My son is afraid of pooping on the potty and has held it in for a week...HELP!

[deleted account] ( 4 moms have responded )

My 3 1/2 year old son is very stubborn. It has taken until a few weeks ago for him to be interested in potty training at all. All of a sudden he decided to do it - full kilter. He pees on the toilet no problem even at night. Our problem is pooping. He refuses to go, even in his diaper/pull-ups. He held it in for 5 days the first time until he couldn't stand it any more and finally went on the potty. Now it has been over a week and he has not gone. He is uncomfortable and comes to me panicked but refuses to push it out. He tells me he doesn't have to go. The doctor suggested more fruits, veggies, more water, prune & apple juice, whole grains, fiber chews, a warm bath. I have tried all of these things and he will not go. I gave him Pedia-Lax this morning and he still has not gone. He had a little come out over night while he was sleeping but definitely not a weeks worth. I have given him privacy in the bathroom, giving him a book to look at, toys, rewards, goodies etc. Any suggestions on what to do???

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Kelly - posted on 05/20/2011

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My son had chronic constipation already, and potty training didn't help much. His major issue was fear of pain. He knew it had hurt in the past to poop (since he was holding it back) and was afraid it would hurt again, so he wouldn't go, so it did hurt - a vicious cycle. What eventually worked for us was a combination of things. First, his pediatrician recommended Miralax everyday. Then we introduced Activia yogurt everyday. Both of these helped keep his stool soft. Then we instituted a "poop time". Everyday, at the same time of day, he has to sit on the toilet until he poops. At first it took awhile, or nothing would happen. Now everyday, he sits there for maybe 5 minutes and poops everytime. Sometimes it's more than other days, but regardless, everyday he goes. Good luck! I know it's no fun!!

Teena - posted on 05/21/2011

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My son has the same problem. He will hold it in, but never that long. He can only go about 3-4 days. He says it's to hard to poo on the potty, he would rather go in his pull-up. Today, however, I thought the visious cycle was going to start all over. So I decided to use a suppository for children that makes them poop within 15 minutes to an hour. I put my son on the toilet 4 times in 45 minutes and he finally went on the toilet. He said it wasn't hard. He is so proud that he finally went on the toilet that he had to call daddy at work, both grandmas, and papa. He even opened the front door and yelled it outside.

Tanya - posted on 05/20/2011

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Keep giving him all those natural laxatives in order to get that waste out! It can do harm lingering in his colon. I do not have any advice on getting him to poo on the toilet though, sorry!

Katherine - posted on 05/20/2011

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Potty training throws parents plenty of curve balls — from fears of loud flushes in public restroom to night-time hold-outs. But one of the most frustrating hurdles of all is when a child will happily pee in the potty but refuses to poop there. If you're looking for advice on this issue, here are 7 strategies that have worked for other moms.
1. Soothe Common Fears

A child's refusal to poop on the toilet is often a result of fear. In addition to being afraid of falling in or being eaten by monsters in the toilet, many children are scared that their bodies are actually falling apart when they poop. Amy R. recalls: “My son thought that his ‘guts’ were going to fall out.” Since children often think of poop as an actual part of their body, it’s important to both explain that pooping doesn’t hurt them, and allow them to say goodbye. Deborah M. explains: “Whether she poops in pull ups or in her underwear make sure to discard the poop in the toilet. Wave to it say 'Goodbye Poop! We'll see you next time!!!'”
2. Rule Out Constipation

Children may also be reluctant to poop on the toilet because it's physically painful. As Kim advises: “If she is chronically constipated and has trouble or pain when pooping, be sure to address that first by changing her diet (i.e. more fiber, eliminating allergens, enough water to drink, etc.)."
3. Ooooh, Distractions!

Young children are often just too afraid and fidgety to relax enough to go to the bathroom. As a result, several Circle of Moms members suggest distracting your kiddo with songs, books or games. Tiffany B. finally got her son to do his business by letting him "brush" his teeth (toothbrush, no paste) on the potty: “It gave him enough of a distraction that he was able to relax and go. And so that I didn't stress him out more I would clean off the bathroom counter or straighten up or brush my own teeth.”
4. Try a Potty Chair

As moms like Jacki H. share, sometimes a potty chair is easier than the grown-up toilet: “Try buying him a ‘cool’ kid's potty. I bought my son a frog one. He loved it!” Gail M. agrees: “If you are using a ring on a big potty, she may feel more comfortable on a potty chair on the floor. That worked for my son. He said it hurt to poop on the ring on the big potty."
5. Extra Motivation

“She knows how — and is proud once she does — but she needs motivation,” shares mom-of-two Sheri P. Her winning strategy with her daughter? “We bribe her. Cookies or a gummy bear if she goes on the potty. It was our doctor’s suggestion. Some kids are scared and need that little bit of motivation to keep them interested until they are ready to do it on their own. We give her lots praise and do the happy dance in the bathroom EVERY time.” Many moms, including Lisa D., agree: “We did stickers as motivators…We are so happy and excited when it happens and we clap and say "yay! SOMEBODY pooped in the toilet!"
6. Imitating Mama

Showing your child how you use the toilet can reassure her that it’s safe. Shelly S. shares: “What I did with my daughter was take her in with me when I had to go and clapped and praised myself and that seemed to help her.” Similarly, Yun C. found her son was encouraged by seeing other children use the toilet: “I invited two other toddler friends of his over when we started. (One of) the other toddler(s) used the potty in front of him, so he wanted to show that he could use it as well. It ended up being a potty party!”
7. Start a Countdown

Setting a timetable may also work, shares Lori S.: “I took the stance of letting him do it when he was ready (much to the chagrin of my mother-in-law) but as we approached the 4th birthday, I had to set a time table. We kept telling him that when he turned four, there would be no more pooping in a diaper…I think the count down helped not only to prepare him, but gave him the time he needed to get used to the idea. On his fourth birthday, that was it. He started pooping on the toilet. Problem solved.”

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[deleted account]

Thank you all for your suggestions. It went about 8-9 days and he still wouldn't go even with the pedia-lax stool softener. I ended up giving him the the child suppository (like Teena) and it worked. He fought it and tried to hold it in but the madder he got the more he would push!! He now feels so much better and happy he went. I hope he remembers that the next time he has to go...

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