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My Child Wont Poo on the Potty

  • 6 minute read

Ideas to help your child go poos on the potty

It is more common than you may think - children who are fine with weeing on the potty or toilet, but not number twos. (It also seems to be more common with boys). Many parents get frustrated by the fact their child is out of nappies, except for the 5 minutes a day he needed to do number twos. It isn’t just the hassle of always having a nappy on hand when you are out, or the expense of a disposable for 5 minutes but the bewildering reason why. It can be hard to understand what the problem would be – especially when they are happy to go wees. The most important thing is to remain calm and relaxed.

There can be all sorts of reasons and many of them don’t make sense to us – but put yourself in your little persons shoes and it may do. It can be as simple as:

  • They don’t like the “splash”
  • They are used to going in a nappy where ever / whenever they want and all of a sudden they have to do to a different room
  • They may have had some constipation in the past so associate pain with passing stools
  • They may be worried they might “fall in”


It is easy for others to say – “just don’t put a nappy on” but sometimes if your child is very determined, not giving in to putting a nappy on means constipation and even more problems.

Just remember - "don't give up"......they do get it eventually!! It may take months after they have mastered wees but they will get there.


Some things that may help:


  • First make sure your child isn't constipated. If she has bowel movements that are sometimes big, hard and painful to pass, then she may just be afraid to use the potty due to the pain. Increasing the amount of fluid and fibre in her diet, and perhaps using a stool softener, can help make her bowel movements softer and easier to pass if this is a problem.
  • When they have done number twos either in a nappy or in pants go together to the toilet and flush it away. This “normalises” the whole process and shows your child what’s happens.
  • You could tie a “special toy” to the toilet roll holder. This toy is just to play with whilst on the toilet
  • Have a special book just to read whilst sitting on the toilet.
  • Get a seat insert so they don’t fear falling in.
  • Try putting some food colouring in the water to make the toilet more interesting
  • It may be that poos tend to “splash” and make a noise, so they will go in a potty but not the toilet. Put some toilet paper in the toilet first so there isn’t any “splash
  • Explain where the “hole” in the toilet goes and how the toilet works.
  • If they are using the potty, you could put the potty in by the toilet (if it will fit) and then they will have the choice where they want to go. And start getting used to the idea that the toilet is where we want to eventually end up.
  • Offer a "poo party" with cake and balloons and stickers and singing. Not just after the first poo, but maybe if they go four times in the toilet.
  • It could be that they just need the time to relax on the toilet. If your bathroom includes the toilet, you can have a shower or do make up and chat whilst they are sitting. You may even just sit in the doorway and chat about what the plan is for today, or read a story out loud. Sometimes we forgot just what it is like. Do you leave your child sitting there and walk away (most kids love company), do you stand there and gently tap your foot (feel the pressure). Sometimes it can take them a little while to understand it doesn’t happen instantly like a wee might do. And that’s it is alright to take your time. (Be aware some kids want the privacy – so ask – would you like me to sit here and read to you or come back soon?”)  
  • It may be they are uncomfortable with their feet in the air, so a stool for them to put their feet on when they are on the toilet can help. This will also give them support when they are pushing.
  • Try not to focus on it as it can build anxiety.
  • You can try cutting a hole in the nappy so they are transitioning from going in a nappy, to sitting on the toilet with a nappy on and going, to sitting on the toilet with a nappy on with a hole cut out so it falls into the toilet, to just going on the toilet. Each step might take awhile, but take your time and have plenty of patience.
  • With some children, they have no idea where that poo came from and that can be scary. You could explain how food goes down a slide in her tummy (a really long one with lots of turns) and all the things her body doesn't need, come out at the end of the slide and into the toilet.  
  • Rewards. You can decorate the toilet / potty with stickers, steering wheels, pirate flags. Or every time they go, you put a stone in a jar and when you get to 5 stones, take them out for a treat. Raffle tickets – kids love tickets of any kind and you can buy a book at a stationary store and give them a ticket every time they go. Give them a choice if three things they can have as a reward. It could be as simple as special time with a parent. It is better if they can see the reward – eg small toy cars. If you buy 10 and say he can have one for every time he goes, it is more incentive than saying “once you go – we will go and buy a car”.


For some this can work, for others no amount of rewards, talking, threats or anything would make it happen. If this is the case, you will just need to wait it out. They will get to it in their own time.

And when you do get a poo in the toilet - make the biggest fuss you have ever made!!   Phone Dad at work, phone Nana, let your child tell them what a big boy he is. Do the potty dance, celebrate :)