After I began allowing page goers on my Facebook page for parents to ask questions, it became painfully obvious that refusal to poop in the toilet was a wide spread potty training problem concerning parents. Questions such as, “My child will pee in the potty, but not poop. What do I do?” or “My child won’t poop in the potty and is *this* old. Is something wrong?” landed in my inbox at least once a week. I decided a guide with answers to common questions regarding this topic may be helpful.
If my toddler won’t poop in the toilet is something wrong?
It’s not uncommon for toddlers to be pee-trained before poop-trained as far as potty training goes. According to the 10,000 parents on my page, this is especially true for boys as they often learn to pee standing. Sometimes the lag between mastering peeing in the toilet and pooping in the toilet is exasperated for a variety of reasons.
Why won’t my toddler poop in the toilet and what can I do about it?
The answer to that one is impossible to nail down without specifics on the situation. There are a few common reasons toddlers refuse to poop in the toilet though.
-Fear of the toilet, pooping or of “losing a part of themselves:” I know this sounds bizarre, but some kids see the poop and think its part of them. They are then afraid to put it in the toilet to flush it away. Some kids are frightened by the flushing sound itself. Others, again mostly boys as girls always sit to pee, are afraid the toilet will suck them in as they sit down. Others still have experienced a hard-poop, so to speak, that hurt when they had to push to make it come out, so they are, well, afraid to poop at all. In this case, you need to identify the fear and address it. If your child has good verbal communication that’s often a simple step, if not you may have to resort to drawing, telling stories or even just observing behavior and guessing. Some fixes are as simple using the potty chair unattached to the toilet as a precursor to the big potty, others take time and creativity to conquer fears.
-Constipation. It’s also possible your child isn’t refusing to poop in the potty, but is having trouble pooping period. Obviously, you can judge if this is the case by tracking how long your child is going between bowel movements and checking to see if those bowel movements are hard. Even a child that can poop, but is having hard poops, will be reluctant to poop. If this is the case, adding fiber to your child’s diet can make a huge difference.
-The toilet is uncomfortable for your child. Discomfort could be a result of the chair being too large, the room being too cold, or your child could even just dislike the splash poop makes as it lands in the toilet. This is another area where a simple conversation can help identifying the problem so it can be solved. Remember when having potty training conversations to avoid making your child feel as if they are being bad for not pooping in the potty. Unless you child is intentionally pooping elsewhere and knows how to use the potty for poop, never punish or guilt failure to do so.
-Your child doesn’t understand the potty is for pooping too. Your child may not have made the connection that the potty is for poop. It can help to start in steps. First, get your child in the habit of telling you when he/she is pooping. Help them identify the feelings that precede bowel movements by asking them what it felt like before they pooped. This helps your toddler learn what having to poop feels like. Once they can tell you, “I have to poop.” You can either move them to the bathroom in a diaper so they feel more comfortable or put them directly on the toilet. It really depends on the adaptability of your particular child. Kids that latch on to routine like a sucker they found under the couch, should be transitioned slower than kids that are more prone to roll with the punches. You may go from pooping in the bathroom in diaper but not on the toilet, to pooping in a diaper on the toilet, to actually pooping in the toilet for example.
When should my toddler poop in the toilet?
There is no right or wrong answer here as all kids develop differently-even siblings. Generally, if your child has reached pre-school age (4 or so) and still hasn’t mastered potty training, it may be best to speak with your pediatrician to ensure there isn’t a physical reason he/she is having troubles with the poop part of potty training.
You may also enjoy:
Teaching Kids Potty Privacy
Dealing with Potty Training Regression
Stopping Poop Smearing, Painting and Other Fecal Fun