Toilet Training: My baby will go #1, but he won’t do #2 in the potty!
Today’s topic was brought up by a parent whose 3 year old son just did not want to poop in the potty. She’s not alone. There were over 200,000 references to fear of pooping in the potty on Google. I guess that should give us some comfort about whether a child is troubled or simply obstinate because he or she wants to hold on to the poop. It’s a world-wide issue.
I might as well tell you up front that there is no single solution, but you can envision relief ahead. If you provide positive support for using the potty and don’t resort to meanness, screaming in frustration, or pay for poop tactics, most toddlers will shed their pull-ups, put on the underpants, and use the potty like the rest of us by the time they’re 4 years old. Yes, that seems like a long time to wait, but whether it’s reluctance, stubbornness, or fear, pooping in the potty seems to be a developmental thing.
First, rule out medical issues such as constipation due to insufficient fluids, diet or a possible intestinal disorder. Aside from problems of a medical origin the specific reasons fall into two groups. One is about habit and comfort. It’s very dry, you don’t have to take your clothes off, and most importantly, a grown up will deal quickly with disposal. Why change the program?
Another related opinion is that it’s a shocker to see what actually comes out of you when you sit on the potty. That’s why the reluctance to use the potty is called “holding” vs “letting go” of something from inside. Even if you are aware of making the BM disposing of the pull-up is emotionally different than seeing something that has fallen out of your body now sitting in a receptacle. It may not intellectually make sense but as an emotional reaction it’s understandable.
Maybe all three reasons ultimately contribute to “holding” the poop. Techniques to help baby include:
- Cutting a hole in the pull-up for potty time (having it both ways);
- Engaging the baby in helping you with clean up and disposal;
- Reading stories about using the toilet;
- Praising your child for trying and helping with disposal;
- Setting a target such as the 4th birthday and get the child ready for the BIG DAY;
- Stop talking about it and wait for the child to come around;
- Use underpants at all times except at poop time;
- Use pull-ups at all times and use cool underpants as the goal.
Most important: don’t bring on a case of constipation because you want to control defecation. Some kids will “hold in” for several days. And as I stated right at the top, if you can have the patience to wait it out, something magical will happen the closer they get to their 4th birthday. Finally, the infant has transitioned, ready to say goodbye to pull-ups and resolved to pooping in the potty.