What to Do When Your Child Won’t Poop on the Potty: 8 Tips that Work

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Child won’t poop on the potty? You’re not alone. While some parents are able to toilet train their kids early in 3 days (or less!), other children are more stubborn and require a little more TLC before they’ll poo in the toilet. From rewards and sticker charts to books and magical potty training seats, we’re sharing 8 of our best potty training tips to help your little one stop withholding his poop once and for all!

One of the most common complaints that you will hear from parents of toddlers is their frustration with the entire idea of potty training. Whether it’s because they want to save money on diapers or the child needs to be toilet trained for school or daycare, parents have their own reasons for starting the process of potty-training when they do. There are numerous resources available with incredible tips on how to get your child potty trained. But what happens when your child won’t poop on the potty? Some kids have no problem with emptying their bladders, but things become complicated when they’re expected to do a “number 2.” But never fear! There is hope! Read on to find out what to do when your child won’t poop on the potty.

1. Make Sure You’re Both Ready

One of the most important things for parents to remember is that there is no specific age when kids are ready to be potty trained. There are many signs you can look for to gauge whether they are open to the idea, but even if all the signs are there, sometimes potty training just doesn’t work. You can save yourself and your child a lot of stress by ensuring that you are both ready to take on the challenge. It is best if you can take some time off or find a stretch of days when you will be available to really work toward potty training utopia. A long weekend is often enough time, and it’s a great way to spend some quality time with your child. Even if you already have your child pee-trained, when the child won’t poop on the potty, it can be a great idea to take a stretch of time to work on this skill together.

2. Lead by Example

Parents everywhere tend to lament their lack of privacy when it comes to using the bathroom. But this is one time where it can really pay off to let your kids get up close and personal. If your child won’t poop on the potty, try allowing them in when it’s time for you to do so. By allowing them to see you using the toilet, they begin to understand the various benefits of doing so themselves. They will notice how much easier it is to clean up. They will see that you don’t fall in or fall off. They will realize that the toilet isn’t going to eat them. If you, your spouse and any siblings all share toilet time, your child will learn that it’s something everyone does. But do be careful to explain to them that not everyone will want him or her to follow them to the restroom.

3. Incentives Work!

Parents sometimes joke that they have to “bribe” their kids to eat their veggies or do their chores. But when a child won’t poop on the potty, bribing isn’t necessarily the answer. Instead, focus on incentives. The difference may be confusing, so let me elaborate – a bribe is basically a payment to your child or a specific reward for their satisfying behavior. An incentive, on the other hand, is a way to get your child excited about doing something in a way that focuses on positive reinforcement. For instance, keep reminding your child of all the great things they will be able to do once they are fully potty trained. Potty trained kids can more easily go to the movies or fly on an airplane. They can spend the night with grandma or go in a swimming pool without a diaper. Whatever it takes to get your child excited, focus on incentivizing them, and you’ll be one step closer to getting them pooping!

4. Okay, Bribes Work, Too

While I always suggest using incentives with kids, when you’re really struggling with a child who won’t poop on the potty, sometimes it’s best to go ahead and bribe them. Children LOVE rewards, whether they are candy, stickers or books. Try and find something inexpensive and small that your child can get excited about. Food rewards can set a dangerous precedent, so if you want to incorporate treats, make sure you mix it up with some other rewards, as well. Either give your child one small thing every time they poop on the potty, or create a chart to show their progress as they save up to an even bigger reward. A sticker chart is the best of both worlds. Give them a sticker every time they use the potty, and when they’ve filled it up, you can present them with their big prize.

5. Keep the Diapers AND the Potty

If your child is struggling, whatever the reason, they may fight hard to keep pooping in their diapers. Present them with a win-win situation, and often they will come around more quickly. A great way of doing this is to allow them to keep their diaper on while they sit on the toilet. Let them do this a few times, pooping in their diaper while sitting above the toilet bowl, and then empty the diaper into the potty and use toilet paper to wipe them up. A lot of times it is the fear of the unknown that keeps children from progressing. Take away that fear by keeping them comfortable while exposing them to something new. After a few times, you’ll be able to convince them to try it without the diaper!

6. Make the Potty Fun

Whether you choose to use a children’s potty chair or invest in a children’s toilet seat, eventually your little one will need to use a real toilet. So why not make the potty into something more fun? If your child won’t poop on the potty, it could very well be because they feel insecure without their feet touching the floor. A step stool can help, but sometimes they are still too short to reach it. Since we often use our planted feet to “bear down” when pooping, giving them something to press against can really work wonders. This amazing 6-in-one potty seat + adjustable ladder is perfect for young kids, and it helps them to use the toilet on their own.

7. Read Books About Poop

Amazingly, you are not the only parent who is going through this tough time. So many parents have had to figure out what to do when their child won’t poop on the potty, and there are some really awesome books that address the subject. There’s a great selection of books about poop that can make it far less scary for children. Books like Super Pooper, Bloop, Bloop! Goes the Poop or Poop! There it Is can be fun to read even after your child is fully potty trained. If you’re even thinking about starting potty training, consider getting a few books to introduce the subject.

8. Head to the Pediatrician

If you have tried every trick in the book, and your child is still resisting the idea of pooping on the potty, it’s time to involve your doctor. Many children get so upset that they end up constipated from holding back their poop. Others may even have a medical issue that stops them. It’s important to get them checked out to be sure there isn’t some underlying factor that is making pooping painful for them. Your pediatrician is the best person to advise you on other things you might try to help make pooping easier for your child.

The most important thing to remember if your child won’t poop on the potty is to be as patient as you can. Kids have an innate desire to move forward in life and to do all things independently. When they feel stressed or scared, they may resist your efforts, so it’s important to keep calm and talk through things with your little one. Give them time and space to figure things out, and they’ll be stinking up your house in no time at all!

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Child won’t poop on the potty? You’re not alone. While some parents are able to toilet train their kids early in 3 days (or less!), other children are more stubborn and require a little more TLC before they’ll poo in the toilet. From rewards and sticker charts to books and magical potty training seats, we’re sharing 8 of our best potty training tips to help your little one stop withholding his poop once and for all!

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Katie
Katie
Katie is the voice behind popular mom blog, It’s a Mother Thing. She's a 30-something mother of three boys and is addicted to coffee, bullet journaling and Instagram. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she has perfected the art of not swearing in front of her Mormon in-laws. She can recite every line from Mean Girls.