Soiling in Children

When a child has problems concerned with either passing urine or stools, he could be having what is called elimination disorder. The most common form of this disorder occurs in bed wetting, and if this kind of problem persists for too long, say longer than 3 months, or if the child is older than 5 years, then it is a medical problem, a cause for concern.

Soiling in Children

Elimination disorders occur as :

1. Encopresis-

where the child goes through bowel movements other than the toilet, or passes stools in places outside the toilet. He could pass stools in his underwear or even on the floor, which is abnormal. The child frequently soils the underwear, leading to a lot of embarrassment, and the child is usually not in control of these ‘accidents’.

2. Enuresis-

passing urine in abnormal places, like the bed or on the floor is what is called enuresis. Bedwetting is the most common type of enuresis, and this too, may not be done purposely.


Appetite loss or general disinterest in food intake

Pain in the abdomen

Scratching of the anal area frequently

Withdrawing from friends and family

In most instances, encopresis cases are due to a kind of constipation called functional constipation, that is , the inability to pass stools without any specific cause. To avoid the pain that is felt in this condition,  many children ‘hold on’ to their stools, whenever they visit the bathroom, which aggravates the entire ‘accident’ process.

Many parents make the mistake of scolding the child, thinking that it is being done intentionally, or due to sheer laziness. Some grandparents or parents even go to the extent of punishing the young one severely, and this only makes matters worse. For the child only ends up feeling low, lonely, depressed and very insulted. Scolding a child who is in this condition can lead to serious psychological problems later, and a psychologist may have to step in at a later stage.

When you feel that your child is showing symptoms of either encopresis or the bouts of bed wetting are increasing, talk to your doctor, who will guide you.

Remember, bed-wetting or encopresis is a challenging problem, but it is definitely treatable. Scolding the child or punishing him will only lead to other, more serious issues in the future. So never treat your child with contempt when he shows up with symptoms of elimination disorders.