The Saturday Question: How do you deal with pooping on the potty?

Thanks to all  of you who helped me begin potty training my two year old son.  It’s amazing how quickly he’s mastered it and we’re happy with the drastic reduction in diaper laundry.  The only hurdle we can’t quite seem to overcome is pooping in the potty.  Although we’ve tried to sit him alone in his room or read books with him for long periods on the potty, he can’t quite seem to master it.  He inevitably goes in his training pants, but only the solid stuff.  He’ll even pee in the potty, pull up his training pants and then poop in them just ten minutes later.  We’ve offered him treats and encouraged this step but we aren’t sure if there’s something else we should be doing.  Any ideas?


  1. Is he perhaps treating training pants like a diaper? What happens if he’s just in underwear? We went cold-turkey on the diapers during waking hours, and she had a few accidents that were very distressing for everyone involved. She mastered #1 right away (within a day or two), but #2 took at least two or three weeks.

    It started with her not caring or realizing she’d had an accident. Then she had an accident or two that really upset her. Then she didn’t have accidents anymore, but she seemed extremely scared of going #2 on the potty. (By then she was aware that she needed to go, we were aware she needed to go, but she’d resist actually doing it.) We could have put her back in diapers at this point, but I thought we were still making progress, so we just kept praising her and assuring her that it was all right, she was doing a great job, etc. We would give her a treat when it was over, and she seemed happy about that.

    Then–she mastered it. Like I said, that took a good three weeks (and about three accidents) after starting potty training. Over six months later, she has never had an accident with #2. (And she also loves sitting on the toilet, so her trauma was short lived.)

  2. Poop just generally takes longer. My son was completely potty trained, then regressed due to stress, and we’re only now getting him back to pooping on the potty regularly.

    It can help if you figure out his cues. My son hides when he needs to poop or starts running around the room in a particular way. If I catch this behavior, off we go to the potty.

    If you aren’t already, make sure you dump the poop from the diaper into the potty. Make sure your child sees and talk about where the poop belongs.

    Above all else, be patient about it. It may be anywhere from weeks to months before you get results. After dealing with my son as well as his older sister, I can see why people say that boys are harder to potty train that girls.

  3. I’m going through the same hurdle with my two-year old. So far, what’s worked, is making a special treat for when she goes to the bathroom in the potty. I let her flush the toilet and ‘help’ rinse out her potty. Maybe having a special treat for when he goes number two could help. Something that he gets to do only when he goes poop in the potty. I help my little one wipe her bottom when she goes poop, but then let her try wiping on her own. Possibly showing your son that special process that BIG kids get to do could help him transition over to pooping in the toilet. Also this way, once he’s ‘trained’ to go to the bathroom, its a ‘treat’ he’ll always get to do. Something to make him feel good about himself and shows that he’s a BIG kid. So far that’s what’s working for me, hopefully it helps!

  4. It’s really validating to hear that girls are different from boys because Roscoe hasn’t ever been the least bit bothered by accidents of any kind. It has been awhile since I wrote this post and we’re now about halfway there with pooping. Even when he’s wearing cloth underwear, he comfortable pooping in his pants and continuing to play.

    The good news is that now he can sit on the potty and poop and will do so voluntarily when he’s running around the house half naked or with just his underwear. He gets a train from the giant box of used Thomas trains we were given as hand-me-downs every time he poops. This seems to work but if he has a friend over or we’re out and about, it often happens in his pants. Still, it’s much better than diapers. Thank goodness for cloth training pants!

  5. Tim took ages to train with #2. It took several weeks of gross accidents/cleaning up by Mummy with underwear and LOTS of discussion etc about it before he finally started doing it. Poop just seems to be more difficult. I think what tipped it is seeing me get so fed up with cleaning up! But that has more to do with his personality than anything… he wanted to “make Mummy happy”.

  6. We used to reward pooping on the potty. Poop came a few weeks after peeing on the potty. She would ask for a diaper to poop in. But I just had her sit on the potty for a little while about the time she would normally poop. Within a few weeks she was a pro.

  7. Poop was a big problem for us. Finally we had to resort to something that seems a little cruel but was very effective. My son loved cookies but rarely got them. We baked some fresh chocolate chip cookies together and then told him that whoever put the poop in the potty got a cookie. If he went poop in the potty, he got a cookie. If he had an accident, then dad or I ate the cookie in front of him after cleaning up the mess, while commenting on how good the cookie was. He only had one or two more accidents and then he did all his poop on the potty. If he was at daycare when he did it, he got the cookie after dinner. He just needed a little motivation to pay attention to his body. He was successfully using the potty for urination for about 3 weeks by this point. I was pregnant at the time and cleaning up poopy underwear was more than I could handle.

  8. My son dreaded going poop on the potty – he was one that knew he had to go and would hide or something and then come tell me right after to get clean underware. I think he was just afraid to push it out on the potty because it was uncomfortable. even after he was used to me rushing him to the bathroom on time he would still try and hold it off as long as possible (making it that much more uncomfortable) every time – I just would not go anywhere every other day until I was sure he had his bowel movement. What cured his pooping in the potty concern for us was a blessing in disguise… diahrea! After a weekend of going poop on the potty several times a day, and not having to push to make it come out, he is no longer afraid of it, and thus dosn’t let himself get backed up to the point where it would be uncomfortable anymore.

    I know, not exactly something you can plan… unless you O.D. on prune juice for a weekend or something. lol

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