Poop Problems with 3 Year Old

Updated on October 27, 2009
E.C. asks from Norfolk, VA
9 answers

My son has been potty trained for almost a year now. He is 3, 4 in January. I have never really been able to get him to poop on the potty. It is a very rare occassion. But he goes to stay with grandparents or his biological father and he has a few accidents with them but will still go on the potty. I do exactly what they do but I dont know why he wont go for us. He does have constipation problems which I cannot seem to regulate very well. I am going to take him to the doctor soon for that. But I dont really think that is 100% the problem because he will go for other people.
When he does poop in his underwear we make him put the poop in the potty and wash his underwear, then wash himself in the shower. I try to make it very unpleasant for him. We have also tried potty charts where he gets x amount of stickers he will get a treat or a new car (his obsession).
I am at my wits end with him. I see no end in sight honestly. He is going to start school next year but I do not want him to still be doing this when he goes!
Please help me!

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So What Happened?

So my husband and I decided to not punish him when he poops in his pullup (he never poops in his underwear, only during naptime or bedtime when he had a pullup on) instead we ask him if thats where poop goes or does it go in the potty. Then we told him when he pooped in the potty he would get a special treat and get a sticker on his chart. After he gets 10 stickers he will get a new car It didnt work for a few days but he finally pooped on the potty for us for the first time in 2 weeks! Hopefully it will last!

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi E.,

My son is 3 and he's been trained a while. He loves the little matchbox cars and we gave him one every time he pooped on the potty until he had it down. We spent close to $30 on the cars, but in the long run, it has saved us on pull-ups! Also, try the Pedialite Fiber Gummies.

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answers from Richmond on

Just a thought...with all 3 of my boys, I placed them backwards on the big pot for pooping. They loved to watch (go figure, it's a boy thing I guess) and it keeps the pee (which is going to come while they are pooping) in the pot too. My sister's oldest was having the same trouble you have described. I kept him one day and without thinking, placed him backwards on the big pot to poop. He kept it up at home and no more accidents from then on. LOL My sister couldn't believe it was that easy. FYI...when we are out in public, they sit forward with my help and encouragement.
I hope this works for you just as easy as it did for my sister and I.
Take Care,
N. R.
SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 14, 9 & 3 yrs old and married to my Mr. Wonderful for almost 16 yrs!



answers from Washington DC on

He could be picking up on your anxiety about the whole thing , kids are good at doing that! When you say potty do you mean an actual potty or the toilet? If a potty then why don't you let him try the toilet instead , it could work.
For the constipation thing , my son also suffers with this and we give him a dose every other day of Miralax mixed in with a drink (it mixes better in warm liquids) so we let him have warm milk or some hot chocolate when he needs to have it. It is a stool softner rather than a laxitive so no messy accidents when you least expect them!!



answers from Washington DC on

Constipation at that age can be more serious than you think, I would definitely follow up. I realize you are trying to discourage him, but it may be shaming him when you make him clean the underwear and himself...Have you asked others in your family what has worked with him? We defined our son's most valuable possesion (tv) and he does not get to watch TV in the morning until he has BM on the potty. We also have him go after lunch and dinner....somewhere along the line something scared/hurt him in relation to using the potty and no amount of scrubbing will fix that....he has to learn to get over his fears and have motivation to do so. I know it is VERY frustrating....I made some bad choices in potty training and now that my son is 5 1/2 we are still monitoring his bms to make sure he doesn't get backed up....



answers from Washington DC on

I think you answered your own question. By making it "as unpleasant as possible," you've created anxiety associated with pooping. My pediatrician warned me to never react negatively while potty training and said only positive reinforcement works.



answers from Washington DC on

Find out how the other family members have him pooping. It's very important to build them up. Be positive. Make it a positive experience. Positive re-enforcement. Think of how you feel if your boss treated you that way. How would you like someone who has authority over you to treat you when you make a mistake?
I had a similar problem with my youngest. My first two had been so easy almost effortless. By 2yrs. they were fully potty trained and only needed a diaper overnight. I couldn't figure it out. What had I done wrong? My frustration started to get the better of me and it showed. It started to affect her and she started to go backwards.
Long story, short, we found out that she has speech delay which I realized had affected her self-esteem because she couldn't express herself. I had to re-learn potty training. It was all about positive re-enforcement and her self-esteem. As I got better about being positive she got better with expressing herself and the potty training followed.



answers from Washington DC on

I want to add another element to the responses. I'd suggest looking @ your child's diet. Avoid dairy as that is very constipating. Drinking enough water is very important. Fiber fiber fiber! Fruits veggies and plenty of whole grains. Flax and hemp seeds are wonderful to encourage the intestines to do their job. You can add flax seeds or flax oil to fruit smoothies. We put the oil and seeds in hot cereal in the morning or in grains.
Hope this gives you some proactive ideas.
L. M



answers from Honolulu on

Although my daughter still has issues peeing in her pants she only pooped in her pants a few times when I first started potty training. When she pooped in her pants, I had her sit in time out in them. Sounds goose, I know, but I did that twice and it worked. She never pooped in them again.



answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like you are doing all the right things. I would ask your pediatrician when you talk to him/her about the constipation. I have a hunch the constipation may play a role in this somehow, but I'd ask your doctor.

My daughter has trouble with constipation as well and we are now giving her 1/2 tsp of metamucil mixed into a beverage once a day and that has solved the problem.

You should never punish your child for potty issues as suggested by someone else. This can cause serious potty issues.

Good luck. I think you're doing all the right things and he'll get it eventually.

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