My son will only poop with me in the house. I have to walk him in. He has made progress but still won't poop in public bathrooms. I have only left 3 times in his life and he has held it the whole 3, 4 , and 5 days!!! This leads to extreme distress on his mine and my mom who is watching him. Nothing helps. I've been nice, mean, rewards, bribes. EVERYTHING. Nothing works. His fear of everything bathroom related started when he was 3. We have made major progress but are at standstill with this.
Have you tried video calling to ease the parting blow?
Start by video calling him from one room over. He knows exactly where you are, and knows you're there for him. Then, once he's comfortable with that, move to further away in the house. Slowly progress to where you can call when you're gone on a trip and he can continue to go. Then, work on switching video calls out with regular calls, so he can hear your voice but not see you. If he can handle that, then have him text you when he's going to go and respond to that. Over time, hopefully he'll gain increasing levels of independence and not feel a need to let you know every time he needs to go.
While I didn't have to deal with anything like that, I do have three kids, so I'll give my own advise based on what I'd do in similar situation.
First of all, try to find the root. Something happened when he was three, that started this behavior. It might have been anything, so it's impossible to guess and only your son might still remember and tell. Knowing this, you can try to "fix" the root and that would be ideal. Better consult with specialist (children psychologist), but without knowing the root cause of the behavior, nothing even a specialist can do.
Assuming that by now he does not remember the trigger, I'd try one or more of these:
- Explain to him that part of being adult and "becoming a man" is being able to poop anywhere, even without having your parents nearby. Kids love to feel "adults" and this should be a good incentive.
- When you're away and he has to poop, talk with him over a cellular phone while he's in the toilets. This is of course only mid-level solution, allowing you to be away, and assuming he will go along with it to begin with. But better than having him hold for days.
- Friends. Assuming he has a "best friend", or at least other boy whom he trusts and respects, talk with the friend's parents, and together with them instruct the friend how to approach your son and try to convince him to poop in the school's toilets. Sometimes kids would prefer listening to a friend their age rather than their parents, so this has chance to work in my opinion.