My three year old has been potty trained for about three months -he still wears pull-ups at night, but they are often dry, and during the day he wears underwear. However he will not yet poop in the potty. We have a good system where he lets me know he needs to poop and we switch out the underwear for a diaper and then he goes off by himself somewhere to do it, but he strongly resists trying first to go on the potty. He will come and sit if I ask, but he won't try to poop, he basically just sits there and fidgets for a couple of minutes and then says it isn't working and he needs a diaper. So a few questions, really: 1) about how long is the typical lapse between peeing in the potty and pooping in the potty? 2) is this a step that I can expect he will eventually choose to take on his own, or do I need to insist at some point that he do it? 3) what are ways in which I can encourage him to poop on the potty/what have others tried that has worked? We did stickers for peeing and that seemed to work really well, but the "poop" part of the chart has remained stubbornly blank. I would greatly appreciate any insights! Thanks

  • have you read all the other questions in the Related sidebar to the right, and the potty-training tag? There is a lot of info on this.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 27 '17 at 14:27
  • Thanks, still figuring out how to use the app, I'll try to find that.
    – MAA
    Jun 27 '17 at 15:04
  • Actually, on the mobile app it is tricky to see it - I tend to fall back to using chrome, and selecting the Desktop view. Or just browse the potty training tag, by clicking on it
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 27 '17 at 15:05
  • Ok thanks. Maybe I'll wait til I can get to a computer later
    – MAA
    Jun 27 '17 at 15:05

I would think 3 months is about time to look at working your child toward being willing to use the toilet for pooping. I know many don't want to do that, I've lived it too. What I chose to do that helped us, was to tell my children they can poop their pants (pullup) as long as they want to. They do not need to use a toilet, however I am done changing them. I then make sure they are aware that other people use toilets, etc through a series of questions. So I ask things like, "Where do other people poop? Where does momma poop?" as well as then going on to other questions like "If you wanted to poop on the toilet, who would you ask for help?" Once the child has stated all answers that cover the entire topic, then I say something like "Good. I am so glad that if you decide to use a toilet, you know where it is, what it is for and who to ask for help. I know that it's your body and you are in charge and when you are ready you will poop there". Then leave that convo alone.

Later, you then go on to the "You are allowed to poop your pants forever" talk where you can explain your retirement on poop cleanup. You MUST be kind & patient & non reactive if they are upset. You simply say things like "Honey, I know you want momma to clean it, but I am all done with that part. You can still use your pullups. Please don't worry. You don't have to use a toilet if you are not ready, but you do have to clean up your own pants". Then, when they do go, you walk them through cleanup with as little helping as possible. They might be upset about this. Mine were. We had a very similar pattern of behavior. At first they were sad during cleanup and saying they can't do it, help me, etc. I just was a huge cheerleader & told them it's okay, there is a learning curve & they are doing AWESOME. Then we moved onto begging, please please don't make me do this. I answer this with I am not making you do this love. You can choose a toilet if you prefer not to have to clean up smeary poops, but you can also choose to use a pullup and if you do, then you will need to learn how to clean it. Remain loving alllll the time, sweet, kind in tone and supportive. The next phase was a shocker on the 1st kid, it was anger, serious serious anger. And again, I just met it with kindness. "It is really hard to clean up. I know. I have done lots of these. Don't worry, you will get better at it. It is never fun, but it's not always this hard", etc. With one of my kids, we went through those three phases in 3 pullups & it was over. No joke. He went on the toilet the 4th poop & every poop after. In all cases though, it was short, maybe a week or so.

I make sure the WHOLE time, that A - they are old enough to know they have to go (yours clearly does as he asks for a pullup) and B - that I am available to be asked at ANY moment if they do want to go to a toilet and C - that I am super loving and kind & leave it all up to them. This is not about me making you use a toilet. This is about me making you handle your own cleanup. At 3, even an uncoordinated 3 can usually decently handle it. You may want to do a quick bath after, but they can mostly handle the rest. And I have them do all. You take it off, you do all wiping, you put it into a bag, you take it to trash, you wash your hands, etc. I also made it crystal clear that this was the absolute end of me handling their pooping. All of mine have been 3+ though and all already managed the peeing fine and were hiding to poop, a clear sign they understood the body signal.

  • 1
    This sounds good. We're still struggling with pooping on the potty. I used this method you've suggested to get him to stop pooping in his underwear, and he only did that one time after. It makes sense it would work for transitioning to the potty too. Thanks :)
    – MAA
    Aug 16 '17 at 4:37
  • I appreciate the uniqueness of this approach! I've never seen something like this suggested before. Aug 16 '17 at 15:13
  • Worked like a charm :) he changed his pull up twice, and the third time he said "pooping on the potty is hard, and wiping myself is hard, so I can't do either one!" And I told him he could do both but had to pick one, and he said he'd poop on the potty. Thanks a bunch :)
    – MAA
    Sep 6 '17 at 16:52
  • @MAA you made my day! I rarely get to hear back but I am so glad it has gone well. That has also been my experience with it. GOOD JOB little one & great job you!
    – threetimes
    Sep 6 '17 at 16:55

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