Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

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  • Hello all - any advice (or just reassurance/validation) appreciated. We started potty training our 2.75 year old basically the first week of the shelter in place, 4-5 weeks ago (with a new 4 week old at home... figured maternity leave plus quarantine was a good time to be at home). We tried the “oh crap potty training” method kind of liberally, starting with no pants and following her around with the mini toilet. She got peeing in the potty pretty easily within 1 day and has accidents now only when she’s too excited and playing (once every few days). Unfortunately pooping has been harder for her to catch on. She did face some uphill battles initially - constipation that wasn’t immediately recognized (so her first poop was a little painful) and two weeks ago she developed a pilonidal (butt cleft cyst) that caused her some discomfort (that she conflated with pain associated with pooping). Since then she has had regular soft bowel movements but she nearly always has them directly into her underpants. She has successfully pooped 2-3 times in the potty max. She usually tells me “I have to poop!” And it’s already too late, with some poop in her pants. Once on the pot, she often is reluctant to push, which leads to multiple small bowel movements per day. Sometimes she will poop in her pull-ups or diaper (which we put on her just for naps and nighttime) but it doesn’t seem she waits to have a bowel movement into her diaper. Have read a ton of stuff on BPN and other internet resources and am at a loss. Have tried toys, books, songs on potty, bribes, rewards. Are we still battling the initial fear that might have been associated with her constipation? We offered a diaper and she doesn’t want that either. She is excited by underwear but doesn’t care to keep them clean. We don’t seem to be making any progress over the last 4 weeks. Is it too early to throw in the towel and back off? Should we just stop talking about pooping in the potty as we are putting too much pressure on? I read on BPN that sometimes a moratorium on talking about it helps to relieve anxiety and pressure. Should we wait a little longer to clean her up (bht I don’t want to make this seem punitive)? Sorry for the long post. Really appreciate any advice!!!! Stay safe everyone!

    I know this may not be the right approach for everyone but I read this article (and generally try to follow the principles of Janet Lansbury) and it might help take some pressure off for you. My child is younger, only about 20 months, and we just recently offered the potty but are trying to let her lead in when she wants to use it. So I'm certainly not speaking from any kind of real experience, just want to offer a resource I found helpful. We have friends whose daughter didn't poop in the toilet until she was almost 4.5, and I do remember them putting a lot of emphasis and even pressure on her, including bribes, prizes, etc, which all seemed to backfire!

    Hi there! Been there...She’ll get it eventually. I tired many things as well for my child. Are there any physical cues for when she needs to poop, like hide, so you can sit her on the potty ASAP without waiting for her to tell you? Ultimately, we had to make him go commando for consistent results. Good luck!

    No advice just empathy as we are going through the EXACT same challenge with our 2.5 year old. Pees fine in the potty most of the time. But earlier constipation issues makes her afraid to poop in the potty, and she just hops around nervously and before we get her to sit on the potty it's often too late. Just hoping pushing for it and talking about it repeatedly will help in the long run. I have accepted this won't be a short-term process but may take more time that we had hoped.


    We had the issue that my son would pee in the potty but not poop. We had to completely back off and not mention it at all in front of him for a month and then he moved forward on his own. Your timing isn’t great bc of the new baby and disruption which causes your toddler anxiety. I would back off and let her take the lead. Give it 6 months without mentioning it and see where you are at. She absorbs you’re anxiousness about this issue. 

    I had a similar experience as you with my younger child - pee training happened immediately but poop was a big problem. What worked for us was to go back to diapers full time for several months and then start potty training again at age 3. Second time was the charm and peeing and pooping happened very quickly and he has been fully trained for a few months now. 

    Just a word about Oh Crap. I used it with no issues for my first child at age 2.25. She was trained in two days. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I was a total evangelist for the book and really believed the author’s mantra that you shouldn’t wait until past age 2.5 to potty train. Well, my second child proved that approach wrong. Now I tell people Oh Crap works great for some kids, but it’s not gospel. Your child might just not be ready yet. 

    Our 3.5 yo has been potty trained for a year and still won’t poop in the potty. She goes at night in her pull up. Aside from the 2am diaper changes when she wakes up with a poopy diaper (sigh...big kid poops), we haven’t had any issues. Our pediatrician recommended not making too big an issue of it so it doesn’t introduce fear/constipation; she’ll get there when she’s ready and it’s common for pooping to take longer than peeing in the potty. 

    In solidarity!

    With my kid, she was doing same, so she and I made “magic poopie sprinkles,” pretending to add spices to an empty spice jar. Then before poop time, we “sprinkled” the magic sprinkles so her “poopy gate” would open and it wouldn’t be scary to poop in the potty. I’m not joking, this worked immediately. Helped her feel in control and acknowledge and resolve her fear around pooping maybe?

    We had similar issues and unfortunately our son wasn't completely potty trained until he was 5! We seriously tried everything....We were so frustrated. I am not sure if you have the same issue, but for some reason our son was afraid to poop in the potty. We tried to talk to him about it, but he couldn't explain his anxiety. He would sit on the potty and nothing....but then he would put on his pull up and go. He wore underwear to bed and always kept dry and clean at night. We finally found an older book...and I can't find it on amazon now, but it was written by a doctor or psychologist. The plan was to let your child go poop in a pull-up...but you want them to sit on the potty when they go. Then you start cutting a small hole in the pull-up. Each day you make a bigger hole, until finally the hole is big enough where the poop goes into the potty and then once they are ready, you get rid of the pull-up. The reasoning is that the child will feel the security of having the pull-up on and relax.. We did bribe our child to sit on the potty for a certain amount of time each day. So, this did work for us...but it took time and I can honestly say there were days that I felt like crying because I was so frustrated.

    I had a similar problem with my child when she was young.  A very wise pre-school teacher gave me the following advise ......and it worked for us.  Ask your child to blow up a balloon while sitting on the toilet.  Make sure the child’s feet are on a stool or the ground or raised higher.   If you test it out yourself, you’ll see that it causes the same muscles to relax and push that are necessary when having a bowel movement. It might take a couple of tries but it’s a fun game.  I think it works because it teaches children which muscles to use.   Good luck!

    Going through this myself - 3-yr old boy won't poop in the potty. I am also afraid of constipation. He had slight constipation when we moved him cold-turkey to underwear (and didn't go an entire weekend), so we went to pull-ups. He is agreeable to peeing in the potty (though he often pees in his pull-ups anyway, which we don't reprimand but tell him he gets candy, as opposed to a sticker, if he can keep his pull-up dry). He poops in the pull-up, and most times (when I'm present), I change him in the bathroom where I dump his poop into the toilet and flush it. I heard that this helps children get over that weirdness of seeing their poop 'leave' them. He seems to like seeing the poop get flushed down and puts up with me wiping him with regular toilet paper instead of wipes. My logic is that I get him very used to the idea of everything surrounding pooping in the toilet, except for the actual pooping in the toilet, which I can't control. He is also aware that I have a huge gift waiting for him the first time he does the #2 in the toilet. I'm hoping at one point, it will just click that he wants to poop in the toilet... it also doesn't help that he is the oldest in his daycare, so he doesn't really have peers that are fully potty-trained, but so it goes.

    My son was terrified to poop in the potty for ages. The only thing that eventually worked for us was backing off completely until we got lucky one day. He wore underwear most of the day b/c he was potty trained for pee, and asked for a diaper for pooping. One day, about a month before he turned 4, I was picking him up from preschool (half-day) and didn't have a diaper with me and he desperately had to go, so I sat him (crying) on the nearest toilet, he went, and from then on, he was over the fear. It seems like it will never happen when you're in it, but one day it will. 

  • Hi.  Our daughter has been potty-trained for pee since she was about 2 years old.  For the past 2 years, when she has to poop, she asks for a diaper and goes to a private area to take care of this.  She said she would start pooping on the potty when she turned 3, which then changed to 4.  Her fourth birthday passed a couple months ago, and she wasn't able to make the transition.  She gave it an earnest effort over a few weeks but was mostly unsuccessful.  She would cry and become extremely distraught, saying she couldn't do it.  She really wants to go in the potty, but says she can't get her body to cooperate (even reflecting on this calmly when she doesn't have to go).  She is starting to feel some shame around it (hiding her diapers when friends come over).  Any advice on how to help her with this transition?


    I know that this is hard!  Have you tried gradually getting her closer to the potty, but still using the diaper.  E.g., Use diaper but in the bathroom.  Then use diaper next to the toilet. Then use diaper, but sit or squat on the closed toilet, then on the open toilet.  You can even then have her use diaper with a slit in it so that the poop falls through. But I'd only recommend doing this if she's motivated and wants to. Otherwise, I would let her continue to use the diaper, tell her you're ready to help her when she's ready, and wait till she brings it up.  Help her keep it private with friends, but accept that she still wants the diaper. The poop issue can become so hard and children can get constipated from holding the poop and then you've got a bigger problem. Good luck! 

    Hi There,

    Our daughter did the same thing until she was 3 1/2, at which point she successfully made the switch because there were no options. I won't suggest that you attempt the same strategy because you wouldn't be able to repeat it (It involved international travel and a lie--"there are no diapers in America"). May I ask if you've consulted with her pediatrician yet? You probably have, ad nauseam. Have you tried having her use the diaper over the toilet (versus a corner), working gradually toward either opening the diaper to deposit her feces in the toilet or eventually creating an opening in the bottom of the diaper that would allow the feces to drop through? The warmth of the feces, the familiarity of using a diaper, etc are probably all encouraging your daughter to do her "duty." Perhaps some kind of diaper-training wheels gradual removal approach will work. Okay, here's where I'm really going to go out on a limb, so forgive me in advance if this is overkill and does NOT fit your situation (both may very well be true!): We eventually learned that my daughter struggled with low level anxiety and a mild form of OCD (hidden from us for years). I wish, wish, wish that 15 years ago, I had know about sand tray therapy or other short term treatment tools for kids. I don't think there are any similarities between our situation and yours--pooping in a diaper may be as common as the day is long. Good luck and keep giving your daughter plenty of love...

    This happened to us when my son was about 2-3 yo. He also was out of diapers for pee during the day but would wait for a diaper to poop for almost a year he did that. The thing that ended up working was that we stopped talking about it 100% completely when he was around. We had not been talking much directly too him about it before that but would talk amongst ourselves and I think he felt pressured. After we stopped talking about it, then about 2 months later he started pooping in the potty.  

    I posted this response before. Warning - graphic, TMI, all that.

    I had my son turn around and lie backwards on the toilet, with his head and shoulders resting on my lap as I sat at the edge of a tub. Using a mirror propped between his legs, he was able to see what was happening as he activated different muscle groups. He did figure it all out.

    Prior to that he could only use a diaper and needed to be on his hands and knees, what yoga class calls "table top position". He had been using the toilet to pee since he was 16 months old.

    He was somewhat chronically constipated, the doc prescribed Miralax. If I had to do it all over again, I would use Traditional Medicinals Smooth Move tea instead.

    Best wishes.

    We went through the same thing with our daughter exactly. It was quite a process and after several different approaches to help her start using the toilet, it finally happened at 4 and a half. Not sure if anything we did helped or if she was just ready, but she did get to have an ice cream party with 3 friends to celebrate and I think that helped some with the motivation :)

    After talking to other parents, it seems this is not too uncommon. Because she had many questions about where poop goes, I did find a video of a book read aloud that she was interested in and watched several times. It is on you tube and called “all about poop-children’s online storybook”. 

    She also benefitted from a stool softener as she tends toward constipation making pooping harder. This and using a stool for her feet and sitting on the toilet after meals (ultimately to go in the pull-up immediately once she put it on). 

    Luckily once she did it once, she was able to every day and never again used a pull-up.

    Best of luck!

    My daughter happily peed in the toilet, but was afraid to poop there. She didn’t successfully do it until she was a few months past four, but now she’s a pro! Here’s what worked for us: 1) take away any shame. Relax about it. Take the pressure off her body telling her it’s not embarrassing, bc everyone’s different, and you’ll help her. 2) Make a rule that she has to poop on her pull up in the bathroom. 3) The rule changes to pooing in the pull up on top of the toilet. 4) Then you start cutting a hole in her pull up. Our pediatrician suggested trick. Gradually cut the hole bigger and bigger. The poop falls into the toilet. At one point, our daughter looked like she was wearing ass chaps. Then voila, no pull ups. Magic. 

    Our daughter had this problem, too.  She was constipated, so she needed to squat to have a BM.  We tried stool softeners, but that just made it worse.  When we switched our daughter to drinking only water (no milk or juice) and added a puréed prune baby food pouch everyday, it cleared up her constipation.  She was able to do BMs on the potty after that.

    I SO feel your pain! Every kid is so different, but here's our story: Our son was pee-trained at 3 but would only poop in a pull-up. I tried EVERYTHING: rewards, sitting on the toilet backwards, pooping on the potty in a pull-up on, etc. Nothing worked. In hindsight, I think it was a combination of constipation (which had been an issue since he was a baby), the fact he was convinced the only way he could go was standing up (physical and mental block), and his somewhat rigid personality and the resulting power struggle we had over my desire for him to poop in the potty. What worked for us: one day, around age 3.5, after another potty battle, I told him he didn't have to poop in the potty until he was 4. That removed the stress and we both relaxed. We used fiber gummies to help get his bowels more soft, as diet alone wasn't doing it. As age 4 approached, we talked a lot about the upcoming "deadline" and how great it was going to be, etc. When he turned 4 we took away all pull-ups (even overnight - we replaced with a nighttime cloth training pant instead) and went cold turkey. With our pediatrician's approval, we also increased his fiber gummy intake so his poop would be really really soft. I also bought some balloons for him to blow into, as I had read that can help kids engage the bowel muscles. The first couple of days were tough (I think we relented and provided one pull-up because he really needed to go), and then I think on Day 3 of trying, he did it. I think the combination of balloons, the looser stools, feeling like he had made the transition on his terms, and knowing that there would be no pull-ups all helped. Amazingly, once he got the pooping down, we never needed the fiber gummies again, so I really think there was a mind-body connection. I still can't quite believe we made the transition and I feel grateful every time he poops on his own. No joke. Hang in will find the path that works for you. Hope this helps!

    I don't have advice for you, but I can tell you that this was me until about age 5.  I am 48 now and I can assure you that I have no long term issues due to it!

  • Hello - I know there have been a lot of questions posted about potty training and poop, but I don't see one on our exact issue.

    We potty trained our now 3 year old 3 months ago. He did great with the pee part right away. But he has yet to poop in the potty. He saves it for nap time or bed time when he is in his diaper. The problem is if he has to poop during the day, he actively holds it in and acts tormented. This can go on for awhile especially in the evening. He says it's "scary". He actually started acting this way a little before potty training - he all of a sudden didn't want to poop in his diaper (but still would eventually) which is part of the reason I thought he was ready to potty train, thinking he would rather go in the potty (but, no). 

    We have tried: reading "Everybody Poops"; "It Hurts When I Poop"; offering him "Poop Prizes" (currently he knows if he poops on the potty he gets a favorite toy he wants and that still doesn't motivate him); having him be in the bathroom when mom and dad poop so he knows it's not scary; having him sit on the potty for extended periods of time especially after eating (that's when he gets to watch TV to get him to stay on it for awhile,  I now think he just games that to get to watch TV); massaging his lower back to get it to come out; feeding him prunes...Our pediatrician hasn't had a ton of advice other than what I just mentioned although she did have us start Miralax last week since he was only going every couple of days.  (The poop has always been generally soft except one time right before he started Miralax, so I don't think it actually hurts but don't know for sure of course). The Miralax has made him go a little more frequently at night in his diaper, but doesn't solve the tormented-holds-it-in-during-day problem (it actually probably makes that particular issue worse since he probably has to go more now). I do recognize that going frequently is important though so I'm generally on board with it.

    Any other suggestions?? Has anyone else gone through this specifically?  We are at our wits end, and of course are sad for our poor little guy.  :(  Are there poop specialists or, I don't know, hypnotists or something? 

    By by the way, we do put a diaper back on him out of desperation sometimes during the day when he's acting particularly tormented but that doesn't help, he doesn't want to go in that either, so I don't think we can "un-potty train him" now.

    Help!!!!  Thank you.

    Don't stress so much about your child pooping in the toilet. It will happen. Just give him time. It's normal. And some kids don't go everyday. Sometimes every other day. If your child is crying because he's in pain and needs to poop then it's a problem. The girl I used to watch did the same thing. And she was 3. She would hold in her pool and once I put the diaper on she would poop right away. But eventually she started going on the potty. When they are ready it will happen. Good luck

    Hi there,

    You can seek out a child psychologist for this issue--they will often be able to treat this--the term for what your son seems to be experiencing is encopresis. I don't know what area you live in but UC Berkeley has a psychology clinic. You can see if your pediatrician also has any referrals for a child psychologist and even if that particular one doesn't work on this condition--they should know someone else to refer you to. You can also look for child clinical psychologist listings on The CA Association of Psychology website, or your local county psych association website e.g., Alameda County Psychologist Association. Sites like Psychology Today also have therapist listings. Of course, depending on your insurance, you may go through their website/services to find a referral as well.

    Good luck!!

    We went through almost the exact thing. My then 3 year old son potty trained for pee within 3 days, but it took SIX months for him to poop in the potty. Lucky for us, he didn't hold it, because I hear kids who hold too long develop lots of colon problems. My son pooped regularly and normally, but in his diaper. Sometimes he would ask for a diaper and go into a corner, sometimes he would wait till nap or bedtime. We are part of Kaiser and was told that we can get the services of a developmental nurse who can give us phone consults. She was wonderful! She suggested all these great things. But in the end, what worked was her advice to stop potty training for #2 for 6 weeks. During that time, I wasn't allowed to say the word poop, potty, or anything related to potty training. My son did all the initiating. If he asked for a diaper to poop, I quietly gave him one without comment. If he pooped at nap, I quietly changed it with no comment. I didn't criticize, correct, or even praise. He continued to pee in the toilet and he did not wear a diaper during the day, only for naps and bed. Near the end of 6 weeks my son initiated pooping in the potty, and we have never looked back since. If you are not part of Kaiser, see if your insurance offers this type of phone consult. If you don't even have that, then just stop talking about poop for 6 weeks and see what happens. I would stop Miralax. I think doctors over prescribe it and I believe anxious parents get dependent on it. Just offer good fruits and lots of liquids, don't give your son any pressure, and your son will figure it out on his own.

    My son did this at that age and he ended up withholding his poop for years after and being on miralax for years. We had to go back to being ok with him pooping in his diaper, just so that it was regular for a long time before we tried anything else. Then we did a porta potty to poop in (somehow he never wanted to go in an actual toilet) that could be wherever he was for ease. He would get an mnm just for sitting on the potty once every half hour for a minute or two. Just to get used to it and also to perhaps catch him going once in a while. All of this was done with no pressure, no charts, no stickers, no praise for pooping or not, no pressure at all, it was just something we did. It took a long time. Years. When withholding, he stretched out his bowels and could hold his poop for a week or more. Then it would inevitably hurt when he finally pooped. Do whatever you can to get him out of this loop. My son was 9/10 before he was finally off miralax and then he reverted with peeing in his pants for a year or two and at night. We finally used an alarm at night and he was cured around age 11. It was a rough road. By putting so much emphasis now and making it a big deal/fight, I fear you are also heading down the same road! Good luck and feel free to reach out to me personally if you'd like to talk more. 

    I potty trained by son at 3 years as well and initially, he had the same problem and he wouldn't poop on the potty.  But I told him that we were out of diapers and that I couldn't get any more so for about a day, he just held it in.  But then after that, he had an accident in his underwear... pooped.  He was really upset about it and cried.... we had to wash him in the bath tub.  I just kept at it.  He asked for a diaper a few times and I just said we didn't have any.. we just have the potty..... in a very nice and understanding way.... telling him we were sorry and that we understand that he doesn't like or want to poop in the potty.  He had an accident in his underwear again the following day and cried about it.  We took him in the bath and wash him off again ... and he doesn't like it at all.  The following day, he cried on my shoulders saying he didn't want to poop in the potty, but I gave him a big hug and held him and said, I know... I know... but you are a big boy and so brave.... I know you can do it... and he went to the potty and pooped.  I gave him a big reward after that and made sure he knew I was sooo proud of him.  After that, he never had a poop accident again and pooped in the potty.  

    The other option is to keep on providing a diaper for him.  I know of a family that has a boy who is 4 years old who can pee in a potty (potty trained at 3 years) but poops in a diapers at home in the evening/night.  It seems like your boy is ready for pooping in the potty, but if the diaper option is still available, he won't go for the potty.  So it's really up to you what option you want to go with.   

    Our kid only pooped once a week. We had to do all sorts of gross stuff to keep the toilet from clogging from the mountain of poop. It was awful. This went on until last year and a half when we set a poop alarm every other day for 6pm and the biggest help was the "Squatty Potty." I'm telling you that thing makes pooping comfortable for everyone. Having your knees up higher pulls your body into a position that unkinks the tube and litlerally makes the poop slip out. Find the commecial on Youtube, watch it and then maybe show it to him-he might enjoy it! (It's hilarious.) Happy pooping!

    It took my son about 6 months to poop in the potty after being "pee" potty trained. I never thought I'd be the mom who gave my son a diaper to poop in, but I was also at my wits end. Pooping in the potty was scary so he was actively holding it in. It created a situation where he was getting constipated from holding it in so long. What worked was a combination of Miralax and juice, which created a need to go. He would ask for a diaper which I would put on him. Then I told him he was going to have to go in the bathroom. Still with a diaper on, but at least in the right room. Then I had him sit on the potty for 30 seconds, still with a diaper on. The next step was to have him sit on the potty for 30 seconds without the diaper, then I would give it to him so he could poop. Then one day, it miraculously slipped out while he was sitting on the potty! And suddenly, not scary any more. That was about 10 years ago but was such a hard time for me (and him too probably) that I remember it quite vividly. We kept up the Miralax and juice for a few weeks so he had a strong urge to go and it was always soft. Hang in there! Just make a plan for where you want to be and take some baby steps in that direction. What helped me was to remain calm and act like it was no big deal, even though I felt like it totally was! Everybody poops, eventually.

    My son was the same, it started around age 2.5 when he had some constipation and it hurt him. The constipation went away, the withholding did not. That's what this is, a withholding problem, not a constipation problem. It's behavioral. I agree that Miralax actually makes it worse because then he's fighting harder to hold - my son has also told me he hates having loose stools. Our solution after almost 2 miserable years of Miralax, yelling, ignoring, etc... was a program called Soiling Solutions. Technically he's never had much soiling, but he has been impacted (hard, dry stool that won't come out, and only liquid poo can get around it, very difficult to clean out). Soiling Solutions is a protocol developed by a psychologist that uses timed potty sits to train the body to release rather than hold. It does involve using suppositories and enemas when the child won't go, and that kept me from trying it for a long time, but I have gotten a lot of support from a developmental pediatrician who thought it was definitely the right thing to do. When we started the program my son was 4 and still in diapers, and he potty trained within a week after we started - no more accidents. Google "soiling solutions" and check it out. If you still want to go the laxative route, we had some luck with Gentle Move from Renew Life (has magnesium), and even Benefiber. We almost never use interventions anymore, and now we can just do ExLax once or twice a week if it seems like he's holding. Bottom line, he has to go every day and he's not allowed to hold - I didn't want to be responsible for him ruining his rectum as a 4 year old, and as his parent, it's on me. Good luck, this is a really difficult thing to deal with.

    We just went through 6 months of this with our 3 yr old daughter.  She would only poop in diapers.  Clearly everything was normal, but she would just hold it all day and wait until night time.  We kept thinking she wasn't ready and just didnt want to push her.  Finally we took a pile of diapers, and told her when they were finished, that would be the end of using them.  We did a countdown every night We gave her some Miralax around the time the diapers ran out, and made a big deal of talking up that she was a big girl now and didn't need them anymore.  It was a rough couple of nights, but with no alternative and after going a couple of times she realized it wasn't so bad, and now we have no issues.   I would gauge where he is at, and when you think he's ready try to think of a game to let him feel like he has some control in the decision to be fully potty trained.  Good luck

    So sorry you and your son are going through this. Our son could use the toilet for urination before he was two, but needed a diaper to poop. He also used Miralax for constipation and infrequent poops.

    What is your son's preferred position to poop? I figured out that it was more of a positional/muscle coordination problem for my guy. File the rest of this response under "TMI", I helped him to learn how to make those defecation muscles work while in a toilet-sitting position by using a mirror so he could see what efforts on his part were making a difference.

    He turns sixteen tomorrow. No diaper! ;)

    Good luck and best wishes.

    My son's preschool teacher told me to back off on the praise for using the potty. She said it actually creates anxiety that ends up being counter-productive.  

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2.5-year-old won't/can't poop in the potty

April 2003

I'm a single mom with a wonderful almost three year old girl who won't/can't poop on the potty. At 2.5 my daughter potty trained in a day and a half by wearing thick cotton training pants. She was dry all day and during naps and at night. Wow, how easy, I thought. However, she was still not pooping in the potty. No big deal: I expected it would take a few more weeks, and she'd get the hang of it. NOPE! It's been 4 months, and she still won't poop in the potty and has many accidents in her pants everyday. I've recently switched her back to pull-ups--my tolerance for washing out 3-4 sets of poopy underwear everynight reached it's limit! She's taking the switch in stride, and tells me, ''When I poop in the potty, I can wear my big girl underwear, right Mama?''

This is what I've done so far.

1. Had many discussions about fears about pooping in the potty. ''No, Mama, I NOT scared.''

2. Asked her if she'd like to put on a diaper or pull-up to poop in. ''No, Mama, I poop in the potty!''

3. Read long stories to her when she's on the potty. ''No more books, I done now, Mama.''

4. Bribe her with big girl underwear (vs training pants or pullups). ''Mama, I poop in the potty, and I get to wear my big girl underwear, right?''

5. Bribe with candy. ''Mama, I poop in the potty and I get two gummy bears, right?'' (I HATE this option, but I was running out of ideas.) The first week she pooped three times, but the incentive seems to have worn off (although she brings it up all the time).

6. My latest scheme is to have a special toy that she can play with only when she's sitting on the toilet (it's a doll house with little animals and furniture). She does sit for longer and enjoys the toy, but no other results.

My daughter REALLY wants to use the potty and tells me when she needs to poop. She'll sit there for 5 minutes with no results and usually within 10 minutes of leaving the bathroom, she'll have an accident. I think she doesn't wait long enough, but I really don't know. When I try to get her to sit longer (anticipating the accident), she says, ''No Mama, I DONE now.''

I'd love to hear any advice from parents who have been in a similar situation. I'm at the point of wanting to see a ''specialist.'' (Does anyone know of any?) This is probably one of those things that she'll just do in her own time. I'm a lot less grumpy now that she's back in pull-ups--my developing bad attitude was not good for either of us. My one ''concern'' is that at her school, they can't ''graduate'' to the next class until they're potty-trained. At this point, there's only one other ''big kid'' in her class, and I'd like my daughter to be able to move soon, too. (The school is very understanding, BUT in the Pre-K classes, they just don't have the staff to deal with lots of accidents.)

Any ideas, or should I just lay off?

Running out of ideas

For what it's worth, I'd go back to the gummy bear option and increase the number or kind of treat she gets for pooping in the potty! I wish I'd have offered gummy bears or jelly beans instead of tootsie pops! My daughter ended up eating about 6 tootsie pops in 2 days. My good luck was that once she'd pooped in the potty for a few days she just did it despite the dissappointment of no more tootsie pops. The reason I suggest you go back to the treat incentive is that even though it's genenrally not a great idea to use food as a reward (especially with girls I guess!) it sounds like this is just becoming a big thing. I think for me, I'd rather the whole issue of pooping be a non issue and move on so it doesn't become a bigger thing and loaded psychologically between you two. (control and power thing) If it means using candy for a few weeks and then weaning her of these and then it was just being over as an issue- I think that the little damage done by using food as reward can be easily undone rather than having pooping be an issue. For me I think that would be better in the long run. good luck anon

One of our daughters was similar ... potty trained well for pee, but just refused to go poop in the potty for months. She too new all the things ... stickers if she went poop, getting to wear big girl underwear, but nothing stuck. Finally we did several things, so I don't know exactly which was the most enticing, but it worked and instantly she does nothing but go in the potty now.

We made a little calendar on which she could put a sticker every day that she pooped in the potty. Then we also made a grid thing where she could also put a sticker. This way we could set up awards for her for going poop 5 time, and then 10 times, and also for three days in a row. And like before she'd get two stickers for herself as well. The rewards were we'd all go out to her favorite restaurant for 5, and then she'd get to go to a toy store and pick out what she wanted for 10, and I honestly can't remember the one for 3 in a row. Also Grandma was coming the next week so we mentioned many times how wouldn't it be great if she pooped in the potty enough so that we could take grandma to dinner.

So like I said I'm not exactly sure which combination worked, but a couple days after making this calendar and all and explaining it to her, she said she was going to poop in the potty, and did! And then she continued to so that by the third day she had already gone 5 times and the three days in a row, so we went right out to dinner, well before grandma got here. We did the toy store several days later, and she's been essentially perfect ever since. In general I'd say she waits until she's ready to do pretty much anything (crawl, walk, potty, etc etc slower than her sister) but when she's ready, boom she's done. Mike

I'm not an expert, but it sounds like it's become such a big deal to your daughter that she's getting too tense to poop in the potty. Tension can cause her sphincter to tighten up and the poop won't come out.

I'd suggest just letting it go for a while. Let her wear pullups and don't make a big deal out of it.

After she's forgotten the stress of failing to perform, and she does go back on the potty, try giving her warm water to drink while she's sitting there. That has always worked for me!

Good luck. anon

Don't worry - this is completely normal. It's a control issue, and when she's ready, she'll do it. Our daughter was exactly the same and no amount of bribing, begging, cajoling, or ignoring could get her too poop in the toilet. Then one day, out of the blue (I had basically given up) she announced she was a big girl and pooping in the potty. She has not worn a pullup or diaper since that announcement; and even at night - no accidents. It's amazing. My son needed a talk with the pediatrician; and two weeks later, he had made the same announcement. Because of this, I truly believe the child has to decide when they are ready - and it'll happen.
Been There

Your situation sound very familiar and, despite my initial reluctance, the candy bribe option worked like a charm, though our reward system was more than a few gummy bears. We don't usually give her sweets, so half a candy bar or some other sugary snack were a real treat for her. Once our daughter got the hang of it, and it happend quickly, she never went back.
Sugar Therapy Works (Sometimes)

2.9 year old won't go #2 in the potty

February 2007

I'm potty training my 2.9yr old son and it seems like he finally has the peeing part down (it's been a couple of months in training) however I can't seem to get him to go #2. He'll either go in his pants or he'll refuse to go to the potty altogether. I've tried to ask him if he feels like going and he'll say ''no''. I've even tried to have him sit on the potty with a pull-up and attempt to go and after less than a minute he'll say he doesn't need to go, even when he does a few minutes later! This is my first potty training experience and it is tougher than I expected, so I'm hoping I can get some words of wisdom and experience. I've been doing loads and loads of laundry and my husband is ready to put him back in diapers!
Potty training is exhausting!

We had the same problem and learned the hard way that our son shouldn't have been in underwear until fully trained, including #2. He actually started withholding his poop, which made for an even worse situation that needed to be corrected with laxatives.

Once we realized that putting him in underpants was more for our own parental pride than his good, we put him back in pullups, explaining that underpants aren't made for poop, and that we weren't angry but that he just needed a little more practice and that wearing pullups would help him relax. Then we completely dropped it. We didn't hover when he acted like he needed to poop and we didn't comment when he went in his pullups (always).

After we went back to pullups, we all felt so much more relaxed and able to enjoy ourselves. And within just a few weeks, he decided completely on his own to start using the potty. Once he started, that was it. Done.

It's hard with your first to realize that this training period will come to an end eventually, even if it's not when you imagined it would. And it's completely normal for a boy to not train on #2 until he's 3.5--your son would actually be a little early if he did it now. Most of my friends' sons were past their third birthdays when they finished.

Oh, and putting him back in pullups did not make him start peeing in them again, as was my fear. He just kept on pulling them down and peeing in the potty.
Been there too

I feel your pain! We went through the same thing with my son, who is now 5. After a few weeks, I resorted to bribery which, though I was philosophically against intitially worked like a charm! We offered him a small Matchbox car each time he went poo-poo in the potty. The only pitfall was that he did (and does!) refer to his rather large collection of these cars as his ''poo-poo cars''. We sat him down and told him that to help him learn to use the potty we would give him a matchbox car for each bowel movement. After he had amassed quite a collection, I told him we would be doing this for 3 more days and then switching to giving hugs since he was such a big boy. I worried he would backslide, but he never did. Yeah, I know bribery is not the best parenting technique, but sometimes you have to go for self-preservation!
Sweet-smelling mom

My 3.3 year old daughter is in the same place, potty trained in all other aspects. I say don't sweat it. Between us parents, I don't understand her fear of pooping in the potty. Sometimes I ask if she'd like to try going on the potty, or sitting on the potty with a diaper on. Or I try to explain how comfortable it is not to go in a diaper. Etc. She never yields. What I tell her (and myself) then is that she'll use the potty when she's ready. This age seems to be full of fears that appear irrational to adults, and maybe this is just another one.
Still using one diaper a day

If I could give just one piece of potty training advice, I would say--Just use Pull ups until he volunteers to use the toilet on his own. My son finally learned to beautifully use the toilet when he was 4 years old. He continues to use pull ups but doesn't dirty them. Back when I was trying unsuccessfully to get my son to use the toilet he decided to hold it in to the point of becoming constipated. This was really difficult for all of us. Finally he became interested in using the toilet on his own. I wish I had just left it up to him. good luck. molly

I watched my mom potty train my nephew. She is a ninja master at it -- I have told her to hire herself out to potty train everyone's kids! One thing she did was just sit herself down on a stool (uh, I mean like a step-stool) facing him and just relax. Sometimes she makes little noises that sound like she's pooping. It wasn't a question of ''do you have to poop,'' it was figuring out when he'd have to, and then sitting there with him around that time. I know it sounds weird to sit there grinning at your kid on the toilet, I dunno what a super official nanny person would say about it, but just sitting there with him seemed to make all the difference, and he was toilet trained in like a day. For what it's worth.
The Poopinator

That's great that he's peeing in the potty consistently!

Our son also trained at the same age as yours and we had some difficulty getting him to poop in the potty. It was very frustrating, but just please stay with it. Do not put him back in diapers. That will only encourage him to keep pooping in his pants and it will take him even longer to learn to poop in the toilet. I've heard of kids who take so long to learn to go #2 in the toilet that it leads to horrible constipation problems as they hold it to avoid having to go in the toilet. The earlier they learn to go in toilet the better. It's also better for their self-esteem and the environment.

What worked for our son was to give him a lot of bare bottom time at home so that he could get used to what was going on with his body. Diapers cause them to have no idea what is going on with their bodies. He would poop on the floor, but at least that was a way for him to get used to not pooping in his pants. After about 1 to 2 weeks of this he knew what was going on so I told him if he pooped in the bathtub or the potty he would get a reward. (the bathtub was just a transition from the floor to the potty) If he pooped in his pants or on the floor I would get the reward and he wouldn't. I know it sounds mean, but it totally worked for our son. He got very motivated as he did not want us getting the treat and him not getting one. We had to change the reward every few days to keep his interest. Eventually he just got used to going in the toilet and not needing the reward. He is now almost 4.5 years has not had any accidents since he was a little over 3 yrs old. Another thing I've heard of other parents doing is putting a diaper in the training potty so that he can still poop into a diaper but not directly in his pants. This can be a good transition for some kids. It is very common for kids to take longer to learn to go #2 in the potty. Please stick with the training and be patient. It will all come together for him soon. He just needs practice. I think it's a good sign that he will sit on the potty before he has to go #2 as this shows that he at least knows that a bowel movement is coming. He will get it soon. In the meantime, some extra chocolate for yourself helps to keep you going through this frustrating time. Good luck. anon

3-year-old fears pooping in the toilet

November 2005

Hi, my 3 year old daughter has fear of pooping. She pees on the potty but only poos on her pull-ups which is ok with us and we let her do it as long as she would poo. She held her poo for 5 days last week, then when she could no longer do it, she had a small slightly hard one. But now she held it again for 4 days since the last time she did it. Dr. put her on Miralax and we give her 1 tsp. 2x a day mixed on her drinks. Should I put a suppository if she doesn't do it tomorrow? I know she is scared of the suppository that's why I don't really want to do it unless it is absolutely necessary. She is not comfortable and is always trying to push yet she would stop. It may be that it is now difficult to push it out bec. it will hurt. I just don't know what to do next? She told us she doesn't want to poo. (In the past, we always give her mineral oil with her drinks. Her poops are not hard but if she held it for a few days it eventually gets hard to push out.) Please advise if you have similar case. Thank you. mira

Hi, My older daughter had a similar thing and required Miralax. She would withhold her poops for a week at a time until (of course) it was incredibly painful and would start the negative cycle over again. What finally worked for us was to slowly increase her dose of Miralax until, as her doctor put it, the poops were unavoidable. Once she had a week or two of really soft urgent poops and her bottom had healed up from the tears which had developed, we slowly started decreasing her Miralax so that her poops started to have form again, but were still soft. Gradually she started drinking enough, also, and eating canned mandarin oranges, dried mango strips, and prunes which really did the trick! Good luck!

Just a short thought. Our daughter did the same thing at age three, until one afternoon while talking to her it occured to me that she had no clue where that poo came from and that it scared her. I explained her about how food goes down a slide in her tummy (a really long one with lots of turns) and all the things her body doesn't need comes back out at the end. That solved the problem. SHe has pooped ever since on the potty. anon

My three year old was also afraid to poop in the potty despite a lot of success with the pee. I did two things (this worked for two kids): candy bribe (has to be substantial - one M won't be enough) plus a silly song about pooping to make it more funny than scary. Here is my song, sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, more or less.
Poop Poop Poop Poop Poopie Doopie Doop. I'm poopin' in the potty, Bil-ly Boom-ing-ton (your kids name)
Sing that over and over, make it really silly. My kids thought this was funny and would sing along. It relaxed them on the toilet.

3-year-old asking for diaper when she needs to poop

March 2002

Hi everyone, My 3 and a half year-old daughter has been asking for diapers when she needs to go ''poupou,'' and having accidents in her pants when she is not with me. I don't mind these two behaviors. It will take the time it has to take for her to be ready. Now, here is the problem. At her school she has accidents, and sometimes she will deny it with the teachers. Then she withdraw from the other kids (she stays alone); she told me once it's because she does not want the other kids to smell her. At home, she put a piece of schotch tape on the bottom of her favorite stuffed animal; so ''the poupou can't come out,'' she says. Also sometimes even with me, she will not go pipi on the potty, and will refuse a diaper. She just hold herself until she can't hold it no more (the same with ''poupou'' if I am not with her). What disturbs me is that she is holding so much (up to 4 days for ''poupou'' during Christmas time - we were away to my parents, and I guess, she reacted to the new environment) and must feel so uncomfortable; and, now I worry about this withdrawing behavior at school. In the past, she saw all the videos and books about potty training; I promised her the best toys if she does ''poupou'' in the potty. We use a calendar that we put stickers in for pipi in potty (or poupou, if ever,...) I do not act negatively if she has accidents; rather, I try to show that I have confidence in her (''I know that, when you'll be ready to use the potty, you'll get there on time). Any suggestions? thank you V.

My son went through a period of time doing the same thing, especially at school. After awhile, we finally discovered that for some reason innate to him (i.e., nothing we ever specifically taught him) he really wanted his privacy, and what was bothering him about going to the potty at school was that there was no door. This is typical in preschools for safety reasons, so that the teachers can always have an eye on everyone, etc. We discussed this with a school and they installed a half door, which helped. Another issue with him was that by holding it in for awhile, it would tend to harden and make going poop, when he finally would do it, a bit painful, whcih would motivate him to hold it in even more next time, and constipation became a real problem. We tried a mild stool softener, which helped a lot. Ultimately, it's a phase that has to do with gaining control and confidence over the whole process, and it will pass. Perhaps try to find out what you can do to make it easier for her, even letting her put on a diaper, and asking the teachers at school to do this for her if she requests it. It won't go on forever, and if it allows her to relax and go when she needs to, that is the most important thing, for now. R.

3-year-old wants diaper for ''the big job''

March 2002

Our three-year-old boy is 100% potty trained during the day, but only for ''pee pee.'' When he has to go ''poo,'' he insists on wearing a diaper. He is adamant that he does not want to go ''poo'' in the potty. He isn't attached to the product itself- he is uninterested once it comes out of his body, and could care less what we do with it. I'm told that using a diaper for ''the big job'' is common, but I would love to hear from those of you who have been through this experience how long it lasted for you, and if there was anything you did to convince your child that the potty was preferable to a diaper. I don't want to unduly pressure him, but I would like to close the deal, so to speak. Melissa

My daughter went through the same thing. She was daytime dry from about two, but didn't stop asking for a diaper to poop in until she was about three. I let it go on for quite a while, but I got sick having two in diapers, and I began to suspect that the longer she went on that way the more and more she was becoming attached to it. My take on it was that she was resistant to, and a little afraid of the change. It wasn't that she didn't want to poop on the toilet per se, but that she didn't want to change her routine. She always loved to go off by herself and play her own games while pooping and having to sit on the potty was both strange and confining. I offered to buy her all kinds of toys in exchange for pooping on the potty, and she talked a lot about getting Percy the engine with a battery if she pooped on the potty but when it came right down to it she would always say she didn't want to go on the potty. Finally, I went out and got some extremely attractive toys (a bunch of marbles, a set of plastic dogs with little dog houses) and the next time she asked me for a diaper to poop in I showed her one and told her that she could play with it while she was sitting on the potty and afterward if she pooped. This did the trick. She couldn't resist the toys when they were right there in front of her, and I think having them to play with distracted her from her fear of pooping on the potty. After she finished I let her play with the toys for an hour or so and then put them away until the next time. It took only a week until she never asked for a diaper again. One other important thing was making the toilet not scary. We put a small ring on it so she wouldn't fear falling in when by herself (we always held her when she was peeing, but she never wanted anyone around when she was pooping, so she had to feel safe by herself) and we put a stool next to the potty that was high enough so her feet weren't dangling. So, it may have been all these things, or it may have just been the right time. One word of reassurance: off the top of my head I can name five children who went through this and all of them eventually gave up the diaper!

You could try having your son sit on the potty, in his pullups, and poop there. Maybe the sensation of sitting and pushing the poop out with the security of his pullup will make doing it straight in the potty a little less scary. We did this with my daughter and though I wouldn't say it alone helped her over this same problem, I do think it was a piece of the puzzle. Christina

My son did exactly the same thing for about 6 months and then one day he decided to go on the potty and has never looked back...I tried really hard (not always successfully) to not worry about it. I would always ''offer'' the potty as an alternative to the diaper even though I knew he would turn it down! But I just wanted it in his mind as something he could try if he wanted to...and one day he did! Saskia

Try placing some toilet paper in the toilet before trying to get him to do his job. It may be that he doesn't like the possible splash of cold water on his backside. marianne

3.5-year-old refuses to poop in the potty

Dec 2008

my 3 1/2 year old refuses to poop in potty. he will pee in the potty just fine. Is there something that I should try or is this normal? This has been going on for about 6 months. He tells me he has to poop so I put him on the potty and he says he cant do it. So after a while I put a diaper or pull up on him and he does it. Any advice? Thanks!! brandy

We just went through this with our daughter. Its now been more than 2 weeks and she has pooped on the potty every time!! I read the past posts and learned 2 things that we put into practice: 1) Privacy - most kids want to be alone when they poop. 2) Candy - we never even gave her any sugar until age 2 and it is very limited but after Halloween she knew what candy was. I sat down with her and explained that when she sat on the potty I would give her privacy and explained what this meant. I also explained she would get a piece of candy each time she pooped in the potty. She has never pooped in a daiper since and has been in underwear since the next day. We now give her 1 candy at the end of the day only. And we always brush her teeth afterwards! Good luck finally!

The EXACT same thing happened to us.He was potty trained at night and would bring us a diaper to poop in! Finally 2 weeks before he turned 3 and started preschool i decided that why he was doing it wasn't a was just a habit. So one wednesday we were out of diapers and i told him no more. He argued a little and did not poop. Did not poop on thursday. By friday he was hurting and we had a 3 hours argument about it. it would be about to come out and i would run him to the toilet and he would hold it. Finally, it just came out and i put him on the toilet. The smile on his face was unbelivable...he was SO happy with himself. Couldn't believe how cool it was. He talked about it for days and never ever again asked for a diaper. My son is totally into routine and if that's how he does something, he wont' even try it any different way. So it wasn't a pleasant 3hrs but it made a huge difference. He was very ready...just unable to do it on his own anon

Don't worry. My son was also pee-potty trained and yet refused to poop in the potty. He held in his poop all day, then when we returned from daycare he'd ask for a diaper and poop in it. It was a choice of his, but one we didn't understand. Then when he was about 3 3/4 he made a comment about ''I need to stand when I poop - I can't poop sitting down.'' I decided we needed to take drastic measures to make sitting down the norm (and up to this point candy, etc was NOT working). I went on eBay and bought two different lots of used, beat up Thomas trains - and every night he successfully pooped in the potty he got a train. It took a LOT of trains to make this stick, and then we started to taper it off, and now at 4 1/2, the days of pooping in a pullup are a dim memory. I think we just needed to up the ante and make the reward something that was greater than his fear of pooping sitting down. Catherine

Yep. We went through this and know several parents who did with their kids also (mostly boys, but not all). We went to offering our son a treat (small cookie) if he actually pooped in the potty. It worked fantastically. We have offered this advice to other Moms in the same predicament and they said they were amazed at how quickly this worked. I was almost embarassed about it when I told my pediatrician and she was completely receptive - ''That's great!'' she said - just a cookie. Best of luck

Hi. This is mentioned at the ''pooppotty'' BPN page referenced by the moderator but I thought I'd chime in too... Miralax! Our son did well with pee potty training by age ~3, but got upset about pooping in the potty. We tried forcing him and he withheld for a few days. We just ignored it for a -long- time, because it wasn't causing us any real problems and it was easy. Eventually, when he was still pooping in a diaper at 4 1/2 years old, we asked our pediatrician for advice. He said maybe part of the problem is that because he's holding it in too long (waits until he gets a diaper at night to poop), he's always constipated, which makes pooping harder and painful, which scares him. So under the advice of the doctor we started giving him Miralax laxative (1/2 of normal dose), and encouraged but didn't pressure him. At first he agreed to sit and try to poop but nothing would come out and he'd poop in a diaper. But eventually, 2 or 3 weeks after starting the Miralax, with a lot of enthusiastic encouragement, he pooped in the toilet!! He regressed for a few days, but soon did it again... this was only about 2 months ago. Now he's gone for a couple of months exclusively pooping in the toilet and we are sooooooooo happy. So, you should check with your pediatrician, but Miralax was absolutely key for us. -Matt

Let it go. It takes time. It is hard, according to the books I read. There is an opposite procedure for #2 than for #1. I can't remember what exactly...but for one you have to relax and let go and for the other you have to tighten and force it or something like that. Eventually, without pressure, it will happen. Just keep giving your kid the option (diaper or potty) with no pushing that one is ''better'' than the other...take off the pressure and it will happen. Your child won't be wearing diapers to the prom. Getting ready to ''train'' our second one

Regarding children refusing to poop in the toilet, we were ''there'' and found a good solution after a long battle. Our daughter seemed to enjoy the comfort and ''freedom'' of her pull- up diapers and preferred them. My sister asked her once if she had pooped in her diaper and my daughter replied with a smile ''not yet''. One day I got fed up, knew she was about ready to go, and pulled off her clothes and diaper and put her in the bathroom while I stayed outside holding the door closed. She screamed and pleaded for a diaper. She had only two choices-go on the floor or use the toilet. After the tantrum things quieted down and then the words I had longed for ''I did it dad''. That was the end of the battle as she never turned back. We quit buying diapers and she was on her way. 12 years ago. the winner

Been going thru this with both my twins since they started preschool (where they are required to be potty trained). This is what worked here - each at their own pace - downplaying any accidents - no negative reinforcement just very matter of fact. Laxatives as needed (ask your pediatrician for recommendations) including adding dissolving fiber to foods - keeping track on a chart as when I would forget one or the other would be horribly constipated. And finally, I never thought I'd say this but, bribery! When either one poops in the potty we have a celebration with a few jelly beans for both kids. We do high fives and praise them a lot. It took a few weeks but they are both now back to using the potty. Whew. Good luck!! - I think we made it.

3.5 year old waits for pull-up to go poop

Sept 2002

I recall reading something about this a while back, but I could not find anything listed in the archives. We started to seriously potty train our son when we could see that he was ready. That was just after his third birthday. He will be 3.5 in a month and he is completely potty trained for #1, but #2 seems to have stalled completely. He has pooped in the toilet about 6 times in the last 2 months, even taking care of it by himself and telling us afterwards. So we know that he can do it, but 95% of the time he asked us for a pull-up, or he goes and puts one on by himself and then poops in it. He also was a once a day kinda guy since he was a wee thing, but in the last 2 weeks he has decreased to only going every other day. Today I read to him for 15 minutes while he sat on the toilet - no success. Then 15 minutes later - on goes the pull-up and here it comes like magic! I know that this is common, but I'd like to know what the best way to handle it may be. Should we gently push him to use the toilet, refuse to allow him to poop in a pull-up, or let him do it his own way in his own time? I lean towards continuing the hands-off approach and letting him do it in his own time, but I don't want to encourage him to continue with the pull-ups, and I wonder if holding it in for an extra day might be a bad habit to start. Since his birth I have always followed my natural instincts as to the right course to take, but I am clueless on this one. I look forward to some feedback. Thanks. Marianne

Your posting made me smile, remembering what now seems like a long time ago, when our daughter did the same thing. She used to put on the pull-up, stand tall, get all red in the face, and deliver! I remember my mother smiling, too, at a behavior that was new to her, even after 10-plus grandchildren. ''She'll outgrow it, dear,'' was my mother's advice -- and outgrow it she did. I honestly can't remember when she stopped asking for the pull- up -- sometime before she turned 4, I think. She is now 9, and quite over that phase! Your instincts are right to not make a big deal over it. Some day you, too, won't remember exactly when or how it changed, but it will. anonymous, please -- at age 9, she would be embarrassed

Not long ago my son was like yours -- asking for a diaper to poop. Then a genius on this list made a suggestion about potty toys that I heartily endorse. Following her (or his?) advice, it took less than a week to get my son to poop in the potty all the time. Basically the idea is that there are special potty toys that only get to be played with on the potty. If the child successfully poops in the potty, he or she can hang onto the toys for an hour before putting them back in the bathroom to await the next potty sitting session. That was all it took to get my son pooping on the potty, sometimes three times a day! After a while, the toys just kind of lost their magic, but once he was in the habit of potty pooping he's never looked back. nelly

We decided to let my 4-year-old poop in a Pullup because he started holding the poops in so much that he would get constipated, and once, the constipation was so bad that he developed encopresis (where soft poops leak around the hard one that has stretched the colon out so that it can't feel the need to poop). (By the way, we gave him Mountain Dew to clean him out, and that stopped the encopresis.) The doctor said we could either give him Miralax, a very expensive laxative for kids, or just let him poop in the Pullup. He said he'd realize eventually that it's not so bad pooping in the toilet, and he won't go to college in Pullups! So rather than pay $25 copayments for the Miralax, and have to sneak it into his apple juice, we decided to let him use the Pullups for poops and nighttime only. Just wanted to share our experience, and warn you about the possible problems with forcing the toilet. Hannah and Sammy (he wanted to type his name)

My daughter did the same thing! We finally crossed the bridge to peeing on the potty, but poop was a no-go. You can't force them to go, and holding it in is not an option, so we decided to wait and encourage - it's not ''scary''; dumping the pull up contents in the toilet so she could see where it goes, etc. (Side note, I hear that some boys are afraid their penises will ''fall off'' when they poop in the potty...may that be something to consider?) Ultimately, we used the standard ''behavior modification'' - a treat (a sugar-free lollipop) for a poop in the potty. After half a dozen successes, she stopped asking for the treats and now is just basking in the praise...good luck! been there

3.9 year old boy refuses to poop in toilet

May 2007

My son is 3.9 years old, and he's been able to pee in the bathroom by himself for about a month. However, he refuses to poop in the toilet no matter what. He knows when he wants to go. When the time comes, he asks me to put a pull-up on him instead of an underwear he wears. Then, he poops in the pull-up.

When I try to sit him on the toilet, he just refuses, and holds it in. Once he said he's scared (when he was sitting on the toilet). He's the kind of a kid who needs great effort to do anything new, like trying new food (so he's picky). If he can poop in the toilet once or twice, I think he's set.

I feel it's very close, yet so far. I'd very much appreciated if you can give me any advice. anon

i had the exact same experience with both my boys. they were ''pee-pee'' potty trained but had control and/or emotional issues with pooping in the potty. i just tried not to make it a big deal, although i did just put a diaper on them to poop as the pull-ups were just too expensive! that may have been part of the motivating factor but one other thing i did which you might try.... we have a small plastic potty, i put a paper towel in the bowl and i asked him just to try pooping on it i think it may have made him feel safer, knowing that the poop was going to land on something soft. it seemed to do the trick! i truly think this is a pretty normal issue and he'll outgrow very soon! good luck! anon

I bribed my son with Hot Wheels. I bought 25 of them at Walgreens and laid them all out so he could see them, admire them, etc. Then I said, ''Every time you poop in the potty, you can choose a car.'' That night, he pooped 5 times! The next day, 7! And that was it, he always pooped in the potty after that (it did, however, take a while for him to feel comfortable using the BIG toilet. This is very, very common). He understood that when the cars were gone, he would just be ''pooping for nothing.'' Figure out if your son has a ''currency'' that would work for this kind of bribe. Healthier than candy, and much more of an incentive! Good luck... Ellen

I was very lucky and my nanny trained my daughter to poo/pee in the toilet at 18 months. I thought it would be impossible to do it that early but apparently not. In fact, I think because she started so early, it was easier to get her used to using the toilet. In any case, although she still has accidents and isn't 100% trained, she is almost there. The way my nanny did it was to time when she normally had to poo and look for signs that she needed to poo. As soon as she saw the signs, she put her on the toilet and sat and read her books or played with her. I think the first several times, it took about half an hour. Then when she did poo, she praised her a lot. If she didn't poo, she would try again in a few minutes. It was a very time-consuming process. My husband and I (once we got over our initial shock and amazement that she was actually using the toilet) took over the training when our nanny wasn't there. We especially made sure to praise her a lot and make it seem like a lot of fun in the beginning of her training. We weren't negative or disappointed if she wasn't able to go. We used a lot of positive enforcement. Now that she's almost 2, she is pretty regular and always tells us when she has to go and we still read her books on the toilet and it usually takes her just a few minutes to go. Good luck! Lucky Mom

Hi there, The archive of advice is very good on this topic, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm going through exactly the same thing right now with my daughter, who is a few months younger than your son. She doesn't wear diapers any more except at night, but will ask for a pull up if she needs to poop, or will just poop on the floor (sigh) and then carefully pick it up (carefully in the widest sense of the word) and put it in the toilet, then come tell me. This has been going on for several months. At preschool she pees in the loo and simply doesn't poop there. For a while I sweated it, and tried every piece of advice in the archive, and then I gave up. Yesterday I caught her mid-poop and managed to carry her (she was willing) to the loo in time for the poop to go in. Then her older sister and I danced around like lunatics singing 'Charlotte pooped in the toilet, etc etc' for like five minutes, and we'll see what happens. She's a self-determining kind of kid (the kind our parents used to call a stubborn little baggage) so I'm just waiting until she's ready. But I feel your pain. Not many college kids still poo on the floor, so I imagine they'll both get it eventually. Good luck! Abbi

Have him poop in the pull-up sitting on the toilet for awhile. Then decide upon a time when he'll go without. Do this with him so he feels in control. By then he should be used to sitting to poop & ready to let them go into the toilet. (Some kids fear that a part of them is being flushed away!)

Hi. My son also toilet trained at almost 4 years, and was apprehensive about pooping on the toilet. I transitioned him to the toilet using a really small baby bjorn potty. He could sit down in almost the same position he would use when going in the diaper, and he felt much more comfortable. After using this transitional potty for a couple of weeks, he was fine. I would just go with whatever your son is ready for. Also, a little bribery may get him over the hump if you break the stalemate (little potty instead of diaper or toilet). Also, do not let him see you flush the poop down the toilet - watching this was a major setback for us. If nothing seems to entice him, he isn't ready, and let him poop in his pull-up and try again in a month. It is really unhealthy for him to withhold. Good luck. Been there!

My almost 4 year old was the same way. we tried to get him to poop in the potty for a year after he started consistently peeing in the potty. He wouldn't even wear a diaper and sit on the potty to poop. I finally got him a highly coverted toy (buzz lightyear action figure for him) and the next time he asked for a diaper to poop I let him play with it only while sitting on the potty (with diaper) and if he pooped, he could play with it a bit longer afterward. It worked very well. We have since been slowly weaning him from the diaper - first we undid the tab on one side and when he got comfortable with that we undid the other side. now he gets the diaper, puts it on the potty (we don't put it on him anymore) and poops then asks to be wiped. Next we'll take away the diaper and then I'll start teaching him to wipe. baby steps

My son was exactly like yours---completely aware of bodily functions, used the toilet for peeing but was afraid of pooping there so we put on a diaper for that. we were completely relaxed about it and did not push him at all. and one day, when he was four, it just changed as it will with your son. i guess there's something scary about letting it go or getting sucked into the toilet, but it does pass. i think the only reason to be concerned is an ecological one. otherwise, i encourage you to trust his process. good luck!

I have been in your shoes. Only difference was that my son would pee in the toilet and stay dry at night starting at around age 3 but pooped in his underwear for about a year after that! He was my third child and I had learned that it happens when they are ready. I tried to never get mad at him and just keep reminding him to try to use the toilet...but I did wash out underpants for almost year - and then suddenly he used the toilet. So I have no advice but much empathy! hang in there Mom of poopy pants

I'd bet your son is afraid of the toilet -- afraid of the fact that it sucks up everything into a dark and endless hole -- and is afraid he might fall in and get flushed down as well. Here's my idea: there are toilet inserts that hospitals and nursing homes use that fit into toilets (or into commode chairs) in order to catch excrement/urine for sampling. It's the same kind of thing you find in toddler potties. Try Johnson's supply in Berkeley for something that fits under the toilet seat, that will keep him from sitting over the open toilet water (and that scary hole). Maybe that will help. heather

Almost 4 y.o. girl will not poop on potty

May 2010

My very strong willed daughter will not poop on the potty. She has been peeing on the potty for well over a year. She even pooped on the potty 1-2 times, but something must have traumatized her. There is nothing physically wrong with her. No amount of cajoling, talking, stickers, games, prizes, toilet training seats etc. have convinced her. When asked, she will not address it. When the diaper is withheld, she will have a MAJOR temper tantrum and will hold it in. Any suggestions? Just throw out the diapers and let her hold it until it comes out her ears? Thank you in advance.

my son was the same way. I think he was a little constipated and pooping was uncomfortable for him. he insisted on a diaper. since he was not using diapers in general, he had to ask for one to poop. I told him he had to poop in the bathroom (with the diaper). once he was pooping in the bathroom. I got him a HIGHLY coveted toy (buzz lightyear action figure) and he got to play with it only while sitting on the potty with his diaper on. if he actually pooped, he'd get buzz for another hour or so - no longer or the novelty would wear off. then I had him sit with his diaper on and one of the tabs on the side undone (he kept putting it back together so I cut it with scissors). Then the other side. then I'd put the diaper into the potty and have him sit on top of it, then a piece of toilet paper draped into the potty bowl. each stage took about two weeks until he stopped showing signs of hesitation/discomfort. it was a long haul but it worked. buzz is my friend too

Being a nanny for many years and then having a son who had this apprehension I have had experiences like this more than once. The best advice I can offer is that you reduce the pack of diapers you have down to only a couple and tell your daughter that this is it for diapers and let her know that you won't buy any more and now that she is a big girl she needs to use the big girl potty after the diapers run out. It will allow her time to absorb that the end of diapers are coming. Talk about what you think will benefit the process.

There will be tears and tantrums, it's tough, really tough but once they have done it, most kids realize that it's no big deal after all.

The most important thing is to stick with a plan, don't give in and don't make a big deal about it. A ''you will go when you are ready'' attitude will reduce tension and anguish. When she needs to go, work with a plan that you think will be the most beneficial. If you don't have any diapers left you may find that the tantrums will go on for a while but in the end there aren't any so using the toilet might not be a bad idea after all.

One last option is to get someone over, a friend who will take some time with your daughter until the deed is done. You can have some time to yourself and wait for the call. An outsider without the tension that you have over this may have more luck. I did this option with my son's godmother, it took over two hours and it he never pooped in his pants again. Rachael

We had a similar experience with both of our sons. And as the archived posts say, it's apparently pretty normal, if tiresome after a certain point. What worked for us, given that there were no other physical or medical issues:
--not making a big deal out of pooping in pull-ups even though it was gross;
--reminding our son that the toilet with or without a potty seat was available if he wanted to try;
--offering to hold his hand, read a story, sing, or talk with him while he used the toilet.

What finally got our second son (now 4), over this hump: a few months ago we were in Midway Airport on our way home from a trip, we were out of pull-ups, and he needed to go, badly. My husband offered to take him to the bathroom, and said that no matter what happened, as long as our son tried to use the toilet, he would be rewarded with a chocolate Ben & Jerry's milkshake. He was a proud little man when he emerged from the bathroom and ordered his milkshake. He now handles all of his toileting by himself at preschool, though he prefers help with the toilet paper at home. Good luck! I thought I would never reward my kids with chocolate...

Although our kids don't watch tv or play video games, we found the best technique for getting our almost 4 y.o. to poop was a lot of exercise during the day (made a hug difference) and a little hand-held video game that he could only use on the toilet. Taking his mind off the actual act enabled him to just relax and go in a matter of minutes. Good luck Berkeley mom of 4

Check out the program ''Soiling Solutions'' at I learned about it from BPN and this program has been a miracle for us! My son struggled for 1.5 years with this--we used a traditional pediatric approach (i.e. Miralax only) and then we went to Meg Zweiback for 6 months (for parental consult and play- therapy for our son), and really, SS was the thing that finally worked. It took 4 months of following the program daily, but now our son has had daily BM's in the toilet for several weeks without the program, and is so proud of himself! Please seek help--don't just let your daughter continue to ''hold''. This stretches out the colon and makes the nerves eventually unable to feel when she has to go, and it will lead to possible impaction, stool leakage, etc. If you purchase the SS manual (written by a behavioral psychologist, not an MD), you get access to the Listserve, where you can get advice and support from 300 other families also dealing with encopresis. The Manual was $75 but this is a fraction of the cost we spent on visits to Drs., Meg Z., and medications over the course of our son's problem. He was never potty trained for poop, started withholding at age 3.5, and we finally started SS just after his 5th birthday. I wish we had started sooner. If you'd like more info about SS, please feel free to email me. cs

This may be an issue of comfort and balance. I'm not sure if she has a child sized seat that fits on the potty but if not I would get a padded one. Also there's a cool one at home stores where the small child's seat fits into the lid and can easily be pulled out. This might make her feel better about any fears of falling in. You may want to read a book to her and let her sit in the bathroom (possibly reading a potty themed book or playing a potty themed DVD beforehand). If she is constipated or withholding poop talk to your pediatrician. One more idea have a playdate with a potty trained friend and area if that inspires her. Good luck!

My son was EXACTLY the same way. Nothing was enough incentive to make him poop in the potty. ''Why do you poop in your pants?'' I'd ask him every day after preschool when he'd come home and stand at the window seat, playing with his cars and inevitably make a deposit in his underwear. ''Because I LIKE to,'' was his smug reply. When I taped beanie babies up over the toilet and told him he could have one every time he pooped, not only did his 9- year-old sister throw a fit-''I collect beanie babies and I poop in the potty every day!''-but he collected his own animals from his bed, laid them out on the living room couch and said ''Every time I poop in my pants I get one of these!'' I gave up and put a diaper on him every day after we came home from school. It was ALL about control. Finally, there was an object of desire strong enough to make him change his ways: Buzz Lightyear light-up sandals. He wanted them. I refused (a long-held resistance to light-up shoes.) And then a lightbulb went off. ''OK, you can have the sandals, but you have to poop in the potty. Ten times.'' We made a chart, and he was pooping multiple times a day. ''Look mommy, there's three poops in the potty. I get three stars!'' That was it. He's now 8 and has been a regular pooper for 4 years. So I advise: relax, eliminate the battle, and wait for the right incentive. BTW - the power struggles continue: now it's all about food. He's a very picky eater, but at least I know now that it's really about having some limited amount of control over a life dominated by adults (and a now teenage sister.) Good luck. This too will pass (no pun intended.) anon

A friend has a daughter that went thru a similar thing. The went to see a child behaviorist who gave them some excellent advice which helped them quickly remedy the situation. You should be able to get a referral thru your pediatrician. Kaiser has good ones if you are with them. good luck anon

Try giving her something that makes the poop come out really easily, maybe flax seed oil. Maybe if it comes out really easily she might feel more comfortable using the toilet.

My advice is to just drop it and wait. Let her poop in diapers, and gently suggest/encourage that she try the potty again when she has to poop, and if she says no, don't push it. Please don't make this a big issue or else she is likely to start trying not to poop, which causes even bigger problems. We had to wait until my son was 4 3/4 years old, but it was worth it. One day he just decided to poop in the potty, and then that was that. If you just drop it and wait until she is ready, the day when she is ready may come sooner than you think, and then everything will be fine. Patience. Anon

4-year-old son almost never poops in the toilet

Feb 2010

My son will be 4 in June. He is a very bright and articulate kid, he is already starting to read. Just after his third birthday, he started peeing in the toilet. He had never once done it before that time and he has literally had 2 accidents since. I never have to ask him. In fact, he doesn't need any help at all, he just does his thing. Once he got the peeing in the toilet thing, he's been a champ.

Poop has been a whole other issue though. He nearly always goes in his underwear, or night pullup, or even on the floor. He's pooped in the toilet a number of times, all of them self initiated. I've never pressured him to go in the toilet, in fact I'm quite ok with him going in a diaper, if he chooses. If he asks for one, I'll put it on him. The big problem is that he never does ask. Today, he pooped in his bed during naptime (he wears underwear during naptime). I've tried everything I can think of, short of punishing him for not going in the toilet, which we don't want to do. We've offered a reward system, a treat, a training potty, totally taking the diapers away, anything. I can't quite identify what the problem is because I know that he is capable of going #2 in the toilet. We have an appt with his dr to make sure that there isn't anything physiological but I was hoping to tap into the collective knowledge here for some possible insight. Thanks so much in advance! anon

Not sure if I can help but I sure can commiserate with you--been there, done that. My son had the same experience of being able to pee in the potty but was not able communicate when he needed to poop (at age 3 1/2 or so). He was quite excited by his big-boy underwear and unwilling to wear pull-ups. As you are too well aware, cleaning poop off a child wearing underwear is a nasty proposition. I did try taking all of the stuffing out of the pull-ups and billing it an intermediate step (primarily to be used during preschool since his teachers were quite unhappy with us during this process), but he was unwilling to wear them. What finally worked for us was the promise of a new toy truck for him and his twin brother (who did not have any trouble in this department)--now he had a potty coach. ''Do you need to poop, brother?'' became a constant refrain in our house! FWIW, it was probably only 1 month total that we lived with poopy underwear but it sure felt like a lot longer. Good luck! Poop Trouble Survivor

Your son could be related to my son! Geez, I went through exactly the same. Our son would perfectly pee in the toilet - even get up at night to pee while he was in bed. Rarely, if ever, were there accidents. However, pooping was an enormous issue. He'd hide, do a special poop dance, and almost always went in his pants. I tried to be nice, talk to him about it, bribe him, and I even got mad. Nothing worked.

One of his preschool buddies came over for a playdate and did the same thing! So I talked to his preschool teacher about it and she laughed and said: ''Most of the boys in the class do this. It's what boys do.'' She thought that they often were too engaged with their play and that they just didn't want to stop what they were doing to take the time to use the bathroom. So there ya go. You are absolutely not alone with your frustrations and your son is completely normal.

Our son started Kindergarten in the Fall and I was worried about him pooping at school. Never happened! In fact, now he goes at school, wipes himself, and is extremely proud of himself. I wonder if it was the peer pressure or the embarrassment that made him decide to just use the potty, but either way I'm happy. joj

4-year-old has major anxiety about pooping in the potty

August 2008

MY 4 year old daughter has major anxiety about pooping in the potty. She pees in the potty without a problem and has done this for a year and a half. For some reason, pooping is a MAJOR thing for her. I am assuming other people have had to deal with this, as well. She asks for a diaper and then goes to poop in the closet. And changing her diaper is becoming quite unpleasant. We've tried positive reinforcement, rewards, taking away her diapers (then she holds in the poop for a week and we have a bigger problem on our hands). As of right now, we have resigned ourselves to trusting that when she is ready, she will poop in the potty. But... there is a part of me that is worried that she will NEVER poop in the potty, that she will become more set in her ways of pooping in her diaper as she gets older. Any thoughts?

hi, we just went through this with my daughter, and it's hard. first of all, it won't last forever. some things may not work as well, like withholding diapers, since it may cause more rather than less stress. basically this is a stress thing and a matter of needing to relax. my daughter pooped in the toilet for a while, and then a few things happened that made her uncomfortable and changed that. so i retraced our steps. (in our case, we had traveled for a long period of time, and she came back not pooping in the toilet any longer. also, she had the stomach flu and the runs, so she was unhappy and worried about 'letting go' after that). here's what we did, we talked about it a little bit to find out if she was physically uncomfortable, etc., and i tried to let it go for a while, just not mention it. she too wanted privacy and would go in a closet or corner. we also switched to big girl pullups and would only put them on at the right time (sounds like you're doing this). she was around a peer and her mother, who she really likes, and my friend lightly suggested it one day and told her her daughter does it and she tried it, was successful and proud. (it took a while for it to happen again, but she had it under her belt once). we also talked with her pediatrician and briefly gave her enulose syrup when she withheld. we also shifted diet a little and started doing less cream of wheat and more veggies/fruits and more water! she just had the breakthrough and part of it came from being in a classroom situation where other kids went. btw the pediatrician's office and the preschool said this kind of thing is very common, so don't worry too much. patience is hard but it helps them relax. ultimately someone else's patience helped us over the hurdle.

My now 4-year old son went through this awhile ago. It was a huge pain. He pooped in his pants or diaper for like 6 months after he peed there consistently.

Finally, we started giving him a piece of chocolate to get him to use the potty. We had to go very slowly. If he asked to put on a diaper before he pooped, he got a piece of chocolate. After several weeks of that, he would get a piece of chocolate if he pooped in his diaper while sitting on the potty. After several weeks of that, he would get a piece of chocolate if he sat on his potty.

It went much better if we were out of the room while he was pooping. He started asking for privacy and we gave it to him and *then* he would poop on the potty.

After awhile in each case, he stopped asking for the chocolate and we stopped giving it to him. Pooped

Two things:

First, excitedly invite her in the bathroom with you when you go poop. Make sure you don't make any unpleasant faces. Really ham it up. Say a relieving ''Ahhh'' when you poop, with a smile. Then pat your own arm and say ''Good job, Mommy! You went poop in the big potty!'' ''That was fun!'' I know this will make some people's eyes bug out, especially if you like your privacy in the bathroom, but concentrate on the goal, okay? You want the idea of potty-pooping to have positive associations for her, and it may take awhile. Even better if she can go with both parents and see that everyone loves going poop on the big potty so much!

Second: so she knows when she has to poop. She asks for a diaper and goes into the closet. Is her pooping around the same time each day, or after a meal? If so, you can invite her to have some alone time with her diaper in the bathroom at that time of day. Offer a compromise during the interim, while you are building the idea that potty-pooping is fun. Ask her to poop in her diaper, in the bathroom all by herself with the door closed. She doesn't have to sit on the toilet, just be in the room where people go poop. Light off if she wants (I assume she chose the closet because it's dark and private). And tell her you are going back to the kitchen/living room so she has some privacy. Ask her to let you know when she's all finished so you can wipe her up. And do that (go to kitchen/living room). Leave her alone.

Hopefully, over time, she'll come up with her own idea to try it on the potty.

We had this same troubling problem. My sister once asked our daughter if she had pooped in her diaper and she answered''not yet!'' as though she was planning on it and it would not be an accident when it happened. She had gotten to like pooping in her diaper and the instant attention it got her from everybody. I decided to resolve it by removing her underwear and locking her in the bathroom. She had had many lessons about how to sit on and use the toilet but seemed very comfortable doing it the usual way in her diaper. The day I removed her diaper and locked her in the bathroom she had a tantrum realizing she either had to do it on the floor or on the toilet-both not her preferred choice. She screamed and demanded her diaper back and I just held the door tight and waited. Finally things got qiuet and we heard a flush. I opened the door and found her so proud of herself that she had finally done the right thing on her own. From then on she used the toilet on her own by preference to show us all she could do it and was all growed up. ANON

Kids will poop in the potty when they're ready to. But I when my daughter, who had urinated in the potty from an early age, wouldn't poop in the potty (opting to do it in her Pull-Ups), I did two things that I think prompted her to finally take the last step.

The first is that I came up with some pretty exciting (to her) rewards for pooping. I had her tell me what toy she wanted if she could have anything, and she described a big pink stuffed dog. I found a gigantic stuffed pink poodle at, and I bought it. I showed it to her, and then I put it in my closet, telling her that it was hers as soon as she pooped in the potty. (She was not happy she couldn't have it that moment, let me tell you!) She also kept asking for one of those expensive Mylar balloons, and I promised one to her when she did the deed.

The second thing I did was tell her that she had to sit on the potty, even though she was wearing Pull-Ups, when she pooped. My thinking is that part of her fear was the whole sitting down thing. Up until then, she would stand up. We had a big fight about that, too. But she did it. One enticement is that I told her she could hold the poodle while she pooped. Within days, she was pooping in the potty. She got the pink poodle and the balloon, and she told everyone at preschool about it.

Good luck! I feel your pain! But believe me, you'll soon be looking back on these days, as you deal with the next parenting anguishes. :-) G


I went through this and tried every conceivable way to do it ''nicely'', ie, treats, rewards, talking, positive potty movies and books, etc. With my son, it was about power and who was in control (this has become an obvious component of his personality over the last 10 years). Here is what we did.

I finally made a firm decision that he no longer needed to poop in diapers at over 4 years of age. He had demonstrated that he could do it in the potty, but chose not to. One weekend we told him that we had no more diapers in the house and were not going to buy them anymore. I took my son into the bathroom with a good book (for myself). I sat him on the potty, and I sat on the floor with my book. I told him that we were not leaving the room until he had pooped in the potty. He cried and complained, but I sat there and ignored him while I read my book. He actually took a little nap on the potty, but eventually he woke up and did the job. That was it - he knew I was serious and wouldn't put up with his being in control of the situation any more. And he felt very pleased about the whole thing afterwards. Good luck to you. annie

4-year-old waits for night-time pull-up to poop

October 2007

We are really at our wits end about our daughter ''T'' who is otherwise a healthy alert bright 4.5 year old. She is toilet trained, doesn't have accidents during the day, but we still put a pull-up on her at night because she wets the bed otherwise. The odd thing is that even after we get her to go potty - whether 6PM, 7PM, 8PM, multiples, etc - about an hour later we get an unpleasant olfactory surprise even when we have asked her repeatedly if she needs to go to the bathroom. We always get the response '' I don't need to go potty'' and even if we make her sit and pee on the potty, you guessed it, shortly after she has a bowel movement in her pullup. Our daughter can't explain it, our pediatrician can't explain it, I've had her tested for diabetes and other test to see if there is something less benign lurking in her blood/G.I.tract -- nothing! It always comes down to checking her repeatedly each evening with her multiple denials of needing to go to the bathroom and then having to change a dirty pullup anywhere from 6PM until sleep.

Never anytime during the day, only in the evening and close to bedtime, even after a bowel movement, even when we make her stay in the bathroom until she has gone potty at least once.

This is our second daughter, our first (''V'' 6.5 years)was toilet trained at 3 years and completely over bedwetting by 5 years. The 2 girls play and fight together, changing from friends to rivals and back to friends about every 10 minutes when they're together. The kids have rarely been away from each other overnight unless the older is at a sleepover. Is this a psychological issue that others have experienced/overcome?

Our son had a very similar issue. he'd hold it all day and then ask for a pullup for pooping. we could not get him to even sit on the potty with the pull-up on to poop. this lasted about a year. Finally I followed BPN advise and got him a highly coveted toy - a Buzz Lightyear action figure. ''I said this is your poopy-in-the-potty toy. You may hold him while sitting on the potty (with pull-up) for as long as you want and if you poop while sitting, you may play with him awhile longer.'' It worked like a charm! after that I'd wait until he seemed like he was comfortable pooping (with Buzz) and then I'd undo one side of the pull-up, then the other side (sometimes I had to cut the side so he couldn't re-attach it himself), then just lay the pull-up in the potty and have him sit on it. then he'd get a piece of tissue and lay it in the potty and then finally he didn't need anything to poop in the potty and he's free to play with Buzz whenever he wants. thanks Buzz!

4-year-old is afraid to poop in the potty

October 2003

I have a 4 year old boy who is afraid to go poop on the potty. He's had problems with constipation in the past and so has had painful poops. He eats plenty of liquids and fiber. Our Pediatrician prescribed a stool softener which we give him but he still holds his poop in fear of the pain. When he's getting close to needing to go to the potty he gets very anxious and clingy. I have tried bribes, rewards, having him sit often on the potty to try and relieve the fear, role playing with his stuffed animals, you name it. But he's still terrified of letting go and having a poop. Any advice?
Frustrated Parent

My husband was shocked that I hadn't written your post. Our magic wand is broken or I would pass it on to you. I thought I would write and let you know you aren't the only one. Our 4.5 y.o. son is almost identical to your son, but he will poop in his underpants and not tell us. We have tried all you have as well as seen a child psychologist and gone to Meg Zweiback. They were no help. Meg didn't get a fair shake because my son took an instant dislike to her because of all the potty talk. Our peditrican had no clue what to do and recommended a behavioral pediatrician. We have an appointment Monday.

Everybody tells me to chill it will just happen, but I am so tired of this. My only hope is that I talked with another mother who was in the same boat. Her son just started using the toilet on his own at 4.75 y.o.
Tired of this

My son was the same way until he was 3 1/2. We tried everything. He went through stages of having to poop in a diaper, then pooping in a diaper taped to the potty (so it would catch it), then onto the regular potty. One day when he was sitting on the potty I began to describe what was happening in his body when he held onto his poop. He became really curious about the parts of his body I was describing. Later we got out some human body books and talked about the digestive system, the functions of each part, how the system is designed to go only one direction(!) etc. It seems like once he learned about how his body works he started to resist less and less. If he started holding on to it again we'd just talk him through the process again. If he started freaking out about it being too hard and hurting we gave him a sippy cup of juice while he sat on the potty. Sounds odd but it worked for us. Good luck! Been There

How about asking him if he would like a diaper instead? He might just not be ready yet for pooping in the potty. When he's ready he will get rid of the diaper. I have a 4 y.o. daughter who is, too, struggling with it. Unfortunately she does not want a diaper. My son went through 6 months of pooping in a diaper and got rid of it around 4, and a friend of mine has a 5 y.o. daughter who still poops in a diaper so don't feel alone! good luck

Nearly 5-year-old still demands diaper to poop

March 2006

Our nearly 5-year-old daughter still refuses to poop on the potty. Sometimes I can coax her to sit on the potty for a few minutes, but ultimately she ends up demanding a diaper. I know we're supposed to not push it and be positive about it, but it's getting increasingly frustrating and difficult for us to do so, as we see no progress for our almost 3 years of waiting for her to do it on her own. We've tried stickers and treats and even a potential trip to Disneyland, but when the time comes, she still staunchly refuses to go on the potty. She is not severely constipated, although she could stand to drink more while she is at preschool. We try to encourage high fiber and fluid intake at home. We are at our wits end trying to figure out how to help her, but when she refuses to try on the potty every single day we're having a difficult time consistently staying positive about it. She will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and we're also worried that this could become a social problem for her there.

I know this problem is not rare, but in the archives I can only find advice on preventing constipation and encopresis. Instead we could desperately use advice on how best to support our daughter and successfully end what is becoming a battle of wills. How do you help someone learn something if they keep refusing to try? Anecdotes of what you did to help your child through something similar would be very helpful.

Thanks so much for any and all advice.
Running out of ideas

My daughter also refused to poop in the toilet. We talked about it and decided that on her fourth birthday I would take the pull-ups away and she agreed to poop in the toilet. I took away the pull-ups on her birthday and as I expected she was constipated and didn't poop for four days. On the fourth day I gave her a suppository and in a matter of minutes she ran to the toilet and pooped. Once she did it once and realized it wasn't so scary she was able to poop in the toilet all the time. It was hard not to give in those four days but now she even poops at school and in stores so I think the method worked for her. Hope this helps. Been there

We had a very reluctant 3 1/2 year old who pee in the potty, but would poo in his underwear and really didn't see a problem with that ;-) On one long extended weekend we just kept him home each day naked until he pooped (we explained that it was time to get potty trained and that we couldn't leave the house until he pooped on the potty) and then we would get dressed and go out and do things. The next day we repeated the same process. After about 3-4 days, he was successfully using the potty for both pee and poo. Still has accidents now and then, but once he got over his total aversion to pooping in the potty, our lives have gotten dramatically easier. Good luck. anon

We found ourselves in the same position with our 5 year old son. He had a history of withholding poops and so we were very concerned about not pushing him. But it just seemed to go on forever and ever. So here is what we did.

For some time, weeks at least, we talked occasionally about the fact that he needed to start pooping in the toilet. We told him that we would not be buying any more diapers when our supply ran out. As the supply got lower and lower, we reminded him more frequently that we were about to make the change. We talked about what a big boy he was and that it was time for him to use the potty. He never showed an interest in pooping on the potty.

Finally one day, no more diapers. He asked what he should do. We told him that he would have to plan a little better for pooping, since he needed time to get to the potty after he felt the urge. For about 2-3 days he ran for the potty, but lost the urge by the time he got there. Finally I convinced him to sit down on the potty and see if the urge returned. After the first couple of poops, everything was great. He was surprised how easy it was. He stopped withholding. He may have had an accident or two, but I can't remember. All the years of trauma associated with poops just vanished.

As an aside, a friend's son started pooping in his underwear when the diapers were taken away. She kept a bucket in the bathroom and made him wash out his underwear each time. After about 2 weeks of cleaning his own poopy underwear, the toilet was irresitable. Good luck, kjm

I have never directly dealt with the problem you're having with your daughter, but I recently read an article about resolving it that made total sense to me. You begin by explaining to the child that pooping should occur in the bathroom, whether she poops on the potty or in her diaper. The next time she needs to go, suggest that she stand near the toilet (I think use of small bribe would be fine here), the next time touching the toilet, the next time sitting on the toilet in her diaper...etc, etc. She should become desensitized to any toilet fears by this process. The article stated that some kids even went so far as to sit barebottomed on the toilet with a diaper on their other words, whatever it takes. Good luck in the process. You're a much more patient mom than I. Jan

Definitely a power struggle going on. Tough love approach would be to tell your daughter that they simply dont make diapers in her size and that she must go on the potty. You could sympathize with her and support her in her disappointment but ultimately you are forcing her hand. The other approach would be to diffuse the power struggle by allowing her to continue to go in the diaper albeit with some parameters. This is what we did with our daughter. We thought if we did not pressure her it would just happen but turns out she needed a little more support and encouragement than we initially thought. So we started this plan that included some matter-of-fact guidance (no pressure!) We told her it was alright to go in her diaper and that we respected her decision to do so but she needed to do it in the bathroom - where everyone does ''poo poo'' and ''pee pee'' - this way she was made part of the family (with a small exception). She resisted at first, but when I saw her having a BM, I would just carry her in there and repeat ''this is where we go to the bathroom honey'' - after a week, she went in there on her own. After another week of this - we added another parameter. You can still go in your diaper, but we need to sit on the potty (I gave her a few days warning for this one - starting Monday we will be sitting down with your diaper on of course). The transition from having a BM standing and having one sitting is big so give her time with this one. And depending on child's temperament (ours at this point started to take off her diaper and go in the potty) you may have to go one more step by cutting a hole in the back of the diaper so that the BM falls into the potty. And then after that -daiper's off!. In this way your daughter can take ''baby steps'' towards the potty with you in a more supportive and encouraging role because she still maintains some control and gets to keep the diaper on until the very end of the process when she will probably feel good and ready to take it off herself. In this way she has space and time but is moving toward a goal and both of you are working TOGETHER through the steps. good luck!

We are in the same situation and my daughter is 5 1/2 years old. It's been a tough one for us because she has many different ''issues'' and this one seems to be the least of our concerns--she won't poop in her pants and hasn't for over a year, as well, she isn't constipated, she poops almost every day in her pull-up. But my husband and I finally decided that we need to try something so that she isn't uncomfortable at school. We feel that if she's concentrating on holding it in at school, then she's probably not always able to focus on teachers, other kids, her work etc. Anyway, we called a behavioral pediatrician named Joan Lovett. She works with kids on a variety of issues using a method called EMDR. I don't completely understand it yet but there's a ton of info on the web. It addresses the child's anxieties about the issue. We're going to try it out and we'll see how it goes but wanted to say that after Joan observed our daughter and asked us a lot of questions about her, said that she could probably help but even if we did nothing about it, she thought that within the year or so she would be doing it on her own. I'm very curious to hear other people's responses and mainly wanted you to know you're not the only one experiencing this, although it feels that way sometimes huh? anon

Hi - This is probably going against the grain, but what about just taking the diaper away? My son, 4+, was still asking for a diaper to poop in. It was embarassing and he fully understood what he was doing. We tried everything too including waiting almost a year for him to do it himself. One day I just said, 'no more diapers. you are a big boy and need to poo on the potty. i'll help you.' It took 5 days with bouts of crying and uncomfortableness, but he finally sat on the potty and pooped. AFter the first poop, he's never looked back. We had a big poo poo party and made a huge deal out of it and he's fine.

REading what I've wrote it may sound cruel, but, like you, after a year, I knew he was not going to do it. After 3 years, it sounds like your daughter won't either. My son was ecstatic immediately after the poop came out and never has talked about the week of holding it. He doesn't appear to even remember so I'm pretty sure there is no lasting mental damage. Not a PC answer

Sorry, I don't have any suggestions but wanted to let you know that I am anxiously awaiting other parents' responses as we are in the exact same boat with my 4 year old daughter. We have debated over the past year to just let her be or to ''highly encourage'' her to use the potty by just not buying diapers anymore (so far, we have opted for the former). We have also tried the promise of a trip to Disneyland. Then it occurred to me that Disneyland may be too abstract of a reward so we bought her a Snow White doll but we still didn't get anywhere. I spoke to two pediatricians about it and they both said to leave it alone (but it's oh so hard!). Linda

Our friends went through the same thing with their son. I think he was younger, but same issue. Their pediatrician advised having him sit on the potty while pooping in the diaper, to get used to the feeling of pooping sitting down on the toilet without the fear that goes along with having the poop go in there. They did that for awhile and it did work. Try it out. -Wish I could hear the results...

My sympathies are with you! Six months ago, my 4 1/2 year old reverted to pooping in his underpants. This development worried his preschool teachers - it's unusual for his age. He wanted a diaper, too. The best advice, though difficult, came from one of his teachers. When this happens, he cleans it up COMPLETELY. My husband is fastidious and I was frustrated as well, but over about three weeks, this process really worked. The hardest part is to remain calm like it is no big deal. I spread newspapers on the floor of the bathroom, put out wipes, a plastic garbage bag for trash and one for dirty clothes and left him to it. We directed some of the action the first time but left him to work independently after that. Lots of praise. Calm reminders when we'd go out for the day. Gradually, it worked. I say, have an underpants ''party'' and just clean up any accidents that happen. If you can convince her it's no big deal to you, perhaps the battle of wills will end.

My son also doesn't want to take the time to sit long enough on the toilet. We shopped for some special comic type books that he can ONLY read on the toilet. This helped a lot. Good luck to you all! Clear weather ahead

I am at the beginning of this process and was really interested to see your post. My nearly 3 year old just potty trained, but will only poop in a diaper about every three days with much cajoling and a treat. She also isn't struggling a great deal with constipation, but more of a mental block to the potty and to pooping in general. I am worried about this going on for years! I got some advice from BPN last week (I am not sure if you saw my post) that I can forward to you about doing a little role playing to find out what the issues are, but I also talked with someone I know who is a child development specialist this morning and she suggested that I ask my daughter when she will be ready to poop on the potty: like, after her birthday this year, or after easter, or some other clearly defined time. The idea is that she will be somewhat on board if I ask her to choose a time nonchalantly. I have yet to do this and am afraid I will just hear, ''never.'' At the moment if you ask her where she poops she will tell you ''nowhere.'' I would love to hear about any progress you make on this issue - please email me with successes and ideas. I find it a little stressful. The main thing people seem to focus on is constipation, and I don't really think that is our issue. holly

I didn't see this exact strategy in the advice you received so I thought I'd share it. Friends had this same problem with their son. What they did was similar to the advice about first making sure that the child goes into the bathroom, then they need to sit on the toilet in their diaper. Then what these friends did was they cut a little hole in the diaper for him to put on before sitting on the toilet. Each day they cut a bigger and bigger hole in the diaper until eventually the diaper was just a belt-like thing. Then one day the kid forgot to put the diaper/belt thing on first and he just pooped in the potty and that was it. I know it sounds strange but it is just about gradually increasing the comfort level, and removing the security of the diaper gradually. Good luck!

My middle child, a girl, potty trained herself at about a year and half, but would go get a diaper every few days for pooping. Eventually, she began to withhold for longer periods of time, until pooping became painful. Her pediatrician advised us to use dolls, brown play dough and play toilets (can be simple and home made) and to just play with her about using the toilet. We did, both she and her older sister loved to play ''potty''; and after much potty humor and certain dolls who were afraid to go, but did anyway and then felt much better, the problem resolved. I don't know if it will work for every child, but she had a good time and I got to learn a little more about what she was thinking about in terms of potty training. jk

We had a similar problem when we were toilet training: my son would be placed on the toilet without result but then as soon as his underwear was on, he'd poop in his pants. It was driving me crazy. Then I read about some great advice that came from a grandmother: ''Maybe she needs some privacy, just like you do.'' It occurred to me that the only time we'd had successful poops in the toilet was when I'd run off to take care of something while I was waiting for him to go. So the next time I thought he needed to poop I put him on the toilet and asked him, ''Do you think you need some privacy?'' And I stepped outside the door, leaving it open a crack so he could call me if he needed help. We NEVER had a problem after that. Theresa

5-year-old refuses to poop on the potty

August 2005

My 5 1/2 year old son refuses to poop on the toilet. He spends half the week with his dad and grandparents, and the other half with me. The problem is that they don't encourage him to poop on the toilet. They just put a diaper on him. Now when he comes to my house, he won't poop at all. He holds it until he gets to his dads house. I spoke to his father about it, and he says not to force him, and that he will poop when he is ready. But how will he ever be ready if nobody encourages him. He is starting kindergarten soon. Suzanne

We had the same issue with our problem with pee, but wanting a diaper for poop. We had a deal that on his 4th birthday he'd start pooping in the potty. Along comes his 4th bday, and he didn't poop for 4 days! Here's what I ended up doing...while his dad (who was more sympathetic than me) was out of town. I KNEW he had to poop (4 days is a long time) and told him I wouldn't give him a diaper. There was lots of crying and misery. Finally I gave in...but...I had him squat, in his diaper, on some newspaper...then....once he started pooping, I whipped off the diaper so that the poop went onto the paper. Much of his aversion to the potty was that he always squated to poop. Well, he continued to poop on newspaper (this is a true story) for a week or so...then moved to squatting over the potty bowl, then sitting on the potty...and then to the big toilet. anon, for my son

I had to laugh when I read your email. I had the same problem with my daughter but was able to resolve the pooping in the toilet problem a little earlier. She was four. I didn't really push it until she was approaching four and she and I decided the the pull-ups would be put away on her fourth birthday. It really was her decision. So on her fourth birthday, I put the pull-ups away and she didn't poop for four days. I finally put a suppository in her rear and she ran as fast as she could to the toilet because she didn't have any other options (well, she did, but fortunately she decided not to leave her mark somewhere in the house). It just took that one time for her to realize that life was a little better (and cleaner) now. I hope this helps.

Hi - I missed your original post, so I hope this response is on- point. My daughter was completely potty trained for pee and she knew she was supposed to also poop on the potty, but she invariably hid and pooped in her panties (in hindsight, I wish we'd used pullups!) We tried all kinds of things, praise, rewards, threats, punishments, etc. and were the model of inconsistent parenting. Finally a grandmother we know said, ''Maybe she just needs her privacy.''

Sure enough, next time I saw her go off to hide, I picked her up and put her in the bathroom BY HERSELF, and said, ''I'm sure you need your privacy. Let me know if you need help wiping.'' It worked perfectly, and I am telling you the truth - there was not one single accident from that moment on.

I have read that something about pooping is very personal to many children. For my daughter, it was & is a privacy thing. So now, two years later, when she heads for the bathroom to do #2, she says ''Mom, I need my privacy,'' and shuts the door. This little lesson has really worked well for us in other areas too, because sometimes daddy or I need a little privacy and she understands.

Hope this helps. anon

5-1/2-year-old will NOT use toilet for pooping

March 2009

Our 5-1/2 year old daughter absolutely refuses to use the toilet for pooping. She has been toilet trained for peeing since she was not quite 3. We have tried everything -- bribery (including a trip to Disneyland when she can use the toilet), ignoring, reading books to her while she sits on the toilet, taking toys away, withholding diapers (which she still needs for nighttime -- a whole different topic). She takes care of the whole process herself -- from putting on the pullup to taking it off and putting the poop in the toilet to wiping. What else can we do? Therapy? At wit's end

Oh I so clearly remember that battle with my then 4.5 year old daughter! We tried giving her privacy, we tried plenty of bribes and rewards (including a trip to Disneyland) and nothing worked. Two pediatricians I talked to said to leave it alone. Well it all came to a head when for about 2 weeks after pooping in a diaper, she didn't want to be cleaned for whatever reason. So I did what my doctors and other professionals said not to -- I refused to give her a diaper to poop in. She held it for 2 or 3 days and finally she just had to go. She cried and screamed the first time she had a bowel movement on the toilet but we really fussed over her a lot when she was done and she realized it wasn't that bad. She struggled a couple more times but after that, the battle was over and there were no negative effects (regular bowel movements, no constipation or anything). So I don't necessarily recommend this method but it was what worked for us. I wish you and your daughter all the best and luck in this matter! Another Battle Won

We had the same problem with our daughter and I posted our solution here before but can't find it so I will tell the story again. After all the frustrations you well know, all the promises of Disneyland etc., I just lost patience one night and put her in the bathroom when I knew it was about time. I removed her pull-ups and held the bathroom door closed. For awhile she raised a tantrum screaming for her ''pants'' but finally it got quiet. She had to either go on the floor or climb up on the child seat we had tried so hard to get her to use. I took a chance and after the silence I heard music to my ears in ''dad I did it''. That was the end of the problem as from then on she was eager to show she was all growd up. The next problem was her refusal to use the bathrooms at school and becoming severally constipated requiring enemas--another dad's job. Today she took her first driving lesson 10 years later. pooped out dad

Stop using pull ups. A few days of smelly poop and washing out her own panties in the toilet ought to cure the problem. Poop-be-gone

Hi, we had a similar problem with my daughter at the same age. She is 6 1/2 now, but I was very worried the Spring before kindergarten about her refusing to poop in the toilet, she too insisted on a diaper. In desperation we took her to Meg Zweiback. Basically, Meg concluded after a couple visits that there was nothing physically or emotionally wrong. So you might want to try Meg first for help and reassurance. Meg really wasn't able to help us in our situation, so I turned to BPN and read posts about having the child sit on the toilet to poop, while wearing the diaper, and not walking around, reading or playing etc. while pooping. Once they get the hang of pooping while sitting on the toilet, start cutting holes in the diaper, with the child's permission, that get progressively larger until the poop falls into the toilet. It sounds so funny having a kid wear a diaper that has essentially become a belt while sitting on the toilet to poop, but it worked! The weekend I was sick in bed, and Dad was in charge of the pooping procedure, was the weekend she finally did it. Seems like the whole process took 3 weeks, so be patient. We also did bribe her with small toys and candy for sitting on potty with the diaper on. I really think that the ''tough love'' approach of simply refusing to have diapers available sets you up for another set of problems with constipation and blockages. That is something Meg can definitely help you with . Good Luck! a mom

You have to go cold turkey with the pull-ups. My son was doing the same thing. Our pre-school teacher suggested this and it worked. Buy one last package of pullups (the smallest you can find) and tell your daughter when the package is gone no more. For my son I started giving him a stool softener in his juice for a couple of days before the last pull up. I encouraged him to sit on the toilet and try, but nothing happened. He did cry and ask for a pull-up, but I held my ground this time (I had given in at other times when we had tried and we wound up right back to the pull-up routine). He managed to hold it for 3 days and then on the third day, I heard him from the bathroom shouting, ''It's Coming!!'' That's all it took. He was so proud of himself that he never looked back. Good Luck! valerie

Get the book ''It Hurts When I Poop, A Story for Children Who are Scared to Use the Potty'' by Howard J. Bennett, MD. Even if this is not the case it lets her know she is not alone, that other kids have similar issues. Good luck. U.B.

6-year-old will only poop in a pull-up

Nov 2004

my 6yr old son is not completely potty trained. He pees in the toilet fine, stays dry at night but will not sit on the toilet for a bowel movement. He only goes in a pull-up. I've tried every incentive under the sun - from gifts, candy or just sitting with him reading a book but still he won't. A few times he did sit but nothing came until he had a pull-up. It has not been a problem at school because his time of day for going is usually the afternoon when he's home. I haven't pushed him lately but I'm beginning to wonder if it'll even happen. waiting to get past this stage

Here is what I think you should do, and right away. Make an appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist in San Francisco, Dr. Linn, whose practice employs a person who specializes in children's biofeedback. This is their specialty. They work with your child and get them to relax on the seat, etc. You don't have to go through this any more. Call them. anon.

My son had the same problem, although he was younger (3 years). He had been potty trained since he was two except that he asked for a diaper every time he needed to poop. We indulged him, hoping he would express an interest in his own, like he did with pee, but that didn't work. Nor did refusing the diaper--one weekend he just didn't go poop all weekend, even when he was in a lot of pain. Our doctor recommended getting a box of prizes, for each poop on the potty. After all our struggles I was really skeptical, but it did work. I got a clear container so he could see what he would get and know that it would be there ASAP. There was one terrible candy (a bottle pop) that I would never let him have normally, but that he had been asking for for a long time and it was the motivation for the first potty poop. Once he had one that wasn't stressful, he was pretty happy with the potty (with a couple short regressions). I'm not sure if this would work for your son. If not, you might also talk to your doctor for other suggestions. Clare

I am going through this as well. Our son is 5 yr 7mos. He has refused to toilet train for b.m.s and wouldn't even switch to a diaper/pull-up for it; he just went in his underpants. He finally toilet trained for urine at 4.5 yrs. We tested him to make sure there were no physical problem at Children's; we had him go to Meg Zweibeck when he was 4 but he refused to talk with her. He went to a child psychologist who finally got him through the urine toilet training but couldn't get him further. Then we saw Dr Brad Berman, a developmental pediatrician. Bless the man. He calmed us down, told us how common this is, but that nobody talks about it. Because our son had constipation problems since he was 2 months old, he told us how important it was to get the stool softener correct and that it would take 6 months for his colon to get back in shape.We could call him throughout the 6 month period to keep us calm. After 6 months, we saw Dr. Berman again. He figured out in that one session that our son was terrified of going down the toilet. He told us to get a commode and let our son decorate it, We were to get a bag of little goodies for rewards of any stool in the commode even though rewards never worked before. Well within one week he started on the commode and within four weeks our son was pooping on the commode without us reminding him or taking him. He is absolutely thrilled with the little rewards. He is still using the commode (it's been 6 weeks all together). We are giving it another month or two and then we will wean him off of that somehow if he hasn't switched on his own. We never thought it would happen and we aren't all the way there, but it is way better than where we were. Please e-mail me if you want any more info. Linda

I had the same issue with my 4.5 year old (potty trained since 3). I was becoming very frustrated. I mentioned this issue to a few friends and apparently they had the same issue and discovered their children (ages 5 & 6) were constipated. Since this was an ongoing issue the children were not aware of when they had to go - they didn't understand the sensation. I took my daughter to the doctor and found out that she too has constipation issues. I now give her prune juice daily and, if necessary, mineral oil. I had to retrain her on how to have a bowel movement in the toilet - which was a struggle. Now she is very proud of herself. Good luck. sandy