31 answers

5 Yr Old Poops in Panties

I have a 5 yr old daughter. Since she started Kindergarten, she has started pooping in her panties again. She says she doesn't know when she needs to go. I've tried grouding her from friends, movies...timeouts...taken toys away...she always has to clean her soiled panties...talking her about it...reading books about potty time...I'm at a loss. I need advice. I don't have a clue what to do anylonger. She did feel embaressed when she did it at school last week, but she usually waits until she gets home at night.

What can I do next?

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My niece had a similar problem, and what they found that worked best was a reward system - you don't want to punish for this behavior. Every day that she didn't go in her pants she got a sticker and after a certain amount of days in a row she would be able to get a prize. That seemed to work best for them.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I didn't have exactly the same problem, but my daughter would hold her poop for days. By the 3 or 4th day she couldn't sit still. She wasn't pleasant to be around. What finally worked for us was chocolate. She had to sit on the potty every night and give it a good try. If she pooped she got a small piece of chocolate in her lunch the next day. It worked like a charm.

There is something called encopresis you should have an xray of her stomach done. If she has it it will show on xray. If this is the problem then she really cannot help these accidents.You can gfoogle it to find out more zabout it.

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My niece had a similar problem, and what they found that worked best was a reward system - you don't want to punish for this behavior. Every day that she didn't go in her pants she got a sticker and after a certain amount of days in a row she would be able to get a prize. That seemed to work best for them.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

She might be intemidated by the new schedule or the other kids.
My daughter is 5 and half and she has been having accidents also but my daughter gets constipated. Do you think your daughter is constipated? I give mine fletchers and it helps over night with out much pain!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there! I wouldn't worry if I were you...yes, it's gross AND frustrating...but, I remember being young and not liking to "go" in the girls bathrooms...no idea why, just didn't.
Perhaps you could talk to her very calmly about it...tell her that it's very good for her to keep her body "regular" and that holding it all day can make her have more accidents. Assure her that you understand that kindergarten is a new and fun place, but, can also be a bit scary too. Tell her to help her you'd like to take 15 minutes each morning to try going before school starts...that way she won't have to worry about having accidents at school.
There's also a very good chance that she is liking kindergarten so much that she really doesn't notice that she has to go until it's too late...my daughter does that!! I have gotten so frustrated in the past...lol...then the poor thing told me "mommy, I really don't notice!! I was having so much fun that I didn't think about it," SO i've had to really work hard to remember to ask her if she needs to go poop.
You are SO not alone!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
My daughter started doing the same as soon as she turned 5. I asked her pediatrician about it and she said sometimes it's a growth problem (esp. in girls) that they truly can't tell when they need to go, their bodies are growing so fast and their bladder/bowel doesn't always let them know right away. Also stress or insecurity can bring this on. Hang in there and be patient with her. I got very frustrated too, as I thought my daughter simply wasn't taking the time to go potty. I promise it's just a phase and should pass quickly. Hope this encourages you!

Maybe she's embarrassed to go at school. Or she could be afraid to ask the teacher to go if it's not at regular bathroom time. Talk to the teacher and find out what your daughter needs to do to go to the restroom at unscheduled times.

My 5 year old won't even go at school. He waits until he gets home. All of my children are pretty much like that...all boys. They just won't go at school unless it's just unbearable.

Hello there,

No one who understands wants to get their pants soiled. So in my opinion, this is not a problem to be punished for. Instead, I think that she is going through some anxiety issue with just starting school. Talk to her teacher to remind her every few hours. keep some extra clothes in her locker and teach her how to deal with it should it happen. She needs comfort at this time.
Hopefully it will pass soon


There is something called encopresis you should have an xray of her stomach done. If she has it it will show on xray. If this is the problem then she really cannot help these accidents.You can gfoogle it to find out more zabout it.

I agree that punishing her is not the answer and cause more damage than good. Also, making her clean her panties is not a good idea to me it is a bit humiliating...that is over doing it in my book. Especially if she is embaressed about it!

I would say talk to her doctor about it. Tell her teacher that she may need more potty breaks. She has just started Kindergarden and maybe there is a reason why she is doing this. She could also be so involved in what she is doing she doesnt realized she is doing it.

I would just tell her it is okay and why she thinks she did that. Ask her if she thinks she needs more potty breaks. Read her books like you have been and just continue positive renforcement. Odds are she is regressing...but i am sure she will get back on track esp. since she is embaressed.

Otherwise she may start doing it in spite or holding in and causing constipation or fear of pooping.

My 5yo just had her well check and the doctor told me to watch it for a couple of months and if it continued we needed to follow up medically. She has so much embarrassment when it happens I can't discipline her, I am afraid it might make matters worse. We really make it a point to ask her if she has to go to potty and then help her. I also ask her not to pass gas, go to the potty and sit to do it. It has been a struggle, but I think there is always an underlying reason, keep a food journal and a daily activity journal, do some imagination play and see if she reveals any fears. Hope this helps and good luck, M.

I too have the same problem with my duaghter(4 1/2). She holds it in for a few days and the stars to go in panties. She will go to the potty after that to finish. We to have tried it all. Afew weeks ago she did great all week going on her own, I thought thank god she's got it. I was wrong. I took her to the dr. the other day and nothing is wrong. We are starting a knew reward system, and avoiding the negativity. we also are setting a time after a meal to sit and try to go. Good luck to you I know how frustrating and stressfull this is.

Hey J.,

Have you tried to ask her if things are bothering her at school? postive reinforcemnet and reward when she doesn't do it may be another way to encourage her.

I will keep her in prayer.

Please check with your peditrician. He/She might want to check her for constipation or encompresis. My son went through this around the same age. I wish you luck and many blessings for your daughter.

Hi J.,

I feel your frustration. I did not read your replies so I am sure that you have got lot of good advise. I will tell you that my daughter who turned 7 today still does this from time to time and has since she was potty trained. She will go months with no problem and then all of the sudden here we go again and it may take from a few days to several weeks to turn her around again.

I, like you, grounded her, took aways things, did charts, ignored it, talked till I was blue in the face, time out you name it I did it. Funny when I would ignore it she would always ask if I was mad at her. I would tell her no I just wanted to help her.

Her kindergarden teacher even worked with her. She did tell her teacher that she didn't like to go potty because she didn't like the water splashing. Honestly, it has been the hardest thing to deal with. When I would ask she would just tell me she didn't know. She would even try to hold it in. I told her that my main concern was that kids would eventually figure it out and tease her about it.

I also took her to the doctor to make sure there was not physical problem which there wasn't. He talked to her as well.

I finally put her in play therapy as there was a lot of things going on in our home. The therapist believes that this is directly related to stress. I will tell you that I tracked when it would happen and sometime it would be around some event and sometime it would not. Now we have started 1st grade and the problem began again. It lasted a short time and it is turned around once more.

I don't really have an answer for it as I now have a 7 year old (just turned 7 today) that I am still dealing with the problem from time to time. Fortunately, it has gotten less and less.

We have both prayed to God to help her with the problem as well. It think that helps her.

All I can tell you is to be patient. It is very exasperating (sic). Love is the best therapy. Talk to your child. Believe me ther is something that is causing her stress. It may just be the start of kindergarden or it could be something more. It will get better with time.

Good luck.


You know, a lot of kids do not like going #2 at school, I know mine hate it and that may be part of things for her. It may sound harsh but you should make her clean up after herself. She is probably regressing a bit because of starting school so don't think what she is doing is not normal.

It is a little bit different situation but my children decided they wanted a puppy toward the middle of the summer. The two older kids were on a mission trip and my 9-year-old was stuck with dog duty. Part of the deal with this dog was that I wasn't going to do any of the cleaning up, etc. So, the kid wound up cleaning up plenty of accidents while they were gone and he actually did a good enough job that I didn't really have to go behind him and do anything.

My point is that your daughter is capable of taking care of the mess she chooses to make. This is not a punishment but like any other thing that she is capable of doing at her stage of development. You should still talk to her and let her know that you understand that she is having a problem but she needs to look after herself. Explain to her that while many children don't like pooping at school it is bad physically for her to try to wait until she comes home.

If she has to wash out the underwear she will probably opt to pay more attention to what her body is telling her because unless she has an upset stomach, she has time to get to the bathroom. Talking to her will encourage her to tell you how she feels about school, etc. and part of what she is doing is designed to get your attention.

This may not be the problem in your case. But my little boy started doing the same thing. Come to find out he was afaid of the teacher. I discovered that she wore a whistle and would yell at the kids. It was mid-year before I found out about it. By then it was really too late. I did meet with the teacher and the principal, to no avail. He had a very positive 1st grade year and is doing well. B.

Its a condition seen in young children and you need to talk to your doctor about it. Don't punish her, you will just make it worse.

she just started kinder and she is over whelmed. back off a little and try to help her adjust to being such a big girl. sometimes being the big girl is a little more than they bargined for. relax and she'll relax too. spend some extra time with her and talk about school and her day. let her know she can still be a little kid and that she doesn't have to do everything overnight. remember big changes everywhere.

Is she stressed? Is she holding it at school because she's not comfortable wiping herself? I ask because holding it constantly can result in 'urge suppression'.

I used to be a real hag about potty 'accidents'... then I started suffering from urinary and rectal incontinence. I now treat my children the same way I treat myself. Clean it up, go on with life.

Embarrassed isn't the word when it happens in public - mortified might be more appropriate. I would make sure that her teacher has an extra pair of panties for her at all times. IDK how well it would work with a five year old, but I use pads. Every day. 30 years old and wearing a diaper... it's much easier to change quickly, though.


Hey -
I'm sure it is the stress of starting school. When my son started PreK, he started asking to go to the bathroom literally every 5 minutes. This lasted for about two weeks. It just took patience and I talked to him A LOT about school and what was great about it.

With #2, obviously, it is harder to deal with. I think the other parents have given some good ideas. But again, I think it is related to the stress of starting school.


My niece had these issues. She felt that her world was out of control and that this was something she had control of (anal retentive). Your daughter has had a big change in her life starting school and that has her upset on some level. You may want to talk to a psychologist about it. That is what finally helped my niece. Please don't humiliate her by making her wash her undies or shame her for this. She really isn't doing this on purpose. I hope this helps, Nana

Hi, I would ask her dr about what to do because I heard that punishing accidents can cause more problems...

I would talk with her teacher also and ash her if she can let your dd go more often to the bathroom and maybe ask your dd if she needs to go rather than waiting for her to have an accident... she might be regressing because of school stress...

A. J

I wouldn't necessarily punish her for this. I think you are doing right by talking to her. My guess (I'm a teacher and have a child went through a minor stage of this) would be that she doesn't feel comfy going at school. Sometime it is the noise at school or in my child's case he didn't like the bathrooms because of the mess the boys leave in the bathrooms. You don't want to get her to a constipated level by holding it at school either. Maybe provide her with a chart and when she goes at home she gets a sticker. After so many stickers she gets a toy from a tresure chest or she gets to paint her nails a light pink etc. on the weekend. The toys should be something she has picked out and that she will buy into. Typically this stage goes away. However, if it doesn't I would recommend taking her to her pedi and then they can determine if it is something more. Oh, and I would make sure that in her backpack for school you supply an extra pair of panties and pants. This will help her as well. Good luck and remember we all have been through this stage at some level or time in our lives.

I had the same problem with my son last year when he was 6 - all of a sudden he started going in his pants stating that he didnt know that he had to go until it was too late. I recommend that you do as I did and take her to her pediatrician. Unfortunately, I did all the punishing first and then took him to the doctor which just made me feel horrible when I found out that it was something that he couldnt control. His doctor sent him to get an XRAY of his stomach and found that he was constipated (even though his poop wasnt hard). Apparently there was a blockage in his colon and that constant feeling of having to go to the bathroom started to get overlooked by him and he couldnt tell the difference between having to go and not having to go.
Needless to say the "Mommie Goblins" made me feel horrible for being so negative towards him pooping in his pants. My advice to you is to make sure that there isnt an underlying "medical" reason for her pooping in her pants before you punish her for doing something that she is unable to stop. My son was put on a natural laxative for only a couple of days that was very gentle and since then has not had another "pooping" episode.
I Hope that everything works out for you. I understand exactly what you are going through and it may seem hopeless - but relief could be a doctor visit away.


This is more common than you'd think! It is called encopresis, and it happens because the child holds her poop and becomes constipated to the point that the poop then "overflows" and soils the panties. They don't even feel this happening most of the time. It can also begin to cause problems with urinating without being aware of it, so try to get it straightened out before that happens. It is not a big psychological deal, meaning, your child is not seriously disturbed! She just probably got in the habit of holding it either because of anxiety or not wanting to quit doing what she's doing. If you can spare $50, you can find a great program to deal with it at wwww.soilingsolutions.com, but I will tell you (in case you can't get the book) that one of the secrets to success is to schedule time on the potty every 15 minutes, for a cycle of one hour. Two timed minutes on the potty, hoping for a poop, 15 minute break if no production. By the second time on, if there is nothing, then you give your child a suppository. Back on the potty...no success, move to a child's size enema. This helps train your child's muscles to get back on track and take time to poop! The suppository and/or enema help accomplish what needs to be done. I think it is recommended that you do a "clean-out" before starting this training program. That means giving your child an enema to get as much poop out of her system as possible. It is safe, harmless, and if done in a firm but positive manner, very effective in re-training your child to both TAKE TIME on the potty, and ELIMINATE each day!! This is harder on the mom in many ways, because it's emabarrassing, frustrating, and time consuming. Hang in there and work with her on scheduled potty times, though, and it will eventually get much better. It probably won't go away completely for possibly a couple of years, but it's better than running around in circles or thinking she needs major counseling! :) God bless!

J., take her to a doctor, maybe she really does not know when she needs to, it could be a problem medically. Or she does not like her teacher, and is rebelling, but, I would check it out. mother of two

Just stop giving it any attention. Just calmly fix the problem. Don't make her clean her own panties, that just adds to the ridicule of the situation. She wouldn't do it if she could stop it. She's 5, please give her a break. Praise her when she doesn't do it, and ignore it when she does. The less attention paid, the better. Some kids prefer to poop in pull-up for a while. It will stop in time and this will just be a blip in your past.
P.S. Maybe 5 is too young for Kindergarten?

She's definitely old enough not to and obviously has learned before now, so I would take her to the doctor and eliminate any health/medical reasons. Also, talk to her teacher. There may be a stress factor at school that you're not aware of. Since this started with school, that very well may be the link. Personally, I feel like maybe she just is going through some security issues with the changes that are going on in her life. Lots of TLC! (but yes, she should clean up her own mess.)

I don't think punishing her is the answer. Obviously something is big enough to be causing this. Maybe she is upset about someone or something at school. I would talk to her and her doctor.

Does your child know you are wanting a second child? Is there disruptions in the family? I remember in second grade there was a gal that would urinate in class. I felt so bad for her. Forty something years later, I bet she either had a bladder problem or something serious was going on within her home.

Good luck.

I didn't have exactly the same problem, but my daughter would hold her poop for days. By the 3 or 4th day she couldn't sit still. She wasn't pleasant to be around. What finally worked for us was chocolate. She had to sit on the potty every night and give it a good try. If she pooped she got a small piece of chocolate in her lunch the next day. It worked like a charm.

Wow, at least I am not the only one. My daughter just started kindergarten too and she has had accidents 3 times in 2 weeks...she also waits until she gets home from school. I had talked to her teacher and it could be stress and being tired. Stress on the kindergarteners are common since they are now going all day instead of half day and it takes a lot out of them. Hang in there, I hope it gets better.

Good Luck!!!!

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