Girl sitting on a toilet trying to poop

Getting To The Bottom Of Poop And Potty Training

Potty training is challenging for any family, but it can be made much worse if your child refuses to poop on the potty. They may have mastered the art of potty pees, but if you constantly find them squatting in a corner or soiling their underwear, then pooping could be an issue. 

Potty training for poop can be tricky, and several factors may make pooping on the potty more difficult for your child. The good news is that struggling to poop on the potty is completely normal and happens to many children. So, if your child is having potty training poop disasters take heart because you are not alone.

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Why Are Toddlers Afraid to Poop on the Potty?

You may have noticed that your toddler is afraid to poop on the potty, which might seem strange because they will happily sit on the potty to pee. But peeing and pooping require different neural pathways and different muscle systems. This can make pooping on the potty more challenging for your newly potty-trained toddler.


Constipation is one of the biggest factors affecting your toddler pooping on the potty. If your toddler has hard poops, sitting on the potty may be painful. Because pooping is uncomfortable, they associate that feeling with the potty and can refuse to use it. 

Your child may have gotten used to pooping in a squatting position which helps them bear down and poop easier. Sitting on a potty feels different, and they may struggle to push the poop out effectively. This is especially true if they are constipated, and the whole ordeal might be too much for them.

Emotional Readiness

It’s possible that your child is still gaining toilet confidence and that they are not quite emotionally ready for pooping on the potty. 

If you have had an unsuccessful potty training attempt with your toddler, you may find that they are withholding poop. Not only is this a sign that they are not emotionally ready for potty training, but withholding poop will also increase the chance of constipation which will only worsen the situation. 


For some toddlers, the act of pooping on a potty is scary. The feeling of sitting on a potty is very different from pooping in a diaper or pull-ups, and some children may be particularly sensitive to the change in sensation. 

If your child has experienced pain while pooping on the potty, that can make them afraid to use it in the future. Unfortunately, some children don’t like water splashing on their bums as they poop. The sensation of pooping on a toilet with a toddler seat is very different from a small potty

It’s possible that your child also feels scared to use the toilet because they don’t feel secure when they sit down. If your child can’t reach the ground or your potty training seat is not adequately secured your child can feel unsafe sitting on the toilet.

Girl sitting on potty with concerned mother next to her

Soiling During Potty Training

After 6 months, your child should be comfortable pooping on the potty, but if you find that they regularly poop in their pants, there could be a larger problem. 

If your child is already potty trained and you notice that they are soiling their underwear, they could be constipated. When poop hardens in the rectum, liquid can leak and soil your child’s underwear. This can make them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable, on top of having stomach cramps and stinky farts. The whole situation can be a lot for your child to deal with, so if you notice that they are not pooping regularly, see your doctor to find out how best you can help them. In rare cases, there is a more urgent medical reason for withholding poop, but constipation is the most common cause. 

If your child has been withholding poop, ensure they have consistent and comfortable poops before trying potty training again. Attempting to potty train while your child is still constipated will delay the process. 

How to Get Your Toddler to Poop on the Potty

  • Use a footrest. This will help your child bear down better and provide a feeling of security while using the toilet.
  • Look at your child’s poop schedule. Kids poop in different amounts, and your child may poop once a day, once every few days, or a few times in one day. It’s important to know how consistently they poop rather than the amount. If your child is not consistently voiding their bowels, they can become constipated and refuse to use the potty.
  • Empty poop into the toilet together. If your child is pooping in their pull-ups, empty the poop into the toilet, let your child flush it away, and explain that poop goes in the potty.
  • Pull-up Poops. If your child isn’t ready to poop on the potty, let them poop in their pull-ups in the bathroom. You can empty the poop into the toilet when they are done and get them comfortable with the bathroom’s sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Praise, don’t shame. This is such a challenging time for small people, and it’s essential that you acknowledge their feelings during the process.
  • Remind them. If your child becomes engrossed in play easily, you may need to remind them to use the potty.
  • Relax and be patient. Your child will learn to poop on the potty, but it will take time, love, and support.
  • Water and fiber. Increase the amount of fiber and water you give your child throughout today to help them poop more regularly and comfortably.
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage your child to poop on the potty. Praise them for using the potty successfully and offer rewards such as stickers or treats.

Potty Training Poop Success

Potty training for poop can be a struggle for many kids and parents. Your child has been pooping in a diaper for the first few years, and it is a significant change to suddenly poop in the potty. 

So, give yourself grace and have patience with your child as they learn to navigate new bathroom behavior. It might take longer than you would like, but your child will learn to poop on the potty when they feel safe, respected, and ready.

Toddler sitting on toilet with mother holding her
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