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

I have a daughter who will be 3 in April. Sheís 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?
Submitted by ashley.oerman

Your little one is still very young, so itís not unusual to be experiencing some potty-training difficulty. Personally, Iím a big believer in waiting to potty-train for as long as possible. (Frankly, I love diapersóI 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, itís hard to go backwards. My advice: Pick a time each day to make a trip to the bathroomósay, right after breakfastóto 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 doesnít happen, donít sweat itóyouíll 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 childís pediatrician; a stool softener may be recommended. But with this low-key routine, itís most likely she will get there on her own.
Answered by Rosie Pope

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

Why is it that so many toddlers just donít want to poop in the potty? My best guess is that in a world where everything from what they eat to when they sleep is controlled by other people, their bottoms are the one thing over which toddlers have ultimate power. What do I mean by ultimate power? I mean degrees of constipation that would awe even the most experienced plumber! What, then, do you do when your child insists on demoting Number Two to Number Never? Itís time for reverse psychology. The first rule of Number Two is we do not talk about Number Two. No reminders, no suggestions, no hint whatsoever that you would not be perfectly delighted to continue changing soiled diapers until your child leaves for college. Once you relinquish ownership of the problem to your child, heíll have less at stake in resisting you. Second, make sure a potty is freely available and accessible, and that it feels comfortable and secure. Dangling over scary water with your feet off the ground does not put one in a mood to go around relaxing sphincters. If you havenít already done so, invest in a child-sized potty. Bells, whistles, and dancing monkeys are completely optional. Third, if your child has already become constipated, talk to his doctor. Constipation makes it hurt to poop, so constipated kids donít want to go, which makes them more constipated. Fruits and juices are worth a try, but it often takes a course of stool softeners to break the logjam, so to speak. Fourth, be ready with a reward. Your child might poop in the potty one day, even by accident. Then itís time to dance, sing, bestow stickers, and celebrate what a big boy he has become. It may be weeks or even months before you can safely dispose of the diaper pail, but youíre on your way, and thatís something to cheer about!

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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