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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.

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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.

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Hi S.,
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email me if you'd like


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.

I'm so sorry. No medical problem--you've taken him to the dr to get checked out? Is there a school counselor available?
What about "writing a book" with him about all the things he's feeling right now? Write down EVERYTHING you can think of from losing his friends, less time w/ you, no time to run around at your moms, etc. and calmly read off everything. If anything triggers any sort of reaction from him, that goes in the book and can be talked about with him during non-stressful times. You can help him write the words and draw the pictures and put all the bad feelings in the book and then he doesn't have to carry those feelings around in his body. Have you talked to his teacher? Is there something different at school, a bully or a friendship that has changed? Can your mom take him to a park and let him play there? good luck!

S., are you able to take him to the park on your days off or before or after shifts? That is free yet fun. Are there parks in your area that have fishing ponds? Seems you may have a small expense, however it will give him something to do. If not, what about hiking, the most you would need is a bottle of water.

It seems to me he is just lacking a little attention. Kids do some wierd stuff for a little attention, which I am sure is unintentional.

Best of luck.

Our son is now 36 but we struggled with the same problem for years until he was 14. Yes, 14. He is my stepson and my husband's ex wife left him with his three children and this son is the one that suffered the most, blaming himself altho he was only 4 years old. We had him with a psychologist for a while but my husband really didn't believe in a psychologist and I was only the "step mom". While he finally got over his pooping problem, he still has issues at 36. He's a great kid but just couldn't make good connections and is still single. We don't see him very often and he just seems to be a bit of a drifter. I tell you this not to panic you but just to encourage you to get some counseling help for him now while he's young. That is our regret to this day and of course, we can't convince him to seek help because he thinks he's ok. Good Luck.

Dear S.,
I wish I knew what to do. It is a hard time. I will pray for you to find the answer.
God's bless you,
R. E

No 8 year old wants to poop his pants. It sounds like he may have encopresis. It is very common in boys, especially your sons age. My daughter suffered from it (she is 5) and we got it under control after 2.5 years of her suffering. If this sounds like your son and you need help being pointed in the right direction for help, email me directly.


I don't have any advice for you, But I read your story and it made me so sad. I'm so truly sorry that you and you son have to go through this. It hurts my heart to hear that you have to go through this. :( I just want to let you know that I've read the responses on here and they are so wonderful and so encouraging, it made me cry. This website is so great and just know that even if we don't know you, we care deeply about you and your son and were here for you for all the encouragement you two need! Were mom's too and we all have our hearts outside of our bodies, and we want to help. Just remember that the mom's on here all care. And to all the mom's who positively reponded, you guys are great! Such wonderful advice and so caring. Makes me so proud to be part of mamasource. Keep up the great work in helping mom's from all over and in different situations.

S., I'll be thinking of you and keeping you and your son in my prayers. And only wishing you two pull through this, I know you can do it!

Sounds like life is tough for both of you right now. Maybe instead of punishing his pooping issue, you could reward his turnaround. Find something he loves or wants right now (even if it is time with you!) and set a system for him to earn it. Maybe a new book or pokemon for a few days without accidents. Stopping for a snack or treat between grandmas and home.... If money is tough, maybe scheduling a playdate with a friend or special movie/game night with you. Give him something to look forward to and maybe it will help balance some of the hard stuff right now.
Good luck!

I am a counselor and I highly recommend finding a counselor who can help you and your son through this difficult time. It is my feeling that his pooping stems from a larger issue than not wanting to leave a fun activity.
Good luck!

Take him to his pediatrician for a referral to a good family therapist.

Hi! I don't really have any advice for the problem on hand. However, i did want to encourage you that you don't have to feel bad that you can't afford to do things ever. He would have fun probably seeing his mom happy spending time with him. On the weekends you can visit different parks and pack a lunch. You can go on nature trails, walk around the mall and get an ice cream. Give him a dollar to play some video games......you can invite a friend from school on any of those outings. You can take walks on the beach, the pier...the list is endless, the harbor (there are always fun things there). Money does not buy happiness with children, spending time with you does. You two go have fun and enjoy eatchother, stop stressing (: it gets you no where.

It sounds like your son is doing this as a result of the stressors in his life. I would get him to a counselor as soon as possible. He needs help sorting through his anger and sadness right now.

Best of luck,
Mary Annn

Please take him to family therapy. Divorce is davastating. Is your mother strict? Hopefully she is able to be nurturing through these difficult times.

My prayers are with you.
I have to say that makeing a routine and sticking with it would do both of you a lot of good right now. Try to take some of that stress away by taking a little time for yourself and for the both of you.(15 mins a day) You don't have to spend money to do something together, it could be as easy as taking a walk together so you both have no other distractions to take you away from each other. Talk to him about his day and why he has started doing what he is doing.( sounds to me like he just wants your attention)
Coming from a divorced family myself, life is hard, i know. My two girls went through so many things. I figured out that it just takes a little time and effort on my part to make things the way i want them.
Write down a daily schedule for your son. Give him certain times to time play, do homework, watch tv, snack,get ready for bed, and mommy time.
Divorce is tough, i went through it as a child and i went through it as an adult with my own kids. Life gets busy, too busy we think sometimes because now we have to do everything that we used to share with someone else. And we have to deal with all the feelings that go through us after a divorce. It took me about two years to really get through mine. But i got through it, and my girls got through it. So will you and your son.
Take care

As other people said, all of you are going through a very tough time.It seems to me like this is a response. I would seek advice from a social worker or psychologist. Ask your pediatrician if he or she can reccommend someone.
Best of luck!

Hi S., I am sorry that your marriage ended. I can only imagine the stress you both are going through right now. Hugs to both of you!

In stressful situations kids can regress. I have two boys whom I've adopted and had dirty pants issues. In my experience with this it had to do with fear of loss. Changes in family, changes in where a child goes after school, etc. These all can create new fears. Kids don't have control over what happens to them, they depend on us. Sometimes they can't understand everything that is going on. I hope this makes any sense. In counsel I have gotten, it is good to be open and honest and let the kids know how the day is going to go. Talk about fears and how to handle them. Maybe call him every afternoon at your Mom's just to say hello and let him know when you will come get him. Just let him know that you will always be there for him and won't leave him.

God bless,


I'd recommend you look for 2 books in a nearby library and read them both. The first one is Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. The other is the Five Love Languages of Children.



These two books have made a HUGE difference in my relationship with my kids. When everything else is a mess, the only thing you have control over is how you deal with it. And making sure your kids FEEL loved makes a huge difference in their behavior.

Good luck,


Hi there -- my kids are younger, but what occurs to me is a saying from Chinese medicine ( I am a massage/shiatsu therapist) which is "when the child is sick, treat the mother". In traditional chinese medicine this has to do with different organ channels etc, but also applies to "real life". Almost all the behaviors we hate in our family come at times when I am the most angry, tired, stressed, etc.. Truly, when mother is happy, all the family is pretty happy. The other thought I had was that you might try going back to the potty training mindset -- where it is all positive and you work with your child to gain a skill. I know this is probably annoying, considering you have already done it once, but if he knows he has your number, you will be cleaning him up till he gets tired of working you over with it. Sorry you are so overwhelmed -- hope this helps. aloha JP

Hi S.,

Your son is acting out due to the things happening in his life. He's reacting to the divorce among other things. They say that if the divorced parents fight, the outcome is hardest for the child so be careful in that area. When a child acts out it is a call for help, rather than something wrong with him. You need to go to family therapy with him and your mom. I'm sure there are low cost places in town and you need to help your son. Also, find an after school program or something that can let him play with his friends, too, or at least on the weekends. This is the way kids develop into adjusted adults and, if you don't help him now you'll have a very difficult time when he is a teenager. Don't think about taking away privileges, he is not doing something wrong, he is in pain.


Hi S.,

I can imagine that you are both stressed right now! It sounds like a really tough time, and I'm sorry to hear you're going through this.

I'm a coach for divorced/single moms. I wanted to invite you (and encourage you!) to a free service I offer. The first Friday of every month, I host a free conference call for single moms. We talk about issues that are important to all of us doing this parenting thing on our own (I'm a divorced mom to two teenagers, so I know what it's like) It's called Solo Mamas Speak Out and you can get more information about it at www.SoloMama.com - click the Calendar link or email me at ____@____.com. Sometimes there are many moms on the call, other times just one (which is always great for that one mom!) It's totally free and fun, and a great way to get some coaching with absolutely no obligation. Plus, sometimes as single moms it's so nice to connect with other moms who are going through similar things and really 'get it'!

I'd love it if you'd call in, and hopefully find some new single parenting strategies will help you and your little boy have a whole lot more fun in life, and a lot less stress.

Take good care, and hang tight. He's lucky to have a good mom like you.

J. R.

Your last sentence says it all...you are both stressed to the max. For an 8 year old to regress this far and do something that will bring him shame and discomfort is rather serious. You should speak to his school counselor and get a recommendation for family counseling that is affordable for you, the sooner the better. He is more than stressed and needs help right away.

that you are both stressed seems to be the major point here. he is regressing as a reaction to all of this stress and change. it would be helpful for him to see a child psychologist. see if his school counselor can recommend someone...

I'm sorry things are so hard right now. You and your son are in my prayers.

I'm really concerned by this situation. I read the responses from the other moms and it's so great to see such helpful people are out there. It sounds like there is a whole lot going on that maybe you're not aware of. Maybe it would help to get a second opinion from a different pediatrician. I think weather your a child or an adult, sudden accidents as this could very well be caused by a physical or psychological issue that needs attention. It may not even be anything really serious. Simple anxiety or panic attacks can cause this to happen to even adults. Good luck to you!

Kids have little to no control about what happens in their lives...Eating and bathroom habits are about all that they can completely control. I would suggest two things. First make him completely responsible for his actions. He needs to do all the work cleaning up his mess (poop), all the down to the laundry. You of course will need to supervise, but do not help! After he realizes how much work it is, I am sure you will see a difference quickly. Second I would try to involve him in making as many choices in his life as possible. Even small choices like; would you "like corn or green beans with dinner?" or would you like to take a bath or shower tonight before bed?" will make him feel like he has control over his life. After all, we all need to feel in control of our life :) Good luck!

Being so stressed out is probably playing into his “accidents”. You also may want to investigate to be sure there isn’t something else going on that is troubling him. Instead of thinking about what you can do to punish, try rewarding good behavior. Let him know that if his friends find out they might make fun of him. Tell him you want to help him not have accidents and that each day he doesn’t have an accident he earns something special like a trip to the park, a play date with a friend, or an activity at the local library. This will mean you’ve got to give him some time, but that’s probably what he needs. Maybe your mom can also work on helping to reward him during the time she is with him. Good luck!

I was having problems with my 5 year-old daughter and I ended up taking her to the pediatrician. He had me give her Miralax everyday with trips to the bathroom every 3 hours, and after meals. He thinks she was leaking out because she was not totally emptying her bowels so, I also had to sit with her in the restroom, go - wait two minutes - try again. What also helped was having her pull her underwear all the way to her ankles. She was not spreading her legs enough and some was ending up on her underwear. It should be said, that accidents can also be a sign of molestation. It might be worth it to buy some books and have a few conversations with your son. My brother was molested by a neighbor we didn't know as a child and we didn't find out until years later. Good luck!


punishing him is the last thing i would do. Obviously he is going through some difficult times right now with all the changes and he is probably having a hard time dealing with everything. I think he is needing more positive things in his life. Maybe he thought infancy was a better time in his life and would like to revert back to those times. I think maybe he needs some counseling to help him cope with all the changes and learn how to deal with his new life style (divorce)

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.....

Look, I am not going to tell you I have the answers here because I don't. However, if his life is that bad I think you need to figure out more things to do with him that are fun. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Take him to the beach this weekend--it's free and it's supposed to be hot. Where I live there is a community pool that you can go to for $2.50 a person. Promise some fun and different things and maybe then talk about what is going on. Try planning something with him (ie get him to figure out rewards he would like that you can afford). Maybe talk to his teacher about who might be a good friend for him and invite that person to do something with you.

All I can suggest is that you tell your son how much you love him, often. Good luck and God bless you.

I imagine the divorce is the main culprit for this change in behavior. Kids don't always function well with extreme change. I don't think that this is something that should be punished but more of a sign that he is having a hard time coping with what's happening and needs some help. If you have insurance I would recommend finding him a good therapist. I don't think he is broken or has a disorder but I do think that pooping his pants is just a symptom of him dealing with the change that is occurring. I know it sounds crazy but children tend to revert in these situations. Being part of a divorce at the age of 8 isn't easy even if the divorce is amicable because no matter how amicable it is, it's a huge change for him to handle. Think of how it's affecting you as an adult and try to consider how it would affect you if you were only 8. If you don't have insurance, you might consider meeting with the school counselor to get some advice and maybe set some time for him to talk to the counselor. I wish you both the best.

S., Assuming that your doctor says there is nothing physically wrong with your boy, my sense is that your child is hungry. Yes, hungry for loving attention, playtime, friends, Dad, you, fun, company, a loving and playful grandma, and more. His life sounds so lonely! If you don't give him what ne NEEDS, the problems will escalate. When YOU are hungry... do you feel better being punished for it?! Sounds like both, you and your Mom, tend to be punitive. I understand that reaction because I am the same way. But please learn from my mistakes... I see on a daily basis the consequences of punitive mothering. Forget cleaning the house and DO more fun things with him (walks, park, star-watching, snacks under a tree, kicking ball, wrestling on the ground, etc) and you will see a turn for the better. Tell him it is just a phase he is going through, that he will regain control over his body... and he will! Good luck! A. M.

Hi S.,It must be hard for you both right now.Maybe they have a big brother program for your son.It might help you both .Try to find time for a little fun,life is to short,and kids grow to fast.(I'm sure you know)Good luck,L.

Hi- The response from Marlys is right on. We went through this same thing with my eight year old step-daughter. It is a cry out to stress and a feeling of no control. Reach out to him to acknowledge that you know he's stressed, but let him know that the pooping in his pants is not ok. The idea to give him more choices in the little things like dinner or bath time, etc. is perfect. It will make him feel like he has more of a say in what's going on in your very stressful life. Seriously. Hang in there. I am also a fan of making kids responsible for their own actions, so I think having him clean it up is a good idea, too. If you put him in pull-ups it's only going to make it easier for you and let him know that it's ok- I would not go that route. Once we validated my step-daughter's feelings and let her know that we were aware of what was going on, it became a lot easier and hasn't been an issue since. Good luck!

Dear S., I am so sorry to hear about what you are going through with your son, I know, as a single Mom myself, how stressful it can be - and for you, starting a new job on top of all the other issues, this cannot be an easy time. This is surely, as you indicated, something that your son is picking up on, so my take on this would be to treat the situation as gently as possible. This is regressive behavior which is usually a cry for attention. I would make that attention positive and nurturing - make sure that he has nice warm baths, put salt in the water (which is very healing), and something my daughter loves for a treat buy some shaving foam to play with in the bath. It's time to focus what little time you have with him during the week on the good stuff, even playing a game of cards or connect 4 before bed. He knows that what he is doing is not good and I believe that it will stop sooner if the focus is placed on what he does well. Good luck!

I have to say that I think his problem is obvious from your email. You actually said that his life stinks, he doesn't get to play with friends after school, that you two do nothing fun ever and he has anger issues from the divorce. These are your problems. He doesn't want to stop to take time to poop because he is trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible and he may be exhibiting this behavior for attention. Please get him and yourself some counseling to deal with the divorce anger. There are fun free things that you two can do together. The park is free, going to the beach to throw a frisbee is free, making arts and crafts together is free once you purchase a few inexpensive supplies. Find things around the house you can make stuff out of. Ask your mom to take him to the park instead of playing quietly. Your son is lashing out. An 8 yr old's life shouldn't 'stink'. That is the saddest thing I have ever heard. Look on Craigslist for cheap toys for sale. Take your son to yard sales with you to pick up a couple of cheap toys. Maybe he can bring a friend along or a friend can come over while grandma babysits. I hope these suggestions help.

It's nice that he has a lot of out-lets but besides that all of that. How long have you been divorced or not with the boy's father? In most cases he needs to know there was nothing he did to cause the break-up. You state that this has been going on for the past two weeks, What happened or going on around the time he started having these accidents? Kids have a way to non-verbal how they feel. Boys are very connected to the mother, now he has to deal with you going to work, going to Grandmas', no Fun (I bet he knows that), homework, and not be seen. See if you can have him tell you how he feels...He might be doing this to get your attention away from your life troubles. If you can take him out for some fun time with Mom especially since you both are so "STRESSED TO THE MAX". Show him that you love him and this is not his problem.

Hey S.,
I am sure this must be a frustrating situation for you and your son. As a marriage and family therapist, the first thing I would want to do is rule out any medical conditions. I would suggest a trip to your doctor. Secondly, I would ask what was happening in your family or with him at the time this all started. Divorce plays a very challenging role in the life of a child. You also went back to work. I would say that he is angry about his circumstances and in his way he is punishing you and his dad. Also, it sounds like he is age regressing and believes (unconciously) it would be better to be a baby again when things were normal. My best suggestion is that you find a good child psychologist or marriage and family therapist in you area which takes insurance. If you don't have that, there are many community counseling centers that see clients for low fee or sliding scale. I believe therapy is his and your best option. It would give him a safe place to talk about his feelings.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
With light,

S., I am so sorry you and your son are having such a difficult time. I wanted to second the idea of contacting a counselor. I am also a therapist who has always worked with children and when a child suddenly begins to poop his pants, it is usually due to life stressors (like a big change), which you have stated that your son is going through. It is called encopresis. Perhaps your son's pediatrician or school could give you a referral, or depending on where you are I could refer you somewhere.

It 's plain to see that your son is feeling all the stress you are and there is no way to reduce it, but REDUCE the stress!!! He must be mortified and scared, if you are the only stable person and then you "go away" too (to work) what is he supposed to do. He has no control...
maybe he could live with Grandma until things settle down??? or his Dad could pay more money until things calm down...or reduce the activities not as a punishment, but to make life simple and just BE with him. good luck

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