Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Aged 14, I no longer soiled
myself, but the feelings of
shame from my childhood
habit remained.
As I said in my previous post Why I Pooed My Pants, when I was a child I thought I was the only school aged boy in the world who dirtied his pants. This belief stayed with me for a long time after I stopped soiling as I never heard of any other child who did this and it was something that was never mentioned on TV.

This changed when I happened by chance to see a letter in the problem pages of a magazine which began, ‘my son would be a very nice boy but for one thing. He can't be made not to dirty his pants.’ I couldn't believe it, reading the whole of the letter I could have been reading about myself! The advice given was terrible, suggesting they make the boy wear the same soiled pants day after day, but suddenly I realised I might not have been alone.

I started looking at problem pages more regularly, seeing if there were other children who had similar problems and soon came acr
oss a 6 year old girl who had had a bout of illness and ‘ever since then she's messed her knickers’ and a 5 year old boy who hated pooing in the toilet and ‘often soils his pants.’ These were all fairly young children, but then I read a letter from a concerned Mum whose 11 year old daughter regularly soiled herself and ‘when I ask her why she does it she says she doesn't know.’  Like me she had some days when she didn't have accidents and others when she did full bowel movements in her pants. I imagine most readers would condemn her as a lazy child who needed a good talking to and a firm hand, but I felt sorry for her, knowing exactly what she was going through. It was almost like I had found a kindred spirit for my younger self.

Of course, I still wasn't proud of what I had done in my pants as a child or what I'd put my parents through, but at last I started to feel that I wasn't a freak, especially when I discovered that the condition had a name: encopresis.  It was an important first step to confronting my past.

Having come across these examples of children who also soiled their pants like I had, I still felt that it was something which very, very few children suffered from, as I had never come across any parents personally who said that their child had this problem or been in the company of an older child who had an accident.
Soiling can be a devastating problem for
any child and their parents. (c)

And then the internet came along and I discovered just how widespread the problem was. So many children having soiling problems, some of them much worse than me, having accidents every day, sometimes several times a day. Children who were still having problems into their teens or even older, and who were having accidents at school or round the houses of their friends or at family gatherings. I felt so sorry for them, it must be so dreadful to stink of poo around your family or peers, and for their parents who were in some cases at the point of despair, unable to understand why their child couldn't just use the toilet like everybody else.

While I will probably never lose the guilt about how many times my mother had to clean me up and the heartache I put her through, I no longer feel disgusted about soiling myself. It may have started through laziness but it was never deliberate and eventually I was able to overcome it. I only hope that other children can do the same.

For a blog about soiling from the point of view of a parent, why not visit Extended Potty Training, written by a mother whose son was still wetting and soiling his pants when he was five, in spite of more than two years of trying to potty train him, and was eventually diagnosed with encopresis.


  1. God bless you sir!!!
    My son, who was fully potty trained at 2.5 years, started spoiling his pants at age five. I had no idea why and he would sit on the potty and try when I told him to, but nothing would ever happen there. I put him back in pull ups until he was too big for them, and made him scrub his own underwear then, thinking that would motivate him to poop on the toilet. Both his father and my brother had pooped their pants as boys and they both grew out of it, so I thought he would too. At age nine a doctor told us he might have encoprisis, but they just sent us to a physologist, they never told us about the extended colon or how to treat the physical aspect. I stopped making him clean his underwear, actually would just constantly buy them to replace the soiled ones (Fruit of the Loom has made alot of money off me;)
    At any rate, we only just started googling the condition three months ago and discovered using stool softeners to help dislodge the constipation could help to "get things moving" for him, and only three days ago found Dimity's blog, which prodded a very deep and sincere conversation between my son and I, after which he had the first bowel movement on a toilet in years, and has had clean undies since!!
    thank you for what you and Dimity and others are doing, it really does change lives!!!

    1. Stephanie, thank you so much for your comment, it's great to hear that my blog is helping people. When it is finished I intend it to provide a complete picture of all aspects of my childhood soiling, which I hope will be of use to the parents of today's children who soil.

      It's great to hear that using stool softeners and reading the blog of Dimity Telfer, who is a friend of mine, has helped your son to use the toilet and keep his underwear clean. It is true that this is often a very difficult condition for parent and child to discuss and using the experiences of another child who had a similar problem is often an effective way to start a conversation.

      Thank you again for your comment and I hope your son's use of the toilet for his bowel movements continues.

  2. The first sentence, "spoiling" is a typo, it should read "soiling"

  3. Hi all,
    I also used bowel softeners with my son at the beginning when I realised he was afraid to poo, and with time they helped dilute the fear he had that the poo would hurt when coming out, which was one of the reasons he tried to withhold it. The last year or two, however, (he is now 6) I have hardly needed to use bowel softeners, since he has come to enjoy the high-fibre cereals All Bran Choco, which he eats once or twice a day (morning and/or evening) which helps keep him regular. He now chooses this cereal over other rice or corn-based cereals as he knows they are better to keep his poo soft.
    Now I try to make sure he goes at a certain time every day, normally before bed-time, since at that time we're always at home, and the accidents have reduced a lot. One tip I would give parents, from personal experience, is: take the pressure off! I had read that one should not tell their child off for soiling, which I didn't do, but I did get stressed and tense, and I would ask him why he didn't do it in the toilet, and my child of course noticed the tension and must have felt like he was doing something wrong (which he couldn't help) and which surely added a lot of pressure on him, adding to the fear of pooing. I had to really take time to meditate solely on this, and think about why my son was soiling himself, how did he react, what was his body language, and then it hit me that he was absolutely terrified to poo, and was trying simply not to poo, ever. That's when I changed my chip, and didn't make a big deal if he soiled his pants, tried not to put pressure on him to go nor make too much of a fuss about it. Just tried to give him all my support and love, and no judging. It helped for him to slowly, slowly regain confidence. Soiling accidents bit by bit started becoming less frequent, and I could see his attitude towards going to the toilet changing over time. It was a slow process of 1-2 years. He is still not completely clean, but accidents now might happen once or twice a month rather than 2-4 times per week. He's a much happier child.
    As a parent, we need to be aware of our own reaction to the situation, and deeply think about if the way we are reacting is pushing our child in the right or in the wrong direction. It took me a long time to realise what I should be doing, as results were not immediate, but I am deeply convinced, that with lots of patience and love, and standing by your child rather than trying to push or pressure them, will give the best results.
    Hang in there, it's not always easy, but just focus on the love and keep calm in the tougher moments.
    James, thank you for this blog. It's really a great support.

    1. Thank you, Lotta, for sharing your advice, and it is great to read that, with your help and support, your son is now doing so much better at using the toilet when he needs to poo and greatly reducing the number of times that he soils his pants.

      I'm really glad you have found my blog useful and appreciate you taking the time to comment on it.