How can I get my 5 year old to stop soiling his pants?

Q: What should I do when my five year old poops in his pants multiple times a day? I've tried everything time-outs, no privileges, bribing, everything! I don't know if he's doing it for attention or if he really doesn't feel like he has to go! He was completely potty trained by 3 1/2 and he started pooping his pants around a year ago when his baby brother was born but got much worse when he was in preschool and is even worse now that it's summer! HELP please?!?!?!

A: Certainly by the age of 5 children should be potty trained. If your child has regressed from being toilet trained to soiling himself you know he is capable, so what went wrong? The birth of a sibling can be a traumatic event for a four year old now that they are no longer the center of your universe. More positive attention about a variety of things (not just stooling) during the day may help. The more likely cause however, if it is happening several times a day and is not a huge amount of stool every time, is that you child is constipated and what you are seeing is stool leaking around a larger stool blocking the lower colon and rectum. This condition is called encopresis. These (encopresis) events may be totally out of your child's control and that is why all of the methods you have tried are not working. Look to your child's doctor for an evaluation for constipation/encopresis and treatment if needed. If constipation is not the cause seek out a play therapist as there may be a deeper issue emotional that is causing the misbehavior.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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