Kid Won’t Poop on the Potty? Don’t Be So Surprised!

Potty training my three-year-old daughter was going great until I realized: she hadn’t gone poop on the potty (or anywhere) for almost three days. Cue the concern – this is a girl who usually goes every day like clockwork.

I immediately changed my tune from potty enthusiast to poop cheerleader (oh, the glamour of parenting!). But it didn’t make much difference. Like so many kiddos, she just wasn’t comfortable doing that yet. No matter she was peeing in the potty like a pro after about a day of wearing undies. She told me she’s afraid to go poop on the potty (yes, we are still struggling with this).

I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s very common for kids to have poop issues when potty training. But I didn’t have this challenge with my son, and I didn’t anticipate that my tenacious and hyper-verbal daughter would be a kid who’d rather hold it (to the point of discomfort) than go in the potty. So it’s been a real learning experience. I am by no means an expert, but here’s what I’ve discovered about kids and poop training thus far:

  • A lot of kids find going poop on the potty really scary and need some time to feel OK with it. After all, it’s a major change, after years of going in the comfort, safety, and privacy of a diaper – to doing it on a cold, plastic potty!
  • Be aware of the amount of pressure you are putting on your child to master this. It could really backfire and then you’ll have a kid who’s holding it, which can cause a whole set of new issues (ones that require medical attention!).
  • It’s ok to let your child put on a diaper or Pull-Up to go poop. In fact, if your little is showing any reluctance about going #2, you’ll want to head off any constipation issues by diapering to make sure your child goes poop on schedule. This does not mean your child will never be poop trained. Or that you are a potty training failure. It just means your child needs some time to get used to using the potty. Trust that s/he will do it when ready.
  • If you’re like me and you start panicking a little, you’ll start offering bribes and ever-bigger incentives to entice your child to poop on the potty. These are their own form of pressure and may or may not help.
  • When your child is straining to go on the big potty, put a sturdy step stool under his feet. It can provide the resistance he needs to bear down and make pooping happen!
  • Increasing the fruits, veggies, and fiber-rich foods in your little’s diet to help your child go regularly is a smart move. Prune and pear juice is helpful too.
  • The longer your child holds it the harder it becomes for her to go. And if it hurts when she finally goes, she might be reluctant to go the next time. It’s best to avoid getting into this vicious cycle.
  • That said, try not to stress. The bigger of a deal you make this, the more stress everyone is going to feel. And we all know that’s not going to help any kid get more comfortable doing something they’re already not feeling good about.
  • Some parents swear by adding the natural fiber supplement Culturelle Kids Regularity Gentle-Go Formula to their kiddos’ applesauce or yogurt. We’ve only just started using it, so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness. Do check it out if you’re worried that your little needs more fiber.

Is your little one afraid to go poop on the potty? Have you experienced any other big potty training issues?

About Katie Quirk Dunyon

I'm a married mom of two living in Seattle, WA. I have a seven-year-old little boy, a first grader! He's a fairly reserved kid and all about Legos and building sets. I also have a little girl who turned three at the end of February. She's a tiny thing but a big ham; we call her our clown. They're a lot of work but also a ton of fun. I love to eat, cook, and run (in that order). But at the end of the day, give me a spot on the couch and a little bit of TV or a good book, I'm done!
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