We have tried punishing and then rewarding the child for pooping their pants. He has been to the doctors and was suggested to try a laxative for this problem. We also tried setting certain times to have the child sit on the toilet. Nothing seems to be working. Would hypnotizing work?

  • Do you know if this is voluntary or involuntary? What is going on around the instances? Is he mad or stressed about something? Do not punish unless you are extremely certain the child is doing this on purpose. If it is involuntary, punishment will only make it worse. But give us a little more info so we can answer better.
    – user16557
    Dec 1 '15 at 15:46
  • There is a wide variety of stool related problems, all of which have different causes and require different treatments. The first step is to rule out physical causes, for which you need to see a (qualified in this area) physician. This can be a child physician or a gastroenterologist, is possible a combination of both. If there is no physical disorder (some of which are difficult to diagnose), you need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Do not start any treatment without a proper diagnosis! See a second doctor if the first didn't give you a clear diagnosis. All the best!
    – user4758
    Dec 6 '15 at 14:37
  • The child has been to the proper physicians. One thing the parents are doing is trying to set regular times for him to go potty. Kind of hard to regulate at school. At home he can take a book, or device with him , such as a video game. Dec 17 '15 at 23:05

You shouldn't punish children with encopresis. You would not (I hope) punish a child for getting an ear infection. Punishing your child will not do anything to cure them of this medical problem, and could be making the problem worse. Your child is likely to be embarrassed and stressed by this problem.

You need to make sure you are feeding your child enough fibre and enough fluid.

You also need to follow your doctor's instructions. Encopresis happens when children withhold their stool, become constipated, and then liquid stool leaks out around the compacted stool. To treat this your doctor has recommended a laxative. The laxative will increase the amount of water in the stool to soften it and help it be expelled. Your doctor (or nurse) will tell you how often to use the medication. It is important that you understand, and follow, their directions. Some children will need to take laxatives for several years.

This treatment sometimes looks like it's not working: sometimes the soiling continues. But it is working, it just takes some time. If you live in England you can get help with your water bills if you get a doctor's letter and write to your water supplier.

You ask if hypnosis will help: No, hypnosis will not help. Laxatives and diet change, as recommended by your doctor, will help.

Finally, a note of caution: your child has a medical condition. Getting a second opinion if you disagree with the first doctor is a good idea. Ignoring the medical advice is not a good idea.


For the purposes of this guidance, to consider child maltreatment means that maltreatment is one possible explanation for the alerting feature or is included in the differential diagnosis.


1.3.9 Consider neglect if parents or carers fail to administer essential prescribed treatment for their child.


1.3.10 Consider neglect if parents or carers repeatedly fail to attend essential follow-up appointments that are necessary for their child's health and wellbeing.


1.4.11 Consider child maltreatment if a child shows encopresis (repeatedly defecating a normal stool in an inappropriate place) or repeated, deliberate smearing of faeces.

  • 1
    I'm curious... What do water bills have to do with anything? Seems random.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 1 '15 at 20:23
  • 2
    @JPhi1618 English water utility providers usually have some scheme to help people who have higher than normal water bills if the reason is related to a medical condition. Normally that would be eczema, but encopresis may count. Underwear, outerwear, and bed linen may require more frequent washing.
    – user19912
    Dec 2 '15 at 15:22

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