47 answers

My 8 Year Old Started Pooping His Pants

I need some help with my 8 year old son. He has just started pooping his pants, almost everyday for the past two weeks. For the past few months he has had "accidents" two or three times a week. Most of it is that he doesn't wipe well/ or at all when he's done. The past week it has been flat out he doesn't want to stop what he's doing to have to go to the bathroom-he told me that.
Unfortunately his life stinks right now and there is not a whole lot of priviledges I can take away. I just started a new job two days ago so he isn't going to get to play with friends after school at all. He will be with my mom in the afternoons so that means nothing fun but homework and playing quietly. I am a single mom and can't afford anything, so we do nothing fun ever that I could use as a reward or take away as a punishment. He also has anger issues (since the divorce) so disciplining him is a trick anyway.
I just don't want him to stink and get diaper rash. It needs to stop before the kids in his class start to notice. He has so little fun friend time as it is, any problems at school would be devastating. So we need to get this under control. Please help.

A little more info: He is already seeing a counselor at school. The divorce was when he was 4. He still has a hard time with it but there hasn't been anything "new" that I know of to cause such behavior.
I have talked to him about being abused and needing to tell a parent, about every six months we talk and so far he always says no. We have a strict "no secrets" policy and he tells me just about everything else, so as far as I can tell it's not that.
His Dr. says he's just fine-"it's normal and should clear up when he decides it's important enough"-which is how potty training went. He was 3 1/2 almost 4 before he really got it.

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thank you for some good advice.
Well, I realized that it was just stress. I remembered that his dad came to work in CA for a week and it all started when he went home.
I calmed down and made him clean his own messes and miraculously it stopped within 2 days after this posting. Then he went to visit dad for the weekend and once again a few days of problems. His teacher then changed at church and sure enough a few days of problems.
He's still seeing his counselor and I have definitely calmed down about it. After he cleans up I take a minute to talk with him and spend some time. I have made an extra effort to make sure he has a friend to play with everyday and have started a new schedule for him.

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I really feel for you because I have the same problem with my soon to be 8 year old. He too either does not wipe well or sometimes not at all...It drives me crazy and is very frustrating because I do not want other people to find out or smell him etc...I have tried everything, but it seems to be that he is just lazy or uses the excuse that he doesn't know how to wipe well...It seems that lately it has gotten a little better and I have talked to him about it and taken things away as well, but I am running out of any "punishments" that I can give to him. Basically as soon as I find out that he has the problem, he has to get into the bath right away, wash himself, and any playing privileges are out the door. That means no TV, no games, nothing except reading in his room. I have noiced that taking away simple things like this are having an effect and seem to work pretty well...It is less often that I have seen any huge problems. Yelling does not make a difference and only stresses you out, so being calm about things and telling him about others finding out and what he will lose if he does not even attempt to change, will hopefully work out for you...Good Luck.....

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There are a lot of options for free play time in every area. Your son is probably handling some pretty hard things right now (like missing his dad, missing you while at work, and feeling insecure or unwanted). It might not have been your intention, but often when parents go through a lot of stress and change they forget how much that change affects their children too. He needs you to be there for him more than ever BUT he is finding that you are pretty busy too, that makes him feel insecure and that he isn't loved. Make sure that you take time out to do anything that he enjoys and that can be free for both of you. Like throwing around a baseball, practicing his swing, playing chess, reading with him, going to the park, anything that you can do to spend time with your son. Also, would your mom allow him to have a play date once a week after school? Maybe he could invite over some friends and grandma could let them make cookies or play in the backyard? Whatever it is, a once a week treat like that will be worth it for him to be with his friends. There are also Saturdays. Make sure to plan things with friends (picnics, play in the park, or even just play in your backyard) so that he can spend some time with people his own age. It takes more planning, but even while you haven't got a lot of time, you have to make time for your son.
Discipline should not change because of divorce. Your son is old enough to understand that there are consequences for his choices. Why don't you sit down and talk to him? Tell him that you know it's been hard to adjust to having daddy gone and mommy having a new job, but that your family is still a family and you need to work together. Help him to know that you see and feel what he is going through. Then remind him that rules are important in any family and just because we are going through some changes, rules still apply. Make sure he understands the rules and knows that he has to obey them. Then talk about consequences. Remind him that he is old enough to be responsible and to understand rules so when he doesn't behave he will still have to be punished. Then make sure you follow through. Don't have shouting matches with your son. Don't worry about privileges that you can't take away, think of punishments that will help your family save time or money. Have him clean out the fridge or wash all the floorboards. Have him wash the walls, or windows, dust, vacuum, weed in the yard. Whatever it takes. These tasks will work his body and get something done that may allow you to have more time for him later.
Having a bowel movement in his pants seems to be part of trying to get some attention. Negative attention is still attention. Sit down and talk to him. Remind him that you don't want him to smell bad or to have people make fun of him. Tell him that he knows how to use that bathroom and he needs to do so. Then, next time he has a BM in his pants, just calmly tell him to clean it up. He should rinse out his underwear and pants and put them in the laundry to be washed, clean his bottom thoroughly, carefully clean anything that has been touched by the stool, wash his hands and arms properly, and go put on clean clothes. Then, after checking to make sure it was done properly (don't talk during this except to tell him what he needs to do again), just ignore the incident. If he is looking for attention by doing this negative thing, don't give it to him. But DO give him ANY positive attention that you can. Praise his studies, praise him when he gets along with grandma or helps her with the smallest thing, praise him for helping you with any task, praise him for the smallest thing he does right. Tell him everyday that you love him, but back it up by watching for opportunities to praise him and make him feel special. You can find ideas for tons of free crafts and games online, just do anything you can with your son. Let the housework go for a day (or two) if you need to spend some time with him. Enjoy all the time you have together, however little it may be. Make working around the house fun by hiding treats (like homemade cookies) in baggies around the house or putting things in strange places to see if he can find them (like a treasure hunt). Just do anything you can to make what little time you have with him fun and special. He will grow out of this. Be patient.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi S.,
I think that the responses that you got are very encouraging and have great ideas to help you. I'm not sure that I have anything new to add, but I wanted to offer you something else. I noticed that you said you just started working agian and are low on $. If you are interested in supplementing and possible eventually replacing your income, I have my own business with an amazing company that has blessed my life so incredibly. Not even just finacially, it has helped me become a stronger, more self confident person, which everyone has noticed. I'd love to tell you about it, if you're interested. There would be absolutely no obligation, I am a no pressure person. It would simply be getting information and seeing if this may be right for you and your life.
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My son had/has anger issues especially around this same age. My youngest son passed away & they were buddies to the end. He displayed this behavior & it got worse too! We got him some counseling (there are some non-profit, or not for profit agencies out there for kids) - & without us in there (we were in the waiting room but could go & watch through a 2-way mirror if we wanted), he was able to deal with the loss in his own way and the poop stopped. He still is angry sometimes about losing his little brother - & your will be about the divorce, but talking with an outsider about their issues helps. It helps because they don't want you to be mad at them for how they feel, or sad because of how they feel. He needs this for him....I know it was appalling and we did the punishing by taking privileges etc...& then we felt terrible about how simple of a fix it was... We asked the school first about counseling and they turned us onto a non-profit in town. It was a Visiting Nurses Association - but there are others I am sure. My son has never specified what he said in his sessions, but what he has mentioned was the just talking to the counselor. The poop stopped after the first meeting & hasn't happened again. And yes, he was a lazy wiper also - still is and he's 11. Good luck & God Bless!

I just wanted to suggest your local YMCA. I know the Burbank YMCA offers financial assistance and scholarships. They have a lot of excellent sports and afterschool programs that might be of interest to your son. They also offer child care and day camps in the summer. Worth looking into so he has a fun place to be active, burn off some energy, and meet friends!

Good luck!!

I just want to encourage you. Things will get better. Like you said he is dealing with a lot right now. The accidents in the pants is probably just his way of acting out his frustrations. What city do you live in? I am also a single mother with three kids. My son is also * and I went through a divorce almost 1 year ago. I no its hard but you just have to be patient with him and spend lots of one on one time with him ( which I no is hard especially when they are acting out). Maybe we can get together and let the boys have play dates.

It sounds as if there is a lot of stress and change going on for you and for your son at the present time. I am so sorry that you have this on top of all your other troubles and adjustments at this moment. Hang in there, and do your very best to be patient and kind. 8 years old isn't that old, really. In many ways, he's a little boy, scared and lonely and sad about the way his life is right now.

If you have the patience, why not get the largest size of 'pullups' that they make (or the smallest size of adult diapers), and give him the option of wearing those "until we get this little problem figured out". You can also get those little pocket packs of 'toddler wipes' that he can keep in his jeans pocket -

This way, it's all about him and his decisions, and not about you and having to punish him. You could also give him a little timer (you should be able to find something very inexpensive that's digital at a drug store or 99Cent store - most cell phones even have a timer now), and set it for 90 minutes. Then your son can decide, every 90 minutes, if he needs to think about going to the bathroom.

This would give him some small measure of control over his life, and it sounds that the LACK of control over his environment and life could be a major cause of his angst and behaviors right now.

rewarding good behaviors and doing fun, 'normal' things would probably be a big help too.

I wish for you much strength and grace

Hi S.,
I agree with many of the opinions given here. When we moved to LA from the east coast, away from all the family my son ever knew. I realized he was not as happy, and there was my daughters birth. I went to UCLA Westwood (building 200 2n floor pediactrics)and found a study for child anxiety and called (I actually called about 5 studies on all different child behaviors until I found one that fit). I wasn't sure if his stress was causing anxiety but I really need to find someone for my son to talk to, for free. My son was accepted to the study and spent about 6 months with a therapist (and they paid for parking). He loved his "brain doctor" and it calmed him alot.
On the friend and money issues. I find giving my son just an extra half hour running around on the yard after the bell works wonders. Maybe your Mom would be up for that as she won't have to go any where else, just hang a little longer at school, or once your son is into the idea (and rules are set- only play in this area don't leave school, don't talk to strangers) picking him up a little later. Also, I have found that other parents are quite willing to be extremely helpful and want their children to have more playtime as well. I have emailed all the Moms in my sons class at times and said here is our situation, would anyone like to have a playdate? I found Moms who were willing to have after school playdates and drop off my son after. I found Moms who are not single but have husbands who travel alot, or like me husbands who work at job starting at 2pm- who love to do dinner at each others homes, or a day at the beach or playground on the weekends, or take turns so we can each get things done. Don't be ashamed about your situation, admit to it and you will find many a friendly ear right in your neighborhood. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood- in a 1 bedroom, with 2 kids, 1 on the way and a husband who is a resturant manager. When we moved here 3 year ago and I started to be honest with myself and with other Moms, I found lots of friends.
On the $ issue- we have had nothing, but my son never knows it. A Saturday walking venice beach- laughing at the sites is a favorite. Kids eat free nights are always great (Denny's is Tue & Sat) Going to the library and getting some books- we always pick one that we plan on reading together every night. LA Parent magazine (which is free) list tons of activities by day. My son loves our Mommy and me time. Give him your undivided stress free attention- do not discuss in front of him money, the divorce, your new job, or your stress. He does not need all that he is just a child- once I stopped letting my son hear my worries he improved tremendously. Let him be a kid!

I too would take him for a medical checkup to rule any medical issues out.

It sounds like you are both going through a lot of changes and stress. Maybe some of this is emotional.

I don't think that discipline will work in this situation--only make things worse. It sounds like your son needs a lot of love and understanding as your family goes through this stressful time.

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