Help! My 4-Year-Old Poops in Pants and Doesn’t Care

4 year old poops in pants and doesn't care

If your 4-year-old poops in his pants and doesn’t care, you might get frustrated over his toilet training and poop accidents. Learning to poop and sitting in the toilet himself is a huge step in a child’s life. He needs his parents to be supportive and understand his condition in case he fails sometimes.

Here we have highlighted the main reasons why your child may not be potty trained even at the age of 4. But there definitely can be medical reasons like encopresis. Most encopresis cases are due to constipation. Moreover, I’ve suggested some ways you can improve bowel movements, for example adding high-fiber foods to your toddler’s diet.

Reasons Kids Poop Their Pants

Lack of Routine

A proper routine of passing stool is necessary for a toddler’s life. Without it, you may face issues such as pooping pants. To avoid that, encourage your kid to tell you when he needs the urge to poop.

Besides that, other reasons could be the laziness of the kid and the ignorance of the parents. The kid may feel lazy while sitting in the toilet and passing the bowel or ignore the urge while playing or watching TV.

Doesn’t Poop At the Daycare:

Some kids find pooping away from home difficult. When the kids are at daycare, they sometimes don’t tell the adults about it or may not feel the need to poop. And when returning home, they may poop their pants in the car or while walking home.

How can you avoid it when you are not around your kid while he’s at daycare?

Well, the one thing you can do is to ask him to poop before leaving the daycare. After picking him up, ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom. If he says yes, take him to a toilet in the less busy area of the place, as kids don’t feel comfortable in busy places.

If he asks for privacy, leave him for some time in the toilet to offer positive reinforcement that helps him pass stool.


If your child is not experiencing healthy bowel movements or feels pain, he may be constipated. Encopresis leads to chronic constipation and can cause skid marks in his underwear.

Encopresis leads to various accidents at the age when parents expect their child to control bowel movements. For example, involuntary bowel movements can occur, which frustrates parents a lot and they complain that their 4-year-old poops in their pants and doesn’t care.

Is Encopresis a Mental Disorder?

Encopresis is a health condition in which a kid of 4 years or above poops the pants or anywhere else except the toilet. They face constipation with normal bowel movements.

Some people call it a mental disorder. But how does encopresis appear in kids and what are the reasons?

One of the reasons could be holding the poop on purpose. Maybe they are lazy or any previous experience of passing the stool was painful and they tend to avoid future pain by holding on to the urge to poop.

As a result, constipation occurs, and when the rectum is not able to hold more stool, it opens and passes the bowel anywhere other than the toilet. It appears as skids in a child’s pants, soiled pants, loose bowel movements, or mixed bowel movements of hard poop and liquid stool leaking.

Is It Normal for 4-Year-Olds?

Research conducted on bowel movements among toddlers enlist that around 20% of the kids at the age of 4 years are not potty trained, and that is completely normal. They may experience constipation or stop pooping after a previous painful experience of passing stool.

By holding the feces within the rectum, they become solid and hard to pass. According to physicians, the hard stool sitting in the rectum can stretch the area passing the bowel, which can lead to involuntary bowel movements.

So it’s not the children’s fault. They are most of the time not aware of the situation and can’t control it.

Can It Be Cured?

People often ask this question, how they can treat Encopresis in a 4-year-old naturally and effectively?

Some steps doctors adopt in treating encopresis are the following:

To take out the build-up poop, a doctor recommends giving laxatives to help bowel movements. It helps treat a child’s constipation effectively.

In addition, for the future, he suggests some medicine to take daily, which helps keep the stool soft. It prevents the build of hard stools and helps pass them easily every day without any pain.

If the kid builds up any grudges regarding the encopresis or feels sad about how other kids treated him during the condition, try to console him. If that doesn’t work, you can ask a psychologist to help you.

A doctor will always suggest parents keep a proper routine of passing the stool during toilet training of a toddler. Ask your child to poop at the same time daily and recommend he sit for at least 10-15 minutes usually after the meal.

Add high-fiber foods to his diet. A meal rich in fibers acts as stool softener and helps pass the stool easily.

How Can I Encourage My Kid To Poop in the Toilet?

Those kids who can’t toilet-train themselves face accidents even at the age of 6 or 7 and have to use diapers.

Considering these circumstances, potty training your kid at a very young age is the wisest option. Here are some of the points enlisted to help poop-train your kid. All these points have been approved by parents, who at some point have helped their kid to poop independently in the toilet.

Maintain a Healthy and High Fiber Diet

A kid’s digestive system doesn’t work as efficiently as a young adult’s. So giving them clean, healthy, properly cooked food is compulsory. Avoid poorly cooked meat or harsh foods that can affect his pooping schedule.

A diet rich in fibers is essential for maintaining the stool soft and easy to pass. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are some high-fiber food items that can help your kid in maintaining his toiled schedule in check.

Drinking Plenty Of Water

Water is the basic necessity of all forms of life. Water is even more essential for a kid’s growing body. Dehydration leads to constipation as the large intestine reabsorbs the maximum water from the digested food to turn into a solid stool.

In case of dehydration, the reabsorption in the large intestine specifically in the rectum enhances up to 80% and makes the stool hard to pass. Passing the stool becomes painful for the kid, and they avoid going to the toilet completely. It leads to constipation and encopresis.

To avoid the above scenario, make your kid’s routine to drink plenty of water. If he doesn’t seem to enjoy drinking plenty of water, you may even make lemonade, popsicles, or flavored water for them to enjoy it.

Avoid Unhealthy Fried Foods

To avoid constipation or treat ongoing chronic constipation, your kid must avoid fast foods and fried items like chips, fries, hot dogs, frozen items, and fried chicken. Be stubborn and ask him to eat fruits and vegetables instead.

Promote Discipline and Independence In Your Kid

To make your kid more responsible and mature, you must give him the sense and importance of discipline and independence. For this, you must:

Make schedules of his bathroom breaks. He needs to follow it to make his poop-training habit successful.

Try hanging a chart on the fridge or in the kid’s bedroom to remind him about the timings. You can add cute little stickers as a reward in case they cooperate in potty training and follow the schedule.

Talk to them on this issue and tell them that going to the toilet and sitting on the flush to poop is a grown-up thing. Tell them they’re also growing, so going to a toilet independently is a good thing to do. Moreover, avoid forcing them and give them confidence that you will be there for them in case they need any help.

Promote independence in toddlers by not using diapers and making them comfortable using bathrooms, even in public places. Tell them how proud you are for them being independent and using the toilet regularly.

Offer them proper instructions from time to time about cleanliness, how to wipe properly after finishing using the toilet, and washing hands afterward.

Final Verdict

Helping your child be independent in using the toilet is the most satisfying thing ever. Poop accidents appear even after he has been potty trained, for example, due to constipation or encopresis, death in the family, shifting, or divorce.

Give time and courage if your 4-year-old poops in his pants and doesn’t care. I hope you found this article helpful. Act upon the above-mentioned points to potty-train your kid. In case of encopresis, ask a child’s pediatrician to recommend stool softener medication.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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