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Children's Health

6 year old poops in her pants

02/02/2006

Question:

I have a daughter who just turned 6. The problem is that she keeps pooping in her pants usually only at home. She attends school and has never done it at school. It usually happens when she playing games or watching TV, she just doesn`t get up and go to the bathroom. I was just chalking it up to being to lazy to get up and go, but it becoming more and more of a problem. It was 3 times in one week. I`ve also tried all the gimmicks like candy, money and toys. We even had a potty chart. It doesn`t work. I`m wondering if maybe she doesn`t feel it till it`s already coming out. They are always soft stools. Any suggestions.

Answer:

The good news is that she does not have "accidents" every day.  However, several issues may contribute: constipation, distractibility and/or bowel habits.  I would suggest initially, an approach that she regularly sits on the toilet for some (relatively extended time for a 6 year old - 5-10 minutes) every 2 hours while she is awake, a time where she can sit and read, not watch TV or play video games.  If she is able to go once a day and has no further accidents, you can begin to cut back on the toilet time after about 3-4 weeks (needed to establish a routine) of regular bowel movement.  If she is only going 2-3 times per week she is more likely constipated (even if soft stools) and could benefit from talking to your daughter's primary care provider about methods of reducing constipation.

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati