4yr old girl still insisting on pullups

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011 ( 14 moms have responded )

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My daughter turned 4 in September, and is brilliant, bright, willful and loving... and resistant to pooping on the potty. I wouldn't mind this except she's also 42&1/2 inches tall and weighs at least 60 lbs. She's WAY too big for even the biggest pullups, but she's still insisting that she must have one for pooping. I've talked to her about why this is, and it plainly boils down to that she just doesn't want to change her habit with this. She wants to watch her shows, and also seems to have it fixed that pee goes in the potty, but poop is just different for no particular "reason." I've explained otherwise again and again, and she listens and understands...and then when it's time for her to move her bowels, none of what she "understands" matters one little bit. I've tried just telling her we don't have any pullups left, and she just withholds till I come around, which tends to be rather quickly since she tends to constipation as it is; it'd be no time at all till she'd be obstructed. I've considered the Miralax route, but it so quickly turns the tide from constipation to diarrhea with her that I fear I'd make her too sick to be worthwhile. And I don't believe in letting children poop in their underwear till they choose the alternative; I've seen too many firsthand examples of how that utterly fails, accomplishing nothing more than teaching the child that it's ok to poop in their clothes.

I'd roll with it forever, because I know if I can just give her the space and the gentle encouragement she needs, (to counteract the memories of my lost patience over the last 2 years with her unwillingness to even try, though she's been peeing in the potty without even a wet bed at night for over a year and a half,) she'd get there on her own.

But it's getting down to where I can't roll with her choosing to control this the way she is for very much longer at all, and here's why: she's making the pullups work, luckily they have enough stretch that they aren't just letting go at the velcro sides...yet, lol....but they are WAY too tight, to the point that the solids that she's passing into them are getting ...well...frankly, that poop is getting squished into her vaginal area, such that I have to bathe her every time she uses the pullup, because it would hurt her too much for me to try to use wipes to clean her properly. . . and I'm starting to fear that she's going to start getting vaginal infections.

Does anyone know if this is a legitimate concern, or do girls have some protection from that built in somehow?

I wouldn't mind suggestions on how to change her mind about pooping on the potty as well, but I doubt at this point there's anything I haven't tried on that score.

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Amie - posted on 01/04/2011

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My little one was quite stubborn and maybe even a little fearful of pooping in the potty, though peeing was not a big deal at all. I would sit her on the potty & give her a balloon to blow up. Since it uses the same muscles she would poop while trying to blow up the balloon. It was like magic!! And after the 1st couple times like this, pooping in the potty was not at all a big deal. Hope this helps! And good luck!

Amy - posted on 01/04/2011

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bribery never worked for me. I killed the TV and my daughter magically never had accidents. She liked her pull ups because the characters on them. But I told her no more. Done [well, daddy did]. We gave her panties and if she pooped in them, she had to help me clean them. Needless to say, that wasn't fun and she soon went in the potty. If you keep giving her pull ups though, she's going to keep pooping in them. Mine pooped in the diaper because...well, that's what a diaper does. catches stuff so you don't have to get off your fanny and go pee/poop. My husband was the one who told my daughter - you're 3 years old and we don't have money for it. You're a big girl, big girls only use the potty. Took her to buy panties. End of story.

Tyrae - posted on 01/04/2011

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No we don't have any built in protection against fecal matter in the vaginal area, that is why we are told to wipe babies from front to back if they are girls, so you don't smear it in that area. There is a possibility that she would end up with an infection in that area if she continues on this way, although since you are cleaning her right away it is a smaller chance.

Have you tried doing a reward system with her? If she goes in the potty than she gets a small snack or gets to watch a certain show? That might help. Other than that I'd just try and be supportive and not show too much frustration (although that may be very hard!)

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Keri - posted on 01/07/2011

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Don't buy any more. It really is that simple. She knows you will buy them so she keeps using them. I also agree with taking TV away.

Having said all that, you said she gets constipated. If she is constipated for too long she can lose the urge to poop, since there is always pressure there. She may not be aware that she is pooping until it is too late and it is just easier to stay in the pull ups. We went through this last summer with my son. He had been day time potty trained and then suddenly he was pooping in his pants. The lid on the toilet broke and it was scaring him to not have it on. He was peeing outside and not pooping anywhere until it was too late and in his pants. It took some investigation to figure out the problem and he has been fine since then.

Susan - posted on 01/07/2011

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If there were no such things as pull ups what would you do? well that is what you need to do - stick her in underwear and if she poops- clean them, kids tend to poop around the same time each day, stick her on the potty with a book around that time to see what happens. I have heard that cold shower cleanings afterwards at this age gets the messege across loud and clear but that is something I have never had to try. It is a power struggle and you are allowing your 4 year old to win. Why is it she is given more control over the situation than her parent.

Sneaky - posted on 01/04/2011

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Some toddlers only poop once a week - I doubt she would develop a bowel obstruction after three days. If you are seriously worried then chat with your doctor or local childcare nurse as to how long it is safe to let her go with out a poo before you give her a laxative. And it might not even come to that - let her drink lots of prune juice and water and she will have trouble getting constipated no matter how much she holds it!

Good luck.

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011

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yep, other than the balloon idea, I've tried and followed through on all of these things until they've simply utterly failed to motivate any change in her desires in the matter at all. Including simply refusing to give her the pullups...after three days of simply not going at all rather than go to the potty or in her clothes, I just can't take the risk to her psyche or her health, (nor afford the medical bills, frankly,) should she develop a bowel obstruction.

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011

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Amy: I tried withholding the tv, and told her that very true fact that babies don't get to watch tv...after two weeks of no progress on the potty front and pitiful tears every time she asked for tv time, I realized that, in her case, all I was accomplishing with that route is making her feel like she was being punished for not using the potty, and last I checked, that's the one thing that we AREN'T supposed to do...my girl has always been a different one, I have to admit, and she just really has always seemed to understand surprisingly advanced concepts, i.e. "candy, treats, toys, tv, etc., have nothing to do with my bowels and my ability to control them as I see fit," so she seems to believe...and, well, frankly....she's right, LOL!

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011

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Tyrae: good call, you are probably right, but like I said, bribery has been a failure up to now, so...idk.

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011

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AMIE!!! OMG! That is the first original suggestion I've heard in two years and it's GENIUS!!! My daughter LOVESLOVESLOVES balloons and they are absolutely going into the treats bowl! AMAZING idea, THANK YOU!!!!!

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While the risk of infection is probably small since you bathe her right afterwards, there is still a risk. Maybe telling her this (or having the doctor tell her) would help.

Other than that all I've got is a good luck wish! I have no personal experience w/ this particular issue as all my kids were pooping in the potty before they were peeing in it. I do, however, have a fully day and night trained 2 year 9 month old boy who refuses to wear anything other than diapers. ;) He says he'll wear pull ups or underwear when he is 3 (cuz the preschool teacher won't redo his diaper for him), so we shall see on that one.....

Amy - posted on 01/04/2011

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I would try one of two things if I were you. First I'd reach put to my pediatrician and have them talk to her. He can help back you up on everything you've tried and explain to her that she could get sick if she continues doing what she's doing.
Secondly I would use the your a big girl and big girls use the potty. She's not going to be able to attend school of she uses diapers and explain that to her. I would also tell her that she's not going to be able to watch tv because babies don't watch tv and then I'd disconnect it. You have to decide on something and then follow through. My son potty trained almost overnight after his 3 year check up in which he listened to us talk to the doctor on how we could go about the process. Good luck.

Tyrae - posted on 01/04/2011

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No problem! If she's only pooping once a day than there shouldn't be a problem with an eating disorder to only get one gumball a day :) Good luck!

Katie - posted on 01/04/2011

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I've tried bribery off and on, never works...it's like she's too smart for that or something...she just looks at me like, "Why are you trying to trick me like this?" It's just about the only thing left at this point, tho...gonna gather up all the candy and gumballs I can and put them in a big glass dish on a high shelf in the bathroom, and then tell her what she has to do to get access to it....I'm not one for using food or candy as a disciplinary aid; I tend to feel that it sets up a risk of eating disorders later. But it's the only thing that I think might have even a tiny chance of motivating her to change her mind about things at this point.

Thanks for the input. :)

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