4 Year Old Boy Refuses to Poop on Potty

Updated on July 08, 2019
B.S. asks from New York, NY
10 answers

He's my third child, peeing he has down. He's 4.5. Other 2 did not give me this trouble. He flat out refuses to do it. Any pointers appreciated.

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answers from Atlanta on


I have 4 boys. Each one of them were different at potty training and timing.

I didn't fight over it or push it. I knew it would happen when they were ready. When they showed an interest in using the bathroom? Myself and their dad would show them. I taught my boys to sit as I didn't want to show them to "aim"...lol...they do both stand and sit.

Give him a pull up. Don't fight with him over this. Don't bribe him over this. Just treat it like it's another ordinary day. Once you back off from this hill you seem to want to die on? He will do it.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on


The more you fuss about it? the more he will push back.

Put him in a Pull-Up and tell him he needs to clean up after himself when he goes. It's really that simple. This is NOT a hill to die on and NOT one to fight with him over. He's learning independence and learning how to push your buttons. Don't allow him to push your buttons. Just give him Pull-Ups and tell him to take care of business.

Social pressure will eventually get to him. If he doesn't have a health issue that is stopping him? Just give him a pull up and let it be,.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with taking the drama out of the situation. Ask him when he'd like to poop in the potty, and consider keeping him in pull-ups until then. Clean him up matter of factly, and express confidence that he will use the potty when he's ready.

Ask yourself if there are other areas in his life where he feels that he has no control, and if so, try to give him more control.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Some kids just aren't ready, developmentally or emotionally. If he knows he has to poop and he is refusing to sit on the toilet, there may be a sensory issue involved, or there may be a defiance issue.

The point is, what are you going to do about it? You cannot control what they do in the bathroom and you cannot make him sleep. You can't even make him eat. You have to offer the simple choices, and take the drama and the battle of wills out of it.

So, he chooses underwear or pull-ups. Either way, he chooses the personal care associated with it. So you teach him to clean himself, same way and with the absolute absence of emotion you would use to teach him to put away his clean socks and put a dish in the dishwasher. Practice this on your own in the mirror so you can do it without frustration. "He's how we get rid of poop, honey" - and basically, the poop is going in the toilet one way or another. Either he puts it in there by sitting, or he puts it in by dumping it from his pants. I would cut up an shower curtain (or buy/cut a couple of liners) so it fits neatly around the toilet and covers the floor in that area, And put a covered bucket or lined step-can in the bathroom for his undies or used pull-up. Practice it with him a few times, then he's on his own. What he cannot do is throw all the poop in the trash or washer. Imagine you are teaching a personal care attendant how to deal with changing an elderly or ill adult - take the "babyish" thoughts out of it and say that this is how big people deal with poop for those who cannot use the toilet.

And of course teach serious hand washing, which all your kids should do, lathering and rubbing while they sing the ABC song in their heads, twice. Make it clear this is a post-potty action as well as a pull-up/underwear response.

I'd skip the super praise when he uses the toilet, and I'd skip the super frustration when he doesn't. Be more matter-of-fact and let him make his own best decision, which includes the follow through. This will be a great way to handle a lot of other things as life goes on.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

a refusal this adamant indicates that you may be pushing too hard. at this age, and with peeing being a non-issue, it sounds as if it's just turned into a thing in his head.

which means you need to turn it back into a not-thing.

stop nagging. encouraging. promising rewards or punishment. put it right back in his hands (so to speak.)

put him in regular underwear, and quietly show him how he needs to rinse them out if he soils them. when he does choose to use the toilet, a quiet nod of approval speaks volumes more than copious praise and celebration.

take the drama out of it.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Does he wear a pull up?

What if you just put him in underwear?

My thought would be to put him in underwear because most kids (I know mine) would dislike the sensation and mess of being active in undies with poop - if left like this for long.

That's if this is just him being stubborn (that's what I'm taking from you saying that he flat out refuses to do it).

If he's not physically ready - there's only so much you can do, and pull ups may be the best thing to avoid messes until he is ready.

Added: When mine learned to go - I kept them in undies (no pants) and just kept potty handy at all times (nearby). Soon as they felt the urge, down went the undies, onto potty they went. They got the sensation/poop very quickly. Then if you have to - reward.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I offered M&M’s as a bribe to my kids. I only had to do it for a week. (10 for when he pooped.) Once they were comfortable and consistent...

When my son asked why he didn’t get M&M’s anymore, I told him he didn’t need them, but how about we both have some together after dinner? That worked.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Don’t let him wear pull-ups. Let him mess himself in his underwear. You are already enabling him by wiping him up at 4 1/2.

Let his siblings and peers make fun of him. Then he will be running to use the bathroom. At 4 1/2 he needed to learn this lesson and stop being treated like a baby.

I also won’t take him anywhere fun. If he wants to act like a baby then treat him like one, tell him you can’t have him shitting his pants at the zoo, pool, park.

With kindergarten coming up you need to seriously stop playing games and train him to use the toilet. You are not doing, yourself, him or his teacher any favors.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Don’t have any advice or pointers — I have a 4.5 year old who refuses to poop in the potty, too! But just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. Curious to know what others have to say about this as I could use some pointers as well.



answers from Houston on

My son was like that. He was scared. We found this out because my sister bribed him with a toy he really wanted. When it was time for him to go, he wanted the toy really bad so he tried but said he was scared. We assured him there was nothing to be afraid of and he finally went. Never had a problem since.

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