Tired of Wiping My 4 Year Old's Butt!

Updated on February 02, 2012
M.L. asks from Spokane, WA
18 answers

Both of my boys were late potty trainers, but my oldest caught on pretty quickly once he was ready. But this one, still has us wipe his butt... it's so annoying and gross and it's getting old. I have no idea how to make him do it himself. If I refuse, then he will pretty much throw a screaming fit and sit on the floor, thus getting poop on it.

I have bought the wet wipes, but he wastes them by using them to pee... or he plays with them. We have to take the toilet paper out of the bathroom b/c he will just play with it and get it wet. This child is very difficult in the bathroom, all he does is want to play in the sink and he gets water everywhere and makes huge messes. So, I have to monitor every time he goes in the bathroom, otherwise he will be in there for 30+ minutes each time just making messes.... and really, it's hard to do that all day.

I'm pregnant and not feeling well and really don't want to be wiping his butt all day when I have a newborn to take care of in a few months. So please, what is your advice for me here, how did you get a resistant kid to attempt clean up?

**I agree with you all for making sure and helping it get clean, and I do that, but the child won't even try to attempt to do it either when I help him, he just gets in this funny push up position and yells for me to do it all. I KNOW he needs help, but I am trying to figure out how to also help teach him to do it. Really, this is better to deal with than my older child, who was a constant 'poop painter' as a young toddler...

What can I do next?

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answers from San Diego on

The water thing is a separate issue. You need to find a way you feel comfortable with to discipline him for that. If he stays in there too long, drags water everywhere, wastes wipes, or toilet paper, then .... YOU fill in the blank.

The wiping butt thing.. DON'T! You make it clear to him that if he does not wipe his butt, he'll get sore and itchy. Put him in the bath often enough to keep him from stinking. But the best thing that can happen is that he gets itchy and complains. Then you can tell him that you told him that he needs to be cleaner. I never coddled my girls. If they were red and itchy down there, they learned real fast that they needed to wipe and take baths and showers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Neither of my boys would even try when they were 4. Well, I didn't try to make them, either, when they were 4, having heard "horror stories" from my sister about her kids. Anyway, they're 5 & 7 and do it by themselves now, but the older one really rebelled when I first tried to get him to, and it's only been in the past 6 months or so that he's taken it over. I like the idea somebody below said about bribing her child with a toy, and wish I'd thought of it. But {shrug}, it's over now.

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answers from Phoenix on

some kids you have to monitor......especially at the age of 4. my youngest is almost 5 and still needs help. my daughter was 4 and i was pregnant with him and still had to wipe her rear.....its just part of life.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I continued to wipe my kids until the summer before Kindergarten - that's when I made them practice some - but still helped if they needed. That way they are prepared if they have to go at school. At age four they still need help - I was a stickler for my boys being clean and no streaks in the underwear! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter just turned 7 and still asks me for help. If I'm not around she hops up on counter to look in mirror. I really don't see an issue...it's just once a day. I figure I won't be doing it forever! At least he wants to be clean and at 4 I wouldn't trust him to make sure it is clean and not get on fingers, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Momma L,
I went through this with my son at about the same age.

O. night while he was in the tub, I asked him "What will you do someday when your kid refuses to wipe his own butt?"
His reply?
"I'll tell him that I'll keep wiping his butt as long as he starts wiping mine!"
Case closed, problem solved.
(Yes, he still, even with the wet wipes, needed someone to check him & bat "cleanup" sometimes, but really, that's when he turned the corner. Apparently, him having the *thought* of wiping someone else's butt made the point!)
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

hate to say this but i'm glad you aren't my mom....so demanding on your child at such a young age....no child at the age of 4 can wipe their own butt clean....they still need help. and if it's so gross why did you have children in the first place???

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Reward reward reward.

My son turned 5 in Dec. I was TIRED of wiping his butt.

I bought him a toy that I knew he would love.
I showed it to him, and put it up on a shelf.

I told him if for one week he TRIED to wipe his own bottom, I would give him the toy. Then he could keep it if he continued to wipe.

Worked like a charm. I still check him, but at this point he does a pretty good job on his own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My little one was closer to five before we pushed the issue, but then we potty trained him late on purpose. He too didn't like to wipe. A friend suggested that I wipe him, but have him do a practice wipe when I am done. It worked like magic. Within days, he was doing it himself. Regressed for a week or so, now he's doing it again and I think I'm done. If he won't give you that practice wipe, maybe offer a reward (m&ms) to do it. He'll get used to the motion and will be learning what the paper should look like when he is finished wiping. I think it is a little daunting to take the whole task on at once. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Does he, have they dexterity and coordination, to wipe and wipe well?
Many kids this age, do not.

As far as his behavior in the bathroom... gosh.
Maybe use a timer in there?
What are the the consequences when he messes up the bathroom?
He obviously cannot be alone in there.

Is he acting up only in the bathroom or just in general?
Maybe your being pregnant and having a baby is tweaking him?
As they say, food/eating and the bathroom, are the only things that kids can "control." And they do try to assert control, in those areas.

Sorry, but I don't know how, he is going to be made... to stop messing up the entire bathroom and wipe his butt. ;( My kids never went through that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Sorry, I have to respectfully disagree with Kellie.

A child of 4 can wipe their own butt. Just stop doing it for him. I NEVER wiped my girls once they started using the toilet (age 3). I think I talked them through it once or twice and watched, but that's it. At first there were times their underwear was a little dirty, and I pointed out they needed to do a little better wiping. They improved quickly with more practice. A little mess at first is well worth the independence gained from doing it themselves.

I still remember my neighbors and some friends with preschoolers who would yell and scream for their Moms to come in and wipe them. And the Moms would come running. They would even yell at my house for ME to wipe them. I'm sure if I started out by doing it for my own, my kids would demand it too. As soon as I nicely told our young guests that I only wiped kids in diapers, and that kids big enough to use the toilet in my house were big enough to wipe themselves, they complied. At my house, they wiped with no problems. At their house, they yelled and demanded Mom do it. I also remember another little girl at 4 came over for a playdate and got VERY upset after pooping because she could only wipe with "wet ones." This I didn't know, and we didn't even own any wet wipes.

I would monitor him, but make sure he does it himself. Even if it's not the best job, he'll improve. If he flat out refuses, natural consequences. It takes more time for him to change underwear more frequently and put dirties in the laundry. Stock up on a few more packages of underwear. More baths, and possibly he will be a little sore and itchy for awhile. Gently make the connection back to wiping. He'll figure it out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

He's ONLY four years old. It's normal for children this age to still need some direction and help when wiping, especially when they've had a bowel movement. Young children are notorious for not wiping well enough. It's just part of parenting and you have to suck it up until he CAN do it himself. He's not doing it to make you angry or to annoy you. It's because he developmentally can. not. do. it. If you accept that, then it'll be a lot easier from here on out.

As for the rest of his bathroom antics, that's normal too if you're not supervising him.

Try to establish a toileting routine with him. Get him in to do his toileting. Help him wipe using toilet paper or the moist towelettes, and then get him to wash his hands and dry them. Then hustle him out. Redirect him. Redirect, redirect, redirect.

If he wants to play in the sink then set up a chair at the kitchen sink or just set up the bath tub for him to play with some toys with some plain clean water. Bring a book with you and relax while supervising the play.

You can do this while pregnant and you can do this while taking care of a baby. We do it because we HAVE to and we manage just fine. He's not the one being resistant, he's just being a little tiny curious boy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ok, my son too was a poop painter, as well as a late trainer (4) as well as a potty player! He is 5 now, he gets in gets the job done and gets out! How did we do it you ask? Well, to be honest I stopped wiping his butt for him all together. I took one week to teach him MUCH to his resistance - he would not even try. I told him that this is the last week I wipe his butt - put a thing that said M T W TH F S S on the wall and put an X thru the day each day and the first week I had to sacrafice a lot of underwear I will be honest it was gross! He got a butt rash (gave him baking soda baths and let him air out) but he HAD to DEAL with the consequences of not wiping his own butt before he WOULD wipe it. I told him that if he did not wipe his butt he could not sit on the furniture with poopy underwear and that I would not cuddle with him. I told him that if he TRIES and still needs help to call from the toilet and ask - he did just that. I also hung a mirror right at his butt level so he could SEE if he got all the poop off himself. He seemed to like that - he does not need or use that mirror any more so it's gone now. Does he forget to wipe from time to time or not wipe out of laziness - I am sure(skid marks here and there) but he also remembers what happended when he NEVER wiped so I think he is doing very well at it.
And as for playing in the bathroom I made it where he has to clean up after himself - and he looses video game time for making a mess.
For those saying that they simply can not do it they are not developmentally ready - MY SON HAS DELAYS and was able to accomplish this after he was FORCED to - I knew he was perfectly capable of it he just did not have a good enough reason to do it. My son learns by cause and effect; If I do this what will happen, it does make for some interesting times. My son who is 5, tests anywhere between 3 years to 4 year old level in everything - there is not a single thing (yet) that he tests "age level" for and by 5 (mentally somewhere between 3 and 4) he could do this action.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What's a privilege he will work for? Pick something that he would do anything for (otherwise it won't motivate him). Either pick a reward that is small and he can have once a day, or pick a bigger reward that he can earn after X number of days (each day he gets a sticker to track his progress). Then, start with making him do the first wipe only. After 3-4 days, he does two wipes, and increase until you get to the point where all you have to do is check and possibly do a last wipe. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

I also have a four yr old bum I still wipe. We also have the wipe and paper situation. The paper is hidden and the wipes are stored on the far side of the counter away from the pot. Once he is finished I will go in there (because he screames and hollers till i do "mom come here, wipe my butt ) He likes to wipe himself so there is no issue and I let him but just finish up. Usually poop gets on his hand..sometimes on the potty. Right now I realize I need to teach him to clean the seat instead of doing it for him. But our goal for this year is to have my son wipe his own bum. The sticker chart works really well for him. So wiping his own bum clean needs to go on the list of earned stickers. Once his chore chart is full he gets a small toy (five dollars or less, but something he wants ) . Yes we are both standing in the bathroom monitoring/teaching our kids how to use that room, and rewarding the good behavior once complete. If he makes a mess with the water he neeeds to clean it up and put the towel in the proper place. He wont get a sticker if he dosent do what he needs to. He is four now and is a big boy and gets to learn how to take care of his bum business! My son usually enjoys that kind of talk. Your big now so you GET TO....like its a privilage! Congrats on the new baby. My kids are 2 and 4 (just) while cleaning a poopy diaper and my son yelling me to wipe his butt , I thought " I should have spaced out these births to at least having one that could wipe there own butt " :D

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Laredo on

I told my son he could have candy if he would wipe himself. I would check him for awhile to make sure he was clean but I finally told him he was a big boy and could do it himself. He still doesn't get it completely clean all the time, but I'd rather wash skid marks out of underwear than wipe his butt. Haha he was 4 then.

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answers from San Diego on

Good morning, Not to critisize Kelly but she is wrong, all 3 of our children wipped their own butts at 4, actually younger than 4. I taught my daughter bathroom edicate if I may say, and my husband taught the boys, my oldest son started kindergarten at age 4, the teacher wasn't going to wipe his butt for him please I have a 2 1/2 year old little girl in my daycare and se can clean her own butt, it's ok to help him. but he needs to do it himself. Wasting toilet paper and getting it wet is just plain not exceptible he needs constructive discipline. J.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Reward good behavior and try not to reinforce bad behavior. The best rewards are time with you, playing a game, or watching something together of his choice, etc. on up to going to the park, library, etc. as he gets more stickers.

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