Child refuses to go poop in the potty (Poops in Pants)

So what do you do if you child will not go or refuses to go poop in the potty?

I hear from moms who tell me that their child will pee in the potty - so in fact the child will urinate in the potty consistently, but when it comes to bowel movements - they simple will not go. They will have a bowel movement in their pull ups or underwear, but not in the potty or the toilet. So what should parents do in this case?

There are 3 things you can never make your child do:

Eat, Sleep, Go Potty!

If you have read the article on the best rewards for potty training, you know that your child wants to do what you want.

S/he really does want to poop in the potty because s/he knows that, that is what you want and not only will it make you the parent really proud of your child, but the child will feel that s/he has accomplished something worthy because s/he met his/her parents' expectations. So that indeed is the good news.

So what is stopping your child from pooping in the potty?

There could be several reason why your child is resistant to potty training and to bowel movement training. Dr Greene, who is a pediatrician calls this

D3 cycle: Discomfort, Dread and Delay

Children may end up in this cycle because they had a negative or uncomfortable experience with bowel movement. This may have been because of constipation or change in diet or it could be a fear of the toilet and/or flusing or simply delaying a bowel movement because they are too preoccupied with something else way more interesting.What ever trigger the start of this - the result of this negative or painful experience is that the next time the child has the urge to poop, s/he delay going because s/he knows that it hurts. The delay leads to discomfort. the discomform to dread and the dread leads right back to delay.

In order to move forward, this D3 cycle must be broken!! And sometimes going back to diapers can break the D3 cycle. The child relaxes, the stool get soft and the tension dissappears.

Bowel movements come regularly and without the protest. This is often when parents come looking for answers. In the child's mind - they have decides that diapers are good - no pain with diaper and it hurts to go poop in the potty - so potties are bad.

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4 yr old boy Stubborn (2/11/2015) Reviewer: Caroline (Clifton, NJ)

Hi, I have tried everything. He's been pee trained for 1.5yrs already but refuses to even try and sit on the toilet. He says it will hurt, even though his bowel movements are soft and he's never had a problem with constipation. Bribes, etc won't work...

HELP! I'm at my wits end.

PTC Comment: The one thing to remember is that whatever fear he has is real to him. We need to remember patience and understanding while we try to figure out what it is that he is afraid of.

Do we know if he is more afraid of it hurting should he fall in the toilet or that it would hurt if he went poop in the toilet? Some children are afraid hurting themselves should they fall in. Does he have a step stool that he can rest his feet on so that he feels more secure?

I don't know what to do (12/13/2014) Reviewer: Luanne (Junction City , KS)

I have a 5 yr old daughter that is potty trained, but has had problems with constipation since a baby. Her doctor recently put her on a stool softener to help make it easier when having a BM. But, yet, I am still at my whit's end. She is still behaving the same way and not going to the potty when she has to go poop. She consistently poops in her pants. Even when I have her sit on the potty, she still does not take the time to sit on the potty and wait til she is done. So for about two years now, she has been pooping her pants and I just don't know how to make her use the toilet instead.

PTC Response: We would like to make a suggestion. Have you tried finding something to entertain her while she is sitting on the potty? Such as reading to her, allowing her to play a game while on the potty, setting an egg timer to go off and have her sit there until it does..etc. These are just some thoughts to get her to sit longer.

Does she appear to be afraid of releasing it in the potty? Has she ever released while on the potty? We have heard several stories of children that just won't go on the potty but once they have once they accomplish this task, they seem to be okay with it and have no further problems. It may be that she just needs to sit long enough for it to happen. We wish you the best of luck and remember to have patience and understanding.

Frustrated (7/25/2013) Reviewer: Carrie

My 3 year old is hit or miss on when he will poop on the potty. It is getting frustrating because almost daily we ask him "what do you do if you need to go potty?" and he responds "poop in my pants".

We have tried it all, thought it was just at daycare where he has to tell the teacher but he has been doing it at home frequently now as well.


It sounds like your child has made up his mind that he will choose when he needs to go. Not uncommon, but can be very frustrating. My suggestions to you, although you may have already tried them, are as follows:

Set a goal for him to reach for. Say for example, (if there is a toy that he would really like to have or a place that he would like to visit) and make that his goal. Then give him the requirements for achieving those goals and receiving his reward. Perhaps going 2 weeks without pooping in his pants not one single time or he has to start all over. You could keep track of this on a potty chart that way he has a visual of how he is doing.

Check his diet and make sure that he is getting enough fiber so as to make his stools soft and easy to pass.

Stay consistent with him and continue to praise him for achieving the act of going to the potty like a big boy.

I know that it is hard to be patient at times and it is so frustrating when you know that he can go to the potty but refuses to at times. Unfortunately, we as parents have no control at times like this. The positive of this is that it will happen. The down side is that he will be the one to decide when.

Keep your chin up, be consistent, it will happen.

HELP (6/20/2013) Reviewer: Amanda (South Jordan, UT)

I read this and found nothing to help my 4 year old poop on the potty. He knows he needs to use the potty. He tells me all the time. He will poop in his underwear or pull ups and not care.

He has been pee trained for a year now. He doesn't want to wear diapers. We have tried every reward bribe etc.

6 yr old is not potty trained (6/24/2012) Reviewer: Pansy (Berea, ky)

I recently moved a single parent family into my downstairs to help them out. The six yr. old boy has some disabilities but is capable of doing things but his mother keeps stressing his disabilities and uses this as an excuse for him to not do things on his own.

He is not potty trained. She wants me to help her yet she won't put him on a potty when he is with her plus she sends him to bed with a sippy cup of juice. The school would like for him to be trained by time school starts. He is in special need classes and they will change him if they have to.

The mother has a two yr old and a 3 month all plus the six yr old. All are in diapers or pull ups. We are currently paying for all their needs. I want to get the the six and two 1/2 yr old potty trained. I needs tips especially with the 6 yr old special needs child.

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