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Soiling

Soiling is when a child passes part or all of a bowel movement (BM) in their underwear. The medical name for soiling is encopresis.

Children who tend to soil often throughout the course of the day, but do it in small amounts are generally either constipated or else their bowels are impacted (or blocked). The soiling takes place because pieces of the hard stool are trapped in the rectum and break off at inopportune times. Soiling commonly occurs when a child is running or jumping such as during recess or in gym class.

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Constipation can occur in children for a number of reasons, the most common ones are:

  • Genetic differences
  • Consuming too much milk in their diet
  • Not having bowel movement when they are necessary because there is pain involved
  • Holding back the bowels as a way of not wanting to be toilet trained (stool holding).

The link with other problems

Children who have a tendency to soil are more likely to have emotional problems or behavioral problems than are children who do not soil.

A research study looking into children from the ages of seven to eight who soil on a regular basis, found that this problem with the bowels is closely linked to a multitude of other emotional problems such as:

  • Low self esteem
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD),
  • Hyperactivity, anxiety and phobias.
  • The study also found that boys tend to soil more often than do girls.

Not only is soiling a physical problem, it can also be an impediment to learning in school and to social development. Most schools refuse to accept youngsters who are not toilet trained and children who soil themselves are often shunned and teased by their peers.

Approximately 10% of children who are 10 years of age soil their clothes and 90% of the time it is due to problems with constipation. The majority of children who soil will respond favorably to dietary changes and in some case the use of laxatives.

Dietary changes for soiling problems

There is such a thing as a non constipating diet and this is what a child who soils should be on.

Make sure your child consumes plenty of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, and be aware that the more raw ones he eats, the better it is for his bowels. Some examples of excellent foods to choose from are:

  • apricots
  • peaches
  • pears
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • corn
  • dates
  • raisins and figs.

Due to its high content of fiber, bran is a natural form of a laxative and should be included in your child’s daily diet. Try bran cereals, bran muffins, and whole wheat bread. Other foods that are high in fiber include peas, chili beans, lima beans, navy beans, oatmeal, brown rice, nuts, popcorn, and shredded wheat.

Limit your child’s intake of milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Because milk has been proven to cause constipation. Cooked carrots are also linked to constipation so make sure your child avoids those.

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