Poop Education

Counselor Says Child's Encopresis Is Caused By Poor Parenting

A mother recently told me that when she sought advice from a counselor about her 5 year old son’s encopresis, the counselor told her that his accidents and his seeming indifference to having poop in his underwear was due to her poor parenting. Needless to say, this mother was very relieved to hear from me that her son’s soiling behavior was not her fault. 

Unfortunately, there are still many medical and nonmedical healthcare providers who know very little, if anything, about encopresis.  Encopresis is not a topic that is typically covered in detail in medical school (general or pediatric).

When the parent of a child with bowel problems is looking for a healthcare provider for advice or guidance, their first question should always be, “How familiar are you with functional constipation or chronic constipation or encopresis in children?”

If the provider says that they do know about this condition, the second question to ask is, “How many children with this condition have you seen in your practice?” Ideally, what you want is a provider with both knowledge and clinical experience.

(If you cannot find a provider who has either or both of these traits, but you do have a provider you like and trust, I am always available to speak with the provider regarding your child's specific situation. Please visit Consultations and sign up for a free 15-minute telephone consultation.)

Children's Books about Poop and Potties

I recently had the opportunity to read a number of books about poop and potties to children at a local children’s book store. I was surprised at how well the toddlers and pre-toddlers (and their parents!) paid attention. I credit this to each book’s unique story and eye catching illustrations. If you are looking for books to help with toilet training, these are three that I would highly recommend.

Mo Willems book Time to Pee is great for toddlers and even includes a “success chart” with peel-off stickers.

I especially like The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch.  How often do you see a mole in children’s books, let alone one with poop on its head?!

But the book that most captivated my audience is Mary McQuillan’s Have you Seen my Potty? It’s a story about Suzy Sue who lost her potty and needed to find it because she had something “very important to do”.

Added January 2015:  Of course I now highly recommend my new book for kids, Softy the Poop, Helping Families Talk About Poop available for for purchase here or at Amazon. This is an educational book designed to teach children (and parents) healthy poop talk and behavior.  For more information about the book, click here.

Good "Potty Talk"

Children are naturally curious. That’s why they ask so many questions. They like to know how things work, especially their body and they are fascinated by bodily products like spit, pee and poop. It's no wonder that preschool children enjoy “potty talk”.

Unfortunately, most parents discourage talking about poop. However, learning about poop and being allowed to engage in (good) potty talk are very important in the treatment of  childhood constipation. Children four years of age and older need to know and be encouraged to talk about things like where and how their body makes poop, what causes their poop to get hard (and hurt!) and how poop medicine works.

Feeling comfortable using words like "poop" and talking clearly about related questions and concerns with parents also often results in more appropriate use of that language in public. As this kind of talk becomes more commonplace, it becomes less interesting or funny to the child and he/she will start to use it less in inappropriate situations.

One of my early treatment objectives is that when a child is sitting on the toilet to poop, he or she will be able to imagine where their poop is waiting to come out  (“poop collector” or rectum) and about what they need to do to help it come out (push). See Chapter 12 in my book for detailed instructions on how to educate children about poop and constipation.