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3.5 year old refuses to poop on potty or toilet. Help!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi there, I'm hoping someone else has gone through the same thing and has some advice.

 

My DS is 3.5 years old. He's a late bloomer potty-wise. We waited for him to show interest and be excited about potty learning (yay, Wiggles underwear! Thomas underwear! treats!) but he never did, so we started him with a bit of a push at the beginning of September. He's supposed to start Kindy (Aussie preschool) in February and must be totally self-sufficient by then.

 

He's almost fully pee trained. He prefers to use his potty rather than the toilet right now ("too scary!") so we go with that and are gradually enticing him to sit on the toilet and feel comfortable there (he was on it for about five minutes yesterday, so that's progress). He's fairly consistent at home...realizes when he needs to go, and rarely has accidents anymore. Out and about he might have one because he gets distracted playing or he doesn't like to use the public toilets. 

 

The big issue is his bowel movements. He will not do them on the potty. He managed once so far in seven weeks...we caught him midway through and plopped him on there. But otherwise, if he gets a chance, he runs away and does it somewhere in hiding and of course it's a mess to clean out of underwear. His schedule is unpredictable and especially since we've been potty learning, he's taken to holding it in now so a couple of days might pass with no action whereas he used to be a twice a day guy when he wore diapers.

 

We talked it out until we're blue in the face. He says he "likes" pooping in his pants. He says he doesn't want to use the potty or the toilet ("it'll get dirty!") even though we assure him it's fine and we'll clean everything. I've had exasperating times where he'll have just used the potty to pee, pulls his pants up, wanders off to play in his room or outside and I run to check and he's already had a poop in his underwear. 

 

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? I feel like we're running out of time to get a handle on this for preschool and he'll have to stay home next year. I'm at the end of my rope. I never had to deal with anything like this with my older child.

 

Edited to add: I just realized that this probably should go in the Ages and Stages/Childhood Years section, so feel free to move mods. Thanks.


Edited by japonica - 10/24/11 at 4:50am
post #2 of 17

Have you tried bribing him with something really cool? I don't bribe DD for anything else, but I did for potty learning, and it worked really well. Since your son doesn't seem to have any motivation or desire of his own to poop in the potty, some external motivation might help.

post #3 of 17

My daughter just finished training a month or so ago.  She turns four tomorrow.  I know how frustrating it is.  Even though she was peeing in the toilet, she just kept saying she "can't" poop in the toilet.  We had to withdraw her from preschool.  Anyway, one night the girls went for a sleepover at their grandmothers (who didn't know about all the troubles we were having) and DD said she had to poo.  MIL said, "okay, then. Go."  And she did.  She had maybe one accident after that, but we are done with it now.  I know this doesn't really help you, but I wanted to let you know that both of my girls were almost 4 when they trained.  I'd like to get my hands on whoever said girls learn earlier...

post #4 of 17

Have you tried putting a pull-up in the little potty and having him go in that? Or, you could compromise with him and "let" him have his bm in the pull-up, but he must be either in the bathroom or on the little toilet.

post #5 of 17

I got my son to poop on the potty for the first time at age 4 by blowing bubbles while he sat on the potty.  

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. Lots of good ideas to work with.

 

Last night he pooped in his underwear while standing in the bathroom (that's where I found him). I guess it's a start, right? Ugh.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by japonica View Post

Thanks everyone. Lots of good ideas to work with.

 

Last night he pooped in his underwear while standing in the bathroom (that's where I found him). I guess it's a start, right? Ugh.



Aww!  I don't have any advice, really, but wanted to chime in because my ds also had issues with pooping in the toilet at 3 1/2.  He wanted to be in diapers, but the day he turned 3 1/2 I just put them away and said there were no more.  He was fine with peeing, but when he had to poop he'd go in another room and poop on the floor.  (I kept him bottomless at home for a couple of weeks.)  It was really frustrating!  But after a couple of weeks, I realized he was trying to escape to poop one day and I just picked him up and put him on the toilet and I think he was too committed to pooping at that point to turn back.  I think just that one experience was enough to convince him that whatever he was afraid of was not going to be a problem.  We never had any accidents after that.  I think it's similar to Upside's dd, if they do it once, they'll be fine from then on.  I think you probably have plenty of time between now and february.  

post #8 of 17

I just want to commiserate mama...my DD is nearly 3.5 years old and she also refuses to poop in the toilet...at home. At daycare, they`ve managed to get her to do it a few times, but it seems that with us, she's just too mired in her "NO" phase to agree to do what we suggest. She has been shown that it's not as scary as she thinks, and yet, she's still not ready. I'm thinking bribery is the way to go...

post #9 of 17

I realise this may not be for everyone, but we pretty much bribed DD1 to poop in the potty. We figured she had no real motivation to stop doing what was working for her (pooping in diapers), so some external motivation was the key. It's definitely not a method I would normally use, but we were getting pretty desperate, so for us it was totally worth it. 

 

We had a chart, and every time she at least tried pooping on the potty, she'd get a stamp on her hand. If she actually did a poo, she got a small gift (e.g. a little toy from the $1 store) and a stamp on her chart. After 5 poops in the potty, she got a bigger present (in her case, a stuffed animal she'd wanted). It took a couple of days to get the first potty poop, but after that it she was on a roll. We actually did a second gifts chart to keep the momentum going. It worked incredibly well, and after pooping in the potty 15 or so times there was no turning back.

 

I know some people do stickers or other smaller rewards, but we knew that wasn't going to be enough motivation in our daughter's case.

post #10 of 17

I had trouble getting my DD to go poop on the potty as well. She was just over 2.5 when I tried to start getting her to go poop on the potty, since she had been peeing on the potty for several months. I wanted to enroll her in preschool for this fall, and it was required to have child fully potty trained. Plus, I'll be honest, I had just had a baby and I was not cool with having to change any more diapers than necessary. My DD knew when she would have to go and would ask for a diaper to go in. I tried eliminating the diapers, but she has had withholding issues on the pooping, so when I wouldn't put a diaper on her she would squeeze her legs tight and wait until the urge passed. This was not cool with us because we didn't want her to get backed up. At that time we were giving her Miralax daily just to keep her going. I finally broke down and put a diaper on her after she withheld for two days. I just couldn't risk her getting fully backed up because that is absolutely awful. We tried the sitting her on the potty--singing to her, reading to her, listening to music, etc. Didn't work. We used small candy treats as bribes, which is what we used initially to get her to pee on the potty. Didn't work. We kept the jar out where she could see it and she wanted a candy so badly, but she was not willing to poop on the potty for it. But we just kept encouraging, and that is what I would recommend. But encourage without letting your DS know that his pooping on the potty means that much to you. I think if children know that parents have some investment in things like pottying, then they try to maintain some control and won't do it. And let's face it, you really cannot force a child to potty on the toilet--at least I don't think you can with good results or without it being a traumatic experience. I just played it cool with my DD. When she let me know she needed to poop and wanted a diaper I would say, "Okay. Do you want to try to poop on the potty today for a treat?" So many times the answer was "NO!" My answer: "Okay" and we'd put the diaper on. Or she would sit on the potty and say, "I can't do it!" And then we'd put the diaper on and she would go just like that. But then one day, we had a new catalogue of toys, and I just said, "Do you want to sit on the potty and look at this magazine and poop? Maybe we can find some things you'd like for your birthday." She liked this idea. So we started looking at all the neat toys and talking about them and voila! She pooped. I let her know I was happy, she finally got to get a treat out of the "Poop Treat Jar" and the next day, we did the same thing. It took a dang One Step Ahead catalogue to get her to go after a couple of months of trying to get her to go.I recall at one point she went one day and then the next day she said she couldn't do it and I was so frustrated. But we just kept at it and she's now almost 3.5 goes without incident. I understand you have a time situation with kindergarten coming up. Is he wanting to go to school? Does he know he has to be able to poop on the potty to go?

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yes, he knows. That's the kicker really. He started a one day a week preschool program two weeks ago (a spot opened up and it's the last term of the year before summer holidays) and he LOVES school. Loves it. The first day there though he pooped himself (in underwear--ugh) and the teacher had to clean him up. I had apprised her beforehand of all the troubles we were having and she was supportive and said he could attend anyway (in pull-ups from now on), but that was sure a trial by fire on the first day for her. Yikes. He hasn't done it at school since, thankfully. So, anyway, he really loves school and I've shown him his new classroom for February and all the toys he'll get to play with and he knows (we go over this at every poop accident) that if he continues to poop in his pants he will not be allowed to go. He says, "Okay," or "I know," but continues messing himself anyway.

 

We've tried bribery here too...chocolate, cookies, small toys. I'll try the sticker chart next but if he won't even try for a sugar fix (they don't normally get treats in this house) then I'm not sure what good stickers will do. We'll see. Maybe I'll show him some toy he wants from the store and tell him that if he gets enough stickers to earn it, then he can have it. 

 

The frustrating part is that I know he has the biological control for this. He's holding it in most of the time until he can hide in his room or go outside to do his business. If we're lucky, we catch him midway through and put him on, but he's never come to us yet to say he wanted to poop on the potty at the start. He stays dry for four hours at a time (!) and doesn't have pee accidents. It's a pure mental thing and I wish I knew what the secret was to making it click for him. I imagine it'd be pretty smooth sailing after that.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Okay, so we had some success the last couple of times. Both involved bribery (never underestimate the power of new toys I guess, LOL) and I'm cautiously optimistic, but he still won't use public toilets (or any toilet actually, he only feels "safe" on the potty). 

 

One day out he held his urine for 10 hours. yikes2.gif We had put him in a pull up and it was dry when we got home. He was bawling in the car on the way home because he needed to go so bad but refused any of the toilets we took him to when we were out. 

 

Tips? 

 

Edited to add: a friend suggested that we try getting him to pee outdoors or something (if he's scared of toilets) just so we don't have another episode of holding it for an entire day. We've been trying to convince him to give it a try, but he refuses. He says, "No, let's just go home and use the potty."


Edited by japonica - 11/27/11 at 6:16am
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by japonica View Post

Okay, so we had some success the last couple of times. Both involved bribery (never underestimate the power of new toys I guess, LOL) and I'm cautiously optimistic, but he still won't use public toilets (or any toilet actually, he only feels "safe" on the potty). 

 

One day out he held his urine for 10 hours. yikes2.gif We had put him in a pull up and it was dry when we got home. He was bawling in the car on the way home because he needed to go so bad but refused any of the toilets we took him to when we were out. 

 

Tips? 

 

Edited to add: a friend suggested that we try getting him to pee outdoors or something (if he's scared of toilets) just so we don't have another episode of holding it for an entire day. We've been trying to convince him to give it a try, but he refuses. He says, "No, let's just go home and use the potty."

 

I'd try getting him a couple of identical travel potty seats and work on getting him to use it at home and carry one when you are out (so the potty kind of looks the same)--then when you are out take him to the bathroom at least once an hour and have him sit on the potty for a predetermined amount of time (like 5min - carrying a timer could be helpful); you could also try to get him to wash his hands prior to using the potty while out and have him sip on some water.  I'd also carry some masking tape to try to keep automatic potties from flushing when he is in the stall.

 

My dd was really afraid of falling in the potty (which only happened once and at homeorngtongue.gif) so I used to hold her up at public potties. She also had some "performance anxiety" so I'd sing her the itsy-bitsy spider until she pee'd or I got tired of singing. We had similar poop training problems with ds at that age, and he was a big boy with practically grown-up sized and smelling poop. We started having him help clean-up his underwear (drop the poo in the toilet then take the underwear outside to hose it off enough so it could go in the washing machine--after 2-4 weeks of doing that he started pooping in the toilet regularly.
 

 

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Okay, I thought I'd give an update, in case anyone else is having similar issues and wants to track our progress through this ;)

 

DS is very consistent with BMs on the potty now. I think it's been at least two weeks since his last accident. Something just clicked with him--and yes, bribery helped. We found that having a brand new Thomas train as an incentive worked well to kick start it. Now he's at the point where he goes to the potty on his own and we just wipe him and clean up afterwards. So, that particular problem seems to be something of the past.

 

He's still not fond of public toilets and won't use anything but his potty. He'll hold it until he can get home and use his own. That's our last issue to sort out, but I'm confident that we can sort it in the next six weeks before Kindy starts.

 

Just wanted to say thanks for the advice and to anyone else going through a tough time, hang in there, it will get better eventually.

post #15 of 17

Just a thought about using a public toilet for peeing.  My DS learned to pee standing up and this was actually what helped him to potty train.  He did not like sitting if he had to pee. So,  he never really used his little potty and was fine going  IN a public toilet or outside.  Sounds like you and your DS have made wonderful progress!  Congratulations!

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I tried to get him to try standing up (both at home and elsewhere) and he's been resistant so far, but it'll just be a matter of time and patience. A month ago I thought for sure I'd have to withdraw him from school because of his potty learning (or lack thereof) but he's making real progress now, so fingers crossed that the last part will just click as well one day and that's it.

 

Just wanted to give hope to anyone with headstrong, resistant kids...it will get better in time...

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

This is probably my second last update...I'll do a final one when he starts school in two weeks' time.

 

He's in underwear full time, goes on his own consistently, last accident was about three weeks ago. He's been completely dry at naps and overnight for months now.

 

He's still not keen on public toilets but has made use of a bush in the countryside when he had to pee and was caught short.

 

Just wanted to update and let everyone know how we made out and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all.

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