children tend to trust us more. Dont put him on the defensive. Everybody in this world as been lazy and gross. He is not different. If he has a melt down emotionally when you ask him about it......just be patient, loving and kind. But also let him know that he has to keep his privates clean now. He is a young man.
Hope this help.

Hi W.,
I agree with you that a 13yr old messing his pants, is odd!
If he is not mentally challenged then, yes it's odd...
You have a 19mo. old, How long has your step son been messing his pants?
Does your step son spend time with anyone in paticular?
Is he in a safe situation when he is with friends?
Messing your pants at this age is a disturbing situation.
Could he be not wiping well enough for fear he's going to miss something going on?
Are you close enough to talk to your step son about this?
I know W. a lot of Questions?
If your step son can talk to you about why this is happening and you feel comfortable with his answers. Then I wouldn't contact a Dr.
But, on the other hand if you don't get answers that you feel are solid with both your hubby and your step son, Then I would definately set up an appt with a Dr. I hope I didn't confuse or scare you. But, if your 13yr old step son is doing this, other kids will smell him and he will be made fun of. And there goes his self esteem at a early age. Good luck W.. Your friend T.:)

It could be IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome:


***But it sounds more like Encopresis*** Here are some good links about it:




Poor guy! I hope this diagnosis will help him, and you as his parents. In the interim, keeping extra clothes and accidents as private and discreet as possible is definitely going to help him from any shame, embarassment or teasing he may experience. My heart goes out to him....


I would definitely talk to your step son before talking to a Doctor. Maybe he was just sick and had a few squirts and he didn't want to deal with the mess of Cleaning it up. If not, then YES ~ That is very odd. I am sure he is embarressed about it. I do believe Communication is REALLY important. Also, be loving, understanding and open when talking to him so he feels comfortable talking to you.

Good Luck!

Hi W. -

When a child "messes" their pants, no matter what the age, it usually symbolizes a feeling of being out of control. It is possible there has been a tramatic experience that occurred just before this started. If he trusts you, sit down with him - just the two of you - and talk with him. Also take note of any other changes in his environment - like his room. If he has kept it picked up prior to this, is it now a mess too? If it was a mess before, is it even worse? What about his school work? How are his grades - going down recently?

Let me know if I can be of assistance.


M. M. Ernsberger
Certified Life Coach

I would say that there is something wrong, but I'm not sure it's physical. When something like that happens, it is usually social. Someone at school or on the street is scaring him or he tried drugs or something. A long talk needs to happen, wherein he feels that he can tell you/ your husband anything and still be loved. Good luck!

I think dad needs to chill. I agree with other poster: he's in puberty and if dad hasn't talked to him, he may not know what is going on inside his pants. And if indeed it's #1 or #2, yes, I'd have dad talk to him for details and call the Dr.

I have a 13 yr. old son and a daughter that is twelve. If this happened to either one of them, they would be mortified. If he is "just being lazy" there is something VERY wrong. Children at this age know when they have to go to the restroom. I think no matter what he should be taken to the doctor for a check up. If there is no medical explanation for this, then I think it is emotional and you should seek a child counselor to find the base of this behavior. Please dont let this go. Children do have loads of pressures and it is not easy for them these days. But this just doesnt sound right. Good luck, I know these things are not easy to deal with especially when they are not your biological children. Hang in there=0)

We discovered my 12 yo step-son was doing the same thing about a year and a 1/2 ago. I was the one to find very messy underwear and pants in the laundry after he had stayed at a friends for a couple days. When my husband brought it to his mom's attention she said he had accidents when he was at home with her too but said it was just because he was lazy too. I didn't buy that. I told my husband as the other mom's have told you, something is wrong with a kid that age messing his pants, either it's emotional or its physical. To make a long story short we got emergency custody of him and one of the big things that the judge took into consideration was that his mother was aware of the problem and had not done anything to investigate it. In fact, she told her son that she is a nurse (she's actually a nurse assistant) and she knows nothing is wrong with him. Once we got custody of him we took him to a pediatrician who diagnosed him with a condition called Encopresis. It basically stems from prolonged constipation. The bowels become impacted and put pressure on the rectum, stretching the rectal muscles out so then the liquid waste seeps around the impacted waste and the muscles can't hold it in and it just seeps out, so my step-sons messy pants clearly looked like diahrea in his pants. (Sorry for the graphics). The doctor further ordered him to have an x-ray done of his belly. The x-ray doctor and pediatrician both confirmed there was "a lot of poop" in there. They prescribed Miralax and said he would need to take that for an undetermined amount of time. The causes of Encopresis can be simple, or more complex. They can be physical such as bad diet, they can be emotional such as, trauma or stress. Look it up on line, and definately try to talk your hubbie into taking him to the doctor. Mine really tries to avoid the subject. I'm not close by any means to my step-son and I had to take him to the doctor, all the while the kid denied he ever had accidents and later told the judge too that he doesn't have a problem because his mom is a nurse and told him he is fine. Hope you have better luck than me. He won't take the medication because "he doesn't have a problem so he doesn't need it". I still find poopy undies about once every month or two. Let us know what the doc says. Good luck.

Does he play a lot of video games? This might seem like an odd question but my younger brother did the same thing (he was probably just a little younger though) because he couldn't stop for 5 minute to go to the bathroom so he would wait too long and mess his pants. We found the underwear hidden because he was embarassed. This could be way off from what's actually going on but I would do my best not to embarass him regardless of what the cause of this behavior is. Good luck.

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