8 year old boy focusing on fecal material

by Ginny
(Kaneohe, Hawaii)

Question: How do we get an 8 year old boy to quit focusing on fecal material? He is constantly makes jokes, manages to work the term into almost every conversation and laughs hysterically.

It is tiresome, and seems not age appropriate to me!
This has been going on for probably 3-4 years.

Requests to stop have no effect. Anything to worry about?

Should we punish? Ignore?

Help, please.

Answer: Ignoring is probably your best option. I would assume he thinks the reaction he gets from it is what is so funny. If you can not react at all and ignore anything he says when he uses those terms he should get the message that it is inappropriate.

When he asks for something or tries to tell you something and uses those terms, I would simply say, "Oh that's too bad I can't hear you when you use those words." Then completely ignore until he rephrases what he has said without those terms.

You may need to even walk away at times if you are having a hard time ignoring him. Just remember it can get much worse before it gets better as he tries as hard as possible to get a reaction out of you. Hold strong and stay consistent and it should eventually go away completely.

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How can I teach her to stop playing with her poop?

by Rebecca
(Everett, WA)

Question: Okay, this seems kind of well gross, but my 3 1/2 year old keeps pooping in her diaper and then playing with it. She says she is "painting" with it.

She gets it all over her carpet, bedding and recently the wall! She only does it at night time and I can't seem to get her to understand that it is "yucky" and she should not do it.

Her father and I are not together and she does not behave this way at his house. We have been struggling with potty training and this is just making it that much worse. Please help!

Answer: If you haven't checked out my pages with potty training tips, I highly recommend you start by working on that.

I would also say that until she is trained or stops this behavior she should not be left alone during the times she is most likely to have a bowel movement. This should be easy if she is on a regular schedule.

I know this can be difficult when you are trying to get things done, so if you are able to possibly invest in a video monitor to keep an eye on her at all times that may be a good option.

The best way to stop the behavior is to intervene as soon as it starts. If you aren't able to intervene until after she has already made a complete mess and had fun doing the activity it will be much more difficult to prevent it from happening in the future.

If you are always observing her, then as soon as she begins to start the behavior you can immediately say in a calm voice, "Poop goes in the potty. When you have to go poop you have to hurry to the potty." while facilitating getting her into the bathroom and on the potty. Avoid scolding as this could delay potty training success and make the behavior worse.

This would be much easier after doing the 3 day potty training program I have provided for parents.

Either way, the most important aspect would be to intervene immediately as soon as she begins the behavior.

Good luck!

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My 10 year old son poops himself purposely

Question: My 10 year old son just recently started pooping himself (2 weeks) and he says he doesn't feel it. As a mother I know when my child is lying to me, and I know he is trying to cover up for the mess he made.

He will rather sit there in poop instead of going to the bathroom like a child his age. He will tell me to my face that he is not pooped and when I ask him to turn around for me to check him, sure enough he is soiled.

He has not had any trauma in his life. He is not in a broken home nor is he abused. I researched encopresis and at this point I don't know if I should take him to a psychiatrist.

Answer: I would first take him to his pediatrician, letting him know what has been going on and get him tested for a urinary tract infection. Sometimes there can be no symptoms other than having accidents. There may also be something else medical happening.

If you find that he really is purposely going to the bathroom, perhaps eliminating privileges for activities he is choosing to do instead of using the bathroom might help.

For example if he is choosing to play a particular game instead of going to the bathroom then you could say - at the time of the accident - "That's a bummer, I think we are going to have to put that game away until you are able start using the bathroom again. It looks like it must be too distracting for you."

Avoid any harsh scolding or reprimanding as this can make the behavior worse. Simply speak with empathy saying what a bummer it is and then removing whatever the activity he is choosing to do instead of going to the bathroom saying it must just be too distracting for him.

After he has gone a certain number of days without accidents you could gradually give him back each item/activity.

You may also have him clean himself by taking a shower each time. This makes the accident more work than just going to the bathroom in the first place, which should help encourage him to go as well.

Good luck!

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Am I a bad mum?

by Catherine Halls
(Invercargill )

Question: My 3 year old eats her own poo, and loves it. I have to go to the toilet with her to make sure she doesn't eat it because after the toilet she comes back with it around her lips and on her hands she always sneaks and does it somewhere else and then eats it.

I've put a lock on the toilet seat so it doesn't go up because she likes putting her head in and licking the sides. When she's wiping she will lick the toilet paper, I am really worried am I a bad mum for not letting her eat it she crys when I don't let her.

Answer: Feces is considered to be a hazardous waste. She most definitely should not be allowed to eat it. Sometimes part of our job as parents is to know what is better for them. This may mean they will cry and does not mean that you are a bad parent.

A bad parent (although I hate to ever label or judge any parent) would allow a child to do whatever they want even when they know that isn't good for the child. This would actually be considered neglect if you did allow her to eat it.

I highly recommend that you take her to her pediatrician immediately and get additional help. Pica (ingesting inedible objects) is a very harmful behavior and could end up making her very sick.

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Acting out with defecation

Question: A child stood up on a toilet in the school restroom and defecated all over the place. What is the meaning of this?

Question: In order to understand the meaning of a behavior it is important to know all of the variables surrounding the behavior.

How old was the child? What was going on prior to the incident? Was the child alone or in front of his/her peers? How did the child behave after the incident? Was he/she laughing, crying, or showing any other type of emotion?

For a younger child it is possible that he/she is still learning what to do with bowels and merely needs to be consistently redirected as to where bowel movements go.

If the child was in front of peers he/she may be reinforced by attention and thought this would be a good way to get the attention of his or her peers.

If the child had just gotten in trouble by a teacher he/she may have been acting out of anger and was hoping to get an angry reaction from the teacher.

However, it is really difficult to determine the exact meaning of any behavior without details surrounding the situation. Feel free to write more details in the comments section of this question for more insight.

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Why would my 5 year old son eat his own poop?

Question: About a year ago I questioned my son as to why his mouth smelled like poo-poo...I chalked it up to experimenting, until recently he has told me he "washed his mouth out because I ate a little bit again"????? Says he liked the taste but will try not to do it again because he knows it can make him sick (which is what I tell him) Any help would be much appreciated!

Answer: This sounds like a condition called Pica, in which an individual eats inedible things. The specific causes of this are unknown, but if he continues to do this even one more time, get help immediately. Talk to your pediatrician and get a referral to a psychologist or preferably a behaviorist to teach you ways to respond as this can be a very dangerous behavior.

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