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Help! My 5 year old just won't poop on the toilet

We have a not quite 4 year old boy who refuses to toilet train. We have tried everything, including you can have this toy when you use the toilet, candy, asking, asking again etc. Does anyone have any ideas.

He is somewhat special needs (still working on exactly what)

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marked as duplicate by Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 4 '12 at 14:36

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Can you elaborate on the special needs thing a bit? Even without a diagnosis, a general idea of what kinds of things he gets hung up on would help. –  HedgeMage Apr 12 '11 at 3:41
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My son didn't become potty trained until about his 4th birthday. I don't think it was his birthday, though, that did the trick. I think it was because I had answered all his mental reservations about it.

One day I asked him very specifically if there was any reason he couldn't put all his poop only in the potty all the time, and he came up with some reasons. I was able to answer them and take away his objections. I asked this same basic question several different ways, and each way he responded with some objections that I was able to address.

Lo and behold, he was 90% better by the next day and within a week he was reliably using the potty with few accidents, whereas before he'd had very little success. If you're having trouble, I think using a bit of psychology is worth trying.

One example was that he said he couldn't use the potty because it hurts, but I explained that actually it's holding the poop that makes it hurt: "You know how when you're hungry, eating makes you feel better, and not eating just makes the feeling of hunger worse? Well, when you have to go, it's getting the poop out of you that makes you feel better!" This made a lot of sense to him.

If this still doesn't work, take heart. Your child will use the potty when he or she is ready. But sometimes you can jump-start the process.

One more thing: the part about "when he is ready" is really the trick. You cannot force a child to use the potty. I think back when I was researching this due to my own concerns about his potty training, I read somewhere that the biggest impediment to children's potty is excessive parental coercion. Once it's a power struggle, the child is going to win it. Instead, make it his own choice so that he feels empowered by success in this area, instead of feeling like he lost a battle by using the potty.

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My son was very difficult to potty train.

I know you mention that you have tried everything, but I suggest making a game out of it. Put some Cheerios in the toilet for target practice or add food coloring to have him change the color of the water.

Also, I would suggest removing underwear when in the house as they are used to just going in a diaper/pull-up. It will lead to some accidents, but the child becomes more aware.

Ultimately, my son was on his own pace. It wasn't until he was told he couldn't go to school without being potty trained that he finally got with the program.

Good luck!

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Here are some things that worked with my son who started toilet training around 2.5 years.

  • Peer pressure. He goes to child care 4 days a week and his older friends were already trained. He saw using nappies as being a baby thing. We didn't need to do anything there, his peer group meant he wanted to change himself.

  • Character underwear. If you provide him with underwear of his favourite character like Buzz Lightyear or Spiderman this will be an incentive not to get them wet or dirty because they enjoy wearing their favourite underwear.

  • Get him into a routine. If toilet time is before dinner then stick to the routine e.g "It's dinner time please go to the toilet and then was your hands" or "It's bed time, please go to the toilet then I'll read you a story".

  • You may be going about this the wrong way. The battle maybe should be to get him to wear underwear and not about getting him to go to the toilet. Getting him to go to the toilet may be easier if the consequence is wetting himself if he doesn't have a nappy.

  • Be patient. Especially using the above approach. After switching to underwear there are definitely going to be accidents, but these will get less over time. We were going from 8 changes of underpants a day down to 4 pairs and then eventually once or twice to none.

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