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May 2019

The Power of Visible Incentives

 Motivating children to do things like daily practice sits or practicing  pushing can be difficult because of the close association with their (conscious or subconscious) fear of pain when pooping.  For some children, special stickers on their “Good Pooping Chart” are enough of an incentive.  But there are others who need a “stronger” incentive like a bite of candy or a small prize.  

Some parents have found that they can actually increase the “power” of these incentives by making them visible (but out of reach) by putting one or more of them in small plastic sandwich bags taped high up on the bathroom wall. Then, when the child finishes  sitting or pushing, they are immediately given the prize they’ve been admiring.

Will Poop Accidents Keep My Child Out of School

I often get calls from anxious parents in the spring or early summer when they learn that their child cannot attend a particular preschool or start kindergarten if he or she is not “toilet trained.” Parents who had been waiting for their child to “outgrow” his or her poop problem now find themselves with a hard deadline and they want to know if I can make their child's poop problem go away or, at least, stop them from soiling their underwear before school starts. My answer varies with the age of the child and the severity of the encopresis, but it is usually,"No". We then discuss some other possible school options.

Many preschools are staffed and equipped to change messy diapers, so there is less of a problem for preschoolers, especially if teachers know that the parents are working with a healthcare professional to resolve the problem. Some (private) kindergartens (but not all), assume that there will be a few children who are not completely toilet trained on arrival but are likely to be toilet trained within two to three months.

Encopresis with or without soiling does not disqualify a child from enrolling in any public school classroom. Public schools are required by law (ADA) to provide free public education to each qualified student with a disability regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Encopresis qualifies as a disability. See Chapter 19 of the 2nd edition of my book, The Ins and Outs of Poop, for more information about specific support services.