18 answers

Need Toilet Traing Advice for an Almost 4 Year Old

My daughter is 3 years and 9 months old and will be 4 in July. We need some advice on potty training. She has been going pee in the potty for 3 months with minimal accidents but she has no interest in pooping in the potty. She tells me that it will hurt and that she doesn't want to go in the toilet. I am struggling to get her to comply with going poop in the potty because she has to be totally trained by September for full day preschool. We have tried stickers, toys, candy, you name and we've tried it. We have had discussions on the difference between babies wearing diapers and big girls wearing panties. She always seems to understand but yet she will poop in her pants and not tell us. She has even gone so far as to hold her poop for several days so we try to keep the pressure at a minumum. I am at my wit's end with this. I do not get angry we clean up the mess and try again but it doesn't seem to phase her one bit. Any advice would be so helpful. We switch between underwear and pull-ups with the same results so I don't think this is confusing her.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Aug second update - We are "diaper free" and have been for 2 months! Hurray!!

First update - Thank you all for your advice and tips or even to help me feel that I am not alone in this. We have been having story time on the potty to get her comfortable sitting there. She has been going pee for a few months and is very good about that it's just the other that makes her uncomfortable. She doesn't have painful bowel movements but she is smart and can be quite manipulative at times. She does this with meal time and going to bed. Yesterday she was with my mother who is in the fight with me and she was watching her afternoon cartoon when she decided that she would put her own diaper on and poop. She came to my mother and exclaimed, "I pooped in my diaper, Gramma." My mother was a bit taken aback since Amelia had underwear on before she went to watch cartoons. I actually take this as a giant leap for her because before she hid from us and did not want her pants changed when they were messy. I guess from now on though we are going to have to get the diapers out of reach or out of the house. We have instituted the incentive of a jar and colored stones as someone suggested when she goes poopy on the potty. I think at this point rewarding her for her pees are futile since she has already got that down. Her prize for filling the jar is a trip to the zoo and I have been acting really excited about it! I hope we make it to the zoo before her birthday in July.

Thank you all again for the advice and I will keep you posted on the "Battle for Poop!"

Featured Answers

I read somewhere that this works. Tell her that she can go poopie in her pants, but she has to do it in the bathroom. Once that works, she has to sit on the potty with her diaper on to poop. Then cut a hole in the diaper...then nothing. My son always told me that "Poopies hard". But eventually he got it. So it took a little longer, but try what I suggested.

1 mom found this helpful

I have 2 sons 7 and 5. It was really hard for my first son. He still had accidents at 5 and things were similar to what you describe. It wasn't until my second son sailed through potty training without even one poop accident, that I really developed a firm grasp on the idea that kids are different. My first son's body really was different. His normal bathroom habits are so unlike his brother and in retrospect I had to admit that his body just wasn't able to do what we all wanted it to back then. It took a long time and lots of dirty underwear but his body (that part) finally got on board. He really didn't have the control and he would get constipated and he never wanted to stop playing to take care of it. Hang in there and be supportive and trust that she wants it to work too.

Good luck.


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I read somewhere that this works. Tell her that she can go poopie in her pants, but she has to do it in the bathroom. Once that works, she has to sit on the potty with her diaper on to poop. Then cut a hole in the diaper...then nothing. My son always told me that "Poopies hard". But eventually he got it. So it took a little longer, but try what I suggested.

1 mom found this helpful


I probably shouldn't be responding to this since I am sort of in the same boat right now with my 3 year old, only she refuses to do anything in the potty. You can't really reason with a 3 year old, but does it hurt her when she poops not on the potty? If she's like my daughter you know and she knows when she is pooping.

They usually poop standing up, so sitting on the potty is so weird. Their bodies aren't used to pooping in that position. When you catch her in the corner, help her to sit down, on a chair or something, to get her used to pooping in a sitting position. Of course she'll probably just put her hands up to make you go away and start screaming "leave me alone!", but it is worth a try to get her to see that if it doesn't hurt sitting with the pullup on, why would it hurt sitting on the potty.

Of course if there is a real issue with it hurting, there are lots of things to deal with that.

I would plan a really fun trip(the zoo or build a bear), something special that you can do anytime...and tell her once she's gone poop on the potty 5 times(whatever # you want) you'll take her...I would mark it on your calendar and act really excited about going(really play it up) and put a mark up everytime she goes, be disapointed if you can't go (not cruel but,Oh I really wanted to go, maybe next week and try again). She won't want to let you down so she will focus on how much you are excited about going and not on the actual pooping. when she goes be really happy and refer to the trip and if she has an accident say oh well, maybe next time but if the trip is the focus not the deed it's been easier for my kids that way...oh and I wouldn't tell her if she poops she can go to school because even a well adjusted child might refuse if they think if they don't go to school they can stay at home with mom or grandma...best luck!

I would definately say keep her in panties all the time. The next time she poops make her help you clean it up and make sure she knows how gross cleaning poopy is. I did this with my boy and it did the trick.

One of my boys was 3 1/2 and had pretty much the same issue. He wouldn't "go" on the potty but had no problem "going" in his pants. Finally I said that was enough. I put him on the potty and told him to sit there until he either "went" or got married! Whichever came first! At that point he knew I was not messing around anymore! After about a half hour, he finally "went" and was trained from that day on.

Get rid of the diapers and pull ups and let her know you mean business. She's 4 years old now.....not a baby anymore!


A friend of mine wrote a book about this and she recommends not using pull ups. I personally never used pull ups with my kids. Every 15-20 minutes, I would have my child sit on the toilet. After some time, my child would get into a routine with going on the toilet and stopped hiding in the corner to poop!!

Good luck!

Dear S.,
I understand very well your pooping problem as I went through the same thing with my son at the same age. It was my mother who came up with the solution - give credit when due. At the same time every afternoon, she would sit him on the little portable potty seat in front of the coffee table where he could play with his matchbox cars, and put cartoons on the TV. After about 10 - 15 minutes, he would announce that he had gone, at which time we praised him profusely. It was then that he could have his afternoon snack.
I was amazed, but it worked. What we came to realize was that we had used a seat that fit over the toilet for his older sister. As a boy, he used a step stool at the toilet and used his stream to sink a square of toilet paper I would float in there. (It helped direct his stream.) Come to find out, he was afraid of this toilet seat when it came time to poop. So we bought him his own little potty seat, and before long he graduated to the toilet. It's hard to guess what goes through their little minds.
I hope this helps.

Hi S.,

My daughter had the same problem with my grandson. This may seem cruel but it isn't and it helped him. She started making him help clean the poop out of his undies and help wash them out in the sink. It didn't take him long to figure it out. Good luck. J.

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