My son is nearly 3 and we've been working diligently on potty training him because we are tired of diapers, but also he's grown to be so dang big that it was nigh impossible to get him on the changing table.

We are using a similar positive reinforcement method that we did with his big sister where he goes 10 times and gets a food reward (i.e. ice cream or a slushie).

We've had some success with going pee on the potty. I would say probably about 80% of the time, he will go pee without a lot of coaxing meaning he'll either go sit on the potty when asked or he'll even volunteer and go up on his own. The remaining 20% sort of splits into 10% him fighting us, but that's probably because it's gotten to be late in the day and he's getting cranky which can sometimes devolve to him wetting himself (possibly deliberately); and another 10% are just straight accidents with no discernible cause.

Where we are really having a problem though is pooping. I'd say we've been at this effort for about a month now and I don't think he's ever pooped on the potty successfully. He is aggressively resistant about pooping on the potty and has had multiple poop accidents in a day. If we think he has to poop (based on the logic that he's literally not pooped in over a day) we've tried putting him onto the potty every 30 minutes to try and make it happen there (because this already out of hand laundry situation is getting worse).

And it doesn't work.

He'll sit on the potty, go pee, wash his hands, go downstairs to play, and then 10 minutes in will say he has a poopy accident.

My mom visited us recently for a week and thinks he wants to stay a baby, which seems to have some validity because he will often describe himself as a, 'little baby ,' but I'm not entirely sure. He has shown some progress with peeing by stating when he needs to go.

To summarize, we've tried the following:

  • Food rewards with delayed gratification (get ice cream after going 10 times)
  • Instant rewards with smaller toys (eraser toys after each time on the potty)
  • Making him sit at intervals (we've tried every 30 minutes and every hour)
  • Reading stories when he's on the potty

Frankly, I'm out of ideas and am wondering if we're going to have to put him back in diapers. At current, I'll have days where I have to put half his bottoms into the laundry on a daily basis because of these poop accidents.

What else can we do? Do we need to regress a bit for him to have a little more time as a baby?

Additional info (apologies if this invalidates some answers):

  • About 9 times out of 10 we are there. In part to verify that he did go potty and to reward him for his sticker and in part because he sometimes has small pee accident that require us to swap the underwear or larger accidents necessitating the replacement of shorts as well.
  • We have modified the toilet to have two seats. One for adults and one for small children to use comfortably. Additionally, there's a little stool on the ground for him to rest his feet on.
  • He has stated that pooping hurts on the potty, but only in response to what I'd call leading questions, so I'm not sure he's telling the truth.
  • We've not yet spoken to a doctor on this issue.
  • I saw another answer (can't find it right now) and we're trying a recommendation to start having him clean things up himself. Don't yet know if this will help.
  • Are you using a potty chair or the toilet? Can you tell when he's about to have a BM? (Hiding/stopping activities/faraway look/etc.?) Finally, have you spoken to a medical professional about this? Thanks. Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 8:49
  • @anongoodnurse we have a smaller portable potty that he can use and we've modified the full size toilet with a child's size lid to make it easier. I can usually tell when he's going to have a BM, but he will fight (sometimes very aggressively) to not sit on the potty at these times. Haven't spoken to a medical person yet. He has stated that 'it hurts' when pooping on the toilet, but I don't really believe that because it's usually in response to a leading question and he doesn't complain about pain when pooping his underwear. Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 16:43
  • 1
    A thought and suggestion: He's pooped in his pants all his life, so has confidence it won't hurt him. Possibly he had a painful BM on the potty or that without support for his feet (e.g. potty squatty) it's uncomfortable. (Very common reasons.) Talk to his PCP about using a stool softener /gentle laxative so that his stool are soft? Might have better luck that way. Also, upping the reward - really upping it - is not a bad idea. When our first child regressed after #2 was born, it was a struggle until I promised #1 something they really wanted. The issue resolved itself within a week. Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


From what you say,

He'll sit on the potty, go pee, wash his hands, go downstairs to play, and then 10 minutes in will say he has a poopy accident,

it sounds like you are leaving him alone on the potty. Since there is a problem with him getting up before he is really done going, I think you need to have somebody sit there with him while he tries to go.

Reading stories with him may help, but the key thing is having somebody there—both to keep him company and to make sure that he actually poops when he needs to. If he tries to get up, tell him that he's not done yet, and that he needs to keep going and poop. Only once he has done that (or clearly made an effort and shown that he doesn't actually need to poop) should he get up and do something else.

The first time he poops successfully, I would definitely give him some kind of small reward—even if he only poops a little and doesn't fully clear out his bowels. Once he gets used to pooping the potty a few times, it will probably be much easier.


Would he ask for a pull-up/nappy/diaper instead? Maybe you could offer him one if he's going to poop, BUT he has to stay in the bathroom/the vicinity of the potty. At least that would reduce the laundry (and your stress levels)! Then you can start asking him to sit on the potty in his pullup/nappy/daiper and slowly move it off him each time he goes until he's essentially just going in the potty.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .