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Avatar universal

Playing with poop

My daughter is 8 years old. She's adopted, but I've had her since 2 years of age.  She has always had behaviour problems, and now takes medication for ADD.  She does strange things all of the time, and I'm at my witts end.  Her latest thing is she plays with her poop, or does something with it, and then wipes the excess on her bed.  Her biological mother is bi-polar, her biological father has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bi-polar, and manic depressive.  Are these things that she could inherit.  She also struggles in school, she has a hard time reading because she can't remember words.  She is very smart, but does very strange things. She's constantly going into the bathroom and staying, even at school.  She pours the soap out of the bottles and refills them with water. She hides candy and eats it in her bed, basically she puts anything in her mouth she can. Help me if you can, I'm going crazy. I have 5 other children, boys, 4 of whom are adopted, and none do these kinds of things.  Her behaviour is so off the wall, we can't leave her with anyone.
94 Responses
Avatar universal
re: my daughter playing with poop

She takes Dexedrine, 10mg. once a day and has been on it for about 15 months.
I have another child who takes the same and it has definitely helped him.
I just don't know what to do.
Avatar universal
I read this passage and just cried. I am a mother of 4 boys,3 my own and 1 my step-son. My oldest,9, is going through the same thing right now. Pooping in the tub and gettin it out with his hands. He just pooped in his bed for the first time tonight and wiped it on the bed and walls. He has been stealing candy and eating and drinking in his room. I just was on edge tonight and have been so tired I started looking this up. He recently was kicked out of school for taking a boxcutter to school and threatened some kids that had been bothering him. He has been diagnosed with adhd and I had him on medicine 2 different kinds at different times and they didnt seem to work so he has been of of them for about 1 yr. but he didnt even act anything like this before. He is not one of these bad kids, I dont understand why all this is going on.We just started counseling but its just the begining. I feel like I amm going to lose it before we get anywhere.He is also the only one that does these things out of everyone and it has been mainly in the last 9 months or so.And the lying as been outragious, along with repetitive behavior.I am just wondering if you have had any luck since you posted this? Please let me know. Im desperate to find out what other options are out there.Finding this article is a blessing. Everything I have read tonight has been 2 yrs and under and I feel so relieve that I am not in this alone,though I hate you are feeling what I do.Please let me know anything.
Avatar universal
I have a 10year old boy.  I have just find out he is playing with his poop at school.  He is ADHD and on meds.  I adopted him.  I don't know much about his parents.  How do you deal with this.  With this and all of his different obsessions, they are always changing.  He has a one track mind and he has no friends.  I am at my wits end!!!
Can anyone give me any suggestions??
Avatar universal
Playing with poop is not typically something that results from ADHD.  It is often seen in Reactive Attachment Disorder with children.  RAD is often seen in adopted children, where the initial attachment with the biological mother has been disrupted, even if the child was very young or an infant when adopted.  It is something that can be easily addressed in therapy, but cannot be eliminated through meds, since it's a response to stressors not genetics.

kstuff, psychotherapist
Thank you haven’t heard about RAD
Avatar universal
I cannot believe other parents are dealing with this odd behavior as well!  My son is 12 and has been playing with poop secretly for years, at least 8 now.  It used to involve diapers (or pull ups) and them being hidden where we would have to search to find the smell.  Now, we don't know what he's doing, but we found poop on towels, down the sink drain (which we found because the sink wouldn't drain after he'd been in the bathroom.)  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome and has been in therapy for roughly 9 months, but I'm not seeing a change in his "playing" behaviors.  To the above parent, my son also plays in soap, mixing up concoctions...  things disappear from the bathroom closet and either reappear in odd spots or empty bottles are found (like my bath salts.)  My son does have Sensory Integration Disorder also, and we've wondered if this stems from SID or if there is something else going on.  He is the oldest of 5 kids, none adopted, and nothing in his childhood to cause attachment issues.  If anyone has any advice, I'd love to receive it!
Avatar universal
I work with kids who have been diagnosed with ADD, autism and behavioral problems, so I am used to dealing with 3 year olds playing with their poop. My understanding is that it is a sensory thing, but now my daughter who is six just started doing the same. It all started when she got the stomach flu and she spends the whole day with the runs. Since then my husband and I have found poop smeared all around the toilet, next to the sink and even in her bedroom all. She kept saying that the poop just comes out, and I have been believing her since I have also found the poop in the shower after she has gotten out. Today, I went to put her in bed and the smell in her room was horrible. I found poop in her carpet and she smeared it with one of her toys. I now know that she has really been playing with it, and the thing is that she doesn’t seem to understand that one just don’t do that. In school she is very fidgety. The teachers says that she is very smart and she does get good grades, but that she cannot stay focus for long and that she cannot stay in her sit. She goes to counseling in school, and I have notice some improvement in her self esteem, but now this. Today she was also un-invited to a Christmas party in the boys and girls club because she refuses to listen to the teacher, and this is just started in the last two weeks. Like a lot of your kids, she does strange things, like emptying the shampoo bottles that were completely full, like taking things and hiding them, she gets obsessed with candy if it is around it. Sometimes she does things and when I ask her why she did it, she says that her brain is going crazy. The thing is that she has been saying this since the time she could talk. She does not sleep well at nigh, and she also has a lot of nightmares. I have taken her to her doctor and run all kinds of test, and it is not biological, but they have not diagnosed her with any cognitive or behavioral problems. I really don’t know what else to do. She is the middle child and I try my best to spend quality time with her, and talk to her, but she always ends up doing something that just upsets me. I really don’t know what else to do. I also think that she might be playing with her poop at school, but I have no way of proving her. I feel like I have no where to turn to, and my husband just says that she just different.
189897 tn?1441126518
   ADHD kids (at least while they are young) have not filters.  If something occurs to them, they act on it - before they have a chance to think about it.  Many times, since it happens so fast, they don't even realize they have done anything.  Of course, after years of being blamed for things they haven't realized they have done - defensive measures start kicking in.  
  You say you have taken her to her doctor.  What specialty is your doctor.  A MD may not be the best one to make those decisions.  If you are concerned I would find somebody who specializes in ADHD and see them.
  Just an idea on the poop.  It is possible that  she is not playing with it.  If it comes out because she has been too distracted to attend to pooping (or for any other reason) - well what do you do once it is there?  If you know it shouldn't be there you try and hide it.  Or maybe try to clean it up (but not very expertly).  6 year olds are not experts at this type of thing.  You might try asking her to tell you when it happens so you can help her clean it up.  Of course, maybe she is playing with it - but there are other possibilities.
Avatar universal
That is very good advice from Sandman.

The most important thing is to remain 'neutral' ie, matter of fact in  your reaction.  Just give a small natural consequence.  Like get them to help you clean it up.

Often the behaviour that gets the big reaction is the one they will pursue.

I know it is outrageous and would drive you completely nuts.  But try to hold in that reaction.

Do not talk to other adults about it if there is any possibility they could hear.

At a nice time when you are sitting down together just explain to them carefully about the germs and possibility of illness.

It is a phase and if handled carefully they will grow out of it.  But it is very easy to reinforce negative behaviour by reacting to it.  If you pay a lot of attention to it, it will get worse.

Give lots of praise and attention (I know you do anyway) at good times.

Another point:
My father has Chronic schizophrenia, none of his four children have it, none of his 10 grandchildren have it.  We are doing fine.  Anyway it comes up every few generations in all families.  It is not a 'diagnonses'  if your parents have it.  Take it one day at a time.
Avatar universal
Developmental disorders are odd things. They are very difficult to be diagnosed. especially things like ADHD and ADD. A lot of emotional issues abandament issues manifests the behaviour problems in Children. Unsound family environment is an unhealthy environment. Just because parents are unsound of mind does not necessarily mean that the child is prone to mental illness. therefore, behaviour patterns and issues may just result from experiences children have had. I may not mean that they actually have and development disorder. It might be difficult for an inexperience experts to differntial between the two.
You might want to check where the behaviour pattern of the child is coming from before drawing conclussion and act on them.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the advice. I have taken the attitude of taking deep breaths when I find that my daughter has smeared her poop some where in her room. Last time I found that she smeared it all over her chair in her room and I lost it. I saw how afraid she got and I just told her that I was sorry for yelling but that what she was doing was really upsetting, especially when I cannot figure out why she is doing it. She had this look that she just does not understand why she, herself was doing it. I just gave her paper towels and disinfectant and made her clean it up. The next time she did it, she was not even aware when she did it and that she still has poop in her underwear. She kept asking me what smelled, and I could not figure out what she was talking about. When she finally went to the bathroom I noticed that she took very long, so I went to check up on her. She had poop in her underwear and she was trying to clean herself up. Since I was very sure that she must have done something with it in her room, I went to check. I found dried poop in the closet wall. When I asked her when she had done that, she did not have an answer, she could not remember. I’m starting to really think that she has ADHD or some kind of sleeping problem, since she does not sleep well at night and when she looks at me I can tell that her thoughts are just way ahead of what I am telling her. She is a very smart child, which is the reason why it bothers me so much that this is taking place. I really want to help her, but I don’t know where to find the help any longer. All I do is research. I am going to talk to her school counselor and see if she has any referrals for me.
Avatar universal
There is hope.

My son is 14. He stopped playing with/smearing feces a couple of years back, and inappropriate urination seems to have stopped in the past few months as well.

He still steals, though not as often. He often often often lies (though sometimes what appears as a lie to others is actually his inability to remember or his misperception of events). He no longer hoards food.

His many-times-a-day passive-aggressive coping mechanisms have mostly been replaced by intense tantrums which are presently happening only every few months.

It's interesting and pleasurable to watch my son growing in actual happiness and developing an understanding of responsibility and desire to behave appropriately. It sure has been, and continues to be, a long and labour-intensive journey.

My son's diagnoses include attachment disorder, adhd, pdd-nos (autism specturm), developmental coordination disorder, etc., etc., etc.

Avatar universal
Thank you sooo much for sharing your experiance, and to everyone else as well. My oldest son, who is 17 now, used to smear poo when he was still in diapers but grew out of it when he stopped using them. By junior high he had been diagnosed with ADHD and behaviourial problems stemming from his relationship with his father. I was warned then that one or more of our other children may have some behaviourial prblem or mental illness as it runs strong on their father's side. My daughter has had issues over the past years but a lot of them stemmed from environment(relationship with her father and his wife). Her behaviour over the past few months indicates that she may also have ADHD. Today I found that she had taken a piece of toilet paper, pooped on it and smeared it on the underside of the toilet seat. Needless to say I could have cried! I did a search and came up with this post thread, and the tears have started flowing. The lying, the stealing...has all been a part of my life with her. Sadly her father's wife phones me up and attacks me for her outbursts which needless to say does not make the situation any easier. Much *** it hurts to see other families going through this it feels good to know that I am not alone.
WinnipegConcertina I would appreciate hearing more of your experiences and where you got help(I'm in Winnipeg as well).

Thank you all. I always find it's much easier to deal with a situation when I know what it is I'm dealing with.
Avatar universal
I have read all the comments on here and love the advise my step son is 6 mom has been out of the picture for awhile now and he is ok with that, he has been doing the same things playing in his poop smearing everywhere in the bathroom when i ask him why he does this he just says because he was mad when i ask why he is mad he doesnt know...he has never been diagnosed with anything, he also does the whole soap thing pooring bran new bottles out and filling them with water and then blames it on his brother who is one i have tried making him clean it up using his allowence to pay for new soap but nothing seems to work he lies like crazy you cant believe anything he says any advice nothing seems to work
Avatar universal
Hello, I'm new here so I would like to say hi to everyone.. I read  "my daughter playing with poop" and some of the others and I just want to share with you that my daughter who is now 19 would get angry with me for putting her to bed and poop and take off her diaper and quit literally play finger paint with it.. she is very blonde and she had a white crip with pretty whitish plush toys and they all turned brown .. not just once either.. My other daughter who is 18 now would hide food in places where it would certainly rott.. She would also take what ever she could find and mix it all together and tell her sister it was cookies!.. I'm not sure why your child would go to the bathroom and stay there but maybe she is looking at herself in the mirror my kids did that.. they would look and talk and make faces in the bathroom.. and pooring soap out is something I have never experienced so I can't comment on that.. hiding candy was a big one for mine.  Putting things in her mouth at that age may be a little diffrent I would think she would be over that by now, but in all honesty I did it.. I even tasted apple and strawberry shampoo cuz it smelled good.. and if it had pretty collors on it or if it was just plain intresting I would give it a try like soap in the shape of flowers.. Eventually my children grew up and they are both very good girls.. my oldest is going to a university and my 18 year old is already a workaholic not that that's good but she works because she likes her money.. I guess she's just greedy! lol.. Now for myself, I am bipolar and I turned out to be a great mother and did well where ever I worked I could climb to the top until my third child the  postpartum and bipolar got me so I am now on disability otherwise I had a productive and happy life.. My son who is 9 did alot of different things and my youngest who is 2 is going to be on Broadway!!.. lol.. I am interested in what els your child does and I can let u know if mine did that or not.. After alot of worry and when the years went buy they turned out pretty good members of society if  you ask me.. Good luck with your baby and stay in touch with us..

Avatar universal
Do you want to get together sometime?  I'm actually living out in Steinbach right now, but I'm in Winnipeg occasionally on weekends.

My biggest help came from my son's first mental health worker, Duncan Smith, and much much much reading and seeking out information on my part. His present mental health worker as well as folks who are part of my son's support team through Children's Special Services have all been great supports.

I've started a blog, though there isn't much there right now other than a bit of my son's original history. Eventually, I'll get into the present day-to-day. If interested, feel free to have a read at http://www.*******************.********com
Avatar universal
Sorry, I hadn't read the user terms closely enough and hadn't realized we couldn't post links. If you're interested in my blog, just email and I'll send you the link
Avatar universal
Most of these children, in my experience, fall into the following two categories:  They were adopted, or they have either one or both parents who are / were mentally ill.  I disagree with the psychologist who said these problems (like feces play, assaulting other children -- including sexual assault -- plus property destruction, fire-setting and so forth) can be helped.  I think that children who are so mentally ill that they do these things as children and teenagers are going to grow up to be mentally ill adults.  I'm sorry to be so pessimistic, but I speak from sad experience.  It is too bad that they closed the mental institutions.  It was a big mistake since most of the adult mentally ill now end up in jail.  A medical treatment facility would be much, much better.  These people need to be diagnosed and institutionalized BEFORE they harm someone else.
This is eight years late, but YOU need to be institutionalized!
Avatar universal
If my son had been institutionalized, he wouldn't be where he is today. I adopted him when he was 2 years old. At that time and over the following years, he displayed many many of what would be categorized as "disturbing behaviours"

His first psychiatrist told me something to the effect of, "Good luck. There's really nothing we can do for him."

My son is now 14 years old. He is having academic successes at school, has done volunteer work for 3 organizations, does chores at home, has performed with a music group on various occasions, loves cooking and is able to independently cook a myriad of items and does a fantastic job of it, loves grocery shopping and often checks/compares nutritional content, has run school marathons, does his own laundry, etc., etc., etc.

My son has a good, healthy quality of life and is a contributing member of our family and a contributing member of society. It has taken very very much individualized work and a solid support team for my son to be where he's at today. Institutions just are not able to provide that level of support.
Avatar universal
I have a 7.5 year old step daughter. She has been living with her father and I full time since October of 2007 after we fought years for her. I have been in her life since before she was born. Finally we won because her mothers boyfriend abused her and her older sister and the mother did nothing about it to protect them even stays with this guy after the courts found out he was a pedo. My daughter suffers from frequent UTI's and has had a bad kidney because of them. She has major bedwetting problem as well, though so did her mother and father. Her behaviour has gotten worse and worse. In school and everywhere else, everyone reports that she very well behaved and one of their best kids. At home, she plays with her poop, smearing it anywhere, steals things (even from school and daycamp and giant tiger) eats and drinks things she is not allowed to or that belongs to her brother (now one year old) she does not think before she does something (pouring hot water on another kid during water fight, hanging out an open window and climbing into the attic), she is constantly climbing her dressers adn such, drawing on the walls, hiding anything she gets her hands on, popping pills she sees when out with the daycamp, pooping in a bag in her room, pooping in socks and wiping her bum with socks then throwing them out the bedroom window into our neighbors yard, will run out into the road or parking lot, and has even tried to climb into the playpen to play with the baby!! I am at my wits end with her, as is my husband. We have repeatedly asked for help and all we get from anyone is them calling childrens services for things/stories our daughter has told them about what we have done. They never ask her why we've done something, like kept her in her room (grounding). She says all kinds of things for attention and then they call child services. We feel as though we can't even consequence her or anything for things she does.  Everyone says she does not have ADD/ADHD though! She's VERY SMART in school and is a very good reader. She's always polite to people, other than with me most times. She never apologises for things she does either, especailly with me. She spit food in my face and my sons face last week! She has still not apologised for it either. We don't believe in forcing her to say shes sorry because then she won't mean it. She has been told she should when she does something or says something wrong many times. Our doctor has put a referral in to the hospital's mental health and anxiety unit because her play therapist has told us that she definitely is a very anxious child, and we know she's dealing with loss and grief. She had to say a final goodbye her her birth mother in february, court ordered and she is supposed to see her three sisters whom were adopted but we've not gotten any replies back from the adoptive parents in 8 months. The last I heard from them in April when I invited them to her birthday. They gave me excuses and didn't come or try and get together. Her three sisters all have different fathers. The youngest is the boyfriends. Can anyone suggest what we can do when she does this pooping thing? And how we can get her the help she obviously needs??
Avatar universal
Oh and I gforgot to say she also poops and pees in the floor vent in her bedroom, that constantly smells dispite us having her clean it all the time.
Avatar universal
my son has always been difficult, he currently is being evaluated for A.d.d and o.d.d  . hes gets in trouble at school alot for  talking back, hitting, not being were hes supposed to be, and recently he was suspended for throwing his poop around the bathroom at school. I am soo concerned for him and his odd behaivors, and i know the school probably looking at me like im a bad mom, throwing poop around is this a reason to call cps on me? what do i do this is pretty emberrasing, and i just cant understand why he would do such a thing. clueless and scared and advice or opnions.
Avatar universal
My son is 10 and he never used to play with his poop until about 3 1/2 years ago now also 5 years ago he was diagnosed with adhd,odd,a touch of aspbergers and a touch of ocd and bipolar, 3 1/2 years ago he found matches while outside playing and I did not find them until it was too late and now he wets the bed frequently and poops in his pants and plays with his poop he wipes it on everything trying to hide it and its so hard to make sure I have checked everything he constantly gets in trouble in school and therapy and meds haven't done much of anything can't find anything that works I'm at my end I also have a 12 yr old daughter that is diagnosed adhd bipolar etc she's very mouthy aggressive steals and doesn't listen I just don't know what to do anymore and then I have a 16 year old daughter who is embarrassed to have friends over and tired of helping I am a single mom I JUST WANT TO SCREAM FOR HELP SOMETIMES so I am right there with all of you
189897 tn?1441126518
   Well, I doubt that he is playing with his poop.  Its pretty common for kids with ADHD to forget to go, until its too late - and then they go, and try to hide it.
   You say meds haven't helped much. What meds have you tried and what kind of a doctor is prescribing the meds.
   A very good book that will help you I think with at least some of these problems, is "The ADD/ ADHD Answer book," by Susan Ashley.
    And ya, you do have a load.  I feel for you.
Avatar universal
It's good to know my daughter is not the only one! She has not been diagnosed witg anything but is suspected to have adhd and/or attachment disorder. She also has traits of aspergers but they say she can't be diagnosed because it is not obvious enough. She stayed at my mum's a couple of nights ago, and after she came home my mum noticed a smell in the bathroom. She found poo pushed right down the back of the radiator. My daughter says she did it because she is scared of the flush. It's not the first time she has hidden poo. She usually cries and says she doesn't know why she does it. I'm so scared that people will think she is disgusting. She already has trouble making friends at school as the other kids are wary of her unpredictable and sometimes violent behaviour. Her dad refuses to believe that there is anything wrong with her. I'm starting to feel like we will never get to the bottom of this problem. I am mostly calm but inside i am in despair
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