Strange Problem with 8 Year Old

Updated on June 14, 2009
K.C. asks from Friedens, PA
16 answers

this is odd and embarrassing to me but I have an 8 year old son who somewhat recently starting pooping his pants. I say somewhat recently because I realized something was wrong some time ago but I thought he just didnt wipe well after using the bathroom and kept on him about that but lately its gotten worse and after speaking with him he claims he doesnt know when he has to go and basically he goes in his pants. Obviously this can happen anywhere because he doesnt know when its going to happen or that it has. I would think afterwards he knows because he does smell and I have to tell him to change his underwear and pants and then I have him wash out his own underwear because I am tired of doing it and I thought maybe it will help him to correct the problem if he has to do it himself but he doesnt seem to mind and he doesnt get upset. Is it really possible that he doesnt know that he is pooping his pants? I have a 2 1/2 year old also and he knows and asks to go on the potty. Its terrible to have to kept up with an 8 year old as well and honestly its just gross. I explained that his friends arent going to want to be with him when this happens that he needs to make it home or to the bathroom where ever he is but he says he doesnt realize until its too late. Just a little bit of information about him and our family. He is a little overweight. Not extremely but he could lose a few lbs and the foods he likes to eat are not the best for him and I am trying to change his diet for his health but I also wonder if his diet and being overweight have anything to do with his issue. I am also going through a divorce but they seem to be handling that pretty well. But I know its a big change for them as well although they are adjusting . Like I said before I thought he just didnt wipe well and now I am realizing he isnt getting to the toilet so its been going on but it is getting worse
If there is anyone out there that can offer any advise I would love to hear it

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answers from Philadelphia on

Sounds like encopresis. Take him to the doctor right away. It can be resolved but it is much easier if you act quickly.

But first you must get him off caffiene and dairy all together. These are the two main culprits. He should only have 100% fruit juice and water.

Seriously, go to webmd and look up Encopresis. You might be amazed at how much it sounds like him.

The resolution is a process and kind of gross but only because it is poop. Good luck and please get him to the doctor right away.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi K.---Definitely take him to the doctor. Rule out medical issues--what if this were happening to you? You'd go to the doctor, right? It's not how the body is supposed to work, and he needs help. Good luck, and best wishes.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

If it is encopresis, he cannot control it, so he shouldn't be punished or made to feel ashamed about it. It's a medical problem. Please talk to your pediatrician right away. He/she will most likely put him on a fiber supplement to start, so his diet may be a real issue. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds to me like it could be encopresis. Do a search on it (,parents, I think or something like that), but make sure his doctor knows.

I don't know if I would rule out milk, just yet, like one mom suggested. Try Lactose-free milk first. Try Activia yogurt, too. I've heard good things about(the real kind, not just something flavored) blackberries and constipation--from my mom from her mom when she was constipated.

But see his doctor, and mention all these things.


answers from Williamsport on

Follow other advice on medical issue. Also, you mention his weight and food preferences. You are 100% in charge if that. Even if he occasionally eats bad when he is with friends or at school, if his home diet and eating habits are properly managed by you as his shopper and educator, he will not be overweight, and any stomach/digestion disorder he has will be easier to fix. So good work changing that! My kids get constipated whenever they don't get enough veggies and whole grains and water etc. If they eat badly at a party or something, they usually don't poop the next day, instead of twice a day like normal, and then we have some weird struggles and accidents. So get him eating right and well hydrated and active!
Also do some special fun things with him and pump up his self esteem a lot. He could be repressing some sadness about the divorce-or the stress of it is adding to the physical condition-sometimes poop issues are depression related. Pooping is something that can't be controlled, so kids sometimes try to act against it when they are having other battles they can't control. I learned that from my uncle a psychiatrist-it's most common for kids to hold it in too long but it can take other forms! Make sure he's having as much fun as possible. Good luck!



answers from York on

I have a friend who's son started doing this. They finally figured out that he was constipated.



answers from Philadelphia on

It really sounds like constipation (which is also called encoparesis). My 9 year old daughter has struggled with this for two years, and it's been incredibly frustrating trying to get it completely resolved (it's not usually this complex for most kids-her history of abdominal surgery seems to be making it a little tougher), but she only "leaks" stool when she's seriously backed up, which hasn't happened for a long time. I thought at first that she wasn't wiping properly (she was 7 then) and she was so embarrassed. She ended up having belly pain too and the pedi sent her for an Xray of her abdomen which showed a huge backup of stool. Once we got her on stool softeners and she cleaned out, the leaking stopped. It's the first question a Gastroenterologist will ask if looking at a kid for possible constipation, b/c this type of leaking is so common. Talk to the pediatrician, and see if a dose of Miralax or similar softener (not a laxative, which is generally not appropriate for kids) would be helpful. Good luck!



answers from Lancaster on

There are many things medically that could be going on - and due to his age I would recommend taking him to the doctor.Even if there turns out to be nothing medically wrong it could be him noticing you seriously adressing the issue that changes the behavior.



answers from Philadelphia on

My oldest is 8 and we do not have this problem. I would call his ped and see if you can talk to the nurse. My other thought is he stressed out? Anything big happen? Either way call his ped.



answers from Philadelphia on

Google encopresis (sp?). It is a bowel problem common with kids who wait too long to go to the bathroom. I used to work with a kid who had it, and if I remember correctly, the reason it just "comes out" is because typically there is some impacted poop in their bowel, and the softer poop gets around it and basically falls out. Foods that are high in fat and calories are obviously not the best, since they can cause stomach issues even without a problem like this. I would try a higher fiber, lower fat diet. Plenty of veggies, fruit, etc. Allow less healthy foods occasionally so he doesn't get too bummed! Also, it is VERY possible that he doesn't know he's pooping his pants, at least not until it's too late. The kid I used to work with used to wear 2 pairs of underwear just in case.
The fact that it doesn't seem to bother him is concerning, and may be a sign that he needs to talk to someone professional. Maybe he is having problems because the of the divorce. He may not even realize that it's going on, which is why the bathroom issue is happening maybe?? I would def talk to your ped and possibly a professional that specializes in dealing with kids. I know it's upsetting, but he will really need your support getting through this, so try not to get too angry with him! Easier said than done I know, but if it is an issue due to divorce (or anything else that me be bothering him), he will need you more than ever!! Good luck and let us know what the doc says!



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear K.,
Yes, your child is feeling the effects of your situation or else this is physiological. If he has had antibiotics (more than 4 times in one year), he could have a pH imbalance in his colon. (Acidolphillus and exercise will help to change that)
If he eats too much too fast, and not the right foods, the body will not be able to absorb it properly, and it will expel too fast. (suggestion: Have him chew his food 20 times before swallowing. Chewing food increases the saliva production, therefore, increasing the ability for your son to have proper digestion of his food. This will also slow down his eating pattern and allows him to enjoy meal conversation as opposed to just seeing mealtime as food for the body. It is a time for you and your son to "take time out" and enjoy each other's company. This is so important for all families.
Do not let him snack after dinner. This insures a better sleep pattern and he will wake up earlier, in time for school and a better appetite to eat good food.
The color of the #2 will give you insight as to what is going on. Light brown - not enough iron....dark brown - good iron (but don't let him get constipated either). Remember that calcium and iron do not absorb well by the body, at the same time. More iron in the morning...more calium products at dinner. Calcium is called, "nature's tranquilizer". In milk products, there is also considerable amounts of magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax muscles.
Many times a child will eat a lot and crave food if he is nutrtionally deficient in something. Your job is to get him eating good food. Whole grains take about 3 weeks to adjust in your system (do not repeat the same grain more than 2-3 times a week. Whole grains offer excellent "b" complex vitamins - good for the nervous system, Vitamin E and a higher protein level than "enriched" breads/cereals. Because whole grains are a complex carbohydrate, the sugars in his body will break down slower and; therefore, will keep him from feeling hungry for a longer period of time.
If iron deficient, he needs more meat, eggs, soy protein (lean in fat content) - known as tofu). Spinach is high in iron. Do not buy processed lunch meat.
Also, a good multiple vitamin should be in order. A study was done in the early ninties and it was found that over 60% of dieticians are taking some food supplementation. A good rule of thumb...The most expensive nutrient in a multiple vitamin is Biotin, The second is folic acid. If the nutrient has 100% of the Recommended Nutritional Allowance (RNA), it is probable that the maker of the vitamin cares about the customer's health.
If you want more detailed information, peruse The Nutriton Almanac, or "Life Extension" by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, both from MIT.
K., this is a lot....I hope that this is helpful. If not, I would "truck my cookies" to the nearest Pediatrician and/or GI MD.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi K.,
While the problem sounds unusual,boys very often do not care about their grooming or cleaning habits.He may be preoccupied with play and too lazy to go to the bathroom.However you need to adress this behavior because aside from uncleanliness his friends will find out and kids can be very cruel.
If it were my son I would start out by discussing the reprecussions.Then I would just be on his case about going to the bathroom.If it doesn't improve after that then I would think he has someother issues which may need to adressed by your DR.
Good LUck and hopefully he is just going thru a lazy unaware stage.



answers from Scranton on

Definitely talk to your doctor, but check with a chiropractor. I know one who deals with children and pregnant women and she handles this specific problem. Just last week she had 2 different 8-9 year old boys she was treating and their issues seemed cleared up after one or two visits.

Good Luck,




answers from Philadelphia on

I am sorry that both of you are going through this. I agree with others I think you need to rule out medical issues. Also, some kids show stress in strange ways. He may not appear to care but I am sure he does. Nobody wants to lose control of their bowels. He probably acts like he doesn't care because it is better to act like he doesn't care than to get uspet. He may be trying to be tough or is just too embarrassed so he just ignores it. I have seen kids act like that in classes when I was teaching. Think about it, someone passes gas in class and they just act like they don't know what you are talking about, rather than admit they did it and say excuse me but this can't be ignored. If there isn't medical issue then I would seek out counseling to help him work through things and hopefully everything will settle down. As for you just just remember this too shall pass. This is a tough time for you all, so just try to love each other as much as possible. good luck.


answers from Allentown on

Hi K.,

Call your local pediatrician. Good luck. D.



answers from Philadelphia on

It could be a medical problem so you might want to call your pediatrician first. After that you might consider art therapy if there is any chance that it could be related to the divorce. I have friends going through divorces whose kids seem very well adjusted but occasionally act out, both have said this works better than "talking about it".

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