Dear Annie 1/2
Mon., Jan. 2, 2023
Dear Annie: My grandson, “Billie,” is 5 years old and still not potty trained. We have tried everything to get him to use the toilet – rewards, bribes, “gentle threats,” etc. We suspect he has encopresis – the repeated, involuntary passing of stool into the clothing. This can happen when impacted stool collects in the colon and rectum while the more liquid stool involuntarily leaks out around the impacted stool.
In our grandson’s case, he has to wear a Pull-Up so that he doesn’t soil his clothing with the liquid stool. He rarely has a regular bowel movement. And because he’s wearing a Pull-Up, he also rarely pees in the toilet. We give him fiber gummies so that he’s not constipated and try to encourage him to eat good food and drink plenty of water. But he’s a 5-year-old boy, and he isn’t too interested in what’s good for him.
Of course, the other kids tease him about this. He knows he should be using the toilet and is ashamed of himself. He says the problem is him, that there is something wrong with him. And of course, the more we try to help him, the more pressure is put on him.
Is there anyone out there who has faced this problem and can give me some advice? It breaks our hearts to see him so ashamed. He’s a very sweet kid, and no child should feel bad about themselves. – Pooped Out and Sad in the South
Dear Pooped: Before you suspect that your grandson has encopresis, I would seek the help of his pediatrician and get a firm diagnosis. The sooner you all seek the help of a trained professional pediatrician, the sooner you can get Billie treatment. You are correct that sometimes it’s not the behavior itself but the social pressure or self-consciousness that your grandson feels different from his peers. If he does seem really embarrassed about it, while it is probably purely physical, there is a slight possibility that it is psychological. If that is the case, then it is important to find a good family therapist to get to the root of what is going on in Billie’s life that might be causing him stress.
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