"I need information on how to potty training my son. He will soon be five years old. 99% of the time he will use the toilet to urinate. But he will not use the toilet to have a bowel movement. He said he doesn’t want to. I have started taking his toys away from him and trying not to spank him. I am raising my son all by myself. His father hasn't been in his life since he was a baby. My son father wasn't potty trained until he was four and he was very strong will also. I do not have enough emotion support and I have not been very social. These issues could be major factors that have lead to his potty training problems. Please send me any advice you have on this situation"
Your child obviously has bowel control and is very close to being completely potty trained. However, he is uncomfortable sitting on the potty and going number 2, which probably relates to constipation. Sometime in the past when he was potty training, he took a hard poop in the toilet or potty – but he thinks the “hard poop” is related to sitting on the potty and not his diet at the time. His diaper brought him comfort and allowed him to stand in a private place and bear-down when he was ready to poop.
Here’s a 10-step plan:
1. Talk to your child about pooping in the potty but NOT when he needs to go poop. Ask him why he doesn't like to poop in the potty. Tell him that everybody poops in the potty …mommy, daddy, etc. Explain what constipation is and why it happens.
2. Tell your child that he cannot use diapers – so he needs to learn to poop in the potty. Keep conversation light and remind him your there to help him. Don't create urgency and don't create pressure.
3. Pay attention to what you are feeding him and give him lots of stool-softening foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fiber-rich fruit and vegetables, and plenty of water to wash it all down. Limit food-binders that make the poop hard (e.g., too much apple, too much chocolate, etc.).
4. When he is on the potty or toilet, ensure there is plenty of support for his feet and buttocks, because sitting properly on the potty supports the muscles in his abdomen to help him with pushing. He needs a good fitting potty where he can plant his feet firmly on the floor. If he is using the toilet, get a potty seat insert so that he feels safe and is stable – it will prevent him from falling in the bowl. And don't forget to put a stool under his feet for support.
5. Get your child to lean forward as much as possible while sitting on the potty. This will help to open up and relax the pelvic floor muscles which must occur every time you pass a bowel movement.
6. It could also be that your son has gotten into the habit of a bad routine. So when he needs to poop, he goes in his underpants, or you give him a diaper, and the circle keeps going around. You need to wean him away from the bad habit of pooping his underpants or soiling his diaper by establishing a new bowel movement routine that involves the potty or toilet. Rather than yelling at him for pooping in his underpants or giving in to his request for a diaper, invite him to use the potty in a positive way at that targets the time of day he usually goes number 2 – then give positive reinforcement by praising him for trying or when he has success.
7. If your child is afraid of the toilet, take him into the toilet… put the seat cover down… put him on your lap …and read a book. Flush intermittently to get him used to the noise
8. If you have not had him to a medical doctor, do so to rule out a physical reason. Often soiling is due to emotional reasons. You do not want this to develop into a power struggle with your son. If it turns into a power struggle with him, you will really have problems on your hands.
9. If you have tried many things to remedy the problem – but nothing works, you may want to seek out the help of a child psychologist. Your insurance plan can help you find one – or contact your local university psychology department.
10. This problem requires a great deal of love and gentleness on your part. I would not require him to clean himself up. Don’t punish this “behavior.” He is doing the best he can, and anything that involves shame or force will only back fire.