- painful bowel actions may lead to a child avoiding pooing
- the child may not want to use kinder/school toilets because of privacy or cleanliness issues
- the child may not be able to access a toilet when they feel the urge to go
- some children just don't feel the need to go when they are busy playing
- occasionally there is a physical cause of soiling, but these are usually diagnosed at birth or soon after
- there are some conditions where the bowel does not squeeze effectively and some food allergies can cause soiling but these reasons are less common.
Soiling is NOT caused by attention-seeking, naughtiness or laziness.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
The social consequences of soiling are distressing for parents and children. It is important to realise that soiling can be treated and early recognition will minimise its impact.
What parents can do
- seek medical advice
- make a diary of your child's bowel actions and accidents for a couple of weeks and take this when you see the doctor
- provide a comfortable and supported toilet seat and environment
Punishing children for soiling can make things worse – remember, children may not feel the need to poo or even be aware of soiling.
What to expect from a medical assessment
- the doctor will take a detailed history and perform a physical examination
- the doctor may order an x-ray or ultrasound of the bowel
- a blood test may be required
- a toileting program will be started and laxatives prescribed if necessary.
A toileting program works best if carried out for at least 6-12 months under medical supervision. If this doesn't resolve the problem, referral to a paediatrician or paediatric gastroenterologist for further testing and advice may be required.
While your child is being treated, their kinder or school needs to be aware of the problem, so your child receives support they need if soiling should occur.
Your doctor is a good place to start if you are concerned about your child's bowel habits or soiling. You can also contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for confidential advice and support.