28 answers

HELP!!! 4 Year Old BOY Holding Bowel Movements for DAYS!!

I have a little boy who is almost four who just absolutely will not have a bowel movement on the potty. We have tried toys, food rewards, stickers, everything you can imagine. We started training him a few weeks ago, and he was doing great for #1, but I kept noticing he wasn't having bowel movements (didn't have one for 5 days!!), and before we started this he was having BM's every day. Background on him: He has also been developmentally delayed and is shy, can be stubborn, says he's scared about pooping in the potty, etc. I know boys are harder. If anyone knows, it's me, but I am starting to get really depressed about this. We finally had to put him back in diapers, and it took another day before he had a BM, and then several more close together since he was so backed up. Sorry for so much detail, but I am at a loss. I don't know anyone personally who has had to deal with the issue of their child "holding" it for days on end. Any thoughts?? Thank you.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

My little guy finally trained at 4!!! Just wanted to let everyone know who took the time to respond to my request that our little guy is finally potty trained!!! We backed off on training after we were having problems in the spring and started again the first part of July. He still kept holding his BM's, but we had given him an incentive of a car that he really wanted, and it worked!!! He went to the bathroom on his own while we were visiting my mother and then proudly came and announced "I went poop on the potty, mommy. Can I have my car now?" I almost cried!! Thank you, thank you, thank you again for taking the time to respond.

Featured Answers

Well L. I may have a little different take on this than everyone else. This happened with my cousin's daughter and my son to some extent (he would only poop in his pants, never the toilet) Her pediatrician really made sense when you think about it. He said this is the last thing a child really has control over and they may not want to give up that control especially since it is getting a rise out of you. You may want to drop the potty training/pooping in the pot issue for a little bit & see how he does. Don't bring it up to him or around him where he can hear you talking about it. It's worth a try. A little easier than specialists & meds.

Sounds like he is terrified. In my opinion he is not ready mentally so why cause him anxiety over something that can wait till he is a bit more prepared. I would look for some books about the body and how it works (physically)that are written for kids and that refer to the potty. Don't make a big deal, just include it in the choices of stories to read. Ask him if he has any questions and let it go for now. In a few weeks present the idea of potty with a poster with stars he can put on the poster after every time he has gone potty or poop. Have a few prizes that he can earn after his poster has x number of stars. A book, paints, new crayons or what ever his likes are. I think that it is just a preparation for him to get past the fear, and positive reinforcement is the way to go. I would not punish him if he isn't ready, just try again every few weeks and see if he is ready. If not give him more time. Good luck and he will be fine in time.

My 5 year old daughter does the same. I'm taking her to a specialist because I hate giving her enemas every other day. She is low muscle tone due to the rare chromosome abnormality she has, but I'm hoping they can help her get her system moving. Sorry I'm no help.

More Answers

I have a son who just turned 4 yrs old a couple of days ago, and he is diagnosed as PDD-NOS. We have completed potty training for him other than overnite, which will come with time. He uses the toilet for all BM, but it took some time to get used to it. The only suggestions I can offer would be to take the stool from the diaper, and have him go with you to the toilet and watch while you dump it in there and he can flush it away. You can discuss how the toilet is where we go poo-poo. That will take many times to make the connection, but he might enjoy being part of the process. Also, one thing I read online once (but never tried) was to cut a hole in the back of the diaper, and still have the child sit on the toilet for a BM and it will come out into the toilet. The rationale for that is that the child feels secure because the diaper still feels like it is on the body, but the goal is still accomplished by allowing the stool to fall out. Some kids don't like the splashing, some kids feel like they are losing part of themselves by pooping in a toilet... Their little minds just work differently. Anyway, that's my two cents! ha ha... Best of luck to you!

I know this may sound odd but allow him to see you and your hubby going #2. Then he can see its not something to be afraid of. If that doesn't work sit in the bathroom with him. Try reading a book out loud or making some jokes about how smell it is, ect. Just try to make him as comfortable as possible, that way he's not afraid of falling in or the sound of the toilet flushing all the time.

My third son had this same problem. I did take him to our family physician and he suggested adding mineral oil to things he drinks. Mineral oil is inexpensive and can be found at any pharmacy. It has no flavor and it's purpose is to help things slide out easier. I truly believe my son has problems with constipation and that painful bowel movements made him not want to go. Once the mineral oil started working we never had problems again and he didn't need it for more than a month. Hope this helps.

Hi L.,
My first question is if you have him using a potty chair or the regular toilet? One way or the other you might the other. Either way there is a massage technique that will help move things along and is a good bonding technique anyways. My daughter is almost 4 and will now come to me when she doesn't go everyday. "Mommy Luv me" is what she says because it is called the I Love You stroke. You could probably find a video online that shows it, but it is pretty simple. The strokes are 1. down the left side of the colon (the I) 2. then stroke across the top of the colon from right to left then down the left side again (the L) 3. then you stroke up the right side across the top then down the left side (the U) Its kind of cute for the kids because you are making the letters facing them. And I alway say the words with each stroke. If you can't find a video and I haven't been clear enough, any massage therapist will most likely be able to show you.

I hope so much that you can get this worked out. I had problems when I was a child with "holding it" and still pay for it today. Your a great mom, for being concerned.

HTH,
R.

Well L. I may have a little different take on this than everyone else. This happened with my cousin's daughter and my son to some extent (he would only poop in his pants, never the toilet) Her pediatrician really made sense when you think about it. He said this is the last thing a child really has control over and they may not want to give up that control especially since it is getting a rise out of you. You may want to drop the potty training/pooping in the pot issue for a little bit & see how he does. Don't bring it up to him or around him where he can hear you talking about it. It's worth a try. A little easier than specialists & meds.

L.,

I feel your pain, my now 7yr old was afraid to BM when we were potty training. He would run around the house screaming "OH DEAR" over and over but wouldn't go on the toilet. It was a nightmare! You don't want him to hold his BM because it can cause problems later, a stretched colon etc... We used Fleet Babylax (liquid glycerin suppositories for ages 2-5 yrs) You can find it at any drug store. It has a child rectal applicator. My son was more scared of the rectal applicator. As soon as you squirt it in there he instantly had to run to the bathroom. This kept him regular and he didn't want the applicator stuck up his "Gulu". So he started going to the toilet. You might give it a try. I've also heard that some boys for some reason need to be completely naked to go poo. Some think they are losing a part of their bodies which brings on the Fear. So you might try finding some books related to it. Like "Everybody Poops" or Me and my Body.---Good Luck--I am now training my 3yr Old Daughter, my 5 yr old son wasn't near as hard as my first boy.

J. C

HI Ill try to help if I can my boys had similiar problems with bowel and potty problems There was a good suggestion 1 mom wrote about setting timer every 30 minutes or 1 hour then when they here the timer they can try on there own I know at 1 time my son said it hurt too much to go if this is the case he may be plugged and does he have his own potty chair mine was scared to get on the big one cause he would get sucked down it somehow no matter what u tell him both my boys had pdd pervasive developemental delay but 1 was adhd and the other shy withdrawn scared depressed so I had my hands full You may need to start over after a enema get him all cleaned out ask Dr.then try again but mabey move his potty chair to some place he will go if its the br hes scared of itself my son had that issue to but gl tc and Godbless you D. also its something not to get stressed out about THats hard but he has to do the controling the child and will make it appoint to control the issue no matter what may be pushing buttons he needs choices for good behavior bad in whatevr you like to do with that just an idea though I had a really rough time with this one too hang in there though D.

My 5 year old daughter does the same. I'm taking her to a specialist because I hate giving her enemas every other day. She is low muscle tone due to the rare chromosome abnormality she has, but I'm hoping they can help her get her system moving. Sorry I'm no help.

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