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Help! My toddler doesn’t poop in the potty!

A question I am regularly asked is “Why doesn’t my son poop in the potty?” Know that you are not alone if you are currently facing this common toilet training problem. As frustrating as it might be, steps can certainly be taken to overcome this obstacle to diaper freedom.

More common in older potty-trained children (ages 2.5 and older), the “poop” issue can become a major power struggle between you and your toddler. Reasons for this apparent stubbornness may be fear, medical problems, embarrassment, or standard toddler annoyance. Let’s tackle each problem one by one.

Medical problems:

First, a disclaimer: If you think your child’s unwillingness to poop in the potty is really a medical problem, check with your pediatrician. There is a condition called encopresis that is caused by chronic constipation. Children who experience encopresis have a problem with the intestine that dulls normal senses about the urge to go. A more benign medical condition is basic constipation, in which the child is unable to pass stool for a couple of days. Usually, an increase in dietary fiber or a mild stool softener will help alleviate the situation.


Believe it or not, many children believe that poop is part of their body. Imagine how reluctant you would be to use the bathroom if you thought that one part of your body might fall out every time! For other children, the fear comes from the actual sensation of the air hitting their bottom, the “plop” that can be heard in the water below, or the sound of the discharge. Other children have had a previous painful episode of constipation and are afraid of experiencing it again.


I think many of us can confess that we occasionally “make a fuss” about our child’s poop. We joke or joke about the smell, size, or consistency of poop. Some children, especially “sensitive” ones, may become self-conscious about this bodily function. If you think this could be the reason for your child’s problem, try talking about the poop in a very practical way. Make it clear to your child that pooping is a very normal and natural part of life. Reading books like “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi to your child may help.


For most parents reading this article, the “terrible two (or three or four)” could be to blame for their potty problems. The key to convincing your child to use the potty instead of his pants is to find a way for the child to finally decide that life is easier and more hygienic if he uses the potty. Some parents are violently opposed to bribes or “punishments,” but sometimes the basic concept of “you get as much as you give” is the magical answer. If your child cooperates, he receives positive reinforcement. If they don’t, negative reinforcement is dispensed. Allowing the child to decide if the positives outweigh the negatives will empower them and allow for greater independence. It is also temporary. Trust me, you won’t have to bribe your kid to poop in the potty on his high school graduation day!

A method to end the madness:

If you fall into the “stubbornness” category above, there is a step-by-step method available to finally convince your child that poop needs to go to the bathroom. Many parents have had success with what I call the “Potty Boot Camp Pooping Program.” It’s a cookbook style, simple, straightforward method that teaches your child that pooping has its rewards. It will explain what to do with your child, the “secrets” of what to say to be more convincing, and what to do if your child doesn’t want to cooperate. In no time at all, you’ll be diaper and accident free forever. The Potty Boot Camp Pooping Program is available at

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