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4y.o. with encopresis (vent)

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Hello, I'm a Mum of a four year-old boy. We're basically now coming to terms with the fact that he has a long-term soiling and wetting issue, not just being late at toilet training. I can definitely relate to previous commenters' feelings of failing him as a parent.

He is my first child, and I was always a bit anxious about toilet training successfully (although initially, there was no reason to assume I would have a child with this problem), and now I feel like somehow (psychologically? Karmically?) I have caused this issue by overthinking it from the outset.

Every time I lay eyes on him, I reflexively prompt him / wonder about his current bowel / bladder status, and I worry about giving him a complex. When he poops himself - daily, at the moment - I tell myself, "Don't lecture him. Don't do it." But I can't help myself, and I feel so guilty for not just dealing with it like it's no big deal.

It's so much worse than it has ever been. He's started 4y.o. kinder in the past fortnight, and I haven't yet picked him up wearing the same pair of pants. I feel so embarrassed when I get handed a bag of rinsed, poopy clothes, even though the teachers are lovely about it.

He poops himself at kinder, at home, at his grandparents', at the park, at friends' houses. It's not context-specific (well, it used to only happen at home or his grandparents', but lately it's gotten much worse). He tries to get to the toilet, but he only realises as it's coming out. This is with prompted regular toilet sits, reward charts, a reasonably fibrous diet, prompting to drink water, stints on Parachoc, etc etc.

His poop has always been a normal texture and shape, and he has never missed a day in his life, so I am a bit mystified that constipation is pretty much given as the only explanation for encopresis, barring rare conditions like HD.

Anyway, I've just booked in with a psych so I can learn to deal with it better, because it's dominating my / our lives at the moment, and I'm realising it might be a long term situation.

I'm terrified about school next year.

I should mention that in all other respects, he's normally developing.

We just had our first visit to the encopresis clinic at the royal children's Melbourne, and no treatment will commence until we do a six week diary, involving three post-meal 5 minute sits. I'm a bit frustrated because it's not like we haven't tried that already, and six more weeks before any action at all seems like eternity.

This is basically a vent, but if anyone has any tips for a newbie, I'm all ears.  

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Hi Anon 69556

Thanks heaps for your letter, it is great to meet you and your son.

Yes of course you are allowed to vent and this is a great place to do it.

If you have read any of our pages in this respect:

You might have been surprised to learn that this is quite common, with up to 3% or one in 30 kids right now at his age who also experience day time soiling accidents, so although of little comfort to you at the moment, you are certainly not on your own.

You seem to be following all the right steps and I suppose it is just a case of following the advice you get from the professionals at the encopresis clinic…… We are told that patience is a virtue and you are in the hands of people who have a great deal of experience with this type of thing.

Have you thought about nappies in the meantime to manage this on a daily basis. They are available with many different boy type colours and designs and at only four years old are age appropriate, especially considering the circumstances. I think it well worth discussion with his teachers.

Do keep us posted as we are interested to see how things work out.

Best regards.



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Dear Anon69556,
Thank you for you post and I read your frustration, but please do not blame yourself for something that you have no true control over. As you know control of our bladder and bowel is managed by the brain. You can provide support to your son, but you cannot make him continent. Mints suggestions of looking at the Continence Foundation of Australia website for further information is great. But if you would like someone to talk with, please contact the National Continence Helpline (NCHL). The NCHL is staffed by very experienced Continence Nurse Advisors (CNA) and they can be called on 1800 33 00 66 open hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEDT.
Glad to hear your son has already been seen by the encopresis clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Once again I read your frustration with the process but they do need the information to help. You are treating your son with the current strategies and medications that you mentioned, so ensure you put all of this information in his bowel, food diary.
Good luck with your son.

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