Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

My 4 year old son will not poop on the toilet. We tried potty training him a few times, and he was not ready until now. He is doing pretty good with peeing, with only a few accidents here and there. The real problem is pooping on the toilet.


He has been steadily potty training for four days now. When he was wearing diapers he would go sometimes multiple times a day and the instant we started on the potty he just will not poop. He has been holding it in, doesn't even do it in his underwear.

I sit him on the toilet for long periods of time so he will just let it go, but it doesn't work. Rewards don't work, encouragement doesn't work, he isn't scared of it, just tells me he doesn't have to go when clearly he does. Has anyone else had this problem? What can I do?

By Ashleigh from Colorado Springs, CO

January 13, 20110 found this helpful

Hello, Ashleigh, I'm sure you are frustrated but here's a funny story from a friend with exactly the same problem: Think of it as "separation anxiety" and it just might help. :-)

My friend's child was also doing fine with peeing in the potty, and claimed not to be scared or afraid of pooping in the potty, just didn't want to do so. After trying as many if not more things with her child as you have with yours, she finally discovered the problem by accident. No pun intended. While cleaning up yet another dirty "pantfull" she casually asked the toddler, "How can you stand this yucky mess in your pants?"

Breaking out the crocodile tears, the child sobbed, "But mommy, it's part of me! Why don't you love it?" Right away, she began a long, tender discussion about how normal it was for everybody to lose things like pee, hair left in the brush, baby teeth, clipped fingernails and toenails, and poop because their body was always making extra of those things to replace the old stuff. After a few honest accidents, full toilet training was accomplished within a few weeks.

Don't know if this will help or not, but thought it was worth sharing. Good luck! :-)

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January 14, 20110 found this helpful

My son had the same issue when my oldest son was 3, except he did not go in the toilet or his pants...we took him to the Dr because he eventually had tummy aches from holding it so long and was painful when he actually tried. The Dr told us to put 1/2 cap full of Miralax in his juice, milk, or water. When we added it we called it sugar. I know it sounds mean, but it helped with the constipation from holding it and he could not hold it anymore because it is a mild laxitive. Eventually we did not have to use it anymore and he got over not using the toilet rather quickly.

Hope this idea helps.

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January 14, 20110 found this helpful

I had the same problem with my son. I put him in Pull-Ups, but when he had to poop he let me know and I put a diaper on him. I then waited until summer time when he could wear less clothing and he was a little embarrassed for people to see he wore a diaper especially for the kids of his own age to see. He stated using the potty for pooping on his own.

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January 14, 20110 found this helpful

My daughter was the exact same way. We would have to put a diaper on her to poop. She didn't want to get the potty or toilet dirty. I gave her Disney Dollars. I set up a chart with circles depicting quarters. I gave her a quarter for every pee-pee and 2 quarters for every poop in the potty. I did this because I knew she would begin school soon and need to be well trained. We colored a "quarter" in every time she earned it. She eventually saved up enough money to go to the Disney Store to buy anything she wanted. She bought a Little Mermaid dress that she wore until she absolutely couldn't wear it any longer. After we went shopping, we no longer needed a chart!

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January 16, 20110 found this helpful

My grandson was the same way. His mother got a footstool to go in front of the toilet to put his feet on. This way his legs were a little higher than his body and made it easier. I've heard of this suggestion for adults as well.

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

Make sure their feet don't dangle above the floor. Different muscles used. Best when placed on a step if can't reach.

Google potty/toilet training here on Thriftyfun. Lots of information posted many times over on tricks of the trade.

I did not have issues with sons/grandchildren and the toilet. Also did licensed daycare for 15 years, never an issue there. Age 2 is about the right time to start this when they still can have faith that parents do know what they are talking about!

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January 13, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

I have a foster son that is 5 years old that refuses to go to the potty, which consists of poop. We have tried everything, including bribing him with toys, money, etc. We even bought him some underwear, but when he cleans them out in the toilet he likes to play in it. This is an on going thing 3 to 4 times a day.

The school is frustrated and doesn't know what to do. We are beside ourselves. What can we do to help this child? We realize being a foster child could be some of it, but everyone is telling him he won't go home. He will be staying with us until he's grown up. However, I can't stand my bathroom having poop all over it. He smears it on my cabinets and walls too. Please help.

By Arlene


Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

Some foster children have problems beyond the normal five year old as they've gone through so much before you provide their care. Bribes are not resolving the issue and he doesn't appear to be ashamed in front of his classmates at school.

He may be overwhelmed with the change, angry at his young life being so difficult and cannot put into words to express his feelings, so he releases whatever is pent up in this manner.

The only way your son will correct this action is by your willingness to seek counseling with him and learn how to stop the steps to this "dance" so he is helped and becomes a happy little five year old you want to see him become. (10/15/2010)

By Lorelei

Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

I would say that many kids do this, and here are some things I have discovered about this:
It is better to act bored and not interested in the least. This doesn't give attention or spotlight the action you are trying to change. Some kids feel that poop is against them and it hurts and it is being "beat up" by them smearing it on the wall and giving it what it deserves in their small mind. There are PHD's who used to do this, it is not an indication of intelligence. Lots of kids do this for reasons we may never know.

I would go and find counseling for you so you are not alone in this, and I will vouch for lexapro which is an excellent antidepressant. I have a 20 year old beautiful daughter who has schizophrenia and autism and OC. It may seem horrible, but this is not the most awful thing I have ever heard of a child doing or seen a child do. This too will pass, but nonetheless it would be great for him to be able to talk to a counselor and see if this is of help to him, and they have programs where people can come out to the house and check up on him.

I would also get a potty training video, and let him watch it. Also I would try taking him off wheat for a time and see if that helps. I remember that my daughter when she was younger was calmed by green light bulbs in her room and as irritating as they were to me, she loved them. Also I would try to give him a chidren's Benadryl, and see if that helps him calm down, he may be stressed and not sure how to deal with it.

Once I called poison control to see what would happen if my child accidentally took double the amount of Benadryl and they told me all about it and I felt more safe after I discussed it with them. I didn't tell them I planned to use it to calm her down and for her allergies, which turned out to be great since with her disabilities allergies are involved.

I would make a very detailed record of every ten minutes (I know, shrug, more work) what does he eat, what does he do, etc. what are his behaviors, and see what the day looks like, this is what I had done with my daughter years ago. There will be things that might show up.

I might cover the walls with clear contact paper or plastic paper until this resolves itself. When my child was an inpatient for stabilization, there were lots of young kids there who were hurting themselves and were being evaluated by the doctor.

This might benefit your son. Bring him to the ER and say he is having a psychiatric emergency and you are afraid he will harm himself. They will have a person come out and fill out a form and then contact
inpatient facilities that will watch him and evaluate him. I would get him in a room that is easy to clean and run a bath before you even go in there and plop him in it and do the cleaning things, calmly with no fanfare act as bored as possible and then matter of factly go and reward yourself with something you really like for having to go through this stage with him.

One of my greatest rewards in life is following the autism research listserv. It is full of exceptional information, and here is the link to join. When you join, ask what can be done about playing with poop and what is it a sign of and Willis will probably answer it. Also ask anything else you are concerned about, this is an excellent tool.

Also I would have him evaluated for vitamin deficiency and find a way to see if his digestion is on track.

Blessings and feel free to click on contact by my name and keep me updated and I will encourage you all I can.


By Robyn Fed

Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

I was a foster parent. I have worked with a child like this. He needs therapy to resolve the issue that is causing him to do this. (10/18/2010)

By melzacmom1

Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

Your foster child has more going on than potty issues. This is his control, something from his own body he does not have to give anyone and when he does, it is in a destructive manner. He is old enough to understand that poop only goes into the toilet and not on the walls, etc. Give him the pair of gloves and the soiled underwear to clean up. I would start with the mess outdoors first in the scrub process. My special needs brother got potty trained by 3. Repetition of "this is not where we do this, we use the bathroom", is a must. Telling him that part of the house is yours as well, you let him use it, but he needs to use it correctly for all to be happy. (10/18/2010)

By T&T Grandma

Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

It may have nothing to do with his being a foster child. A friend of mine is at her wits end because her 8 year old daughter does this, at home, at school, and when visiting other people's houses. She has gotten counseling and it did not help. Her only solution is to make sure the child never goes to the bathroom by herself! And she has clothes that do up in back so the child cannot remove them, as she was pooping in the school yard and smearing it on the school. This child is intelligent, well mannered, and gets good grades in school, she has been doing this all her life, hopefully she will "grow out of it". (10/19/2010)

By catastrofy

Child Won't Poop in the Toilet

First, I would take him to a pediatrician, and then get a referral for counseling/therapy if there isn't a medical reason for his behavior. (10/20/2010)

By Maryeileen

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