My DD is 27 months and doing very well with potty learning -- we're very nearly accident-free! However, lately she's been having increasingly more intense anxiety about pooping on the potty, and I'm wondering if anyone has any advice about how to handle it.
For about an hour (or more) before she poops, she starts whining in a distressed tone and walking around on tiptoes, saying "I pooping! I pooping!" But then I get her to the potty and she backs away from it, saying "No! No!" in a really anxious, fearful tone. It totally seems to me like she's afraid to poop.
This has coincided with an ongoing pattern of constipation for her, so I wouldn't be surprised if she was afraid to poop because it hurts, and is holding it in, thereby worsening the constipation. This isn't altogether uncommon for a toddler of her age. But she does not seem to 'hold it in' quite so much when she's wearing a diaper -- it's the pooping on the potty that increases her anxiety. What might be causing this? How do I help calm it?
I've actually been putting diapers on her at certain times of the day to try and encourage her to poop, because if I don't it can be two days or more in between bowel movements, which I'm sure is uncomfortable and difficult for her. And when she does finally go, it's usually in her underwear or the diaper rather than the potty.
It got so bad this morning that she started begging for a diaper, and I finally gave in and put one on her because she seemed so anxious and frightened. A few minutes later, she pulled it off, then a few minutes after that, yelped, terrified, "I poop!" She was pooping on the floor. I grabbed her and put her on the potty, where she managed to get a bit of it, after which I praised her elaborately. Then I had to calm her distress over the poop on the floor -- she was really upset about it.
An hour later, she pooped on the potty with no trouble at all, didn't even know she was doing it until she was done. Again, elaborate praise and treats. But I don't get what the difference is between the two events. Why such distress over the first, and so matter-of-fact about the second? I'm totally mystified. Is the constipation causing the anxiety, or the anxiety causing the constipation? Is it the potty that is the issue, and what can I try to reduce her fear about it? Anyone BTDT and have any advice?
No advice, just wanted to bump this up because my almost 3yo DD, who is completely potty-trained with pee, absolutely refuses to poop on the potty. We still put her in a diaper for overnight, and she will wait until that's on before she poops. If she really really has to go in the middle of the day, she'll cry and beg for a diaper. I need help with this issue too!!
So, you're doing better than us- your DD at least occasionally poops on the potty!!
Comtessa- we are much the same over here. Long history of constipation issues since starting solid foods- used to be brutal, has gotten a lot better over time but 28 mo DD gets really stressed about pooping on the potty. She has been successfully potty-trained for a month or a little bit less now without a single accident but pooping worries her still. She does the same thing on-off, I have to poop, I don't have to poop, followed by a sudden panicked- I AM POOPING. At first I tried several of the same tactics- offering her a diaper, heavy praise, treats etc but those didn't really seem to calm the fear. So I started being really matter-of-fact about it. If she asks to put on a diaper I tell her that we poop in potties, not diapers anymore, if she freaks on the toilet we talk calmly about who we know that poops on toilets or I will hold her finger or give her a hug. I have tried to make it neither a rewarded nor a punished thing (so, just like you, I haven't gotten upset the first couple of times when she pooped on the floor or something) instead it just IS- we poop, on potties. She still won't poop on public potties, she will hold it until we get home and it involves several trips back and forth, yesterday she struggled with her anxiety over it a lot. But I found she stresses a little bit less and so do I when I stopped offering her alternatives and/or making a huge deal about the pooping in the potty.
I don't know if that would work for your daughter though, it certainly freaked DD out some the first time I told her that I wasn't going to put a diaper on her for daytime poop and it felt a little harsh but I think it actually helped the situation because it eased the extra anxiety about WHERE to poop so she could concentrate on worrying about HOW to poop, YKWIM?
Also in the very beginning of potty-training, which was totally initiated by DD, I left her naked most of the time and kept a little potty in the kitchen/main area of the house so she could sit and try to poop all she wanted without any intervention from me.
Hope your DD feels better about the poop-issue!
-M-, mama to G 4/09
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