Get Thee to a Potty! An Unorthodox Solution to a Child’s Persistent Pooping Problem and Toilet Training Issues.

Summary: The day I finally snapped and made my child beat years of constipation and overcome her anxiety around pooping.

It’s funny how children can be simultaneously advanced and behind at the same time. My daughter had such a split around toilet training. She was a kung-fu master in peeing but a lowly apprentice in pooping.

Physically my daughter has always been ahead of the curve. Crawling, walking, riding a bike, swimming, it really didn’t matter, if it involved gross motor skills she got really good, really fast. So it was not a surprise when she first taught herself how to pee on the toilet at about 20 months of age. Shortly after it was just not peeing in the toilet, but wiping herself, flushing, and then coming out in the living room to grab another diaper and putting it on herself while standing up. It was quite amusing actually. By age three she was in underwear 24/7. However popping was a separate issue.

Early on, at about 18 months old, my daughter had an unfortunate incident with constipation. When she finally pushed the poop out, it hurt. For someone who was only a year and a half old, the lesson was clear: pooping hurts, so next time don’t let the poop out.

Thus began the Great Pooping Wars of 2005-2007. To avoid the pain of pooping that my daughter felt was inevitable, she would hold in her poop, thus ensuring she would end up constipated. So when she finally pooped, it would definitely hurt. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

To help bulk up her stools, and hopefully make it easier for her to poop, we started giving her GlycoLax, a prescription synthetic fiber specifically designed to help keep stools soft. It hardly made a dent. She was so determined to hold in her poop that sometimes we would have to resort to suppositories Unfortunately, the drama of having a suppository shoved in here rectum just compounded the psychological resistance to pooping.

So this was my daughter’s lifestyle for two and a half years. She wore underwear during the day and during the night. She had no problem holding her pee why sleeping. When she felt a poop coming on, she would say I need a pull up and grab one from the counter and put it on. She would then go hide in her room and play with her toys while tightened up her buttocks to keep the poop from coming out. Eventually, a little bit would come out and she would say she was done. Of course this was only the tip of the iceberg, or poop-berg. This would be repeated, sometimes three or four times in one day, until the poop was finally out. Two to three days later we would repeat the whole process again.

We were seriously starting to worry, not that she would never learn to poop in the toilet, but that she would develop a bad pattern around pooping that would carry on throughout her adult life. The thought of her being 45 years old and always constipated because of a residual poop holding pattern that was carried over from childhood, and is now repeated on a subconscious level, was truly depressing.

Near my wits end, and about the time my daughter turned four years old, we were on a family vacation in Santa Monica. As usual we took my mom along so my partner and I would have at least a few opportunities to spend some time alone. Instead of a hotel room we rented this nice house. On the second day there I was playing alone with my daughter in the rental while my partner and my mom were out shopping.

I could see that she was starting to hold in her poop so I asked her straight up:

“Do you need to poop?”


“Are you sure because it looks like you need to poop?”

“No, I don’t need to poop”

“Ok, but let me know if you need to poop”

“Ok, I will”

Not more than ten minutes later my daughter says she’s pooped in her underwear. Sure enough, it was not just a little smudge, it was a good sized dollop of poop. And that’s when I lost it.

“That’s it! You need to start pooping in the toilet!”

“No I don’t want to! I need a pull up!”

“No more pull ups, I’ve had it!”

“I need a pull up!”


At this point she starts to tear up and reach for a pull up.

“Forget it, you’re going to stand there naked until you poop in the toilet or you poop all over your legs and on the floor…the choice is yours!”

We had hardwood floors in the rental so I was completely prepared to back this up and let it happen.

We went back and forth a few times, with me holding steady with my threat, and she holding steady in her resistance to pooping in the toilet.

Just then I switched my game a bit.

Look, you can either poop all over your legs and on the floor…or you can poop on the toilet while I hold your hand and read you a book. And after you poop you can have a slice of that chocolate cake in the refrigerator.

“Yeah?” she said, “If I poop a big poop, can I have a big piece of cake?”

“Yes, the bigger the poop the bigger the cake”


So we go into the bathroom and she sits on the toilet. I sit on the floor next to her, holding her hand while reading a Curious George book. It was a bit of a struggle and involved a lot of wincing but eventually a small poop fell into the water.

“I pooped, I pooped! I want cake now!”

Well the poop was pretty tiny, perhaps the size of a small plum, so I sliced off the smallest piece of cake I could. You could almost see through it.

When my partner and my mom got home the first thing my daughter did was jump up and start yelling “I pooped in the toilet, and I got cake! I’m so lucky!”

After many congratulations were heaped upon my daughter by all, I explained to my partner what I’d done. She has a degree in early childhood education as well as 8 years experience as a preschool teacher under her belt, so it’s natural for her to be resistant to my ideas. After all, my technique for getting her to poop in the toilet pretty much violated every early childhood education fundamentals: threats, ultimatums, humiliation, rewarding good behavior with cake…the list goes on. Nonetheless she’s gotten used to my unorthodox methods and is generally willing to give it a “we’ll wait and see, but if it doesn’t work we go back to my approach” nod of approval. Of course, I’ve earned that consideration with a pretty good track record of success with my improvisational parenting methods.

Well about an hour later my daughter announces “I need to poop, get me a pull up”. Out of habit my partner begins to reach for one. I interrupted with “No! No more pull ups, you poop in the toilet now because you’re a big girl.”

And so we went back and forth again with the “I don’t want to poop in the toilet, I want to poop in a pull up!” and the “You can poop on the floor and all over your legs or you can poop in the toilet while I hold your hand and read you a story and after words you can have cake!” routine.

She wisely chose the toilet again. This time her bowel movement came on rather quickly. She perked up and said “Daddy, I can feel it”. Seconds later she announces, “I pooped.”

What an understatement! It was about as thick as my wrist and as long as my forearm.

I looked at it and said, “Holy shit, you poop like a man!”

“I made a big poop, now I want a big piece of cake!”

I couldn’t believe how absolutely huge her poop was. So I did what any guy would do. I took a picture.

For the next several days all my daughter could talk about was how she was a big girl now because she poops in the toilet. Not only that, she started to list all the things she could accomplish in her life ( going to circle time, not crying when other kids cry, visiting her friend next door by herself, etc) now that she’s a big girl who poops in the toilet. At that moment it was obvious that not only were we worried about her pooping issues, but she herself had also been very concerned.

It was one of the most satisfying moments in my parenting history thus far.

So it’s been six months since that day in Santa Monica, and she poops like a champ. Not to say it was easy right away. For the first month or so we had to use the “hold hands + read a book + treat” method off and on to help her through. Plus, for about three months she would insist that I come look at her poop before she’d flush it.

“Daddy come look at my poop!”

“Ok. Nice one, good job.”

“Say wow that’s a big one!”

“Wow that’s a big one!”

I was so happy that she was no longer constipated and pooping regularly in the toilet I was prepared to do this routine for years if that’s what she wanted.

So now every evening she declares “I need to go poop” and lays out a big log within seconds. No fussing, no fighting, no drama. Hallelujah!

That’s it for now.

Reader’s Comments (before this was a blog with comments):


As a dad, I enjoyed your article “Get thee to a potty!” My son, now 3, is at the same crossroads. I also have a wife who is a master educator who dismisses my ideas on child development as amateur nonsense. I was glad to read of your triumph. My wife read it also … now I have some ammunition to support my amateur nonsense ideas. Thanks.


Michael Korber

I am a grandmother who has a grandson fulltime and he will not poop in the potty he goes and hides and poops his underpants or if outside takes pants off and poops in the grass. I just don’t get it, but I am gonna try your method and I hope I have the success that you had.  Thanks, I am sure you have helped a lot of parents and grandparents out.

(one month later Cathy gives me a follow up)

I tried the cake thing for pooping in potty only I used Kinder Surprise Eggs and it worked. He was so happy we had to take a picture to show papa when he got home.  Now he just goes but we all still have to come see it before he flushes it away.

Thanks for your help.

Cathy Debeck

File Under: Children and Pooping Issues – Toilet Training Tips – Anxiety Around Pooping – Child Holds in Poop – Kid’s and Constipation – Toddlers and Constipation – Potty Training – How to Potty Train Your Child or Toddler

43 Responses to “Get Thee to a Potty! An Unorthodox Solution to a Child’s Persistent Pooping Problem and Toilet Training Issues.”

  • Anthony Says:

    Haha, great! I had the same problem when I was a kid. Too bad my parents didn’t think trying that. I wouldnt have been going through that s**t till I was 12!


  • Sarah Tena Says:

    OMG!!! LOL. I laughed so hard I cried!


    Tina Reply:

    me too!


    Manda Reply:

    Me too!!! :))


  • Lee Says:

    I tried this with my son who is almost 3 and potty trained to pee, but reluctant with poop and it WORKS!


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    Awesome. So glad it helped. When I wrote this article I had no idea if it was purely circumstantial to my own child’s situation or if it was something that could be universally applied. It’s comforting to know that I’m not completely off my rocker with some of my parenting techniques.


  • Ashley Says:

    thank you for sharing this story! i am having this problem with my daughter and i never thought about constipation actually causing the problem. that makes SO much sense for me right now it made me cry lol. i will definitely give yur method a try 🙂


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    Good luck Ashley! Make sure to come back and tell us how it worked.


  • Allen Says:

    Hi there,

    At last I found somebody dealing with the same issue we are having!!!! I am so happy!!! I thought we are all alone!! My son, 3 years old, is having the same problem. For the last 18 months he’s been keeping his poop back. If he has to go he gets such an anxiety attack because he is just so scarred. It all started after he was admitted to hospital with gastro. I felt today like giving up totally as he is having a really bad day with this and thought I will search the internet once more on this issue. Thank you so much for posting this I will try and see if it will work for as as well.

    Keep well



    Allen Reply:

    I will keep you posted!!


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    Please do. Thanks.


  • Lisa Says:

    Awesome post. I have a 4 month old but happy to load up with tips and be ahead of the poo/pt training game.


  • Terah Says:

    What a great article – As I was reading I was thinking – wow this is my son EXACTLY! He is 4 yrs 3 months and has had the exact same issues. I always try m & m’s for bribery but maybe I should try cake in the morning! I have hope now!


  • Naveek Says:

    When I was getting potty trained, my parent bribed me with lollipops. If I peed in the potty i got yellow lollipop. If i pooped, I got a red one.


  • Joanne Says:

    Reading this has been most helpful, but we really have tried all forms of bribery. Our daughter is almost 3 and STRUGGLES with pooping in the potty. She’s got #1 down pat, caught on to it the first day of going nakey (potty chair in living room, rugs pulled up, no bottoms, free to pee as often as she liked). Now she’s at the stage where she can be trusted 90% to hold pee, but pooping is a completely different story. From the very beginning of potty training, no way, she wasn’t pooping in there. We tried books, singing, stories, movies, food, trips out, ice cream, stickers – oy, the list goes on and on. She still refuses to poop in the potty. Well, that is to say she will go if we force her and whereas she asks for a pullup, she won’t actually poop in it. Complex, yes? YES. EVERY TIME she feels a movement, she flips out, major anxiety, screaming, tears…heartbreaking stuff. After 3 months of this, we’re at our wit’s end. I’ll give this a shot, but am BEGGING for any other suggestions!


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    I feel for you. Let me know if it works. I wish I had other suggestions but my method was an act of desperation after I exhausted all the more sane options. So that’s all I got.


  • Samuel Says:

    As a single father of two boys,I have enjoyed your blog. This entry reminded me of my cousins boy, who actually is turning 8 today. When he was potty training, he would get a popsicle for using the toilet. He was doing such a good job that they stopped giving him poscicles, and you KNOW what happened! He started having “accidents”. One day his mom asked him “hayden, whats up? you were doing so good going on the potty. Why have you been going in your pants?” His reply: “Well, I don’t get popscicles anymore.” I think for him, the bribery was a two way street. 🙂


  • JoEllen Says:

    My son is 4 1/2 and we are still having problems with im pooping in the potty. so glad I stumbled on this site we have tried everything from candy, toys, stickers…. you name we have tried it. we have even used a laxative and making him sit and go poop everyday so he wouldn’t get constipated. Finally I decided that he is 4 and knows when he needs to go so if I stop being so controlling then he will go on his own if he feels he is in charge. Well this worked for awhile but he has started holding it again in the last 2 weeks. he will not go in his pants but will hold it untill ha can’t anymore. we always know when he needs to go because he goes and lays down under his blanket. Please let me know if you find another “bribe” i will do anything. i also have a 2 1/2 yr old and she does really good but I can see her fear building because she knows brother is scared. really wanna stop this before I have 2 with the same problem.


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    I feel your pain. The holding behavior is always the big concern as that can become a lifelong habit that leads to a dependence on laxatives. I wish I had some specific advice. Sounds like you’ve tried many angles. With my daughter I just had it and thought the time was ripe for a make it or break it moment. Fortunately it worked. My only recommendation is just keep an open mind (sounds like that’s not a problem anyway) and look for the Hail Mary pass. Only you can know when that is and what form it will take, as your problem is so child specific and circumstantial.


  • Elizabeth Says:

    I have three girls, 9, 2, and 10 months. My first had poop issues till she was 4 and a half and now my two year old is doing the exact same thing….She would rather poop all over the floor next to the potty then actually sit on it and go. She loves skittles but will not actually poop on the potty for them and now its starting to hurt…. I think i am just going to go with the flow with her until she gets to that point where she is confident enough to go poop on the potty. However, I do NOT want to go through this with my youngest as well. Any suggestions to head off the poop issues?


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    I wish I did. But keep in mind that 2 years old may seem plenty old to you but very few children poop on the potty by themselves at that age. Three and four is much closer to how it actually plays out. Sounds like your intuition is right, she needs more time. Keep up the whole fresh foods, make sure she gets plenty of natural fiber and water to keep her healthy inside and out, and just wait a bit longer. If you push it too hard your ten month old will start picking up on the anxiety in the house.


    Elizabeth Reply:

    So, my two year old has decided on her own to poop in the potty. I did not push it at all on her. Just promises of rewards and leaving her potty in her room at night. She has pooped in it almost every night on her own after stories and after she is alone. She relishes the amount of stickers she gets to put on her chart. She is a bit of a picky eater but mixing prune juice with reguluar juice and water keeps it good to go for her! I think leaving the potty in her room where she has privacy was key for her. It was something she had to do on her own.


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    Wow. That’s friggin’ amazing! I glad it worked out. that’s quite an unusual success story for her age. Putting it her room was a smart move as that’s where a child is most comfortable.

  • Lauren Says:

    Same problem with my son. He’s 4 yrs old now and resists pooping completely. This method looks pretty great, however, a big problem with all of this is that he has issues with his speech, so we can’t talk about it together. Any suggestions on how I can go about this with a kid that wont talk to me about it?


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    As long as he can understand what you’re saying it should be fine. He doesn’t need to answer back verbally. Nods and body language go a long way. He just needs to understand what the plan is. I’m sure he’s eager to overcome this pooping issue as well.


  • Tina Says:

    As it is Easter time (time lie to my 5 and 2 yr olds about the Easter Bunny), I continue my search regarding parental opinions about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy, etc and I came across your blog. I can’t help sitting here and continuing to read! This entry was another joy to read. I have a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child and Youth Care and have 9 years experience in Early Childhood Education. Parents are always looking for advice on how to handle certain aspects of their childrens growth and development. There are certainly methods and guidelines I would recommend for every child however there is definately not one set of rules. Every child (and parenting style) is different but Behavior Modification Techniques will only work if it is motivating for both the parent and child. Meaning that if a child is unmotivated by a certain technique it will not work and likewise, if a parent doesn’t really accept a technique or idea and “own” it or give up too soon (sabotaging it’s effectiveness), ultimately it won’t work either. I have found that following my gut instinct is often the best technique (sometimes your child needs a different approach) and this seems to be what you did here as well. Love the blog and will definitely continue reading…


  • Melinda Says:

    I am so surprised that there are other people out there with the same problem. I thought we were all alone with this issue. None of my friends kids have gone through this problem but my 3 1/2 year old has been having issues with his bowels for 18 months even before we tried to toilet train him. He pees in the toilet fine and has done so for about a year but as for poos… no luck. At the moment i can get him to poo in a nappy while he is in his room, however it is always a huge drama resulting in him kicking and screaming and I usually have to use a suppository. Sometimes he won’t go even after I have used a suppository. I have tried so many things to entice him to poo. I have bribed him with new toys lollies and even cake I have told him I will through out him precious toy puppy and his Woody doll I have tried sticker charts but he just doesn’t seem to care. Every second day at least there is a huge drama over it all. It is so emotionally draining for both him and I.
    Another thing i tried was telling him that if he didn’t poo then he would have to go to bed. Well the other day I noticed he was holding it and I said
    “OK you need to poo come on then”
    His reply was “No Mummy i’m tired I want to go to sleep”
    If I don’t keep on going in and checking on him he just falls asleep hiding under his blanket.
    Well today I had enough
    I put him on the toilet. (this is not the first time I tried)
    I loved how you told your daughter she would have to stand there naked until she pooped.
    So I used that. I said that he would have to stay naked until he pooped on the toilet.
    He cried on the toilet for about 10 min but sure enough HE POOPED!!!!
    He was still crying but both my husband and I gave him so much praise.
    We have our fingers crossed for next time. I really hope he does it again.
    Thank you so much for your ideas.


  • Melanie Says:

    What you described is what’s been going on in my house to a T for the past year – my daughter is now 39months. Thanks for posting, it’s nice to read my daughter isn’t alone in this problem and that a child with the same problem has overcome it. Somehow I have to find the strength to hold my ground, not give in and find the thing that will motivate her. It might be cheese cake! thanks again. Feeling desperate, your blog has given a glimmer of hope.


  • Kirsten Says:

    Holy crap (har har)…I can hardly see my computer screen through my tears after laughing so hard at this post! I found it while researching methods to get my 3 1/2 year old son to poo on the potty. I just wrote a post on my own blog about how I’m freaking out about it and how he’s starting kindergarten (we live in Canada – as long as they are 4 by December 31st they start school in September of the year they turn 4 – does that make sense? anywho…) I’ve tried bribery, praise, humiliation, guilt etc… you name it. I’m under pressure because I don’t know if they’ll let him start kindergarten if he doesn’t have this poo thing down pat. So now I’m the one “crapping” and he’s blissfully unaware.

    I’ve tried just asking him why he won’t and he just says “I don’t know?” He pees on the potty like a pro…but poo? No way! Normally he’s pretty regular and doesn’t have any constipation problems. He did poo once on the potty but for some reason (possibly anxiety) he had a hard poo so it took a long time to “happen” and it probably didn’t feel great. I also know he likes the way his pull-ups feel rather than underwear because he has told me as much. I told him he could keep wearing the friggen things if he likes them so much…I just want the “stuff” in the potty. Obviously not in those exact words but you get the idea.

    I’ve bribed with food, toys, trips etc… I’ve tried taking away things he holds dear…none of it mattered.

    I’m thinking the naked thing is the way to go. I’m going to give it a try tomorrow. Thanks for that tip. Also for you addition logic of giving a choice. You can do this…or you can do this. Maybe that gives a sense of control? Which I KNOW they love! If that fails…at least you gave me a good laugh. There’s always that =)
    .-= Kirsten´s lastest blog ..Potty training a.k.a. psychological warfare =-.


  • Kirsten Says:

    HOLY SH%T! It worked!!! When he woke up this morning I took his pull-up and jammie bottoms off and had him tour around the house Commando. I also hauled out his little potty and put it right at his computer desk (where he seems to go a lot in a diaper because he’s relaxed). If he moved to the tv I moved the potty seat. He was verbally pretty resistant to it and asked me numerous times to stop talking (the boys learn that a young age I guess – haha). Anyway I told him not to poo on the floor and positioned myself so that I was always asking him if he had to go. I fed him an apple (works every time) some toast and milk. I could tell he was holding it so I was a bit worried about creating issues in that regard but…he’s such a regular little fella even he couldn’t hold it in forever. I noticed he started moving the potty seat around on his own when no one was paying attention. I urged everyone to leave him be and not hound him. What do you know? When everyone was busy doing something around the corner…he did it!!! He was pretty proud of himself too. We made a big deal about…gave him all the stuff we promised him over the last few months (with the exception of the Ice Cream Monster Truck from the Cars Movie which will come when he proves he’ll keep doing it). So freaking happy right now I could BURST!!! Thanks for the laugh and the idea…fingers crossed we can keep the momentum going!!
    .-= Kirsten´s lastest blog ..Potty training a.k.a. psychological warfare =-.


    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    Awesome! Congratulations. No matter how tempting, don’t backtrack and stay the course. If you cave in or slip up it could reverse course for a long time. It’s not easy to replace an old pattern. Keep us posted


    Kirsten Reply:

    Well…you DID ask me to keep you posted…the boy decided that going once on the potty was enough and we’ve had a tough go since my last comment. We’re going through a big move right now and things have been hectic to say the least. So once again I found myself trying to come up with something to do to convince him he had to go on the potty. So…while this is probably not recommended by any child therapist etc…I told him that when people fail at their job…they get fired and replaced by someone who can. I showed him a picture of Nanny McPhee (he’s never seen the movie and has no idea who she is) and told him that she would replace me if I couldn’t get him to go poo on the potty. Well today he actually went again! It took hours of convincing. He actually held it for a day and a half (check out my blog to see the picture I used – that probably had a lot to do with it) but he was no match for all of the fiber I fed him and he just couldn’t hold it any longer. He had to pee and he was relaxed enough that it just came out. We were so happy again! Unfortunately we went out for the afternoon and when we came back I went to remind him that if he had to go again he had to do it in the potty…I was too late. He already went. He was pretty remorseful. I asked him if he just forgot? He said “I was wrong”. I tried not to make him feel too badly and asked him to try again tomorrow. Here’s hoping it keeps working. I’ll just show him the nasty picture again when he wakes up!! I’m also sticking with the no pants policy when he wakes up since that seems to be the “magic hour”.
    .-= Kirsten´s lastest blog ..Nanny McPhee I praise thee! =-.


  • Katie Says:

    I googled my issue into the search engine and it came up with this article in the first line. My daughter will be 4 in Feb. and I am having a hell of a time getting her to poop. I have done the same run around with the constipation,GlycoLax and pull up. Its the same problem but its my husband who is the one to interfear with the pooping process. He would rather have me change 4-6 skid-marked diapers then make her sit there till she goes. I am sooo going to try the book,poop,reward thing and see if it works on this stubborn kid because I am sick of the fight to change the diaper because she doesnt want to poop or change her diaper when she does a little. Thanks for posting this! It honestly gives me some hope that she wont have this issue when shes 45!!


  • artgirl68 Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for blogging about your kid’s pooping issues. You could have easily been writing about my kiddo and some of the conversations we’ve had with her. I’m not against using bribery but I’d never thought of offering a corresponding amount of cake. Brilliant! I’m off to bake a cake now!


  • Manda Says:

    Oh my God!!! I really laughed out loud after reading the article, my girl is 3.5 and she has been potty trained since she was 2 but she has been resisting pooing for some time now. I am so tired and exhausted. I try really hard but nothing seems to works… 🙁


  • Teresa Says:

    My son is 3 yrs old. And he also has this problem. The tough thing is he hides when he needs to go so well from me. He has had problems pooping ever since he was born. I had to give him enama’s for infants for the first 2 months of his life and a couple other times during the first yr. Things seemed to start getting normal but when he was just over a yr old his father took off when he found out I was pregnant again. My son stoped talking and has been difficult ever since. He has been peeing on the potty for about 18 months now but still sometimes just goes in his cloth’s and absolutly refuses to poop on the potty. He will poop anywhere else but the potty. He will only pee when I tell him to even. My 19 month old daughter has shown now that she is starting to become aware of when she has to go and has told me a couple times and pooped and peed on the potty but I have noticed that she is also now aware that her brother wont use the potty and she has stopped trying to use the potty herself. I need to get him to use the potty soon before she becomes the same way. My first 2 kids were so much easier and they were both trained by 2 yrs old. Strange how they are girl’s and started the same as my youngest. But my son Still doesnt speak very much and seems to have trouble pronouncing some things. The Dr. hasn’t been able to figure out why he has trouble speaking and this is limiting our comunication. I believe he understands more then he lets on but not sure what all he realy get’s. I am going to try to use this with him though and hopefully he understands it and it work’s. If anyone has any other ideas on this or ideas to incourage more speech please share them with me.


    Teresa Reply:

    I tried this and it worked. I only had to reward him the one time. But I also got him a new potty chair for his room at the same time and one for my daughters room. My son will wait till he is in his room for nap time to poop but at least he will poop. Once in a while I have to remind him to poop but not often. But he doesn’t tend to have accidents any more except once in a blue moon now. For my now 2 yr old daughter having her potty in her room has helped as well. She uses her potty all the time now. And has also started pooping at nap time like her brother. But most of the time she will call me and say my poop it hurts. So I have to put her on her potty of which is right next to her. lol, She also calls me in the middle of the night to put her on it to pee cause she is tired and doesn’t want to climb out of bed but she will climb back in bed. She still takes herself pee in the day. And has stated once in awhile putting herself on the toilet to poop. I think she just wants to keep me involved.


  • tklothe Says:

    WOW!!! I will try with my 4 year old daughter. She refuses pooing on potty and it’s starting to be a problem in school. For some reason teachers don’t want to change other peoples kids poop!!LOL I am so relieved that my daughter has fellow rebels out there. I’ll keep you posted


  • Poop-probs-persist Says:

    We had same problems several years ago, and struggled through it much the same way with bribery, etc. never tried the naked bit though. Now my son is 6. He will indeed say he needs to poop sometimes, and everything comes out normally. He gets praised up and down for being a big boy, rewarded if he wants it, etc. But he still has the problem of holding it in. Sometimes he will go for days until he absolutely has to go. This is okay if he’s at home or at school (he actually did it in school by himself), but gets a little inconvenient when you’ve been on the ski slopes for a few days and he is going to ski school on his own tomorrow. I picture him being up on the lift saying “instructor, I need to poop”. They will certainly tell him to hold it and he will then have to struggle with snow plowing and holding poop in. I know the worst that can happen is some brown patches in the snow and humiliation for him, but I would rather not have him go through that over and over again in his life. I’m just not sure how long this will go on, and it doesn’t seem like it is “normal”.

    Has anyone on this board had experience with the persistent poop-holder? If so, please let me know how you’ve resolved it.



    Straight Dope Dad Reply:

    That’s a tough one. There may be two things going on. One, he’s just maintaining a holding habit he started a long time ago. Two, he can’t tell when he needs to poop. My daughter doesn’t feel pressure in her bladder very well. So after 4-6 hours I make her go pee even though she claims she doesn’t have to. Then when she sits down, she pees like a horse. We’ve talked about this and she truly doesn’t feel pressure in her bladder unless it’s really strong. So we just go by time.

    It’s possible your son my have some similar issues of where his body doesn’t feel like pooping as strongly as other people. If that’s the case I would set up a pooping schedule.

    Maybe once every other day to get started and then eventually everyday. Make it the same time each day and set up a routine. Like maybe have something warm and delicious like hot chocolate, then go sit and try to poop.

    A standard routine will create bio feedback and reenforce the behavior psychologically.


  • Trish Says:

    Thanks so much for the post! We are going through the same thing with my 3 yr old son! Pees like a pro, but when it’s time to poop – hiding in bed, crying, screaming, sitting on the potty 10x and saying he doesn’t have to go, only to run around the house holding his behind!!! We’re going to up the bribes and see if we have better luck… good to know others are in the same boat as us!


  • Abuelita Says:

    The original post may be several years old but the problem must be universal. I care for my almost 23 month old granddaughter (I have five daughters of my own!!) and had never experienced anything like this child’s resolve. I believe her initial fear also came from an incredibly painful bowel movement back when she had just turned one. She was breastfed and growing like a champ but was slow at taking an interest in solid food. Her mom didn’t push and neither did I, since I have her four days a week. I think we experienced an unfortunate series of events that led to the problem: solid food finally became interesting; breast feeding was tapered off (by the baby) around age one; and whole milk (albeit organic) was introduced after age one. Boom!!! The big one occurred and my husband, a physician, actually had to help pull that poop out!!! That child could have been delivering a baby, for all the shaking, tears, tremors!! It was traumatic for all of us. But the memory must linger on, and on and on. Being a physician, my husband assumes the worse and feels our granddaughter must have an issue with the sphincter muscle–you name it–but some physiological problem. I, on the other hand, think the mind is a powerful thing. And after reading all of the previous posts, there is no doubt. I’m still of a mind that the “Bermuda Triangle” of events occurred and that was the beginning of our year of tears. Baby brother or sister is due any day. I pray we can get this issue behind us soon. 23 months is still a bit young for reasoning with her or bribery. And I’m pretty sure mom won’t go for the cake. But I may try something else. Strawberries are in season–could do worse. (Oh, and we have a stack of potty-side reading…for both of us!!!)


  • Problem With Potty Training My Son - Potty Lessons Says:

    […] Get Thee to a Potty! A Child’s Persistent … – Get Thee to a Potty! An Unorthodox Solution to a Child’s Persistent Pooping Problem and Toilet Training Issues. […]

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