33 answers

6 Year Old Having BM Accidents

One day a couple months ago My 6 year old son starting having BM accidents in his underwear. He's never had a problem with this before, and suddenly it's happening 3+ times a day! I'm not talking about a few skid marks - he's filling them with chunks that have to be pick out and scrubbed before I can put them into the washing machine. His stool is soft like play-doh, not the hard pellets you would expect with constipation. He says he can't feel that he has to go, and is often surprised when we notice it and take him to the bathroom. A few times he described it as feeling, "numb."

A week or so after the BM accidents started he began wetting himself too. He is going through 6 or more changes of clothes a day and my house stinks! I am so frustrated!!! We think this is probably just laziness or attention seeking behavior. We've tried rewards, we've tried consequences, we've tried taking him to the bathroom at set intervals. We've tried a stool softener. We've tried giving him more attention and one on one time... nothing is helping at all. Hoping desperately to hear from anyone with some advice! School starts again next week and I'm afraid for his self-esteem.

What can I do next?

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I don't have advice on how to stop it, but I do on cleaning. I'd get a second diaper pail for his room (a cheap used one would be great) and after flipping his poo in the pot and maybe rinsing the undies in the toilet, put them in the pail. Every few days, wash them all together. You don't have to scrub them, just treat them like cloth diapers and wash them together - actually, I know people who wash their CD's with other clothes, it's safe, I just have enough diapers that I do separate loads of them.
Most people pee when they poop, so that's probably why he started wetting at the same time.

Did he have a fall that might have thrown something out in his back? I've heard of this happening to small children, and then they can't feel when they have to go to the bathroom. If you take him to a chiropractor, they can put things back in place so he can feel it again. I have a couple friends who swear by their chiropractors and have taken their kids to see them for this very problem (usually in the potty training stage, though).
Good luck!
J. B

I think you have hit it on the head with the attention thing. He is only 3 yrs younger than his older brother, while he is a 6 yrs older than the new baby. The older one probably adjusted a little easier to the "new" baby because he was younger. Are there other changes happening this year such as school? He may just be needing some one on one time with especially you. He used to be the baby up until 6 mo ago!

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Hi J.,
I am not sure if this is it but this sounds like a condition that young children get called encoparesis (sp?). It is when children get absorbed in play or some activity and usually put off going to the bathroom to have a BM. This usually has been going on for a while. What happens is that the lower colon gets distended from stool being there. The stool builds up causing an impaction (harden stool) but soft stool continues to ooze around it. The constant pressure of the impaction on the rectum then causes that "numb" feeling which in turn the child is not able to sense when they have to go to the bathroom. This then leads to the incontinence that you are describing. It is a very reversible condition but does require you seeing the child's physician or a gastrologist for children to get certain medications to help and to establish a regieme to establish bowel tone again.
What is fustrating is the incontinence and the child not able to understand why it is happening. I would advise to see the MD asap to get him on a bowel regieme soon to prevent embarassment for him at school and peace of mind for you guys.
Will say a prayer for quick resolution for you all.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 9 year old that did the same thing. Get him into the pediatrician. It could be medical if he says it is "numb". My son would hold it and then his colon quit working correctly. I took him to the dr. and we put him on a stool softner and it took a few weeks, but he is now able to tell again when he has to go. I also remind him every morning to try and some days he is surprised that I am right and he does go! Hmmm, I guess he isn't old enough yet that he looks at me as knowing nothing......

Best of luck and let me know how it goes.

LuAnn

1 mom found this helpful

That sounds EXACTLY like encopresis. You need to take him to your ped ASAP but then also to a pediatric GI. Most peds are pretty clueless about this. It's a very common condition, especially in boys ages 5-10, but most people have never heard of it because it always gets misdiagnosed (aka lazy boy). It's a legitimate medical issue. He has no control over his bowels at this point.

Basically, he got constipated, the stool got backed up and now loose stools are flowing around the backed up stool. He's lost all sensation due to being stretched out and no longer has control over the muscles that 'hold it in'.

The standard treatment is an X-ray to determine how much he's constipated. Then 3-5 days of 'cleaning out' which is basically massive doses (like 6 or 7 capfuls a day) of Miralax and/or a few doses of exlax. Then another x-ray to confirm there's no stool left. Then put on a maintance dose of Miralax (1/2 to 2 capfuls a day, depending on your child) for 6-12 months (yes MONTHS) until things get back to normal. During this time, he needs 'timed toilet sits' which basically means he needs to sit down for 10 minutes 10-20 minutes after every meal to take advantage of the bodies natural instinct to poop at that time.

Many people, including pediatricians, seem to think that simply giving a capful or 2 of Miralax a day is sufficient when in most cases it is not. That makes the problem WORSE. It just makes the new stool soft but it's not enough to loosen the mass so it's more likely the newer softer stool will just leak out. As long as the hard mass is in there, it'll never improve.

It's a long battle but like everything else the sooner you catch it the shorter time it takes. My son just turned 6 and we didn't have a diagnosis until he was 5 even though the problems started right after potty training at 3.5. We followed our ped's advice for 9 months before finding out about ped specialists and insisting to see one. We saw no improvement with our ped but after just 1 visit and 4 weeks after seeing the ped GI we saw vast improvement and are now down to one soiling incident (don't call them "accidents"... he can't control it and calling them accidents makes it seem like he can!) a week. It used to be several a day.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

please go to your doctor and do not let him/her blow you off. i have a friend with a six year old with this same problem. he has some colon issues that are being addressed and are not medically dangerous but causing that same numbness and bm/wetting problems you mention, and are certainly effecting his mental, emotional and physical health. his wetting issues have become a problem because the colon issues are effecting his bladder.

1 mom found this helpful

I remember in nursing school we learned that any time a child has been completely potty trained and then starts having accidents that there is 95% of the time an underlining cause that warrents a doctors call/visit.
Are there any other changes in his life right now that could be adding extra stress of any sort? Does he have any other health problems? I would be more than just a little concerned especially since it has gone one longer than a few days.

My son had the same problem. He could have what is called encoprisis. When had stool becomes impacted whch stretches the anal cavity and softer stool leaks out. My doctor had me give our son an enema at night and then in the morning to get the impaction removed and since my son had this happen chronically, my son takes a stool softener (Miralax-now availalbe over the counter) to keep him more regular. The Miralax is very mild and has no flavor and is not gritty- I mix it with some juice and he drinks it with his evening meal. After the enema releases the impaction, he may still have some accidents until the anal cavity regains it's shape. My son worn pull-ups until the accidents stopped. Since they have trouble feeling the loss of stool, encourange him to try to "poop" within 15 minutes after each meal. My doctor said that is when the bowels are most active and will be more likely to "poop".
God bless, I know it can be frustrating, My son is now 7 and we have been dealing with this since he was 3. We've even gone to a specialist in another city to try to find a solution and it all boiled down to the same solution after months of diffrent tests, and special meds.
Just an FYI, but boys tend to be more likely to have this problem and especially boys with ADD tendencies.
God Bless, My prayers are with you, I know your frustration.
J.

My son use to do that. We found he had a disorder that caused him to BM in his pants he finally straightened himself out. They do it when it hurts to go you can look it up on mamma.com thats how we found out about it. Also has anything changed in your house that might be causing him destress? He might be afraid of getting older and not being the baby. Is he going to school? Hope this helps....

I would take him to a doctor, make sure everything is OK. Have you tried to catch him doing it? What was he doing at the time? Is he just too involved in something that he doesn't want to stop and go to the bathroom?
If everything checks out OK, it is time for punishment. Make him responsible for rinsing the undies in the toilet and then putting them in the wash machine. Make him mop up any messes. Then, spend the rest of the day in his room- or start with an hour, then add an hour each time. This will work!
(My son started the #2 thing when he was around 9 yrs old, so I have been through it.)

he is not getting enough fiber in his diet he needs to not drink any pop or eat a lot of candy and he needs water and a little gatorade in his diet

Did he have a fall that might have thrown something out in his back? I've heard of this happening to small children, and then they can't feel when they have to go to the bathroom. If you take him to a chiropractor, they can put things back in place so he can feel it again. I have a couple friends who swear by their chiropractors and have taken their kids to see them for this very problem (usually in the potty training stage, though).
Good luck!
J. B

Hi J., don't give up just yet. There may be something either physically or mentally could be the culprit. There is surely something bothering him. I would seek a good Dr. to make sure he is physically ok and then even see out a Physicologis. I have had problems with our kids and grandkids not particularly this instance but other things. Good Luck and love him no matter what. K.

My son is now 40 years old, but when he was 5 years old he was doing exactly the same thing as your son is doing, his doctor thought maybe his father left it was the cause but all along the doctor realize he was having Grand mall seizures. He sent us to a very good Neurologist. I am not tring to scare you, its just one thing you may try to ask your doctor about or take him to a specialist.
My son had major surgery on March 11, 2008 at Cleveland Clinic to remove his seizures. I could talk for week on end about seisures and sureries to any one if they like.

I had a similiar situation with my daughter when she was 6. I ended up taking her to the doctor and found that she has some mild nerve damage and truly didn't feel the sensation to go to the bathroom. I think you should make an appointment or at least call your son's doctor.

I think you have hit it on the head with the attention thing. He is only 3 yrs younger than his older brother, while he is a 6 yrs older than the new baby. The older one probably adjusted a little easier to the "new" baby because he was younger. Are there other changes happening this year such as school? He may just be needing some one on one time with especially you. He used to be the baby up until 6 mo ago!

I wish i could give you some sound advice but I can't. I too was gonna pose this same question,except I am dealing with a girl.She just turned 7 last week and we are going through the same exact things,even having an accidrnt at school.After much prodding I did find out she is having some anxiety about school..entering second grade and not knowing anyone in her class.Maybe your son is nervous about school.Good luck and if you get any good advice let me know.~K.

PS This may sound gross but my mother suggested checking for pin worms.She said my sister had them when she was younger a did the same thigs..BM's and wetting her bed/pants..Good luck

If he is describing "numb" feelings, this is an issue to be checked out by a doctor. Does he have these accidents when you are out and about? If he can go all day at school with no accidents, then you may be right that it is attention-getting behavior, but if he has a problem with it at school, then he needs to be checked out.

I'd have him checked out by his pediatrician. There may be a nervous system disorder behind his problem. Children's hospital has an encopresis clinic that may be the way to go if you can't get a handle on this. They need a referral form the pediatrician to begin their work up.
I notice that you have a new baby and that his accidents started a couple of months after the baby came. This might be a clue for you. Good luck!

I have had several sons with this problem. When it first began with our second son, we thought it was a behavioral problem, and nothing we tried helped. I took him to a pediatrician, and we discovered that he had encopresis, which can be either be a behavioral problem or a physiological one. With our sons it was caused by constipation. The bowel is actually blocked by old stool, and what comes out is the softer stool oozing around the blockage. The bowel has lost its tone, and the child doesn't know when the release of the stool is going to happen and has no control. The stool smells especially foul, I know, and the problem is hard on the whole family. It has been many years since we had to deal with this, but I would encourage you to take your son to your pediatrician or to a pediatric gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

I would suggest a Doctor's appt.

Hi J., A friend of mine had a young teenager with the same problem. I believe the doctor said it could be a physical problem, but I don't recall what ever happened with the situation. I would definately get him checked out by a specialist. God Bless. N. L.

Has anything changed in his diet? The reason I ask is that I had the same problem a year and a half ago, but with a different age group. I am a caregiver for a 91-year old gentlemen who was taking a daily supplement twice a day. Due to contracting the intestinal flu, he was unable to keep anything down. When I started him back on the supplement, I decided to only give it to him once a day. That's when our problems began. There was no control, no matter what I did and he also didn't feel anything. I, too, set intervals including setting the alarm every two hours, but to no avail. We went through this for two solid weeks. When I heard a story about a 25-year old girl with MS who was no longer incontinent and was taking the supplement twice a day, I wondered if it made that big of a difference. I should have known better as that was one of the areas I had seen cleared up when we first put him on the supplement. Needless to say, I started him on it again twice a day and within 4 days, he was back to normal and we have had no issues since. His body, obviously, wasn't receiving the balanced nutrition it needed to perform properly. I felt compelled to respond to your request as there is something that will help and self-esteem is an issue no matter what age. Contact me is you wish further information about the dietary supplement.

Please do NOT assume that your son is soiling himself all of a sudden multiple times a day simply due to "laziness" or "attention seeking" -- his issue sounds much more to me like some underlying medical problem.

His sudden & frequent peeing/pooping could certainly be a food allergy that is manifesting itself as incontinence and increased elimination frequency (see this link by a pediatrician about tracking down food allergies - the whole article is worth reading but I have specifically linked you to a chart which talks about all the different systems allergies can affect --> http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T041800.asp#T041803 ).

Or these symptoms could be some other health issue. PLEASE consult with your pediatrician and do some further investigation about food allergies (so that you are able to ask specific questions, as not all pediatricians are as familiar w/ the various manifestations of food allergies). Please assume that your child is NOT doing this on purpose and actually needs your compassion and support in getting to the real cause of his frequent accidents.

Wishing you a quick resolution for both your son and you!

please take him to the doctor. my son has problem with allergies and the excess mucus causes him to be loose and runny. Stool softners will only makke the problem worse. He looses control of his bowels if he sneezes or coughs. It might not be your sons fault. A child should never be punished for loosing control. Good luck.

I have a red flag going up about this. Get him to the doctor adn try and get him to talk... did something tramatic happen to your son? Is he hiding it to protect you? or is he sick? Chrones??

It could very well be nerve damage, especially since he described it as numb feeling.
My now 6 yr. old daughter was constipated a lot and the first thing they did was to check her for nerve damage. It was a simple xray. In her case there was no nerve damage, but at Children's they said they see it all of the time.

First of all, congratulations on your wonderful and very involved dad !!! Wish we all had one of those!
Do these accidents happen when your son is very involved in a certain activity? I ask b/c my son went through a similar problem because he was so intent on what he was doing, he did not want to take the time to go to the bathroom and started ignoring his body's cues. He SO loved this partially broken, handmedown GAMEBOY (curse the day we ever got it) or a computer game- that he would start to go in his pants. Then, he would frantically run to the toilet.
We eventually solved it by having him help in the cleanup process (wash out the undies, etc.) and we confiscated game time until he stopped the cycle.
We were also careful not to get very upset about it and not lecture too much.
Try to remember that it IS a phase- it will not go on forever. It's just not a very pleasant phase...
Good luck.

I would have your son checked by a Doctor , it could be medical. My friend had a daughter in Jr. high that kept doing this same thing and they found she had a medical problem. They had been punishing her by making her hand wash out her clothes because they thought it was just laziness. They felt so bad afterwards but the Dr. got her all fixed up and she is now a Healthy happy Jr. in High school.

Your son may have constipation and possibly overactive bladder. My 5.5 yr old was diagnosed with both by a pediatric urologist. It took an xray to determine that she was indeed constipated. If your son is constipated, then some may ooze around the blockage. With my daughter, it is extremely smelly. Since the child feels full all the time, they don't know when they need to go. The pressure on the bladder may cause wetting acceidents. You need to see the pediatrician and possibly a pediatric urologist. Make sure you mention the soiling accidents. My daughter had to take Miralax until we got daily normal stools. The first time we tried we stopped too soon and she got constipated again. We learned that a very small dose (.5 tsp) would keep her regular -- after a few weeks of that we could stop and she'd be ok. We were originally told to take 1 Tablespoon -- we didn't use that much but still used way too much. It was a very messy time -- you might want to keep him home from school while attempting that.

Tell the teacher, nurse, etc what is going on and that you are seeking help for him. I'm sure they've seen it before. Send several changes of clothes and bags to put the smelly stuff in. Wipes will help him clean himself up better. My daughter finally understands that it's not her fault.

Good luck.

Have you talked to his pediatrician? S/He should be able to listen to the situation you described and give you some help. Since school starts next week it could have something to do with anxiety about him beginning a new school year. Good luck.

My cousin had the exact same problem. The cause was a pinched nerve in her son's lower spine that was causing him not to feel when he had to go. She took him to the chiropracter and they gently adjusted his lower spine and, poof, no more problems. It just took the one adjustment to make it work. I would try this option, especially since you seem like you are at your wit's end. Email me privately if you would like a recommendation on a chiropracter if you are in the Fort Wayne area.

Hope this helps!
A.

Don't write it off as laziness--he may have hurt his neck or spine, have him checked by a doctor.
good luck

i hear you about his self esteem in school. Please call the doctor. Don't rely on us mom's. Call a pro before school starts.

I don't have advice on how to stop it, but I do on cleaning. I'd get a second diaper pail for his room (a cheap used one would be great) and after flipping his poo in the pot and maybe rinsing the undies in the toilet, put them in the pail. Every few days, wash them all together. You don't have to scrub them, just treat them like cloth diapers and wash them together - actually, I know people who wash their CD's with other clothes, it's safe, I just have enough diapers that I do separate loads of them.
Most people pee when they poop, so that's probably why he started wetting at the same time.

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