C.D. asks from Silver Point, TN on September 24, 2009
Potty Problems with My 4 Year Old Son
Hello to all!
I am trying to understand my son regarding the potty and going #2. He pees just fine in the potty which took some doing but he "got" it several months ago. The thing he would say was "I'm still a baby". I read this in other requests so I guess this is not an unusual feeling coming from boys. Regarding po po - after dinner I try to get him to sit on the potty which he will do under protest but will not go. After a long and tiring wait, I let him go and play since he tells me he cannot feel like he has to go. HOWEVER, he will go outside, take off his clothes and poo. Sometimes in his big boy pants and sometimes without pants. He doesn't go every day but when he does go and if he goes outside, he doesn't want us to know about it. We have tried everything. My mother-in-law was visiting with us this summer for a time and I had hoped she could help me conquer this since she raised 5 boys herself but was unsuccessful. I even talked to him about school (which he is in Kindergarden) and going in the potty. I have also said to him that he will start having to clean himself up if he continues to poo in his pants because it is getting to the point where I am done with it. We tried positive responses, treats, time-outs, even a spanking once but it doesn't seem to make a difference. We were at church this past sunday and they had dinner on the grounds because of Homecoming. I knew he was hungry because he said so and had picked out all the foods he wanted to eat. However, when we sat down to eat he took one or two bites and then asked me Mommy, if I eat and drink I will have to pee and poo right? I said yes. At that point, he wanted to play with the other children and didn't want anymore food. He is very smart and I am wondering what is going on in that head of his. I do know that he doesn't want to take the time to go to the bathroom because he might miss somethng. Do I relax about this and maybe he will do this in his own time? When we did our Doctor's visit for school I mentioned this to her. She gave me a prescription to help him go regularly. You give it to him about an hour before you want him to go and then he should go - but I really don't like giving him any kind of medication unless absolutely necessary. Sorry for the long request. ANY input would be most grateful.
S.F. answers from Wilmington on September 25, 2009
If he is only having a bowel movement every other day, he could be slightly constipated, which could be painful for him and he doesn't want anyone to see that.
Personally, I'd give the medicine a try for a couple days and see if it will help him.
Other than that, bowel movements are usually the hardest to train for. If the medicine doesn't help or you decide not to try it, I'd back off a bit, less pressure. I've heard about a book (or maybe video) that is supposed to help, called Everyone Poops. Maybe if he saw that it isn't something to be embarrassed about it might help?
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A.C. answers from Charlotte on September 25, 2009
I'm going to tell you straight out what I did to nip this in the bud with my son. My son was potty trained at 26 months. He pee & poo'd in the potty during the day and he was potty trained through the night by age 3. At age 4 he began to regress and used the bathroom in his pants. He did both pee and poo. I got so frustrated that I couldn't take it anymore. I noticed it happened more when he was outside or doing something he didn't want to stop doing so I knew he was being lazy. I got so tired of it I told my husband that the next time he did it I was going to make him wash his own underwear out in the commode. You see it was usually me washing them out in the commode. Well he did it and I marched him straight in the bathroom and threw his underwear in the commode and told him to clean them. I supervised and told him how to do it all the while hearing him whine and cry about having to do it. After he was done I asked him if he like cleaning his underwear and he said no. I told him I didn't either and I wasn't going to do it anymore and the next time he poo'd or pee'd in his underwear he would be cleaning it up. He did it one more time (I think to test me), and I made him clean them again. That was it. I never had another problem with him going to poo in the potty ever again. My suggestion is to do that. He's not going to want to do it and it sounds like he is a little lazy. I'm sorry but I think every 4 year old that is cognitively normal should know when they have to go to the bathroom and they should do it. As long as you allow this behavior and you accept the responsibility for it by cleaning him up everytime then he's going to continue to do it. And anyone who says it's degrading to make him wash his underwear in the commode - how degrading is it for me? I feel like a little humility will solve the problem.
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P.B. answers from Raleigh on September 25, 2009
It sounds more like a control issue. It sounds like too big of a deal has been made of his potty habits & he is rebelling. Something you said, though, makes me wonder if someone said something to him that is making him feel embarrassed to go. Maybe he does not like to go in school because of this & feels self conscious. This could also be the reason for the infrequent going.
I think not making a big deal of it will be key. I think having him clean his own clothes & himself are important, but not in an angry or punishing way. A simple "If you choose to poop in your pants, you will be responsible for cleaning up" No anger.
He will continue to do it if he can get a rise out of you.
I have found changing the way I talk to my children has made a huge difference in their behavior & our communication. I really like this book:
"How to behave so your preschooler will too" by Sal Severe
You might want to check that out of the library & flip through it. It is like support for the parent.
It wont last forever....
P : )
J.W. answers from Lexington on September 25, 2009
This is going to be difficult for you both, but maybe worth a try....
Tell him that he is too old to not use a toilet to do his business. Until he learns to do so, he must remain at your side. You might have to get yourself a supply of books, and food and water on hand and clear your schedule for a week, and get ready for his protests, but you have to deal with this straight-on. It perhaps should have been done 2 years ago, but that is water under the bridge. It may be a week out of your lives, but may be an incredibly important one.
You might also tell him that he needs to go to bed two hours earlier until he has this problem licked since being tired may be contributing to his problem. This at least will ensure that you both are better rested and will give you some free time.
Because he is so old, it may get worse before it gets better.
As another parent said, I would also ensure he is not in the least bit constipated. That may help this process go more quickly & smoothly (no pun intended).
Whatever you do, you must be more persistent than him, and never never never give in. If you say he is to stay next to you at all times until he learns this, you must mean exactly that, so you need to be able to have that time and focus. It's Ok if he is bored. Maybe even better!
T.C. answers from Charlotte on September 25, 2009
I feel your pain as I had the same problem with my now 4and 1/2 year old son. I gave him a very simple explanation of where the poop went after it was flushed (to the septic tank in our case) and he started going like a pez dispenser to poop in the potty. I'm not sure if this did the trick or not but it certainly made the difference for us. Wouldn't hurt to try.
A.G. answers from Greensboro on September 25, 2009
C., I don't have any advice for you, but I wanted you to know there are other moms out there who are dealing with this. I am one of them. My son was 5 about two weeks ago and he is still not going poop in the potty regularly. He only goes about every 3 days and he will hold his poop until he can't hold it anymore and it starts to come out in his pants. He usually runs off to be alone when this happens. Once in a while I can I redirect him to the potty, but it's usually an argument or I don't catch him until it's too late.
We have had to give him enemas in the past because he has held it so long. Those take my husband and me to do, and my son and I usually end up in tears. On his pediatrician's recommendation we have given him Miralax. It works, but he can't hold the poop in very well even though he tries, so he ends up having messy pants 4 or 5 times a day. I stopped giving him Miralax b/c I could not handle all the mess.
As I said, I have no advice, I'm just waiting things out and knowing at some point, it's bound to get better. I've tried rewards, fussing at him, ignoring it, having him try to clean it up (what a nightmare!). The only thing that works is him making a decision himself to do it right, which he has done a few times. But even as I'm typing this, he is holding it and some has already come out in his pants today. He refuses to sit on the potty or let me change him. About the only thing I can do today is wait until there is something he really wants to do and tell him he can't do it until he takes care of this.
Good Luck to you and hang in there. I keep telling myself he won't be doing this in a year, but then again I was saying that a year ago.