What is Encopresis?
Encopresis is quite a common problem faced by children between the ages of 3 and 7. This condition is characterized by the child refraining from going to the toilet to defecate when the urge arises resulting in soiling their clothes. It normally becomes a source of embarrassment for both the children and the parents especially if the child is above 3 years of age. Prolonged constipation is believed to the primary reason behind encopresis.
Constipation makes the stools hard and it becomes extremely painful during a bowel movement. This pain and agony caused refrains the child from going to the toilet resulting in fecal soiling. Encopresis is often at times detected very late by the parents as they perceive the child soiling the clothes as a behavioral issue rather than a medical condition which the child cannot control.
At times, encopresis is accompanied by urinary tract infection or loss of urinary control. Management of encopresis requires a lot of patience and support on the part of the parents. This is because apart from appropriate diet and liquid intake deficiency of which causes constipation, stress also plays a part in the child developing encopresis .
Thus it is important to identify the cause of the condition and then proceed accordingly to achieve the ultimate aim of regularizing bowel movements and prevent the child from soiling clothes. This article gives a brief overview of how to help a child with encopresis.
How to Help a Child with Encopresis?
Encopresis can be a frustrating and complex issue for many parents but it is definitely something that can be solved and that too without any difficulty. However, it should be noted that, the longer it takes for the parents to realize the problem and take steps to do something about it, the more difficult it becomes to treat.
To begin with, parents should teach their child as to the function of the digestive system and how and why we pass bowels. They should also be told how to strengthen the muscles controlling the bowels so that they withhold stools if required. It should be noted that parents should never hold the child responsible for any “accidents” that occur as it will make them feel guilty and complicate the problem further.
It would dent the confidence of the child and make him or her feel that they are not capable enough to solve the problem. The parents can also introduce a reward system for the child in order to help him cope with encopresis. They should give the child a small reward in the form of a star for the day if they do not soil their pants for a day. If this continues for a week without any “accidents” then they should be rewarded with a toy or a day out in the park.
This is perhaps the best methods for children who really wish to get rid of encopresis and avoid social embarrassment. There are some children with encopresis who are difficult to deal with as they have significant behavioral problems due to stress or environment at home. For such children it is best to go for a psychological counseling so that efforts can be made to boost the confidence of the child and improve the self-esteem which obviously would be at an all-time low. Once these issues are addressed the problem with encopresis definitely improves.
It is important for the parents to remind the child that he or she is not alone and that there are many children who have the same problem. This can be some of their friends, neighbors or classmates. There is always a chance for encopresis to relapse after successful treatment.
Parents should not be discouraged by this as it is quite normal especially when the child just begins the treatment. It may take many months for the problem of encopresis to completely go away. It should be mentioned here that the early this condition is diagnosed the more easy it becomes to treat it.
It has been seen that many parents do not even recognize soiling as a problem and think that the problem will go away with age. This is not always true. It is best for parents that when they see their child soiling their clothes too frequently to consult with a physician and start treatment for it.
This is important since deferring the treatment may cause significant damage to the confidence of the child and can make him socially withdrawn which is not going to do him any good .
In conclusion, encopresis or fecal soiling is quite a common problem among children between 3 and 7 years of age. Some parents often take this as a behavioral problem and may even reprimand the child. This is not a good idea as encopresis is a condition which beyond the control of the child[1, 2].
There are several ways through which a parent can help the child to get through this embarrassing phase of life. Reward system for not soiling the pants is perhaps the best way to boost the confidence of the child that he or she can get over the problem[1, 2].
Psychological counseling is yet another method through which children can be helped; however, this is more for children who are under stress due to family situations or peer pressure. Thus it is recommended to parents not to blame the child for soiling the clothes and makes him or her feel guilty and dent their confidence. Instead, they should tell them that they are not alone and take steps towards boosting their confidence that they can get over the situation and lead a normal life.