How to Help Your Child Poop in the Potty

How to Help Your Child Get Past Pooping in the Potty Issues and start pooping in the potty. Potty training helps and tips.

photo of a toilet in the bathroom

When we did our first attempt at potty training, Brayden did well with the peeing and struggled with the pooping. He has always been a private pooper. He has always been the kid to poop during solo playtime. If he didn’t have solo playtime, there was no pooping that day. I am one who also needs consistency and isolation to be able to be regular, so I totally get that. If I were to travel to a country where you had to go to the bathroom somewhere other than the toilets I am used to, it would take me along time to be able to do it.

The first time we tried potty training this past January, the lack pooping was such a problem for us that it started to interfere with his peeing and his eating. When you are backed up, you will stop eating, and often times vomit. For those reasons (and others), I decided he just wasn’t ready yet. We gave it a few months and tried again, this time with success.

Our second go around, he still had pooping difficulty. He still took days between pooping. His accidents were few, but if it had been days without pooping, I would put a diaper on him and let him poop in it. I didn’t want him getting uncomfortably backed up or constipated. I knew I had to give it some time. I learned I had to leave him alone in the room while he pooped, even if he said he wanted me there. If I left the room, he usually had success. If I stayed, he didn’t. He only had success with me in the room one time.

Now Brayden poops without problem. He wears underwear 100% of the time and I can’t even remember the last time he had an accident. He is getting better about pooping when we aren’t home. He still has room for improvement; he only poops every other day right now (I am sure one day he is going to be mortified that I shared this information 🙂 ). But things are good. He is quickly learning.

Tips for helping your child poop on the potty

Here are some tips on helping your child past pooping problems:

  • Figure out what works for him. Does he need to be alone? Does he need to read a book? Books did not work for Brayden. You can observe what he did while pooping in the diaper. For Brayden, he would drive a car. That often helped him when he struggled. Most of the time, though, he needed zero distractions. Figure out what works for your child.
  • A comfort item to help him relax. This might be a book. This might be a favorite stuffed animal or toy. I would try to not let that be you for long-term, but if he needs you at first, be there for him.
  • Patience. He needs to figure this out. He needs to learn how to get it out. Give him time.
  • Don’t let him get too blocked up. They can get sick and/or constipated. This will not help him work toward success. That is why I put a diaper on Brayden every so often so he could get it out. Do gauge your child. I saw improvement over time and needed the diaper less. If you try it and things don’t improve, it might not be the right option for you.
  • Evaluate. Be sure this is a skill your child can accomplish right now. If not, back off.
  • Patience again. Pottywise says that learning to pee and learning to poop are two different skills. If pooping is really hard for your child, focus on the pee for now. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of pooping success. Move on to poop once you think he is ready.
  • Be really excited. When your child does have success, be so very excited.
  • Proper rewards. Offer different rewards for pooping that give more motivation. For Brayden at this point, he only gets rewards for pooping. Everything else is just what he does.
  • Remove your negative emotions. Don’t show your disappointment when there are accidents, and better yet, remove disappointment. You have to discipline yourself and remove your emotional investment from the situation. Don’t let whether or not he poops be the make or break for whether or not you are a good parent.
  • Don’t pressure. Telling someone who has a hard time pooping to hurry or to just do it does not make it any better for them. They need space, time, and patience.

Good luck! This is not an easy difficulty to fix, it mostly just takes time and experience from your child. It will come.

Our Experience

Here are some thoughts from our experience in struggling with this area.

We easily moved away from rewards for pooping and peeing. It wasn’t something we had to systematically work at, it just sort of happened without protest from Brayden.

While we trained him on a small potty chair his size (he did much better with that; I think it was because it was less intimidating and he could relax on it rather than try to keep his balance), he soon wanted to go on the big potty. He often, however, still pooped on his small potty.

I was pregnant and often really queasy, so I didn’t love dumping poop out of the small potty and cleaning it up each day. It was better than changing a poopy diaper, but still a bit too much for me.

I decided to encourage him to poop on the big potty instead of the little potty. I told him it was okay to poop in the little potty if he wanted or needed to, but if he pooped in the big potty he would get treats for it.

Since that day, he has always pooped in the big potty and not his little one. However, some days he goes every other day between pooping. He usually goes every day. As he is getting used to something new with the potty, he reverts back to pooping other day. Then, as he becomes more comfortable with the situation, he gets on a consistent and regular schedule.

If your child has (or had) difficulty pooping on the potty, be prepared for similar set backs when you change things up. When you travel, see what you can do to keep things consistent for him. If he always goes in a potty chair, take it along if you can. If/when you change a situation at home, expect some set backs but he should bounce back faster than he got there in the first place.

Reader Questions

Homestic Affairs

I have a fold up travel potty seat that helps my son feel more secure when going potty in public or somewhere other than home. It’s a child size seat, so he doesn’t feel like he’s going to fall in! And helps me feel like it’s more sanitary.

Plowmanators: Good idea Homestic Affairs.


At what age to you recommend to start potty training?

Plowmanators: Mommytoisabella, that really depends on your child. I just recommend you start when your child is ready (or when you think she is ready). There are a couple of things to consider in addition to readiness: 1- time of year. You might not want to start right before Christmas, for example, if you are like most people and busy traveling and shopping before and around Christmas. Avoid other similar distracting times.2- state of you. Pottywise suggests you don’t start while you are in a first trimester of pregnancy. It really is exhausting. Brayden wasn’t ready until 3. Kaitlyn is showing signs of readiness right now at 18 months (started earlier). Since I am really down and out right now from being pregnant, I am not even considering trying right now, but might give it a go in January once the holidays are over. One thing I have to consider, however, is children often revert after a disruption, like a new baby. So I might just wait until the new baby is here and settled. We will see what happens 🙂


I have a 3 yr 4 mos. old who is still struggling with pee accidents at night. I limit her fluids at dinner and after and have her go or at least try to go on the potty right before bed which she does go potty most of the time. I’ve also started waking her up at 5:30 a.m. when my husband leaves for work to go potty and then go back to bed but she is still wet about every other day. I don’t use pull ups anymore, quit that months ago and just wash her and all the bedding when she has accidents. She use to go through the night a while back but then started having more and more accidents. I use to get on her and finally backed off totally and just did the no pressure approach and asked her to just try and if she couldn’t go that it was ok. It’s been no pressure and no bugging her for months now and no pull ups but she still wets the bed about every other night. I’m 8 mos. pregnant and thought she would have this by now and was hoping she’d have it by the time the new baby arrives. My son was very easy and very young. Can she just not really hold it or is it a rebellious thing or what? I always tell her its ok when she wets the bed but it’s growing tiresome and I fear I will have a 5+ yr old who still wets the bed all the time. Does anyone know if this is just normal for some girls or have any advice? I’m ready to take her to the doctor to see if it is physical or what. I don’t want to get on her case like a did a while back about it but I’m beginning to get worried about it again.

Plowmanators said: MassageMama,My guess would be that it is a physical thing. It is totally normal for a child to be able to make it through the night, then not be able to. As the child grows, the bladder doesn’t usually keep up. Evaluate her daytime obedience. If she is rebellious in the day, there is a chance she is rebelling here, also. If she is obedient in the day, I would say physical problem. If it were me, I would have the doctor check her out. If it is physical, you would hate to continue to expect her to do something she just can’t do. Also, if it is physical, you could go back to pull-ups and make morning clean-up easier on yourself 🙂


My son is 2.5 and has been pee trained for several months, but he refuses to poop in the potty. He is very regular (poop in the morning (either right when he wakes up or soon after breakfast) and poop when I lay him down for his nap. I ready your blog about the Give Fair Warning and today was the first day of implimenting no pullups. We talked a lot about it and he always said, “OK Mommy”. I used his teddy bear with underpants to model (as instructed in pottywise) and have been offering treats throughout the day when he stays “clean”. I put him on the potty after breakfast and before nap and he sits for a little while, looking as though he is really trying, then quickly says, “All done. All done.” and nothing has happened. I then laid him down in his underpants. I put his potty chair in his room and reminded him that he could get out of bed if he felt like he needed to poop and he could call for me and I would come help. I told him if he could keep his pants dry and clean during his nap, that he would get a big suprise when he woke up. He was very excited and said, “What’s it going to be? A million toys?” So I don’t feel that motivation was an issue. About 10 minutes later I heard the familiar chattering that usually means he is stinky and not going to sleep. I walked in and he announced he was stinky. I cleaned him up, and he went right to sleep, as usual. I’ve noticed he never sits or lays down once he is dirty…always standing until I come in to clean him up. He often poops in his underpants and just walks around in it until I notice and clean it up. This was my biggest concern for this method working because he is just as likely to poop in underpants as in a pull up. A few times he will tell me when he is dirty. I am at a loss of what to do.

Plowmanators: Lindsay, I would say he hasn’t figured out how to poop on the potty yet. I would probably have him go without underwear around the house for a while, but still put him in diapers for his nap and bedtime until you start to see that he can actually sit on the potty and poop. For Brayden and Kaitlyn, the pooping was the hardest hurdle to get over. 2.5 is still pretty young for figuring it out. I would continue to try to find motivation for him to try and encourage him to do so, but until he has success at pooping on the potty, I wouldn’t do underwear all day every day.

Related Posts

See these posts for more on our potty training experiences:

How to Help Your Child Get Past Pooping in the Potty Issues and start pooping in the potty. Potty training helps and tips.