Tips for treating encopresis

Child Psychologist Alan Yellin, PhD, shares advice for parents on the best methods for treating encopresis in children
How to Treat Encopresis in Children
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Tips for treating encopresis

There are several tips to treat a child with encopresis, or stool retention. The first thing we would like them to do is to visit their pediatrician or pediatric gastroenterologist, just to make sure that there are no blockages or anything that could be responsible for this child withholding. The next thing we want to do is get the child on some kind of regularly scheduled, so that they are going to the bathroom at regular times. Often times, that involves some mineral oil or some other type of medication to help the child go more regularly. We generally recommend against enemas unless it is recommended by the pediatrician because that can be relatively traumatic for the child. The last thing I want to say is that it's important that the parents do not express anger at the child for their going through this stool retention issue. It can be very upsetting for the parents, but the focus on it overly angry with the child doesn't help the child. In fact, it only makes things worse. It's important for the child accept responsibility for the stooling problem that they are having. For example, I will often ask the parents, what is it that they do and what do they expect the child to do when the child has soiled their pants. I try to place the responsibility for the changing, the cleanup, putting on the new clothes, that should be the responsibility of the child; as much as it can be done. We want to make sure there are no secondary reinforces. By that I mean, is the child getting any reinforcers out of this control and where ever possible, we want to eliminate those things.

Child Psychologist Alan Yellin, PhD, shares advice for parents on the best methods for treating encopresis in children


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Alan Yellin, PhD


Dr. Alan Yellin is a licensed psychologist as well as licensed marriage and family therapist.  He has been in practice for over 30 years working with children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Yellin did his post-doctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. In his practice, he sees children with learning problems, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, fears and social skills issues. Additionally, he has a sub-specialty in working with children from divorced families as well as helping parents deal more effectively with their divorce. Dr. Yellin’s practice also includes working with adolescents and adults with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive issues as well as issues around life passages. Dr. Yellin believes that therapy works best when the client and therapist have a collaborative relationship as they explore thoughts and feelings and work towards solutions, and uses a combination of scientific data along with humor to help people achieve change. He is in a long-term happy marriage and has two grown children.

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