I have noticed that at a certain point (some) children seek solitude to poop. It seems to happen overnight- one day the child is perfectly content filling his diaper in the living room, surrounded by his brothers, while playing with his cars. The next day he's hiding under the bed or simply going into the next room to do his business.

I realize not all toddlers do this- one of my three boys never did this (and interestingly enough, continued to refuse to acknowledge his urge to move his bowels and continued to poop his pants until...well, when it's been 5 years without incident we'll say it's over, but that's an issue I've discussed in another post) I've also noticed that it doesn't coincide with a readiness to use the potty. Hiding to poop seems to occur at least several months before pooping on the potty is an achievable goal.

I'm interested to know what kind of cognitive milestone this behavior signals. Also, I'd like to know if my current approach- which is to attempt to intercept the disappearing acts and redirect to the potty in lieu of a lonely closet, or if reasonable, to put the potty in the preferred hiding spot- is the best method in light of whatever developmental change is occurring?

  • Interesting question and very recognizable behaviour. Ours had specific hiding places at different locations (grandma, other grandparents, restaurant we frequented)
    – Ivana
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


I don't have any real 'evidence' for this, but my nephew used to do the same thing. When he was being potty trained, he would go hide in a corner and poop his pants instead of in the toilet, which baffled us completely. He used to hide when wearing a diaper too.

One day though, he walked in on his grandma in the bathroom and asked what she was doing, so she replied that she was pooping. He was shocked and said "Grandma no poop. Only me poop". From this, we learned that he was embarrassed and ashamed of his poop because he thought he was the only one doing it. This caused him to hide. Once we convinced him that we all do it and it's okay, he stopped hiding and used the toilet properly.

I think toddlers are very familiar with the concept of going pee, but poop tends to confuse them. On a different answer somewhere around here, someone mentioned that their daughter was afraid to poop in the toilet because she was worried about "where the poop went".

We as adults tend to hide this part of ourselves, even though it is completely natural. Maybe remembering to tell toddlers that it is natural will calm them.

Also, pooping requires a bit of focus. Infants can't really crawl away and hide, so they do it wherever they happen to be. Toddlers might just want to find a corner where they can poop in peace without distraction.

  • 3
    These two comments sort of mimic the dialogue at my house; with three young boys, the word "poop" far out numbers any other word except maybe "fart". This might be the answer in a majority of households...in mine however, pooping is as ordinary and candid (I haven't pooped in solitude in years) as eating at my house and still the behavior is present...
    – Jax
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 13:11
  • Three young boys does sound like a lot of 'poop' talk :P My family is all girls except for this nephew, so not as much in this house. In that case, I still think my last paragraph might be part of the issue.
    – Bobo
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    My 5 year old girl likes nothing better than poop jokes
    – Batavia
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 18:41

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