11 answers

Holding Pee & Poo ~ Not Wanting to Go

My now 3yr old who potty trained himself at 18 months is holding his pee and poo for hours and hours and hours and refuses to go. He'll hold it all day until his stomach starts to hurt unless we have a battle to make him go. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions...PLEASE???

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I would definitely take him to see a doctor...I know a little girl who went through something similar, and her bladder became mishapen because she wouldn't go, which lead to problems later.

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I would definitely take him to see a doctor...I know a little girl who went through something similar, and her bladder became mishapen because she wouldn't go, which lead to problems later.

He's found something he can control. It's his decision to go or not to go.

I have not been through it so ask a doctor what the best thing to do would be.

I would think.. as hard as it is to allow him to go when he wants. Not to make a big deal of it.(after talking to the doctor) Set up a reward chart for going on his own without making himself hurt. It's his decision to go and then get a sticker.

It seems to me that holding it in is your son's way of exerting control over his life and over you. He is a 3 year old so power struggles are a big deal to him. I really don't know what you can do about it, he is the only person in the world who truely has control over his bodily functions. As the saying goes, you can never force a child to eat, sleep, or poop. Try talking to him about the fact that he is responcible for his own body and how he feels, if he is in pain because he won't go don't freak out and try to make him go or act like you feel badly for him, just say in a matter of fact way: "It looks like you don't feel very well, what are you going to do to help your body feel better?" And then let him decide what he will do, as long as he is not hurting anyone else or pooping on the floor! Good luck!

I agree with others that you should talk to your pediatrician. One thing that could be happening is that he might be in pain when he does go potty and so is trying to avoid that pain. I would just check with the pediatrician to make sure that he doesn't have a urinary tract infection first. After that has been ruled out then I would consider it being a control issue. At this age kids will try to find things that they feel puts them in control of their bodies. Good Luck that would be very frustrating to have to deal with after he has been potty trained. I have had sisters go through both situations I have described. And I do not envy what you are going through right now.

This can cause serious damage, holding poopy can cause toxic results not to mention constipation issues and all sorts of things. If he is like my kids, hearing it from the Pediatrician on the concerns of doing this works better then me telling my kids. Have your Dr talk to him. I would say at the age of three, don't wait for him to ask, take him to the potty every few hours and set him on it, period. Don't ask if he has to go as he will more then likely always say no but he can cause himself bladder infections and all sorts of stuff. Just tell him it is just for mommy that you want him to sit and try and if he cannot go that is fine, but sitting him on the potty every few hours will give him the chance to go without you waiting for him to dictate it.
It is worth the battle right now to get him to sit on the potty versus him doing damage or causing medical issues!!!!
You are the parent and if he won't listen to the logic why then take him and have the Pediatrician explain it to him. My kids work so much better with knowing the reasons on things like this then me just telling them!! :) Good luck.

Maybe there is a way to make it fun, my freinds bathroom has a special potty seat and step stool, her daughter has her own wach cloth, towel and soap, she was doing that too and once when someone was in the only bathroom she peed on the floor outside the door cause she had held it too long and then cried, we all felt so bad for her, she has gotten better but she get so busy she does not want to stop for that. I hope it all works out :o) Oh her little girl just turned four and started that about 6 or 7 months ago, maybe its a 3 thing.

He's not ready to train yet. Let it go for a while.

assuming this is not a medical issue..... to fix it, it depends on what motivates him - positives or negatives. My daughter at about age 4 decided pooping was "bad." That led to constipation and then leakage...drove us nuts. And no amount of positive reinforcement could convince her to poop regularly - in part because that hurt because she was causing constipation! She's also not a kid that responds to incentives like prizes for doing something. What finally worked was we gave her "medicine". the "medicine" was prune juice in a medicine cup - made her take 2 or 3 full medicine cups each day so she actually got 3-4 oz. It worked in two ways - the first was, it really is a laxative and works like medicine and gives them the urge to go and loosens things up. (but does it safely unlike most actual laxatives). The second was that she HATED the "medicine." She knew that if she pooped three days in a row, she didn't have to take medicine so long as she kept pooping every day. We also took away candy and sweets for 3-4 weeks, explaining to her (truthfully) that sugar makes it harder to poop. That was a huge incentive as she has a huge sweet tooth! We also explained (numerous times) that the little men (she's convinced there's little men in her tummy that take food and make it into poop) don't quit working just because she doesn't poop and that they keep packing it against her bottom and that if she doesn't push it out it'll just fill up her tummy and also that's why it hurts to poop if you don't do it every day.
so, probably TMI here, but hopefully you can get something out of it!
also, to make it less of a battle, you might try that he has to sit on the potty before every meal and snack (ok, so the urge to go happens after eating but you gotta work what you can). you can use some toddler-type logic here - you have to make room for the food and liquid you're going to consume. (same child as above - we had to do this for peeing when she was 3). Be matter of fact, no battle - just no meal time 'til you sit on the potty. You don't have to remember a timer this way and there's no battle over stopping what he's doing 'cause he's already stopped to eat. That at least gets him in the bathroom 4-5 times per day - enough to prevent infections or other medical issues. Good luck!

This was my 3 3/4 year old son at the beginning of the summer; he was holding his pee 15-18 hours at a time. We eventually saw the pediatrician who advised us to set a timer every 2-3 hours, it depersonalized the whole issue. He's improved now but the bathroom can still be a battleground. We're also discovering he has anxiety issues; I thought it was just my son being controlling but it turns out it's not necessarily so. Good luck - contact your pediatrician if you feel it's getting out of hand.


I am guessing that this 3 year old has gotten the message somewhere that poo and pee are disguisting and yuckie.

The best way to improve the situation is to let him know that it is simply a by-product of wonderful things we put into our bodies and that whatever the body can't use anymore it wants to let it go.

Acknowledge that sometimes it is a little stinky, especially if we hold on to it too long.

It's interesting to me how some adults in the effort to potty train talk about how "yuckie" the diaper is. Perhaps more constructive would be to notice how much faster it is to flush.

With my whole heart,
C. TLC (transition life coach)

First off, I would call his pediatriation. This can cause problems for him internally and I would make sure you make an appointment with his pediatrician to discuss. My little girl has gone through this a little bit. Sometimes she will try and hold it. What I have tried is putting something she wants (princess jewlry, potty treats, princess shoes, whatever) in a cake display dish on our counter and telling her if she goes potty she gets a potty treat or can wear the coveted outfit. This seems to work 90% of the time. Or we say, we can't play such and such or go to whereever until she at least tries to go potty. I know my nephew uses a potty watch that beeps every hour and he goes and at least tries to go potty. I hope this is helpful.

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