What can I do if my toddler refuses to poop in the potty? In this post, we cover the most common questions and answers.
Resistance is not a brand new thing for toddlers. They refuse to eat, sleep, take a bath, or change their clothes. But one thing that can take a toll on parents is their toddler’s resistance to use the potty. Some toddlers can pee on the potty, but resist or otherwise, unable to poop on the potty. Do you also face the same challenges while potty training your little one? Because we know how stressful it is to clean up the mess and wash the poopy pants for the hundredth time, we’ve gathered some experts’ tips to encourage toddlers to go in the potty.
Why does my child refuses to poop on the potty?
One thing that parents overlook before using some potty training methods is to know the reason behind their child’s reluctant behavior. Understanding why your toddler refuses to poop in potty is the initial and essential step towards effective potty training. Through this, you can choose a technique that best suits your toddler and even formulate a personalized strategy that specifically caters to the needs of your little tot.
There are a number of common reasons why toddlers refuse to poop in the potty. Let’s look at each one of them individually!
Not ready for potty training
In this world with almost everyone posting on social media, it is easy to compare your toddler to other children. However, keep in mind that children grow and develop at different rates. According to experts, some children are late in gaining control over the nerves and muscles that are involved in bowel movement. These children may also achieve other developmental milestones, like walking, at the late end of the normal range in children. They often have a parent who is also a late bloomer when he was young.
If your child isn’t physically and psychologically ready for potty training, chances are they’ll refuse to do his or her personal business in the potty. There is not necessarily anything to worry about, even if they are already 3 or 4 years old.
Another important consideration is that urine control often comes before bowel control. So if your child already learned to pee in the potty, hang in there! He might still be working on how to poop on that tiny toilet.
Medical concerns that interfere with potty training
Medical problems like constipation and anal rash can make bowel movements painful. Young children are sensitive to pain and withholding their bowels will be more frequent when they negatively associate bowel movements to pain. If your child has hard and dry stools or you noticed a reddish rash on his anal area, then these problems will need to be addressed first before you can continue with potty training.
According to the psychosocial theory of development by Erik Erikson, the sense of autonomy is a critical area of development during toddlerhood. During this time, toddlers face a crisis between autonomy and shame, which is often centered on potty training. They want to do things on their own and gain control rather than simply follow their parent’s instructions.
For this developmental task, parents should give ample support for toddlers to develop their independence while protecting them from harm and continuous failure.
Fear of using the toilet or potty
Toddlers are often skeptical to use or do something that they’ve never seen before. He’s done everything in his diapers, and it’s rational that he might take a drawback before using his potty or the toilet. Think about some adults who can’t even empty their bowels in other toilets and hold back until they get home. Your toddler will find it hard to poop if he fears using the potty, thinking that it may tip over, or simply being overwhelmed on how to do it.
Fear of losing a body part
Young children are afraid to lose a part of their bodies. Sometimes, toddlers may think that their stool is a body part and seeing it being flushed away triggers this fear.
A stressful life event
Did you recently moved to a new home, you got a new job, or you have just given birth to a younger sibling? Toddlers often manifest their stress in their actions. If there’s something that affects the everyday routine of your child, then it can be a reason why he resists potty training.
In some cases, accidents or soiling are simply because your child may be inattentive or too lazy to go to the bathroom. This often happens to toilet-trained children. They know what to do, but they are too engrossed in their toys or electronic gadgets so they withhold the stools and end up in accidents.
What to do when my toddler refuses to poop on the potty
Knowing that there are lots of reasons why your toddler won’t poop in the potty, you hopefully gained more patience in dealing with it. Here are some strategies that you can use to encourage your child to poop in the potty or toilet:
Give an ample amount of fiber and fluids
The first thing that you want to avoid is for your child to experience painful stools which will make him resist potty training. Offer enough fiber to soften your child’s stools. You can get this from whole grain cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Also, make sure that your toddler takes an ample amount of fluids throughout the day.
Watch out for acidic and lactic-acid producing foods
Too much citrus fruits and juices, as well as dairy products, are sometimes termed as “bottom burning foods.” Excessive intake of these food items may irritate the child’s anal area, making it harder to empty his bowel. If you see a ring-like and itchy rash on that area, limiting these foods may help resolve the problem. This rash may also be seen if the child has diarrhea and while taking antibiotics. If the problem continues, seek help from a doctor for an appropriate treatment.
Look for the signs of readiness for potty training
Potty training is best taught if the child is physically and psychologically ready. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the signs of readiness for toilet training include:
- Awareness between dry and wet
- Can stay dry for at least two hours
- Can reach the potty or toilet with parent’s help
- Ready to learn or can already dress and undress himself
- Shows motivation towards potty training
Read a story about potty training
Potty training books can help prepare your child’s mindset about what he needs to do in the potty. Young children are more likely to imitate the characters in books rather than simply follow verbal instructions. It is also a great way for toddlers to learn that everyone poops and they shouldn’t be afraid of it.
Introduce a potty routine
Routines work best for young children. According to a pediatrician, the easiest time to move the bowels is around 20 minutes after breakfast. Give your child something to read, while he sits on the potty every morning.
Offer some diaper-free time
Diapers are comfort havens but as long as they’re present, your toddler won’t feel the difference between wet and dry. Some parents switch to underwear during daytime and reserve the diapers at nighttime. Others allow their children to play bare-bottomed. This will help instill the idea that if they won’t go poop in the potty, they’ll feel wet, stinky and uncomfortable.
Try the “magic diapers”
There are children who know when to poop but they don’t feel comfortable doing it anywhere than their diapers. If this is the case, allow your child to use the pull-ups when they are more likely to poop. According to some experts, it is better to allow your child to poop in the diaper rather than having a problem in withholding her stools which can lead to constipation.
Gradually shift it over time, offering that he can still use her diapers to poop as long as he sits on the potty or the toilet. Once he is comfortable, you can introduce the “magic diaper” or a diaper with a hole so that the stool comes down to the potty or toilet. Many children can graduate quickly from the magic diaper and learn to poop in the potty without it later on.
Promote responsibility over their actions
If you feel that your toddler simply lacks the will or attention to go to the potty, it can help to make them responsible for their actions in a good and gentle way. Giving them a part of the task of cleaning their soiled underwear is a great way to teach responsibility among toddlers, as long as you don’t use this tactic strictly for punishment.
Reinforce positive behavior with a reward
Young children love rewards. You can place a sticker chart inside the bathroom so that he can stick one every time he successfully poops in the potty. You can also give them simple rewards like a toy or some sweets after the stickers are completed in a row. This way, your toddler will feel that their efforts are recognized and will be encouraged to do their best the next time.
Many parents take potty training too seriously, but be reminded that you are simply dealing with a child who needs your patience and support. Once your child is ready, you can use plenty of potty training strategies to help encourage your little one. Potty training may be frustrating and time-consuming, but rest assured that all your efforts will be well-paid off. If you need extra help, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor for advice.