Therapeutic goals: encopresis, defecation problems in children
Target group: children who have difficulties with emptying (constipation, stool retention, encopresis) and its training
Age group: 4-10 years
Secondary target group: parents, pediatricians, gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, special and medical pedagogues
Tertiary target group: other experts who participate in solving these problems
Form of work: individual
The book encourages repeated reading and sharing together with the child.
Brief content of the work:
This book uses illustrations and short texts to concretely and playfully explain to the child how his body works, the digestive and excretory processes in it. It also helps a child suffering from constipation or encopresis, which is related to constipation, to understand what his difficulties are and how they can be solved. Overcoming a child’s refusal to use the potty or the toilet, to excrete regularly, is often difficult and exhausting for the whole family. The content of the book does not serve as a substitute for specialized care. Caring for a child with these problems is always a matter of interdisciplinary cooperation! (source: www.zlobivehovinko.cz)
The book provides insight into the complex issue of constipation and encopresis. It is written in simple language so that even a small child can easily understand the story. The rich illustrations are interesting and provide a basis for further discussion of the topic (the text rather emphasizes the visual message). Here, the reader will get valuable inspiration on how to proceed in solving these problems.
The main hero of the story is the boy Honzík, who has problems with pooping. This sensitive issue is referred to in the text as “naughty poop”. The story tells about how Honzík decided to fight with naughty poo after many disappointments. With the help of the grandmother, who illustratively explains the essence of the problem, the protagonist creates a battle plan and in the end gains power over the naughty poop – he wins. The book also includes worksheets for children, a diploma, coloring books, as well as a commentary for parents.
Description of the possibilities of professional pedagogical/therapeutic work:
The book uses several psychological principles that will appeal to young and old readers on many levels. For example, the principle of externalization, i.e. separating the problem from the person who describes and experiences it. In general, it is easier to work with what is outside, which is why we are not talking about the child who has a problem (I am bad), but about the “naughty poop” that is the source of the problem (he is bad). The child can thereby gain insight and the ability to find a solution in a problematic situation.
Thanks to the principle of projection, the child can identify with the main character and be inspired by his procedure in coping with the given problem. It can also strengthen his confidence in the successful solution of his troubles.
We cannot forget the moment of the so-called normalization, when the child can understand that his problem is not exceptional, but also troubles other children.
Education in the form of specific procedures in the fight against “naughty poo” is given simply and clearly – both for children and parents. The text is carried in a supportive, encouraging and hopeful spirit with an emphasis on the need to avoid excessive pressure on the child. The illustration tells children how the digestive tract works, where the problem with excretion arises and how to prevent it. The visual material provides a number of opportunities to stop and discuss it together with our client. Below are some sample questions:
… Honzík has an accident – how do you think Honzík feels? What do Honzík/his parents think? Why are the parents/Honzík angry? What do you think the poop is? What would you advise Honzík? Have you ever experienced something similar? What do you think will happen next, how will it turn out?
… Honzík realizes that he doesn’t want it to go on like this – what does Honzík want? What would you like? Is it worth fighting for the fulfillment of these wishes?
… with grandmother’s education about what helps in the fight – do you know any of it? Do you like these foods? Have you ever tried anything from the picture?
… “battle plan” illustration – how about making your own battle plan – what would you like it to look like?
… Honzík sometimes succeeds, sometimes not – Honzík does not give up and keeps going – he is getting stronger – what would help you persevere and not give up when you fail? How can you remind yourself of your strength/desire why you are doing this? (example – we return to the page in the book where Honzík thinks about what the poop robbed him of, and that he doesn’t want it like this anymore…)
… Honzík has his helpers – who can be your helper? Who else can support you and how?
Each child is unique, and therefore we recommend following specific reactions to the story and asking questions in accordance with the given situation, context and individual with whom we are working.
Description of the author’s experience, recommendations from his own work with this work:
With the book, it is possible to get to a sensitive and often embarrassing problem for both children and parents easily and without major obstacles. In the case of a preschool girl who struggled with encopresis in kindergarten, repeated reading of the book helped (on her own initiative).
The most significant moment was the understanding that she is not bad. She admitted that apart from this problem, she has a lot of qualities and strength to handle the various difficulties that life brings her (during the conversation about the book, questions were asked such as, for example, what is good for you, what makes you happy, when do you feel strong?).
When talking about the naughty poo, there was an abreaction of emotions – she could get angry at the poop (it’s bad poop, I’d chop it up, I’d kick it to the moon…), make fun of it, even feel sorry for it (it’s probably all messed up , that’s why it does it – it has to learn how to do it correctly, I’ll help it with that). This gave her self-confidence and much-needed relaxation.
Practical experience proves how important it is not to push for a solution and will provide the child with a safe space for venting emotions. The child himself feels a lot of pressure – both from himself and from those around him who share this problem with him. It often helps to have a calm setting, slow down the pace and not rush to a quick solution.
It is well described in the book that Honzík had days when he won, but there were also days when the poop won the fight. Children can thus understand that it is not important to never poop again. Every success counts and strengthens the child’s self-confidence. As a reward, the child can paint a coloring book or receive a diploma for a certain limited time, when he writes down /who won when/.
The mentioned little girl made weekly records. She was praised or rewarded with a small gift for every success. Failures were not given much attention. There was a bigger reward for the weekly evaluation. Enkopresis gradually disappeared and material rewards were rather rare, until they were no longer needed. According to her parents, she likes to remember the book.
For further study, I recommend the website about the book: www.zlobivehovinko.cz
The card of the recommended work was created by:
Vejrostová Anna Workplace: Vejrostovi – psychologie, Ltd. – clinic of clinical psychology and psychotherapy in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Czechia. Date last updated: March 20, 2023
The recommendation from Slovak to English translated by: Mária Trechová, Workplace: PRO SKIZP – Association for support of Slovak Chamber of Physicists, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Educators, c. a. Bratislava, Slovakia
It didn’t pass language editing!
Recommended citation procedure:
Vejrostová, Anna. 2023. Recommended procedure and case study for the literary work Honzík a zlobivé hovínko. In Kotrbová, K. et al: Biblioterapia.sk. Bratislava: PRO SKIZP – Association to support the development of the Slovak Chamber of Clinical Physics, Laboratory Diagnosticians, Language Speech Therapists and Therapeutic Pedagogues, 2023. ISBN 978-80-974667-0-1 Available on: https://www.biblioterapia.sk/en/encopresis/
The contribution was created thanks to support from the European Union Erasmus+ program, Key action 2 – Cooperation between organizations and institutions, KA210 – Small partnerships for cooperation in the field of education and training. Project name “Prototype of online teaching aid for bibliotherapy”, project number 2022-1-SK01-KA210-VET-000082483. It represents the opinion of the author and the European Commission is not responsible for any use of the information contained therein.