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How to Get Your Child to Poop on the Potty

How to Get Your Child to Poop on the Potty

Potty training throws parents plenty of curve balls — from fears of loud flushes in public restroom to night-time hold-outs. But one of the most frustrating hurdles of all is when a child will happily pee in the potty but refuses to poop there. If you're looking for advice on this issue, here are 7 strategies that have worked for other moms.

1. Soothe Common Fears

A child's refusal to poop on the toilet is often a result of fear. In addition to being afraid of falling in or being eaten by monsters in the toilet, many children are scared that their bodies are actually falling apart when they poop. Amy R. recalls: “My son thought that his ‘guts’ were going to fall out.” Since children often think of poop as an actual part of their body, it’s important to both explain that pooping doesn’t hurt them, and allow them to say goodbye. Deborah M. explains: “Whether she poops in pull ups or in her underwear make sure to discard the poop in the toilet. Wave to it say 'Goodbye Poop! We'll see you next time!!!'”

2. Rule Out Constipation

Children may also be reluctant to poop on the toilet because it's physically painful. As Kim advises: “If she is chronically constipated and has trouble or pain when pooping, be sure to address that first by changing her diet (i.e. more fiber, eliminating allergens, enough water to drink, etc.)."

3. Ooooh, Distractions!

Young children are often just too afraid and fidgety to relax enough to go to the bathroom. As a result, several Circle of Moms members suggest distracting your kiddo with songs, books or games. Tiffany B. finally got her son to do his business by letting him "brush" his teeth (toothbrush, no paste) on the potty: “It gave him enough of a distraction that he was able to relax and go. And so that I didn't stress him out more I would clean off the bathroom counter or straighten up or brush my own teeth.”

4. Try a Potty Chair

As moms like Jacki H. share, sometimes a potty chair is easier than the grown-up toilet: “Try buying him a ‘cool’ kid's potty. I bought my son a frog one. He loved it!” Gail M. agrees: “If you are using a ring on a big potty, she may feel more comfortable on a potty chair on the floor. That worked for my son. He said it hurt to poop on the ring on the big potty."

5. Extra Motivation

“She knows how — and is proud once she does — but she needs motivation,” shares mom-of-two Sheri P. Her winning strategy with her daughter? “We bribe her. Cookies or a gummy bear if she goes on the potty. It was our doctor’s suggestion. Some kids are scared and need that little bit of motivation to keep them interested until they are ready to do it on their own. We give her lots praise and do the happy dance in the bathroom EVERY time.” Many moms, including Lisa D., agree: “We did stickers as motivators…We are so happy and excited when it happens and we clap and say "yay! SOMEBODY pooped in the toilet!"

6. Imitating Mama

Showing your child how you use the toilet can reassure her that it’s safe. Shelly S. shares: “What I did with my daughter was take her in with me when I had to go and clapped and praised myself and that seemed to help her.” Similarly, Yun C. found her son was encouraged by seeing other children use the toilet: “I invited two other toddler friends of his over when we started. (One of) the other toddler(s) used the potty in front of him, so he wanted to show that he could use it as well. It ended up being a potty party!”

7. Start a Countdown

Setting a timetable may also work, shares Lori S.: “I took the stance of letting him do it when he was ready (much to the chagrin of my mother-in-law) but as we approached the 4th birthday, I had to set a time table. We kept telling him that when he turned four, there would be no more pooping in a diaper…I think the count down helped not only to prepare him, but gave him the time he needed to get used to the idea. On his fourth birthday, that was it. He started pooping on the toilet. Problem solved.”

Image Source: iPhoto

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ChristinaHester ChristinaHester 4 years
We had a problem with the pooping part with my son. He was pee pee trained by 2 mos shy of his 3rd birthday. I just started putting underwear and pants on him and asking him if he had to go and it took a week. He's never been able to poo very often though.. only once every 3-4 days. And around the time I got serious about potty training he started having so much trouble going poo he would curl up in the fetal position and scream for 30 mins. I ended up having to give him a suppository a couple of times because he was in so much pain. I took him to the pediatrician and she suggested giving him miralax. I started giving a 1/3 of a dose of it in his juice or milk once a day and that worked. Unfortunately every time I stop giving it to him, the issues come back. At least he poops on the potty now and it's not painful :)
CrystalClemonsBowling CrystalClemonsBowling 5 years
I am so thankful for this article and the comments. My son is 3 1/2 and has been potty trained for nearly a year, yet he still refuses to poo in the potty. He will actually grab a diaper and give it to me to put on when he has to poo, so he has control and knows when he has to go, but refuses to go in the potty. I have even sat him in his diaper on the potty hoping if he would go in his diaper I could eventually remove the diaper and the he would automatically go, but he wont even sit on it if he has to poo. He likes to go hide behind a chair or out of the way when he goes. I have tried everything I can think of. I personally don't think it's that big of a deal and that he will eventually go on his own, but I get a lot of pressure from my mom about how she's "never heard of that" and makes me feel like I'm a bad or neglectful parent or something. I am glad to see that it is actually quite common.
BonnieGray23356 BonnieGray23356 5 years
Hey my daughter is 3 yrs old, and as been doing peepe on the toilet since she was 2. She has done so well at that, but will not do poo's on in the toilet. I have done the imatating mum thing, ive praised her when she says shes doing poo's on toilet, but she doesnt end up pooping. She pretends to sqeeze it out but nothing. She always asks for a nappy when she wants to poop. I sometime make her wait 5 minutes before i put 1 on her, hope she'll rush to the toilet and it will naturally come out, but shed rather hold on, which worries me with bowel cancer. I know she will hold on all day at daycare till she gets home with me to put a nappy on so she can quietly go to her room and shut the door and be alone while she concentrates hard at doing her buisiness, she doesn't like been disturbed and asks anyone who walks in to GET OUT PLEASE! i have askes her why she wont do poops on toilet and she says smelly, ive explained that it sticky and smelly in a nappy and wont be smelly if she does poops in toilet, ive also dropped the poops from the nappy into the toilet and let her watch it get flushed away. Any other tips? my next option is sticker chart. If it doesnt work 1st or 2nd time do i just keep trying??
CoMMember13631135752647 CoMMember13631135752647 5 years
The thing I found that worked with my son, Was telling him the potty was hungry and he wanted to be fed his poop, Just like when he is hungry I feed him food, now my son "feeds the potty" and hasnt had any accidents
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