How can I get my 8 year old stepson to stop pooping in his pants?

Q: My eight year old stepson will not stop pooping in his pants. My husband and I have tried everything from punishment, pull-ups and even trying to rewarding when he doesn't. We are the only ones to see this as a problem. His mom says its constipation and refuses therapy. My in-laws just tell him its okay and that is that. Please HELP!! We are so lost on this b/c our 3 year old doesn't even do this!!

A: If your 8 year old is soiling in his pants likely he has encopresis. Encopresis is constipation that is so severe that now a solid mass of stool in the colon is not moving and what you are seeing is leakage around that mass of stool. This leakage is not under the control of the person so punishing/rewarding will not help. You need to seek medical attention to evaluate/treat the encopresis first and then work on the stooling accidents second. If the medical evaluation does not indicate constipation you should request a psychology or psychiatry referral as intentional stooling accidents require psychiatric treatment to determine the cause of the behavior and methods for stopping the behavior.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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