My 8 year old daughter has been smearing poop on the wall of the bathroom at afterschool care. The first time she was accused she denied it. I eventually got her to confess to having done it on 3 separate occasions. She was punished but was told she would be more severly punished if she did not tell the truth. Her confession came with no physical violence, but guilt was used to coerse her. She was told about cameras on outside of the stalls in the bathroom. I told her the cameras had clocks built in and the aides could narrow it down to her. Only when she thought she was definately caught did she confess. Today she was written up because it happened again. She used the stall that it occurred in. She said she had a bowl movement but she swears she did not do it. I hate not to believe her, but I dont. Is there some medical terminology for this, is it some sort of symdrom. I am an elementary school teacher. This problem has occurred on occasion at my school. Everyones reaction was the same. "That's disgusting!!" and I agree. Now I my own daughter may be doing the same thing. She has average to above average intelligence. I am not denying any disability because I have a 20 year old daughter who is mildly mentally handicapped. Denial would not have gotten her the help she needed. This child is very active maybe even adhd. I have seen those kinds of kid in my classroom too and have been somewhat trained to identify potential issues. She is a beautiful otherwise perfectly normal, athletic 8 year old with a lot of personality and wit. I cannot understand why she would do such a thing. Is there a chemical embalance going on? some psycological abnormality she has I dont know what to do? or where to go for help?
I’m not clear on whether your daughter has an autism diagnosis, but fecal smearing occurs with both typically developing children and those with autism. This is also something that can be effectively treated. In my experience this is much easier to treat using positive reinforcement than using punishment or guilt. I would recommend sitting down with her and coming up with a plan. Make sure that she understands that you’re on her side, that this is something that it isn’t ok to be doing and that you want to work with her on it. Children do many things that they know are “wrong” or that people might think are “disgusting” even when they know they shouldn’t and they often don’t entirely understand why they’re doing it.
Rather than using punishment, I suggest arranging special reinforcement for her if she doesn’t touch her feces or do any smearing. Perhaps a special treat after school or some activity that she would really love, watching a movie, spending time on the computer, whatever. If there is a smearing incident, don’t make a big deal about it, just move on and she can try again the next day. Reserve the big deals for when she does something great! This is something that you and she can work on together and something that is very amenable to treatment using positive reinforcement.
I came across this and it may be helpful? Good luck to you.
"The practice of smearing feces is clinically known as scatolia. When not associated with psychological impairment, it manifests when an individual faces extreme powerlessness and frustration -- instances in which an individual believes that his rights have been wholly stripped, and that the entire system is conspiring against him. He wants to communicate his frustrations, to lodge his protest, but he believes that the system has even assimilated his protests..."
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