Ask the Expert: Why Does My Toddler Smear Poop Everywhere?

If your toddler is a poop smearer, take this expert advice.


Parenthood is stuffed with highs and lows. In case your toddler is a poop smearer, it undoubtedly qualifies as one among the bottom-ranking episodes. Sure, we all know what we did there.

We’ve got all seen the tales flow into on Fb or heard our buddies inform us about how their toddlers have taken a nap time poop and made a Van Gogh model portray on their partitions and crib. Perhaps we’ve got even skilled it ourselves. Actually, in case you’re coming to this text for recommendation then it’s in all probability one thing you’re experiencing proper now (properly, hopefully, you’ve cleaned up the poop first).

This may be an embarrassing and confounding factor for fogeys. Why would my baby contact their very own poop? Don’t they understand how disgusting that’s? Properly, the quick reply isn’t any. Your toddler has no body of reference for what fecal matter is and the way unhygienic it’s. They in all probability went to the rest room of their diaper and since mother and pop weren’t round to alter it or to cease them from touching it, they determined it was nearly as good of a time as ever to discover this magical entity that simply got here out of their physique. And identical to every other type of sensory play, they took what they had been touching and moved it round to see the results.

Scatolia, the medical time period for fecal smearing, can happen for varied causes. For some kids, it may be an indication of abuse so it’s usually a problem confronted by foster or adoptive dad and mom. It is usually seen in kids with particular wants, or with autism. And, typically, toddlers merely take an curiosity in their very own feces as one thing new and fascinating to find.

Scatolia, for the most half, isn’t one thing to be overly involved about as a guardian except there are some underlying emotional or psychological components to take note of. The beneath reference will stroll you thru understanding why your toddler may need an curiosity of their fecal matter, why they could smear it throughout your partitions and furnishings, and find out how to get them to cease doing it.

Associated: A Information to Your Child’s Pee and Poop

Erica Laframboise is a Habits Analyst who has labored with kids and teenagers for greater than 15 years, specializing in behavioral issues, Autism spectrum issues, and developmental disabilities. She affords some perception and useful suggestions for fogeys who’re going through this problem with their kids.

Q. Why does my toddler smear poop in all places?

A. All habits happens for a motive. In some cases, the motive will probably be clear, however at different instances it might not be. What’s vital to remember is that your baby is demonstrating a difficult habits as a result of it meets a particular want for her/him.

There could be a vary of explanation why a toddler may interact in fecal smearing habits:

  • Sensory: It would present a necessity for aid, a relaxing sensation, or pleasing sensation  (e.g. ‘It feels good.’)
  • Consideration-In search of: Intent to socially interact or get a response from one other particular person (e.g. ‘I get a number of consideration from dad after I do that.’)
  • Escape: Keep away from a requirement or job (e.g. ‘I delay bedtime’),
  • Entry to gadgets: Need particular merchandise/exercise  (e.g. ‘I get a shower.’)

It will be important that folks rule out any underlying medical circumstances which may contribute to this habits by consulting with a doctor. Some medical circumstances that might improve chance of fecal smearing embrace constipation and hemorrhoids.

Associated: The Final Postpartum Poop Information

As soon as medical circumstances have been dominated out, dad and mom/caregivers can started to discover doable motive(s) for why their baby is partaking on this habits. To be able to decide the ‘why’ I like to recommend that folks/caregivers take ABC knowledge assortment to assist perceive behaviors by searching for patterns of when and in what circumstances the habits is going on.

A= Antecedent: What occurs proper earlier than the habits?

B= Habits: a transparent description of the habits.

C= Consequence: what occurs proper after the habits (make notice of actions/reactions of the caregiver/guardian and baby)

Right here is an instance of how an ABC chart appears to be like:


Understanding WHY a habits could also be occurring is vital with a purpose to develop a plan to enhance it.

Q. How can a guardian/guardian assist to regulate this habits?

A. After amassing data utilizing the ABC chart, dad and mom/caregivers can then manipulate particular elements of the atmosphere (antecedents and/or penalties) with a purpose to scale back or get rid of the fecal smearing habits.

Listed here are some examples of how which may work:

  • If the ABCs revealed that the baby engaged in frequent fecal smearing at 7:30 p.m. every day, one technique to implement can be to have your baby go to the rest room simply earlier than 7:30 p.m.
  • If that ABCs revealed that after every episode of fecal smearing a guardian gave the baby a shower which the baby very a lot enjoys, one technique to strive can be giving a sponge tub as a substitute of a shower.
  • If the ABCs revealed that the baby obtained numerous guardian/caregiver consideration following fecal smearing, one technique to think about can be that the caregiver/guardian keep away from offering consideration following the habits by lowering eye contact, and never having any dialogue round the occasion in the second.

Bear in mind: We’re unable to find out the operate of a habits from solely a single occasion of the habits. If fecal smearing solely occurred as soon as, it might not warrant an extra investigation.

Q.  How ought to a guardian/guardian cope with this case in the second?

A. Attempt to be as impartial as doable in the second. Bear in mind that there’s a risk that your baby is partaking on this habits to get your consideration/to get a response from you (all consideration is consideration even damaging), so the much less consideration directed in direction of your baby on this state of affairs the higher.  One easy solution to gauge in case your baby is likely to be searching for consideration from you is to search for indicators that they is likely to be watching on your response, ready so that you can look or inform them to cease, laughing when caught in the act and many others.

Keep away from partaking in an excessive amount of dialog/dialogue round the incident in the second.

Maintain your feelings in examine and attempt to stay impartial.

As soon as the mess is cleaned up, take a while to decompress. Self-care is vital right here. Have a glass of wine and watch your favourite present.  This habits isn’t straightforward to cope with: it’s messy, pungent, irritating and really time-consuming. Be straightforward on your self, and do not forget that in most conditions (when medical considerations are dominated out) modifications to the atmosphere can efficiently change habits.

Q. What are the ‘don’ts’ for the way a guardian or caregiver ought to cope with it, each in the second and later.

A. Keep away from shaming your baby about this habits. Keep away from screaming, yelling or making threats, or punishing your baby. Don’t contain your baby in the cleansing up course of.

In case you really feel like your baby wants some exterior motivation to enhance their habits, you’ll be able to think about having your baby EARN a rewarding exercise/merchandise contingent on not partaking in fecal smearing.  (e.g. sticker chart. Give a sticker if they didn’t smear on a regular basis and as soon as they earn X stickers they get a most popular exercise/merchandise)

Be constant. When you’ve selected a plan and what modifications to the atmosphere you’ll implement, make certain that all caregivers/ dad and mom are on the identical web page and perceive the significance of being according to the strategy and implementing the methods each time the habits happens. If the strategy is not utilized persistently, the habits could not enhance or could take longer to enhance.

Look ahead to one thing known as an extinction burst:  If you’ve gained some reward (consideration, a shower, and many others.) each time for a specific habits, the habits will persist. If all of a sudden the anticipated reward stops coming, it’s probably that the particular person is not going to instantly cease the habits.  In different phrases, fecal smearing might doubtlessly worsen (extra smearing, extra mess, or extra frequent episodes) earlier than it will get higher.

An instance of this idea is an elevator journey. In case you journey the identical elevator daily to get to your workplace, you get in, push the button (the habits), and also you’re rewarded by the doorways closing and the elevator taking you to your workplace ground. Someday you get in and push the button, and nothing occurs. What do you do subsequent? You don’t simply stand there and wait, or take the stairs up. No, most individuals would push the button again and again, tougher, sooner, and many others. That’s the extinction burst — this burst of power earlier than a habits stops.

If you implement a plan of motion, you’ll be able to count on that an Extinction Burst will happen. Don’t let this derail your plan of motion, the extinction burst gained’t final too lengthy so long as the plan continues to be carried out persistently.

Q. When is fecal smearing a sign of one thing else? When ought to a guardian search outdoors skilled assist — both for habits, or remedy?

A. In case your baby is exhibiting signs of constipation, itching in the rectal space or every other bodily signs, search out medical help.

If the habits will not be bettering, worsening or different regarding behaviors are rising, dad and mom/caregivers ought to return to their physician for added steering and/or search the help of a Board Licensed Habits Analyst who can present additional evaluation into potential causes for the habits and implement a therapy plan.

Different suggestions/methods which have helped curb this habits embrace:

  • Restrictive clothes that may make it arduous to achieve into diaper/underwear is a good preventative measure, or fitted clothes (some dad and mom have had luck with placing their toddlers in one-piece rash guards that zip in the again).
  • Footed zip sleeper worn backward.
  • Carrying overalls backward.

The following pointers will give the guardian/caregiver some additional time to cease and redirect makes an attempt to smear. Rest room coaching may additionally assist scale back the chance of episodes of the habits in some kids.

The Skilled

erica-laframboiseErica Laframboise is a Board Licensed Habits Analyst who has been working with kids and adolescents for over 15 years, specializing in these with Autism Spectrum Problems, developmental disabilities and communication and behavioral issues.

She has a Grasp of Arts in Utilized Behaviour Evaluation (ABA) with an emphasis in Autism. Erica is a member of the Ontario Affiliation for Behaviour Evaluation (ONTABA). Her expertise consists of medical supervision of ministry-funded ABA primarily based packages, evaluation and therapy of extreme downside behaviors, software of ABA methods inside school-based settings and supply of guardian coaching workshops.

Erica lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada together with her husband and son.

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