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poop on potty

Help! My Child Won’t Poop on the Potty

You have started the process of potty training, and your child is starting to make progress with urinating in the toilet. Hooray! Now comes bowel training, which tends to be more challenging. Some children will begin to poop in the toilet after the first occurrence, while other children may take longer. It is very common for bowel training to take longer since it is something that does not happen as much as urination, and some children may associate pain or discomfort with the toilet.  Some common issues that arise during bowel training include the following: child not wanting to sit on the toilet, child only pooping in his diaper or pull-up, and holding in bowel movements. Below are some strategies that can be used to make this process easier.

Tips to Get Your Child to Poop on the Potty:

    • Try to figure out exactly why your child will not poop in the toilet. There are a number ofHelp! My Child Won't Poop on the Potty reasons why a child won’t poop in the potty such as being scared of the toilet, not liking the sound of the flushing, etc.
      • If you child does have some type of fear of the toilet, begin having them touch the toilet, then eventually sit on the toilet with his clothes on and the lid down, then eventually sit on the toilet with the lid up. You can do these activities 3-4 times a day for a few minutes at a time to start, then eventually increase the time spent near or on the toilet. Be sure to reinforce and praise your child after each positive experience with the toilet.
      • Provide a potty seat and/or a stool for him to place his feet on to help your child feel secure on the toilet. Some children have fears of falling in or falling off the toilet, so providing these items will allow your child to feel more stable on the toilet.
    • If you have a boy and he is standing to urinate, begin having him sit while he urinates, so he can get comfortable sitting on the toilet.
    • Begin tracking the time of day when your child has bowel movements, and look for trends. If you notice your child always has bowel movements around bedtime, then you can start having him sit on the toilet at that time of day.
    • If your child will only poop in a diaper or pull-up, you can allow him to wear these initially, but require him to to stay in the bathroom while he poops.
      • Once he is successful with this, you can then have them sit on the toilet with the pull-up on, then eventually phase the pull-up out.
    • Create a reward system. Have a sticker chart or some other type of visual reward system, so your child has motivation to poop in the toilet. Allow your child to help choose his reward.
      • In the beginning, reward your child the first few times he successfully poops in the potty. Then after 5-6 successful times, make the reward dependent on her pooping in the potty 3 days in a row, then a week in a row, etc.
    • Provide natural consequences for accidents (i.e., have your child assist with the clean-up). Never yell or punish your child if he has an accident.
    • Let you child read a book, hold his favorite toy, or listen to music while sitting on the toilet. If he is tense or upset, he will not be able to have a bowel movement.
      • If you suspect your child may have constipation or any other type of bowel issue, contact your pediatrician. Also contact your pediatrician if you suspect your child is holding in his bowel movements.
    • Once your child eventually poops in the toilet, make a huge deal about it and reward him with his favorite foods, toys, activities, etc. so he is more likely to go again in the future.
    • Remember to be patient, as some children take a little longer to start pooping in the toilet, but sooner or later they will be fully potty trained.


Potty Training 101: The Easy How-To Guide For Parents Download our free, 15-Page eBook

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