"Regular" Child Won't Poop in the Potty

Updated on August 16, 2011
N.H. asks from Grapevine, TX
18 answers

My son is 3, and we have recently taken the pull ups away and gone straight to undies. Before, he was very regular, in that he pooped approximately the same times each day. He also knew what he was doing, because he would go to a private place to be alone and poop in the pull up. We tried for months to get him to poop on the potty, but he wouldn't do it. He was not interested in stickers, treats, etc. He will pee in the potty, but refused to poop. The doctor told us we simply need to take away the diapers.
Two days have gone by and the child has not pooped, AT ALL!!! For a kid that was so regular before, it seems very wrong for him not to go at all for two days. That can't be good for his health, and I just don't know what to do. Clearly he knows what the expectation is, since he is not going at all now, so why doesn't he just do it in the potty. I just can't stand the thought of him not going at all, and making himself sick or constipated, because he is too stubborn to go in the potty.

What should I do? Am I worried too soon, for no reason?


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So What Happened?

First of all...thank you for all of your suggestions and encouragement. It is always nice to know that we are not alone, and I will try many of your suggestions.

It has been 5 days and my son is still totally potty trained for pee pee, but still won't poop in the potty. After two days of not going, he finally asked for a pull up so he could poop. We talked to him about going in the potty, but he refused to go there, so I put the pull up on him. I am not going to make this a traumatic or negative experience for him. Together, we dump the poop down the toilet. We will keep trying to go to the potty, but at least now he is making it through the day in underwear and pooping at night, even thought it is a little hard. I know we will get there eventually, and he has done so much better than I expected with the whole process, I am confident he will get the hang of it soon! He is even dry in the mornings, and when he has the pull up on, he only poops in it, not pee. So I am not worried about it anymore, and again, appreciate all your help!

Take care!

Featured Answers


answers from Provo on

I second the cloth trainers. They will give the true wet feeling if he decides that peeing in his diaper is cool, too so it wont be like putting him back in diapers. Washing them will be the same as washing dirty underwear so there is nothing to be afraid of :D If you want any more information, PM me and I can help ya out!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You didnt say whether you are using a potty chair of a real toilet (many kids are afraid of the toilet) afraid of losing a piece of them down the drain!) If you havent already tried it Start with a potty chair in his private corner. then after a few weeks move to the bathroom
I like Cynthia's idea of starting by using the bath room but not on the toilet.
This really could cause some problems so go slow

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

He's fine... what goes in will come out.

Get him some fiber gummies. They have them at Target in the kids section. They are made by the same people who make Little Tummies. You can give him up to 3 a day according to my dr. Also, increase his fluids. This should get him moving. If this doesn't work, you may have to use Miralax. If they hold it in too long, it becomes hardened and will hurt when they eventually try to go. The Miralax adds water to the poop and helps it move along.

For natural solutions... increase apple juice, grapes, raisins, prunes, apples with peal on, carrots... etc. There will come a point where he can't hold it in.

As for potty time, I played games with my daughter to distract her from the job at hand. We would name the princesses, Disney cars characters, things that started with a certain letter or of a certain color. This took the mind off controlling the process.

Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Too me it sounds like he is not ready. My daughter did not poop in the potty till she was 4 years old, she would hold it in, then say her tummy hurt 2-3 days later. My daughter's doc told us that pooping is HARD to do on the potty becacuse you use your leg muscles to help you out, well a child sitting on a big potty can not do so. It takes time to figure out. My daughter still had an hour nap/quiet time so during that time I would put her in a pull up and she would always poop at that time. As I said around age 4 my daughter was able to use the big potty and poop in it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Ah! It's turned into a potty war! What fun!

If it were my son, I'd leave him in pull-ups and just change his poopy diapers until he feels more comfortable going on the potty. Many children, who have no problem peeing in the toilet, don't like to poop on the potty, so he's definitely not alone!

But I wouldn't fight it. I'd just wait for him to be ready to do it. Then you don't have to worry about him holding it in and making himself sick.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Sounds like he is not ready to be fully potty trained.
Pull-ups are overpriced diapers.
You send a conflicting message to a small child when you expect them to think they are anything but (diapers).
I would put him back in diapers if he all out refuses to poop on the potty.
Start fresh in a month or two. Then-straight to (padded cloth) training pants.

Not wanting to poop in the potty is extremely common. EXTREMELY!

Relax. Don't overreact. All that does is stress your little guy out.

Put a diaper on him and give him some water cause his bowels probably need it. :)

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answers from Portland on

Supernanny dealt with this one on one of her shows. The boy would actually bring a diaper to his mom so she would put it on him so he could poop. Supernanny had dad go and sit with him on the potty while dad sat on the toilet with a book and they just hung out and relaxed. They did this several times a day for a couple of days and the boy was able to go. It had to do with anxiety and not sure what was going on. Your little guy may not be ready yet, but you can try her technique if you need to. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I wouldn't push him to much. If he gets constipated and has a painful poop, he may decide not to poop ever again. It becomes a viscious cycle, and can be very traumatic for everyone. This happened with my son at three, and there were a lot of tears. We had to medicate him to make him poop (this was not a diet issue, and he was too big to give an enema with out hurting him because he fought). And he ended up back in the diaper to poop anyway. Not saying it will come to this for you. But our doc said boys can take longer and, since it's an emotional issue, wait until he's older to pursue extreme measures. When he was four we bribed him with a Toy Story gift basket. After taking him to see the movie, I put together a fancy basket with Buzz, Woody, and smaller toys. He earned one each time he pooped on the potty, starting with the small stuff. It worked. He cried and strained and panicked on the potty, but we waved the prizes around and cheered him on. By the time he earned the biggest and mosted wanted prize, Buzz, he had gone five times on the potty. That was it, finally something he wanted enough. It was an expensive basket, but diapers are costly, too. And cleaning up a poop diaper after a 45 pound kid has gone in it is unpleasant to say the least!

When it comes to pooping, a tough love approach is not always best. The child can make themselves physically ill, and it can lead to true emotional distress. Again, maybe your son will poop on the potty later today, no big deal. But I would be careful of letting him get constipated because of other issues that can arise. good luck to you both!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

So maybe you can take him to the restroom around the time he normally goes & give him a potty book to read until he has a bowel movement. It seems like he is afraid of the poop in the toilet. Explain that that's where it goes. Tell him its time to go & take him. Assure him it's ok & eventually he will go because he hasn't had a bowel movement for days now. Hang in there. I know potty training is a tough one. Best of luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

This would be a bit more than an adult would want to see, but maybe try having him in the bathroom with you when YOU are having a BM then showing it to him before you flush? That way he can see that it doesn't hurt, it's not scary, and that that's where the poop goes. Just a thought!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My daughter did the exact same thing! It took her until she was three and a half to figure it out. We just changed stinky panties until she decided she was ready to poop in the potty. It was frustrating, but she made the choice and we have not had any accidents since.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Give him some mirilax and put it in his milk/juice and that should do the trick. Look for signs that he needs to go and hurry him in when you see the need.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our daughter had a similar issue. When she needed to poop she would come ask me for a diaper. I put a diaper on her, she pooped and we took the diaper off and put panties back on. It only took 2 or 3 days before she started pooping in the potty on her own.



answers from Dallas on

This is a very common problem, so I wouldn't be overly worried, but you may want to try a different approach. My son had the same problem. He was 'pee-trained' for months before he was willing to poop on the potty. He would wait each day to poop until I put on his night-time training pants. What finally helped for him was when I broke down the process of pooping on the potty into more manageable steps. Although he was mostly wearing undies, I told him I would put him in a diaper when he needed to poop, but he'd have to poop in the bathroom (just in the room). After a few days of that, I told him he had to sit in the bathroom while he pooped in his diaper, but he could choose where to sit (he chose the floor). That was a bit hard at first, because he was used to sort of standing / squatting, but he did it. After he was comfortable with that step for a few days, I told him he had to sit on the potty (still in a diaper) to poop. Again, that was hard the first few times, but once he got it, it was totally fine. I took the diaper off him, and the first time he tried, he was able to poop in the potty, and he was potty trained.

Good luck! However you do it, he will soon be potty trained, and this stage will be behind you!



answers from Dallas on

HMM. He is ready to be potty trained, but it may just take some more time. AND I also think this is one of the times it is a power struggle or a child wants to have some control, so they control the one thing they can. . .
here are two things my pedi suggested when my 3 yo did the exact same thing:)
1. give him mineral oil daily to keep things from being "held"
2. cut a hole in the bottom of the diaper/pull up and let him sit on the potty wearing the pull up until he gets used to it.
be sure to take him to potty whenever he typically finds his corner. the fact that he is hiding and wants privacy, etc means he is ready, cognizant of what he is doing, but has just attached a different "ritual" (if you will) to it.
It may take another 6 -12 months, but he'll get it. Just be patient and be consistent:)
You can do it!


answers from Jacksonville on

You and me both sister! As long as she isn't in a pull up she will pee in the potty, but poop NO. It doesn't matter what we try to bribe her with. She is an Ice Cream fanatic, and we haven't let her have any (she never got that much anyway) so we could use it as a bribe...nothing. She will be three in a month. Sigh....


answers from New York on

We were exactly that same as Brenda's daughter. My daughter would ask for a pull up when she had to poop. The other day we took her to a place down the street that has bouncies. She said that she had to poop. I told her that we would have to go home cause I didn't have any pull ups. She didn't want to leave. My husband took her to the bathroom and she refused to go in the toilet. She came back and played some more and then said that she had to poop. I took her this time. When we got to the bathroom I told her to take her time. She told me that her stomach hurt so I told her to push. She pooped in the toilet and was so proud of herself. The next day she asked for a pull up and I reminded her of what she did the day before. She screamed and cried that she wanted a diaper. I told her that only babies poop in a diaper. She got mad and went over to her grandmothers house. A little while later she called and said that she pooped in the potty. We praised her on the phone. This was sat and sun. She has been using the potty to poop ever since. I am so proud of her. Since we do not give her the option of using a diaper she now goes in the potty.
I know that you are worried about him not going, but give it a few days in underwear. He will go eventually. Even if he has to "go" in his underwear. I know that you will have to clean it but try not to give him that option of using a pull up. I had many ppl give me that advice. My daughter hates to pee in her underwear and told me that she doesn't want to poop in them either. I told her that we don't have any pull ups anymore and she is doing great at the potty. She is 3 1/2 and is even doing great at night. She hasn't had a night time accident in over a month.


answers from Portland on

I would put him in pull ups if you think he won't pee in them. My daughter will pee in the potty and every great now and then poop in the potty but isn't comfortable with it, so I put a pull up on her. She refuses to pee in the pull up, but she will poop in it which is fine with me. One step at a time :)

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