Regardless of where you are from, or if you say poo or poop, this problem is universal and a common potty training challenge. Your child might be very proficient at doing wees on the toilet but poos are another matter.
After 9 months of trying to get my daughter to do a poo on the toilet and finally succeeding, I’ve done a lot of research around various techniques to help achieve this. I thought I’d share them with you as for others going through the same thing, dirty undies and/or constipation is never fun.
The reason why some kids get the hang of doing poops on the potty or toilet quickly and others take a little longer is unknown. Reasons have included having a bad experience, like a poo that hurts when trying before, falling in or nearly falling in the toilet, constipation, stubbornness, lack of interest, or scared that a part of them is being flushed away.
My daughter went through a few different stages. She would just do it in her undies and not seem to realise or care that it was there. She then suffered from stool withholding and thus constipation. Sometimes this would lead to 3 or 4 poos a day in her undies as only little bits were getting past a blocked poo – a form of constipation I later found out. Then she would only do poos in her nappy when she had her day time sleep or night time sleep. For a while this was actually a relief as there were no more dirty undies and she wasn’t suffering from a sore stomach.
Cleaning poos from dirty undies is never fun, I have to admit some never returned. However, after trying many things, there were definitely some techniques that worked better than others.
Each child is different so I thought I'd list a variety of different techniques you can try. I wish you every success with your poo in the potty challenge. I truly hope these ideas help in some way.
1. RULE OUT CONSTIPATION
Constipation could definitely be a cause for a child not wanting to poop in the toilet. Constipation could be caused by holding on to the poo or they may actually be constipated so poos are hard and can sometimes hurt when they do a poo, their tummy may hurt and hence don’t like doing poos. There could even be a blockage and only small bits of poo get out which a child has limited control over. If you can relate to any of these things, it’s best to see a health care professional to check your child isn’t constipated. If they are, normally a form of laxative is given which will help.
2. REWARD CHARTS (A.K.A BRIBERY)
Using rewards charts are great if your child is occasionally doing a poo in the toilet, especially when they are allowed to choose the stickers and put them on. I find though that reward charts tend to work better when there is a toy or treat involved too. A sticker isn’t always enough. I found my daughter sticking all the stickers on the chart one day when she just did a wee.
Whilst not everyone agrees with this, bribery was definitely a success factor in my experience. A treat for every time we had success wasn’t giving us long term consistency. However, letting my daughter go to the toy shop and pick a toy (she choose an owl Beanie Boo) then hiding it in the house and telling her she can’t have it unless she continues to do poos, I really think is what got her over the line.
If you are happy to subscribe to my page, I have a free download of a reward chart and potty training colouring book.
Another tactic I’ve heard has also worked, though I haven’t tried it, is to reward other members of the family when they do a poo and not the child that isn’t doing a poo. Sometimes reversing the situation has an impact.
3. READ CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS
Exasperated by the whole experience, I even wrote a children’s picture book about it. As a children’s picture book author, this seemed natural. She kept asking me to read the poo story to her as she thought it was fun and wanted to make Mr Poo happy. The book is called Come Out Mr Poo! and it is available through Amazon. See below for more details plus a few other books that may help.
4. WATCHING BIGGER KIDS
While it might sound funny, smaller kids want to be big kids and tend to idealise what bigger kids do. If they can watch a slightly older brother or sister, a cousin or friend do a poo on the toilet sometimes this gives them the push to overcome their fear or stubbornness as they too want to be a ‘big kid’.
5. OFFER LOTS OF PRAISE
It goes without saying but kids generally want to make you happy and if you can make them feel proud and grown up then this is something they want to continue to receive. Every time you have success, give as much praise as you can. Many high-fives and hugs go a long way.
6. IF GOING OFF TO HIDE, ENCOURAGE TO DO IN THE BATHROOM
If you child will only do poos in their nappy or slinks off to the corner to do a poop. Encourage them to do this in the bathroom. Whilst it won’t necessarily solve the problem, it gets them closer to understanding the right place for where poos should be done.
7. SEEK HELP FROM OTHER BOOKS
There are other books that you can read that offer suggestions and advice in more depth than this post.
I hope some of these suggestions are useful and work for you. Patience is definitely required. There are some great days and some not so great days. Your child will get there, these are some suggestions to help both you the parent and your little one. Best wishes!