When Your 3 Year Old Won’t Poop on the Potty

What do you do when your 3-year-old won’t poop on the potty?  A 3 year old or toddler holding poop is a more common problem than you might think.  We have some real world solutions to helping kids master pooping on the potty, what is the best position to poop and how to keep up with the good habit of pooping regularly!

When my child won't poop on the potty - Kids Activities Blog - teddy bear sitting on the toilet
Your child WILL learn to poop on the potty!

How to Help Your Child Poop on the Potty

We reached out to our readers, FB community and fellow moms to ask what they would do in this stressful parenting situation.  They had some amazing advice that I hadn’t thought of…so check out all this potty training advice from moms, dads and caregivers who have been there!

Potty Training Poop Issues

Recently, one of my clients brought up that her child would pee but not poop on the potty, too. As parents, we worry about constipation issues, so we want this handled as soon as possible.  

I understand!

3 year old won't poop on the potty - boy in diaper looking at the toilet in a bathroom
Potty training a 3 year old who won’t poop in the toilet can be stressful.

I had a child that was completely pee-trained for over 9 months but still was not pooping on the potty. It is a huge hassle that kept me stressed out for nearly a year. The good news is that there are strategies to try that I wasn’t aware of…and even in my situation he finally did poop on the potty regularly!

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How to help your child poop in the potty - blow bubbles makes it harder for them to hold
Blowing bubbles can make it harder for kids to hold their poop.

1. Let’s blow bubbles!

I have heard that having them blow bubbles while on the potty makes it harder for them to hold it. Maybe next time she brings the diaper, give her some bubbles and head to the potty.”

-Megan Dunlop

2. Let her Hide

Let your child hide in the bathroom. Give him/her a flashlight and a book, then turn out the lights and let your child try to go.  Many children feel better if it is dark and they are alone when they are trying to go poop.

3. Goodbye Diapers

Get rid of the diapers in the house, then there is no other option. Also try doing something special, like an M&M, for going on the potty.

-Amber

4. Poop Reward System

Make your own printable potty reward chart.  

I draw an ice cream cone with 2 “Scoops” on it.  When our daughter goes poop, she colors in a scoop.  When both are colored in, we go for ice cream. I gradually add more scoops.

-Kati S
doctor examining a 3 year old - How to Help kids poop in potty
You may need to see if something more is going on…

5. Take it Seriously

When a child won’t poop on the potty, it can often be interpreted as a power struggle, but it might be more serious.  

Ask your doctor about trying Miralax and also have her sit on the potty throughout the day for ten to fifteen minutes. I make it a nicer experience.

-Mandy

6. Poop in the Diaper

If it is a small kids’ potty, take the top off and put the diaper inside of the collection bowl.  Make sure the little one sees you. Then put the seat back on and have them sit down. It is a compromise between the potty and the diaper. Once the child gets the idea, eliminate the need for the diaper.

-Brandy M

7. Poop Bribes

I am usually not in favor of bribery with kids, but that is because it sets up expectations over time for rewards. When it is a one-time thing like potty training…something that they will be doing on their own after it becomes a habit, then I think you do whatever it takes to get poop in that potty! Kerry agrees…

We went to the store and picked out a toy my son would want. We talked about how once he pooped on the potty, he could have the toy. It took some time but it worked!

-Kerry R

8. Poop as a Colorful Experience

I used to color the water in the potty with food coloring. I would tell my daughter who had constipation issues, that her little cute poopies want to swim in the pink water. It worked overtime!

-Alana U
How to help kids poop on the potty - add a stool so they have a better position at toilet
Add a stool so feet are not hanging off toilet. Optimally, knees above hips is best.

9. Position for Poop

I don’t know that anyone understood the importance of toilet positioning until the Squatty Potty craze. Through their advertisements we all learned how it is easier to poop with knees above hips. There is an adjustable Squatty Potty set that may be high enough for your child to get in that position.

Get a little stool for her to put her feet on. I have heard a squatting type position helps with pooping too.

-Ashley P

10. Sing for Pooping

Make up a potty song!  Here is the one that I used to sing to the tune of the ABC song…  

You go poop in potty now.  You are a big girl and you know how.  You will get a special treat.  Mommy will be so happy!   You go poop in the potty now.  You are a big girl and you know how.

-Moms everywhere who now have this stuck in their head say thanks {giggle}

More Potty Training Information

If you are really ready, we suggest this book, Potty Train in a Weekend.   We’ve heard great reviews & read it ourselves & love it.  

It is easy, to the point & gets the job done quickly!  

Plus, it’s a best-selling book that walks you through every area of potty training.

FREE WITH POTTY TRAIN BOOK

I would love to hear your suggestions when your child won’t poop on the potty!

More Potty Tips, Tricks & Advice

Hang in there! You’ve got this! Poop will happen…