Playing with Poop

Archived Q&A and Reviews

4-year-old won't stop playing with his poop

May 2008

I am in desperate need of help on how to get my 4 year old son to stop playing with his poop. For the last couple of weeks he has been using his poop to paint the walls, mirrors, carpet, etc. We have found pooped smeared into the carpet and in his bed. Even during his bath he pooped and put it into one of his play cups to play with. I've tried explaining to him why this is unacceptable and how it's dirty and poop belongs in the potty. We've tried time outs, but he is absolutely defiant when it comes to this and has started peeing in his pants when in time out even though he is potty trained. We've tried having him clean it up, but it doesn't seem to phase him at all how disgusting this all is. We are completely out of our minds with this and are wondering if there is something more to this and if we need professional intervention as well. pooped-out mom

Yikes, at his age, this is not normal.

I am an elementary teacher, and we would occasionally see that a young student (ie kindergarten or first grader) was doing this because there would be a mess in the bathrooms. Whenever it was brought to the attention of the school counselor, he said that it happens very frequently in children who are being sexually abused and to take it seriously. Do you trust all the people your son comes into contact with?

Maybe it's nothing...I'm no expert...and I know some young toddlers do it...but I have a four year old and I can't imagine him wanting to do this. I would ask your pediatrician as soon as you can. Good luck to you... Oakland Mom

Your son needs psychological and/or psychiatric help. You and your husband may need counseling since this is a family issue as well. Anon

Two-year-old smearing poop on walls during naptime

August 2006

A friend is dealing with a two-year-old who does this every single time she goes down for a nap or to sleep. I've recommended duct tape and a star chart. She won't tolerate being put to bed in full body pjs (screams bloody murder - not that that would stop me, but then I'm mean.). Clearly this is something she really really likes doing. Any advice? Ayelet

How about changing her diaper 5 minutes after putting her down for a nap? I assume no one is putting her down for her nap in a soiled diaper, and that the child is witholding the 'paint' until she wants it. So take it away after she's made her deposit.
We used diaper pins and pinned our kids clothes shut so they couldn't get into their diaper for naps and bedtime. They don't do this for very long (a few months) but it sure is gross!
cleaned a few walls

Two-year-old is playing with his poop!

April 2004

My 26 month old son has recently picked up a new habit - he plays with his poop! Almost every day he'll hide somewhere, reach into his diaper and start playing. Sometimes he just squishes it in his hands, but other times, like when he is in bed, he smeatrs himself with poop from head to toe. How long does this behaviour usually last and is there anything I can do to curb it? jen

We went through the same thing at the same age. I made it clear how upset I was and wouldn't let him in areas or near toys that had to be cleaned for a day or two. We also said alot of ''no touch poopy'', which he still repeats occassionally. But I think the key for us was onsies, and one piece pjs. I dressed him so that he couldn't get inside his diaper for a week or two. It saved my sanity and I think his interest in the poop painting was forgotten. At that point, we went back to his regular clothes and he hasn't done it since. anon
My brother used to do this as a tot. My mom's solution was to limit access. This meant that at night she put his blanket sleeper on backwards so that he could not unzip it to get to his diaper. Daytime options may be a little more challenging, but I would try using snap-tees, overalls, one-piece outfits - whatever it takes to keep him away from his diaper. And remember - it's just a phase. anon
Be sure to write this down so you will remember when he is a teenager that he was doing this. Better yet, take a photo. It will come in handy as a blackmail tool in a few years and you may not remember it, so make yourself a note today. This goes for any other weird or gross things they are doing. Parents of teens need all the help they can get! ;-)
Anonymous mom of teens