An estimated 2 million children in the United States suffer from encopresis. Encopresis — or fecal soiling — is essentially the repeated passing of stools into inappropriate places after the age at which toilet training is typically mastered. In other words, if your child is experiencing bowl accidents in his or her underwear on a somewhat frequent basis, he or she is demonstrating signs of Encopresis.
Encopresis is a very frustrating and difficult disorder not only for children but for their families as well. Parents become worn out, angry and resentful at the repeated need to prepare for accidents, assist in cleaning and the constant and expensive discarding of soiled underwear. Unfortunately, it is very easy for parents to assume that soiling is the direct result of the child being lazy or even attention seeking. However, in most instances, this is not the case. Although encoprisis can be hard to treat, I have had significant success in eliminating these behaviors in a relatively short period of time by employing a combination of different therapeutic approaches including dietary changes, behavioral interventions and implementing consistent parenting strategies.
In most situations, it is very important to address your child’s encopresis as quickly as possible. Children with encoprsis frequently have low self-esteem and poor academic achievement — often due to taunting, bullying and exclusion from peers. Additionally, research demonstrates that poor self-esteem is the most frequently experienced consequence of constipation and incontinence for children with encopresis. This is very significant because poor self-esteem has been directly linked to why encopresis suffering children have more emotional and behavioral difficulties compared to their peers.
Tips to try:
- Never embarrass your child and do not show anger for accidents that are out of their control. Be supportive and reassure your child’s self-esteem.
- Encourage your child to drink lots of water.
- Fill their diet with fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Encourage your to sit on the toilet twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — for a minimum of 5 minutes each time.
- Keep a log of all successful bowel movements and accidents.
- Most importantly, scheduling an appointment. What do you have to lose?