My son is 3 years and 9 months old. He has an amazing personality. In short, he takes the world by his terms. He has been working on potty training for sometime now and I understand there will be bumps in the road. However, he refuses to poop on the potty.

Occasionally, if he is outside and can't hold it anymore he will drop his pants and poop in the yard, sometimes with in a few feet of the potty we have out there for him. I have read similar questions on here with responses that say there is probably some sort of fear. I just don't see it.

We also have a 4 year old little girl (who doesn't like to flush the toilet) and he will plow through anyone who stands in his way to flush the toilet for her. He will pitch a fit if he does not get to do it. I focus on what he is saying. When we tell him to or suggest that he sit on the potty he says, "No I don't want to". If we try to make him he throws a temper tantrum.

Today after dinner he was standing there crossing his legs clenching his butt cheeks. I suggested that he try to sit on the potty, he said his usual no I don't want to. When I tried to verbally persuade him he uncrossed his legs and said, "see I don't have to anymore, I pushed it back in and now it is with it's family."

I have told him he can not poop in the grass anymore and unfortunately now he only poops in his pants. We tried to get him to start wearing diapers again but he refuses and we don't want him to feel bad about himself so we dropped that idea. He is pooping in his underwear sometimes 5 times a day. Please any suggestions would be great. The reward and praise methods are not working.

  • Have you been disciplining him at all for this? Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:07
  • 1
    Is the word pooping really necessary, I know it is about a child but seeing as we are all adults can we maybe use grown-up language?
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 9:14
  • 4
    @NeilMeyer What's wrong with the word "poop" or "pooping"? Is "defecating" the "grown-up language" you'd prefer? In what way is that word at all better or more grown-up? Why does it matter and why should it be changed?
    – Doc
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 20:24
  • take off his pants
    – james
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


I wish I could claim this is my idea, but it was just one of the many things I was given as ideas along the way. This one was a little more unique though and actually worked for a child with a similar reaction to pooping. Firstly, I was super cheerful in my response to any issues. I would just just say something like "Uh oh, looks like we have to change pants" and then have him come along & have him do the changing & cleanup while I supervised. My son was upset & trying to demand I do it. I simply was cheerful & said "I am sorry love, I can't keep changing you. Do not worry though, I will make sure you know how to do it & that way you can poop in your pants all you want, because it will just be your job, so no one will be upset about it"...and be LOVING. Truly loving & kind & supportive, but unwavering. Secondly, before I implemented that I had a talk. I mostly asked questions like "What are we supposed to do when we feel a poop coming?" Walk him through answering questions involving every step. Then when he has told you "Go to the toilet, wipe, etc", then tell him how great it is that he knows all of that. Tell him how confident you are that he will do those things when he is ready to & you are so glad he understands his own body & how to handle pooping. Then tell him that you are going to help him learn how to change his pants & when he is ready, he can change over to using a toilet & you will help with that too.

You put the ball all in his court. It's his body. He does know when he is pooping & expressing some control over that according to your description. So verbally acknowledge to him that it's his body, he can do what he likes with his pooping, and based on his decision will determine then what has to happen (such as changing his underwear, putting them into a wash, etc), and I know that sounds like a lot, but it's worked very very well for mine. I will say I do not think this approach would be kind or appropriate with a child you think is too young to perhaps know when they are going, verbally tell you, etc, but this seems to not be the issue you have described. He can pull down his own pants it seems and he can tell you. If he can do that, he can also handle clean up. For my child is was 3 poops. The 1st poop he screamed at me in anger the whole time he did cleanup. The 2nd poop he tried to cry & bargain. The 3rd poop he did it without fuss & the 4th poop & every one after was in a toilet. Just make sure to be sweet, genuinely, truly & supportive. This will likely be a rude awakening for him so it's good to empathize, tell him you know how yucky this is, you have been dealing with it for years. Tell him he's doing a great job on cleanup when he struggles, etc.

It really is just meant to be a reality check. Cleaning up poop is not a good time & when you are the one doing your own cleanup, it tends to motivate you to avoid making the mess at all.

Good luck!


My son was similar in that he would pee in potty correctly but never wanted to poop in it. He also thinks that flushing the toilet is one of the coolest things in the world. I tried all the usual tricks people say work but he really didn't care about getting praise or getting candy.

What finally did work is when he had an accident I would nonchalantly walk with him to the bathroom, help him get cleaned up, and flush the potty myself. When the ensuing fit began that he didn't get to flush I would calmly state that we only flush the potty when we use it. Eventually, his desire to flush the potty every time won out.

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