Almost 4 and refuses to poop on potty

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-06-2001
Almost 4 and refuses to poop on potty
Wed, 04-08-2009 - 5:02am


I've been reading posts of very similar situations. My son is almost 4, he's got peeing in the potty down pat, but refuses (kicking and screaming) to poopy in the potty. For about 3 months now, he himself puts his own pull up when he needs to go poopy. When we hid the pullups, he would ask for it and will hold his poopy until he gets one. If we wait too long, he'd forget about his poopy and develops constipation. It's truly a vicious cycle.

We've tried taking him to the potty when he asks for the diaper, he kicks and screams. We've tried keeping the pullup on while in the bathroom, he still refuses. He's got a favorite spot in the family room where he runs and poops.

My problem is that he's already almost 4. I'm afraid he'll poopy in his pants until he's 40! haha... Anyway, we're just really frustrated about this.

What's interesting is that he's advanced in everything else. But when it comes to pooping in the potty, he's so behind. He cries while on the potty and then when asked, he say, that he's scared and that he doesn't want pooping in the potty.

What else can I try?? I just hate to force him more because it only leads to constipation and stress for him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2005
Wed, 04-08-2009 - 11:37am

Let him have the pull-up when he needs to poop. Seriously. It's much better to keep his bowel habits regular than to get into the cycle of constipation or other bowel problems that can develop from chronic withholding.

Does your ds tend toward anxieties, or is this the only issue he seems to get anxious over? If he has a history of anxieties, you may need to use the pull-ups longer than if he's only scared of pooping.

Tell you ds he can have a pull-up to poop, BUT if he uses it in the bathroom, he gets a reward. You may have to simultaneously compel and reward. When his fears over pooping in the bathroom completely subside (may take a few weeks), then you can advance to the next step. (You CAN skip this step, but it may be easier on your ds to gradually work up to the idea of pooping in the bathroom and toilet.)

For the next step you can try one of the following. Have your ds sit on the toilet while wearing the pull-up, each week cutting gradually larger holes in the back of the pull-up, until the hole becomes large enough that your ds is eventually pooping through the hole in the pull-up directly into the toilet. Alternately, you can just begin taking your ds to the toilet to poop when he asks for a pull-up.

If you think your ds will try to withhold his poop at any stage in the process, then you will want to give him a daily dose of a mild stool softener-type laxative while poop potty training to make it difficult for him to withhold. Some good ones are Miralax, Benefiber, Fiber Choice, Milk of Magnesia and mineral oil. These are safe for long-term, daily use. You don't want to use a stimulant laxative (such as senna-based laxatives) because they are for occasional use only since the body can become dependent on them. Additionally, stimulant laxatives force bowel contractions to eliminate poop, which often causes cramping and nausea. If your ds can still withhold his poop while on the stool softeners, then you need to increase his dosage.

I know it's tiresome to change poopy diapers on an older child (been there, done that), but truly it's better than having him withhold his poop. It's a frustrating place to be 'cus you have to help your child overcome his toileting fears without making him so scared that he messes up his bowels. It's a difficult balancing act, but it's possible with enough time (and laxatives)!

Best wishes.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2004
Wed, 04-08-2009 - 10:34pm

mwheland, Hi and welcome to the Toilet Teaching board.

The previous poster had some excellent ideas.
Please keep us updated on your DS progress.