How can I get my child to poop in the potty?

Q: I have a daughter who will be 3 in April. She’s mastered going number 1 in the potty, but she refuses to go number 2 in the toilet. If we push her too much to go in the potty, she holds it for days and gets constipated. This has been going on way too long. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Your little one is still very young, so it’s not unusual to be experiencing some potty-training difficulty. Personally, I’m a big believer in waiting to potty-train for as long as possible. (Frankly, I love diapers—I hate being someplace where I have to take my son to a nasty public bathroom because he has to go!) Once you start training, though, it’s hard to go backwards. My advice: Pick a time each day to make a trip to the bathroom—say, right after breakfast—to try to go poop. Make this daily bathroom trip relaxing; distract her from the task at hand and keep her in there a little longer by reading a story or telling a funny one from your childhood (my kids love when I share something naughty I did). If it doesn’t happen, don’t sweat it—you’ll try again tomorrow. Be sure her diet includes plenty of fluids and high-fiber foods like apples, beans, bran muffins, and whole-grain pasta. If constipation persists, though, consult your child’s pediatrician; a stool softener may be recommended. But with this low-key routine, it’s most likely she will get there on her own.