My three year old is 100% pee trained, even at night, but as with many little guys is not poop trained. We started him in underwear, partly because preschool encouraged it and partly because he pee trained better - and we hoped poop would come faster.

Nope. He's now in full resistance mode, ie, mommy sees him squatting, takes him into potty, he screams and stops pooping and then goes right afterwards in his underwear. (Yes, we know this wasn't the right thing to do.)

We're considering, as part of the process, asking him to clean up his own underwear when he has an accident. What are the benefits and/or downsides of such a process? How much should we expect him to clean up?

I saw in this question that 'first rinse' was recommended by some, but didn't see any explanation in the linked article what that entailed or why that was a good idea. Would that include him pulling down his pants/underwear, or is this more something we'd do for him and then say 'okay, rinse it in the sink now'?

  • We ended up doing 'first rinse', which he was happy to participate in: I'd take it off, make a show of dumping it in the potty and saying 'poop goes in the potty', then he'd help rinse it in the sink after he finished trying to make more. He was happy to do that, didn't have any issues.
    – Joe
    Aug 25, 2014 at 15:35
  • The big decision for my son came at a drive in theater. He pooped his pants, and we had to walk a quarter mile to the restrooms to clean him up. About half way across the field he announced "never again", and that was the end of it.
    – pojo-guy
    Oct 2, 2018 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


I personally think that having a three year-old clean up his own feces would not be a good idea; too much opportunity to make a mess or create an association that the potty is negative.

I have a great deal of luck following the Incredible Years theories when potty training my two boys. I participated in several parent groups through Head Start.

What I found to be helpful with my kids:

"I see you pooped in your unders, poop goes in the potty. Let's clean up now."

"I see you pooping, let's get it in the potty!" said excitedly like a game

I did naked time, so I had less mess to clean up (easier to wipe down a floor than clean underwear); scheduled potty breaks; and a simple, achievable reward chart (stickers each time with a hot wheel for three).

Good luck!

  • Good answer, but with if the child makes a complete mess, I think I'd rather throw away the underwear then clean the floor. Also if they go hide in a corner to poop, what if you don't find it for a while? At least with underwear you know where it is.
    – Bobo
    Aug 22, 2014 at 17:45
  • 2
    We ended up doing some naked time, and that seemed to have a significant benefit: we didn't actually have any messes on the floor! He was able to indicate when he needed to go (physically at first, but by Sunday verbally) and went.
    – Joe
    Aug 25, 2014 at 15:34
  • If they hide and poop, you will smell it...its not hard to find ;-) Aug 29, 2014 at 3:02

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