Don't use enemas or laxatives — including herbal or homeopathic products — without talking to your child's doctor first.
Once your child has been treated for encopresis, it's important that you encourage regular bowel movements. These tips can help:
- Focus on fiber. Feed your child a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and foods high in fiber, which can help form soft stools. Offer whole grains, which are brown — not white — in color.
- Encourage drinking lots of water. Water helps keep stool from hardening. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water or other nondairy fluids.
- Limit dairy products and fats. These can reduce bowel movements. But, dairy products also contain important nutrients, so ask your child's doctor how much dairy your child needs each day.
- Arrange toilet time. Have your child sit on the toilet every day for 10 to 15 minutes after breakfast and supper. The bowel becomes more active about 30 minutes after eating, so this is a natural time for your child to try to pass stool. This applies only to children who are toilet trained and are at least 4 years old. Don't reward your child for passing stool or punish your child for not passing stool. Praise your child for sitting on the toilet as requested and trying.
- Put a footstool near the toilet. This may make your child more comfortable, and changing the position of his or her legs can put more pressure on the abdomen, making a bowel movement easier.
- Stick with the program for several months. The relapse rate for encopresis is high.
As you help your child overcome encopresis, be patient and use positive reinforcement. Don't blame, criticize or punish your child if he or she has an accident. Instead, offer your unconditional love and support.
Jan. 02, 2014
- Ferry GD. Definition, clinical manifestations, and evaluation of functional fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Soiling (encopresis). American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Soiling-Encopresis.aspx. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Har AF, et al. Encopresis. Pediatrics in Review. 2010;31:368.
- Ferry GD. Treatment of chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Coehlo DP. Encopresis: A medical and family approach. Pediatric Nursing. 2011;37:107.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 13, 2013.
- Granberg CF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 20, 2013.