Our son (now nearly 6.5 years old) has problems with potty training for years now. (The long history is described here: How can we potty-train our pre-schooler outside the home? ).
We are in regular contact with a doctor specialized in such problems and her diagnosis is "encopresis with obstipation".
We still have those problems, at least every second day on average he is soiling between 1 and 7 underpants. That's ok for us, but the main problem is that when it happens, he does not try to clean himself immediately or tell the kindergarten teachers or us to help him, but very often he just ignores it and continues playing/"working"/whatever he does and often even does not admit it if he's directly asked if he has dirty underwear.
We think that this makes things even worse, as it smells for sure and other people notice it and the other kids are making fun of him for that reason.
But although he is very clever and comprehensible in other matters, it happens very often, that he tries to hide it and continue as if nothing had happened.
That makes it very frustrating for his parents and we are not sure how to handle it, as every attempt to "motivate" him acting on it immediately has failed - positive motivation as well as negative one (negative consequences).
We know that this is a very sensitive and difficult topic - more than ever as because we had a lot of arguments and hot discussions with him in the past. But it feels wrong to just let him do what he wants (and at worst run around the whole day with his smelling pants) - also as cleaning him(self) is much easier and faster as long as it is "fresh" ...
Any hints are appreciated.
In autumn, he'll go to school, which might make things even more complicated as there will be nobody any more who feels responsible for helping him clean himself...
I am not sure, why he so often refuses to tell us directly, when he soiled his pants. Some ideas (maybe it is often a mixture of several reasons or even something else...):
- He does not want to interrupt his play/activity
- He does not want that other people notice it
(however we do everything to help him and to avoid that others notice it, if he tells us)
- He sometimes might be so concentrated on his activity, that he really does not notice it directly
- Maybe he did not tell it us for some of the above mentioned reasons and then is ashamed that he did not tell it directly and tries to ignore or hide it
- Maybe he's trying to ignore it
- Defiance - some days ago he said, the more often we remind him to "tell us as soon as it has happend", the less he would do so... I decided and promised to him to not mention it again for some weeks. The months/years before, we (parents) had reminded him several times a day to tell us - especially before "critical" situations, where it would be especially difficult to clean him or where the "damage" might be significant
I asked him, if there are situations, where he feels, that he must go to the toilet but would rather keep playing/crafting/doing what he currently does. He said something like "not many", but maybe he just says what he knows is best for him ... I'm not sure.
There are, however, also times when he tells us... we had one such "accident" in public transportation, where he directly told us that there was poo on his seat (shock), it was so much that it had even "jumped" out of his pants. Thanks to his quick reaction, we could clean it and search a place where to clean him.