43 answers

Help...6 Year Old Will Not Poop in the Toliet

I am at my wits end. My 6 year old poops in his pants a couple of times a day. He will not use the toliet - never has. I have tried incentives like stickers, candy, and toys. I've taken things away like favorite toys, video games, computer, TV. I've yelled and I've softly tried to reason with him. I don't know what else to do....

Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I've had this problem with my son (now almost 10) for years. It's likely that it'snot hs fault. Take him to the doctor because he may nt be able to actually feel himself going. He may be impacted (constipated) which causes the poop to leak around the blockage. Because the blockage presses on the nerves, the nerves stop recievig signals that the person has to go to the bathroom. Please, take him to his doctor.

1 mom found this helpful

If there's something he wants really bad, tell him the only way he will get it is if he poops in the toilet. I don't usually condone bribery, but sometimes it works. My youngest daughter wet her bed until she was almost 8. I promised her a canopy bed if she stopped before her birthday came. She did and got the bed. She never wet the bed again. Good luck, M.

I am 41 years old and I have three sons also age 15-13-almost 5 year old I am also a photographer so we have a couple of this in common. I also worked in a Montessori School for 11 years.
I find that the easiest way for me has been to allow my youngest (peak) or watch my husband or one of my sons who may be willing for a BREIF.. moment to cooperate.
Younger siblings almost always want to do what ever the older one is doing so by having extra males in the house they can help in guiding him it usually works.

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I've had this problem with my son (now almost 10) for years. It's likely that it'snot hs fault. Take him to the doctor because he may nt be able to actually feel himself going. He may be impacted (constipated) which causes the poop to leak around the blockage. Because the blockage presses on the nerves, the nerves stop recievig signals that the person has to go to the bathroom. Please, take him to his doctor.

1 mom found this helpful

My three year old mastered the peeing in the potty or she likes to say "putting her water in the water" but when it came to poop she was scared. I told her once her pack of pull ups was gone she had to wear her Dora undies. We counted down until the last pull up was used and when she was done I was so nervous but she knew she didn't have an option so she did it (big girl panties). No accidents because I told her she can't wet or mess up her Doras because I would have to throw them away.

After taking your son to Dr. maybe give him no more options like on a weekend say he ruined all his underwear and the ones he is wearing is all he has left.

1 mom found this helpful

It may seem strange to you, but some people don't like poop water splashing up on their behinds. See if he will use a potty seat with the attached cup...ask at your local hospital, they use cups that attach to the toilet, to gauge how much fluids certain people are urinating. Slowly over time, add a little bit of water so he gets used to it. Worth a shot. If this doesn't work, I would ask his pediatrician or a gastroenterologist for advice. Oh, I just remembered. Someone I know gave their child some kind of laxative...obviously they don't want to do that in their pants...it is extreme and is a terrible clean-up the first tiem, but I remember it worked for them. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

it sounds like he maybe has an overactive bowel or something - if he is pooing several times a day for a start that doesnt sound right, at most he should be going once a day.
what does he say when you ask him about it?, can he help it, does it just come out without him realising?, how does he cope at school with this.
hopefully there is nobody "fiddling about" with him - its a horrible thought but you could ask him, or maybe he has a mild form of spina bifida which can affect the nerves to the rectum and make him unknowing of the fact that he needs to poo.
this is definately not normal behaviour, maybe you should take him to first a doctor to find out if its physical - then a psychiatrist to find out if its a mental health issue.

1 mom found this helpful

This must be so frustrating. Have you talked to your pediatrician about it? I guess the first thing would be to make sure there's nothing physiological going on that could cause this, and your pediatrician should know what to check for. Ruling that out, and this may be a little gross, you could allow him to start to have to deal with the consequences of going in his pants instead of the potty: allow the poopy to stay in his pants for a little while - not long enough to get smeary and requiring a bath, but long enough to be smelly and uncomfortable. Also, at 6 is he able to help clean up the mess when he goes in his pants? If you can share the inconvenience and yuckiness with him so that going in his pants is as unpleasant for him as it is for you, and otherwise not make a big deal of it (because the focus and attention on his potty habits may, strange as it sounds, be its own sort of "reward"), he may come around to realizing that he's really only creating a problem for himself.

Good luck, mama! Hope it works out for everyone soon!
Liz H.

1 mom found this helpful

Just a suggestion, talk to him- ask if he is afraid to go in the toilet, ask does it hurt to use the bathroom?, Can he feel the poop come out?, If he is afraid of falling in-or maybe of something coming out of the toilet?I watched a movie that had me lifting the toilet seat, checking the shower and anywhere else that water was(yes I watched "IT"-stephen king movie)and I think I was 12 but I would hold everything as long as I could- but yes I would only be scared for a few days and then I was back to normal... if its falling in hes afraid of try going to a Lowes or Home Depot, they have toilet seats made for little butts(smaller hole) it attaches above the regular seat with hinges, my neighbor bought one for all her daycare kids and it was a big hit with potty training, kids weren't so scared to sit... does he have the accidents at school too or just at home? I hope this all helps. and if all fails go buy some old people diapers and see what he says about having to be a baby again... or ask the doctor for more suggestions... sorry- I realy hope it gets better!

1 mom found this helpful

You need to take him to the Dr.
There may be something physically wrong.
You Pediatrition is a great resource not
just for when a child is ill.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear J.,

I feel your frustration. I had the same struggle with my oldest son, and like you, I tried everything all the experts recommended. But my son is very strong-willed, and I've noticed that all the advice and guidance of the "experts" really doesn't help with a strong-willed child, so I threw out all the "rules" and created my own method - I call it Potty Training Bootcamp. My husband and I fed our son as many prunes as he would eat, and then sat him on the toilet until he had a BM. During that time one or both of us stayed with him, and we read to him, brought toys, gave him water to drink, and sang with him. We started immediately after breakfast and he still hadn't gone by lunchtime, so we let him off to eat lunch, and then it was right back on the toilet. He finally had a BM at 1 P.M. We had to do this same routine for 3 days, and he was finally potty trained, although Day 2 he had it sooner, and Day 3 was shorter.

Good luck with the potty training. I know how much I hated cleaning out underwear!

1 mom found this helpful

You don't say if you son is wearing pull ups (diapers) or not. For me,and my 4 kids (3 sons) it was diapers or the toilet. If this is made clear to your son, he will get it in a hurry. Does he have friends? Kids learn a lot from each other. If he wants to be like his friends or other boys at school, he will comply in a hurry. If he has to clean himself up (not you) he will also decide to do it the easier way (toilet), I'm guessing. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Do you read Parenting magazine? I ask because the latest one had a story about potty schools that some hospitals are giving, for children just like yours. They work with the children to find out why they're refusing to use the toilet--in some cases something happened to frighten them (like an automatic toilet flushing while they were sitting on it), in other cases they have a previous undiscovered medical condition, and so on. They also work with the parents to teach them how to gentle encourage their children. The first thing to do is definitely take your son to the doctor for a check-up, and ask him (and your hospital) if they have any info on these types of classes. You are not alone in this--good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

when my kids were small, and we have four, one of our kid's use to be like that, alway's pooping in his pant's, right after we ate, my wife would wait 10 min. and then sit the one who pooped on the potty and would make him stay there until he pooped and after awhile it worked ( sometime's he would get a spanking if he got off the potty ) try this for about aweek

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds likd a little professional help is needed. Child psycologist?

1 mom found this helpful

I had twns that were three and one had been pooping in the toilet for almost a year. The other would poop in his pants and of all things play in it. A week before their 4th birthday I told the one pooping in his pants that their were certain things you had to be doing to turn four and one of them was pooping in the potty. If he was not pooping in the potty he would have to stay three. That day he started pooping in the potty!

Hi J. sorry to hear that your son is doing that may be you should put him on a little potty all day and talk to him to let him know that he wants to be a baby so you shall treat him like one and make sure that he understands that you love him but just tired of cleaning him up also just see if he would like the ideal of you not cleaning him so he have to do it his self thats some tough love you have to do so just bear with you being strong he know your weak points do not bend to his wishes stand strong on that point and i bet he will start going to the bathroom like he should

J. theres a problem somewhere and you need to figure out what it is.Does he poop in his pants at school or does he just do it at home?If hes doing it just at home then maybe its a power thing,and he has you under his power knowin that you are goin to clean him up with no problems.How is your other son doing and what does he say?If you think that the problem is serious take him to the dr.to see what he thinks.

I think I would resort to some of my own tactics before I gave up.

Try making him help clean his mess, as someone else suggested.

Try making him earn the money to buy new underwear because the other is so nasty from being pooped in. ick

Try making sure the toilet is not hurting his legs (most kids have a little trouble with feet touching the ground).

Try making sure he is not afraid he will fall in or something--he may have heard something that has put the fear in him.

Try a good old fashioned dose of meds that will make it runny. I can imagine the feeling of it running down your leg has got to be horrible and a good incentive to at least try sitting on a toilet.

Check with dr. that it is not a strained muscle or something. I can't remember what my SIL used, but I want to say it was mineral oil--it was clear, cheap, and not bad tasting. It helped get her 3 yr old to poop in the toilet. Her dr told her to use it because he had strained a muscle so badly that it hurt to poop and therefore he would try to avoid pooping, especially on the potty!

First off pray about this because I know this is going to sound cruel but it just might work if you're willing to try anything. Mix some dry cocoa and water together to make a paste and when he goes in his pants again rub it on his hands like he got it on himself by accident (only when you're at home of course). It might trick him into thinking that it is really gross and he doesn't want it on his hands ever again. I had a 1 year old step son who used to smear his all over the place and so I did this except for I put it on his face and it worked, that is the only reason I am suggesting this, hope it works.

first go to dr. and have him checked out. my grand son has similar problem and has can not feel the sensation to evacuate. its a difficulate problem. if the dr, says nothing is wrong. maybe he is doing this for attention, ignore it and i really mean ignore it, say nothing. see what happens. D. mom of 6 grandmother of 14

We had a similar problem with our son. It was not fun.

We went to a counselor and got some new ideas that would work for him and our family. We also went to see a pediatric GI.

We got some great advice and he started helping with the messy clothes. He did NOT like that at all. I think it helped, too.

He uses the toilet now. God bless!

Hi, J.. My 5yo has had this issue for almost a year. Of all the research I've done, one article has been the most helpful to us: http://www.drgreene.org/body.cfm?id=21&action=detail&...

It goes into detail about how this sort of thing happens (the D3 cycle - discomfort - dread - delay). The quick answer is that when a child has one painful bowel movement because of chance constipation at some point or other, it can start a vicious cycle of withholding and resulting constipation. In order to get your child pooping in the toilet again, you have to make sure their bowel movements become comfortable and their expanded rectum goes back to its intended size. Dr. Greene advises using mineral oil, which is odorless, tasteless, and cheap, available in any pharmacy. Mix it into the child's food as often as possible (really easy with pasta, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, soups, just about anything that needs to prepared, really). This really WORKS, and although we started out being sneaky about it, my son now knows what's up and is very cooperative and wants it, likes being part of his "recovery" I would say.

We are on the upswing with it, with occasional phases of relapse. Good luck. I know how frustrating this is.

Have you try reading his favorite book while he is seating at the toilet?
try to keep notes of at what time he goes in his pants to see if it is about the same time every day. Then try to sit him on the toilet about that time and when he finally poops make a big deal about it like giving him a favorite snack, game o even comming up with a song for his great achievement. Hopefully this works you.

Make him clean his own pants and underwear when he poops in them, that way he sees how gross it is. Maybe that will give him some incentive to go in the toilet..

This is a normal occurance with especially boys. I had experienced this, too with my son. It is a psychological thing where some boys are very attached to their "parts". When they see stuff leaving their body, they fear that their parts will fall off too. He is pooping in his pants several times, because he is holding in and small amounts at a time are forced out. After the first accident make him sit and tell him he needs to get it all out and explain to him that this is the way his body is supposed to work. One mom said she had problems and it was because she didn't like the smell! Something simple as lighting a candle or spraying lysol might help, too.
I would also make sure he is getting enough fiber to make him regular, maybe even more so as you work on this. The more opportunities he has to go, the faster he can work through it. Did you ever ask him why he goes in his pants and not on the toilet? Ask him if it hurts. If he has hard stools, it can be quite painful and can cut the skin, too.
You can always make him clean out his underwear when he has these accidents....that might be a deterrent.

Hi J.,

We are right there with you. Our son suffers from a condition called encompresis. There is a lot of great info on the net about it. You need to take him to the pediatrician, have him x-ray'd, and see if he's impacted. If he is, start him on Miralax daily, this will soften his stool making it easier for him to go. You will also probably need to do an enima or use a laxative of some sort, but your dr can advice you on the best way he/she feels to clean him out.
You will probably need to follow up with a specialist (gastroentrologist?), just so they can keep track of your son's progress. We know of a great one if you need his contact info. Our 6 yr old is just now starting to go daily, and is making vast improvements. He knows that every night before he jumps in the tub he has to sit on the toilet for 10 minutes or unless he goes sooner. He hasn't had a single accident in school in almost 3 months.

I wish you the best, and know that this is something they have no control over. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or need any referrals. Thanks.


A friend of mine had a 5 yr old son that was going through this and found out he had an impaction. She had to take him to a gastroenterologist who did an Xray to find out. The remedy was to give him mineral enemas (they stated they were for impactions) 2 nights in a row and on the second night also give him a regular enema. She said the rectum gets dilated so poop can pass by but some stays there. This child lived basically on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese and more cheese so his diet may have had something to do with it. Eating plenty of fiber is important but we also need enough water for our bowels to move. I pray you both get some relief.
P.S. Now that I'm a grandmother I can look back and see that my children's behavior had a good reason. Fear can make someone go against their own values.

Have you had him checked by a doctor to make sure he is even capable of controlling himself? If he just can't do it, bribery and rewards and all the talking or yelling in the world won't have any effect at all.

If you want him to consistantly poo in the potty, you need to find a consistant, encouraging way to try to bring him around, and stick to one thing long enough to KNOW it doesn't work (longer than deciding that after a few times, the method clearly doesn't work -- just give it time.)

you might try a potty chair. He maybe scared of the big tolet thinking that he may fall in. Since he is older now you may try to show him that he wont fall in the potty chair now.
next try to have him in the bathroom when you your husband or another child is taking a poop so he can see that nothing bad wil happen and so he can see that they dont have to change their clothes everytime they take a poop.

Also you may try to have him clean up his own mess. Using gloves a sink and other stuff to insure he doesnt really touch his own poop of course. He may start to understand it is gross to have to do that if he see it for him self.

If there's something he wants really bad, tell him the only way he will get it is if he poops in the toilet. I don't usually condone bribery, but sometimes it works. My youngest daughter wet her bed until she was almost 8. I promised her a canopy bed if she stopped before her birthday came. She did and got the bed. She never wet the bed again. Good luck, M.

make him clean it himself, even if you have to go back and wash them out again when he is not looking. he will realize that it is disgusting and he won't want to have to keep doing it. also have a talk with him about how the toilet works (that it is not a big vacuum that will suck him in! he may be afraid of it.
good luck!

Hello- My name is Stacy and I have a 4 year old that is doing the same thing. I am at my wits end as I have done everything I could think of for two months at a time with nothing to show for. I was hoping that whatever advice you get if you could pass it along to my email. I have zero family support here and my husband is in Iraq. I'm a SAHM myself. My email is ____@____.com you don't want to email me the advice Let me know what worked for you-I could use alll the help I can get. If I happen along some diffeent advice myself I'll make sure to send it your way-Good luck and take care

Have you discussed this with the doctor? He may not have muscle control. It's something to look into.

I am 41 years old and I have three sons also age 15-13-almost 5 year old I am also a photographer so we have a couple of this in common. I also worked in a Montessori School for 11 years.
I find that the easiest way for me has been to allow my youngest (peak) or watch my husband or one of my sons who may be willing for a BREIF.. moment to cooperate.
Younger siblings almost always want to do what ever the older one is doing so by having extra males in the house they can help in guiding him it usually works.


Not all children are the same, check with your doctor he might have some disorder and NOW there might be some medication that might help him.

My nephew peed and pooped in his pants for many many years and it is hereditary and a disorder.


I would get him checked out with a Dr. My nephew was still pooping his pants at 5 years old. They took him to the doctor and found that he had been holding it in so that he wouldn't have to stop playing. This had caused it to become compacted and made his colon enlarged, which had caused him to loose the sensation to go. The only symptom that they had was the fact that he wouldn't poop in the potty. I don't want to scare you... your situation is probably different, but it doesn't hurt to get it checked out just in case (my nephew suffered a lot of humiliation with trying to get potty trained when he had no control over it).

Take your son to his Pediatrician! If you have a good doctor, he will recognize the signs. This is a disorder that is not his fault and seems to be only found in some boys his age. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the disorder and it is extremely frustrating & embarrassing...especially in public. My son had the same problem at that age and was very active in all kinds of sports, so that made it even harder for him being around his friends, but he finally grew out of it. He is 19 yrs. old now. His Pediatrician put him on a special diet that helped some and you will have to do some really close monitoring to help him also. I tried all the same things you did, but none of it helped either. If you live in the Houston area, the Pediatrician that I used is a Dr. Michael Kessler (if he is still around). He is a very thorough doctor that really cares about his patients, but he is extremely straight forward & to the point/brunt with parents and he doesn't hold anything back. Good luck and I hope this helps us some! Please e-mail me back if you need anymore information. My e-mail address is ____@____.com

I would talk to dr asap. My cousin used to do this until he was about 7 or 8 I believe. Come to find out it was severe and consistent constipation. His mother did not know how hard of a time he was having with it and it caused him a lot of pain and discomfort, so he somewhat feared and dreaded sitting on the toilet to do it and just did it in his pants. I believe that may have been more comfortable, letting a little out at a time throughout the day; and leaving it there!

We are going through the same thing with our 8yr old. Our Dr. had us give him an enema each night for a week. (His colon was enlarged and impacted) we are also giving him Miralax (it's now avaliable over the counter) and Kristalose (RX) Miralax in the am and Kristalose in the pm. Most of his problem was due to diet! (to many chicken nuggets, come to find out those things are awful and very hard to digest!) We have added more fruit and veggies to his diet and for snacks I found fiber one bars (they have 35% of the daily value of fiber) My son likes the oats and chocolate, he thinks of them as candy bars. We also got a calander and for each day he goes without an accident and eats the proper foods he gets a sticker. I am happy to say we now have 12 stickers on the calendar, he has only had 2 accidents since we started 14 days ago!!!!
At our Dr's suggestion we got our son more involved in picking good foods, he picks one new fruit and one new veggie a week and he has to eat it. The Dr. also told him that he had to try a new food 15-20 times before he would know if he liked it or not (Bless Him!) Feel free to contact me if you have other questions. ____@____.com

Hope this helps, I know how frustrating it can be, hang in there.

Wow I just read some of the other responses..... and I do realize that it could be a power strugle but it could also be an impaction. Take him to the DR. let your Dr decide if it's an impaction or just strong will. Trust me you will feel really awful if you go with the "bootcamp" method only to find out it's an impaction and he can't help it.(been there done that) if it is an impaction and from my experience that's what it sounds like, he can't go with out help, and no amount of setting on the potty is going to make him have a BM.

Do you home school? If not, does he do this at school as well? I would think the peer pressure would help with the problem. He might have constipation problems if he is going 2 times a day ( a little each time) The school nurse or councilar might be able to help
~ Tess

If there is no medical reason for this problem then I would suggest that you let him clean himself and if he doesn't want to, he could stay soiled. He is definitely old enough to have mastered the toilet. Another thought, could he be needing your attention or has anything in the household change? Sometimes stress can lead to unwanted behavior.

God Bless!!

maybe he has a fear of the potty and that is why he is doing it.maybe someone told him that he would get stuck if he was sitting on the potty when he flushed. some kids can be mean just a thought

It took my son a realy long time before he was potty train. My son's the stuborn type the only thing that worked for me was to be more stuborn then him. When he finaly figured out that I was not going to give in he was potty trained both day and night in 2 weeks. Good luck!!!

What if he isn't wearing any pants???

Hi J., I am a child psychologist and have worked in the past with some encopretic (pooper) kids. The very first thing to do is make sure nothing physical is going on. Take him to the pediatrician and have him checked out. If it is nothing physical, and you are going to do a reward plan, be sure that he has some input on what the rewards are. Feel free to visit my website and contact me for a consult if you like.


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