Holding On For Dear Life

You read all the current theories about potty training and you did your best to follow the advice of the experts to the letter. But here you are still, with a child who resists having a bowel movement on the potty. Your child urinates in the potty just fine, but holds back on having stools.

Guilt Feelings

Don't blame yourself for your child's refusal. Since his problem is based in part on emotions, your guilt feelings will only compound the issue. This is a common problem; the important thing is to view the issue with objectivity and with an eye toward helping your child out of his toileting rut.

It can help a great deal to understand the mechanics behind the refusal to have a bowel movement. For many children, the whole problem revolves around the fear of making a mess. There are two ways to get him over this fear. One way is to involve your child in messy play. Show him how good it feels to wiggle toes in wet sand. Or dig up some dirt in the backyard, add water and make mud pies with your child. Finger paints are also a good way to have messy fun. Talk with your child about when it's okay to make a mess and how most messes can be cleaned.

Acceptable Mess

Another way to get your child over his fear is to ensure he will have that bowel movement in the potty and then heap him with praise. That is the best reassurance of all and lets him know that this kind of mess is more than acceptable. He needs to understand that bowel movements are universal. Everyone has them and that's okay.

Another issue is constipation. Once your child holds back on having stools, they become hard and difficult to pass. When your child does have a stool, it may be painful to excrete. This sets up a cycle in which your child fears passing his stool because he fears the pain of a hard movement.

Whole Grains

The wise mother analyzes the times her child tends to have a movement, for instance, twenty minutes after lunch, or just after a nap. She also thinks about adding fiber to her child's diet to make sure his stools are easy to pass. Adding vegetables like broccoli and whole grain breads and cereals should do the trick. If not, consult your doctor about a stool softener or other appropriate measures for loosening your toddler's stools.

Now for the method:

Put a diaper on your child at the time he normally has a stool, then dump the stool into the potty and show it to him. Tell him that this is the right place for his stool, just as it is the right place for his urine. He can help you dump the potty into the toilet, and if he likes the idea, flush it down by standing on the lid of the toilet as you help him. After a week or so of this, ask him if he'd like to try making his stool directly into the potty. If he resists, drop the subject and wait another week. Keep on dumping the stools from his diaper into the potty, and then into the toilet. Once a week, suggest he try the potty for his movements. Eventually, your child will succeed. Keep up your patient, kind attitude. He'll soon be pooping with the best of them!