Children and Encopresis
Parents and child-carers will recognise the difficult situation that can occur when a child soils his or herself, and will know that accidents do happen occasionally even in older children, but sometimes this may not be a one-off occasion. Those children who are past the toilet training stage (usually around four years) and soil themselves more often may have a condition called encopresis.
What Exactly Is It?
What Causes Encopresis?
It may be that the child has some sort of psychological reason for suddenly not wanting to use the toilet and withhold their stool. Often this may be because they are afraid to ‘let go’ of the stool or because the passing of a hard stool may cause them some discomfort.
It is important for the parent or carer to reassure the child and take as much time as is needed in order to pass as tool and encourage them to use the toilet whenever they need. Do not put pressure on the child or punish them for soiling themselves as it may be something they cannot control and the fear of punishment may well make the situation worse.
In some rare cases, the encopresis may be caused by a neurological or physical problem that will need investigating and diagnosing by medical professionals.
The problem may often be improved by making changes in the diet that includes increasing fluids and fibre content that will help to soften the stool and alleviate any constipation. If this is not sufficient your GP may recommend you see a constipation use who may advise the use of stool softening agents or a diet chart that involves have very regular meal times and a diary kept of all bowel movements thus allowing a pattern of toilet times to emerge and visits to the toilet planned as such.
If you suspect your child is constipated encourage them to drink more clear fluids, fruit juices, eat a healthier diet and understand that they are not in trouble for wanting or using the toilet.
Encopresis can be a distressing problem for both the child and the carer. It is important to encourage the child to take a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, fluids and not to feel that using the toilet is a negative issue and something that should be encouraged.