Problems with 4 Year Old Having Potty Issues

Updated on May 21, 2008
E.C. asks from Attleboro, MA
7 answers

My 4 1/2 year old has started pooping in his pants for the last month or so. He did have a bout of diarhea when he couldn't control it but that has long since passed and he is is still going in his pants every time. I truly feel this is a behavior thing with him at this point -- he has been testing his limits in other ways as well which we can handle and seems to be going ok, but I think he knows where he poops is something he has complete control over so he is going to do it when and where he wants. He was late potty training for the same reason (has been trained a little less than a year). I've tried watching him for signs, etc. but by the time we see the signs it is too late, he goes very quickly. He is also very unpredictable about when he goes so putting him on the potty at the same time every day won't work. I'm torn about rewards/punishments for the potty and all things like that we have tried haven't worked so far. I'm open to any and all suggestions!

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answers from Providence on

Hi! When my son was three we had a really hard time making him use the toilet for pooping. I tried rewarding(didn't work) and talking to him. I knew he knew exactly what he was doing. We actually took away t.v. everytime he did it in his pants. His t.v. time was already very limited so that was torture for him.It worked right away.Alot of people don't believe in punishment but I looked at it as more of a bigger reward. T.V. for using the toilet. T.



answers from Boston on

My daughter would not poop on the potty when she was being potty trained. She fought us tooth and nail. Finally I said to her "You're a big girl, you're in charge of when you poop and pee, and you know how to use the toilet. We're not going to talk about this again." And I didn't. As much as it felt counterintuative, 3 days of my not mentioning the potty at all (even when she was hopping up and down on one foot) and she started going on the potty. She did get rewards for going, and when she had an accident we just very matter of factly cleaned her up and said "next time you'll ask to use the potty." It stopped being a power struggle and she gave in. It clearly seems like a control thing in your case too - once he has control, there's no incentive for him to go in his pants. Good luck - it's so hard to not say anything!



answers from Boston on

I have basically the same prob. My son says he didn't know he went? How do you not know...?
My son is a little more recently trained, but I'm told by many that poop is usually the biggest prob. of training. Keep trying things and as the pedi. tells me, Keep it a possitive experience.

Good luck to us both.



answers from Hartford on

THe same thing happened to my son. My older son, who was trained before 3, started having lots of accidents around Christmas (at 4 1/2) and this lasted until about March. He just did not want to stop playing long enough to go to the potty. It drove me nuts. I used a sticker chart on the fridge for when he made it to the potty. WHile I am not usually into that type of thing, this was something that I wanted to keep positive for him. It was a fairly short-lived phase and he is back to not having accidents again. I guess, for the most part, I just rode this one out and he went back to his usual routine. Hang in there.


answers from Boston on

If you can do it in a matter-of-fact way, start having him help you with the clean-up and the laundry issues involved. "This is what we do with poopy underwear." Then take him through the stages of disposing of it, cleaning himself and washing his hands well, rinsing the underwear, washing it (with everything else that has to go in the washer so as to not waste energy), drying and folding and putting in the dresser. The trick is to do it without being punitive. Make it the same as "This is how we clean up when we spill juice" or "This is how we sweep the floor when we drop or break something." When his sees how long it takes and how many fun things there aren't time for, he may take it as a lesson in being more careful. Just as spilling the milk is an accident, we can still take steps to prevent it - not pouring too much in the glass, using 2 hands, etc. Same with going poop - we can make an effort to use the potty, or we can clean up when there's an accident, etc. Another thing you can try is books - not just the ones on potty training, but something kid-appropriate on how toilets work, where the waste goes, etc. Some kids find that fascinating, and enjoy using a "system" they understand. Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I too am having this problem. Our son is waiting until the last minute because he doesn't want to stop playing - which is leading to a whole host of accidents.

I had stopped the reward chart because he was doing so well, and based on the advice already received, I will start it once again.

Hopefully this problem will stop soon. I would hate to put him back in pull-ups.



answers from Boston on

My son briefly had this issue at the end of potty training. I found he only did it when wearing briefs. I switched to boxers at all times and the issue was resolved. Now he can wear either type of underwear with no problems.
Good luck

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