As your child turns 5 years, you think that the hard part of parenting is gone, but now you can finally sit back and take it a little easier. But then, your child starts messing up the pants again, and your world starts trembling all over. If you cannot comprehend the fact that all this can happen after your child has been potty trained for a while now, let us tell you that this is quite normal, and you do not need to worry much.
We can totally understand the emotional and physical turmoil you must be going through. Still, you need to take a breath and understand why your toddler is having pooping pants episodes and how to handle the situation.
So, before we tell you how you can respond to your 5-year-old in such a situation, let’s first try to understand why this might be happening.
Common Reasons for Potty Training Setbacks in 5-Year-Olds
1. Change in Place or Environment
Kids take time to adapt to new places or new environments just like us, especially to changes in bathroom settings. The change can be minor or big. Like if your child has just changed schools or daycare, or you have just moved into a new home, or you are at your vacation home for a few days. A different kind of toilet can cause potty-trained kids to hold the poop, which results in accidents later on.
Talk to your kid about what discomforts them. Take some time and spend it with your child in the bathroom to make her familiar with the new setting, it may take some days, but eventually, your child will start using the potty independently once again.
2. Ignoring the Urge to Poop
We all know that kids get entirely involved in whatever they do in all ways, mentally and physically. Be it playtime or work, they are so much into it that they keep ignoring the urge to poop; they do not like to stop in the middle of whatever they are doing and go for a poop, which may lead to accidents. They feel like missing out on playing, or that their friends will not wait, or parents will wrap everything up if they leave.
So by the time, they feel like they cannot hold it anymore, it might already be too late to head to the bathroom. You might even notice a change in behavior and physical discomfort the child is facing while not answering the poop call, you can prompt her and ask if she wants to go, and you can inform the caregiver at day school about the same so you can avoid pooping pants.
If you see skid marks on your potty-trained child’s pants, it can be because of a common medical condition called encopresis or chronic constipation. In this condition, the stool becomes hard and backs up, and the liquids travel around that blockage to leak out. These leaks are not a result of your child’s laziness or wrong behavior; they really need medical attention. You may think of it as an accident at first; talk to your child about the skid marks, take note of the potty breaks, and observe the child’s behavior to conclude, only then consult a pediatrician.
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the child’s pooping pants situation, and they can guide you right by prescribing a proper diet and medication. Usually, a diet with a lot of fiber and an intake of plenty of water is recommended in such situations.
4. Big Life Changes
Setbacks are normal in potty training when the child is going through a life-changing situation. It can be anything like a death of a family pet, starting a new school, parents’ divorce, birth of a new sibling, or moving away from a loved one. In such situations, the child is going through an emotional disruption, and pooping pants can be the result of it, so the best you can do here is to be there with your baby and make them comfortable.
Inform the caregivers at school and daycare about the situation so that they can handle it in the same way. But while you are feeling bad for your kid, do not compromise and continue potty training him and keep supporting him in the process. Giving your child the much-needed time to process their emotions and situations is the best thing you can do.
How to Deal with The Potty Training Setback
1. Pause The Play
If your child spoils their pants every time because they don’t want to interrupt in between something, like coloring with crayons, watching a movie, or playing a game, show your child that you will wait for him. If you get an idea that they have to poop but are not going, explain to them that they can leave the things as it is, and you will make sure that no one touches the toys when he goes for a potty break and they can resume the play just from where he left off after he is done.
This will make the child realize that using the bathroom in the middle of doing something won’t disrupt the play as much as he might assume.
2. Regular Potty Breaks
Regular potty breaks are a very important part of potty training. Plan regular potty breaks throughout the day for your kid to avoid any accidents. Have her go to the potty the first thing in the morning and especially before the time the child soils her pants often, like before playtime. Encourage the child to spend a few minutes on the toilet even if he does not feel like doing it before the usual accident time. Does your child usually have pooping pants outbreak after school?
Have her sit on the toilet for a few minutes after coming home. This may feel like a task at first but with consistency, potty breaks become a part of your child’s daily routine, and you will not even have to pursue her to go after some time.
3. Appreciate Your Child on No Accidents Days
Appreciating your child is a very effective way to encourage good behavior. If you are not a fan of typical rewards like chocolates, icecreams or extra screen time, consider praising your child. It is very effective as it draws on the internal joy and pride of your kid. A child cannot take much of the nagging and lecturing you do while correcting their challenging behavior, which causes pooping pants.
On the other hand, appreciation inspires them to continue with positive behavior on their own. Be mindful of the words you use while praising your child. Do not appreciate the things the kid did not do, but appreciate the things they did right. For example, say, “You pooped in the toilet today,” except saying, “You did not poop in your pants today,” to promote positive impact.
4. Don’t Make A Big Deal Out of It
Well, it is obvious that it is a big nasty deal for you when your child starts soiling pants after you spend so much time in potty training, but your child does not need to know that. Be cool about the issue and do not shame him or keep nagging him at every instance about the accident. Because then he can see it as a power struggle, and he will be even less willing to comply with your suggestions.
Clean up pooping pants after the accident without making a big fuss about it, take his help, and make it quick. Talk about it once and let it go. Do not make the child feel like it is the biggest problem in the world that cannot be overcome easily.
5. Help to Ease Your Child’s Constipation
When your child holds in the poop too much, it may lead to constipation. This may make your child physically uncomfortable, and you may help to ease your child’s constipation in these situations. When the child is not constipated, the time and effort spent in the toilet is much less, and that encourages the child to take regular potty breaks. Water and fibrous food are two ways to ease constipation. Make your child consume plenty of water throughout the day.
You can give your child a sippy cup to carry along everywhere to encourage more water intake. Offer a portion of fiber-rich food like fruits and vegetables with every meal. If there is no improvement even after taking care of the diet, check in with your pediatrician, who can prescribe further medication.
5. Take Their Help to Clean up
If your child soils his pants regularly and does not care even a bit about it, you should make sure the kid takes up some responsibility in cleaning the mess up. You can have them dump the stool into the toilet and flush it out and ask them to wash the pooping pants under running water. Make sure to have them wash their hands with hot water and soap; you can also make them wear disposable hand gloves if required.
Only after two to three times of helping will they learn where the poop belongs, and you will notice a change. Please understand that this is not a punishment for them, but it is a learning exercise to make them understand that going in the potty is much easier and less time-consuming.
6. Avoid Anger
It is normal to feel frustrated and angry when your child keeps pooping in the pants regularly, but it is important to keep your anger in check to deal with the situation without any panic. Your reaction plays a crucial role in teaching your kid how to deal with any kind of accident in life smoothly. You are setting an example for your child, so treat him with care and respect.
If you show anger towards your child because of pooping pants, he may get scared and will not know how to react in such situations. If you find yourself feeling furious, take a few seconds to calm down and delay your reaction to the situation. Once the anger subdues, only then start the cleaning.
Summing It Up
In the end, it is all going to be ok. This is just a setback, and it won’t last forever; your 5-year-old will be going to the toilet for potty breaks once again, and there will be no more pooping pants to clean anymore. Do not stress about it much, and know that your child must also be going through an emotional turmoil as you are, so try to understand them, love them, and believe that you both can overcome it together.
You must understand the reason behind these sudden potty accidents and respond accordingly. Every child responds differently to situations, so it is important to deal with the condition and react consequently.
These suggestions may help you to deal with your 5-year-old who has started to poop in pants, but we believe that it is you who knows the best for your kid and can handle any setback in life like a star; this is just pooping pants!