3 1/2 Year Old Still Pooping Pants! at the Point of Tears.

Updated on May 12, 2010
A.S. asks from Kingfisher, OK
9 answers

I've got the most wonderful daughter, but she's the poster child for strong-willed and independent. She has been potty trained for 9 months and was doing really good (both with potting and pooping in the toiled). Nothing major has gone on, yet now she's pooping in her pants. Yesterday was 3 times. Today, she went potty in her pants then 20 minutes later, she pooped. And then a 2nd time she pooped her pants. I'm so sick of cleaning up. We've tried rewards with candy and toys. I was told to have her try and clean herself up, but she is refusing to do it. She is extremely intelligent and understands what it feels like when she needs to go, so am I missing something?

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So What Happened?

I tried the approach of telling her she had to clean up herself and her panties. She stood in the bathroom for 30 minutes, telling me she was waiting: "for dad to clean me". (This may be a sign that I'm the disciplinarian.) I told her I was disappointed in her and remained calm. She told me she was sorry. She is #2 out of 3 and has already learned how to "work the system". My son, whose now 11, was soooo much easier to train.

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answers from Chicago on

No, you are not missing anything. She is. Or probably so she thinks. So she is not letting you know because goodness the world is an amazing place and she might miss something! Do not worry. It will change. I promise you. She will get uncomfortable. Really.

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answers from Victoria on

oh how crazy it can get. Here is what i did & do to transition my kids with out the power struggles & frustrations. She has to choose the behavior you want & you have to persuade her it is the best choice. Most times we loose site of the big picture as we get so caught up in the steps. It is different for every child cuz every child is different, but here is what I learned through the journey with my two. First, the training part is for parents not the kids. Kids only job is to poop & pee & they have plenty of practice at it. She will do it on the potty when she wants it as much as you. So, now your job is to find her currency, this will change over time as she does, but this basic principal can be used for more the potty training, transitions through your kids life. works pretty good with husbands too. :) 1. Simply take her in the bathroom & let her know that she isn't a baby anymore and that means no more diapers/pull ups. Let her know that cleaning pee & poop isn't fun and that from now on if she chooses to go in her undies instead of the potty where big kids & grownups go, then she will have to help clean them. Here is where you make it uncomfortable and icky for her to go in her undies. When she poops in her undies, and she will, take her to the bathroom, take off the undies and turn on the tub. Have water temperature be slightly cooler than room temp. this in no way hurts her but is uncomfortable. Let her know warm water is for bathtime only. Now during the day when she asks for her currency thing (examples, tv, sweet drinks, certain toy (not nightime lovies) my daughter's was chocolate milk - (if she has a currerncy, then just use it for the first week & if problem continues then increase it to all things not essential to her health & well being), then answer her with a question, "did you poop in the potty today?" she says no & you say, well you have your answer don't you? Let me tell you, my 2 year old got it loud and clear! daughter tested me 4 days and then she made it happen and nothing will describe my joy when she called out for me to come & see. I walked in the room & she yelled, "I did it, I did it!" She was so proud of herself and next words were, "Can I have chocolate milk now?" I asked the all important ? "did you poop in the potty? and with big smiles I got a resounding "YES, I DID!!!!" No looking back. My son I think tested a day. His transition was very uneventful and smoother. My kids learned to value those luxeries and are still learning that as they get older they are required do to their part as a family member. We still use this method to some extent for transitioning the kids from one stage to another. Hope it helps you.

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answers from Boston on

Ditto SH. Also, although I know you are grossed out and frustrated, remember that 3.5 is still pretty young.

She may be constipated, that is a root cause of encopresis. It might seem counterintuitive, but the uncontrolled defecation is actually leakage being forced around a big backup.

Ply her with the usual treatments for constipation: prune juice, fiber, lots of water, etc. and see if it improves, and offer her toilet opportunities every two hours at least on a schedule.

The nonchalant attitude and seeming indifference to being dirty are familiar! Try to stay calm and don't shame her. In a way, the nonchalance is a way of getting emotional distance on something that is actually quite upsetting to her. Keep the overall volume on it as low as you can.

Good luck.

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answers from Milwaukee on

My daughter is 3 1/2 years old and for the most part potty trained, pooping has been the struggle and she still goes in her pants because it is physically easier for them to be standing/squatting to poop. When we are out and about, she gets so caught up in asking a million questions, looking/learning everything and even if I ask her stop and think if she has to go she usually says no.

As the other mom mentioned is she pooping more then normal, maybe she has eaten a lot of high fiber foods or maybe she is constipated and can only get a little out at a time. My daughter gets constipated VERY easily and honestly when it gets really bad it is easier for her to poop standing/squatting so we just put her in a pull up. This has not happened for awhile because I do try to make sure she gets the balance diet that is higher in fiber and lower in dairy to help her system.

Do not get frustrated, I know easier said then done, but it is still a learning process... most kids are not fully potty trained till 6 years old. For the most part they use the potty before then BUT that is when they start to have the full control they need ALL the time. So if the child regresses a little go with it and keep encouraging and it will get back on track.

I do not believe in making a child clean up the messy pee/poop unless they are over 6 years old, yes they are smart kids BUT that is the process of potty training and it is much safer for a parent to clean it up then the child. Everyone does have their own style but a very young child scrubbing poopy underware is where I draw the line.

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answers from Honolulu on

There is also something called "Encopresis" which is an involuntary leaking of poop. It is sometimes in conjunction with, or made worse by constipation.
I would make sure, she is fine internally, before punishing her for something that maybe she cannot control.

You said she pooped 3 times, yesterday, in her pants. Is pooping 3 times a day, her norm? Or is it more? Then you said s he went potty in her pants then 20 minutes later, she pooped. Was this in her pants, again? So in the span of 20 minutes, she pooped twice??? Does she usually poop that much/often??? Next, is the "poop" in her pants actual poop clumps or skid-marks???

Next, have you tried just talking with her about it? Maybe something is going on. Things like this are usually emotion based. Any intelligent child who really knows their body cues, can and does have accidents as well. She is only 3.5 years old. Maybe talk with her... but not in a lecturing way. Just open and empathetic.

So maybe, she is not able to control it.

all the best,

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answers from New York on

I would not bribe or reward her. Using the toilet is expected behavior, and bribing makes it something that she has a choice about, or is doing to please you if she feels like it.
If she's not ready to poop in the toilet, let her know that she should tell you when she has to poop and you'll let her wear a diaper just for those few minutes, IF she willing to sit on the toilet or potty in her diaper to do the pooping.. Eventually when she is more comfortable with the idea, she can graduate to doing it without being diapered.
Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

My daughter wore diapers until the day she turned three. For months I prepared her and told her when she turned three no more diapers...and it worked...for peeing. She still continued to poop in her panties constantly. I tried rewards, making her clean her own, spanking(I was so fed up), talking with her, letting her pick out cute panties, EVERYTHING! Then one day she went it the potty and never pooped in her panties again. She was at least three and a half. I don't believe all children can be convienced, they will just start when they are ready.



answers from Los Angeles on

im potty training my 38 month old daughter and when she poops in her panties i make her wash them out. as shes washing i tell her how yucky it is to touch poop and how its better to poop in the potty not in our panties.
your daughter obviously knows when she has to go potty shes just not wanting to go which is common. try putting her back on a potty schedual taking her like every 30-60 mins maybe that will help



answers from New Orleans on

Read Toilet Training in Less that 24 hours by Foxx and Azrin. When she has an , matter of factly clean it up. Have her help you clean to some extent. Then "practice". Say, "You're playing legos and you feel poo-poo come out, what are you going to do." Yell, "Run to the potty!" The two of you run to the potty and quickly pretend to pull down pants, sit on the potty, pretend wipe, pretend wash hands. Then do it again, this time, "Say you're reading a booka nd you feel poo-poo coming out, what are you going to do?" Again, yell "Run to the potty." The book suggest practicing 10 times with ten different scenarios. I usually did five before I got exhausted. "you're eating, you're watching t.v., you're walking downstairs, etc."