Our four year old (turned 4 in April) refuses to have a bowel movement on the toilet. He asks for a diaper. We have asked our doctor about it and he said to sit him on the toilet for 5 minutes after each meal regardless if he has to go. He will do that but still refuses to have a bowel movement. He will hold it until we allow him to wear a diaper. He has no problems with constipation, never has. At one point we forced him to sit on the toilet and he had to go so bad that eventually it just "came out" and we praised him, made a big deal about it. He seemed so happy afterward that he did it in the toilet, but then the next day asked again for a diaper. He has been toilet trained for over a year, his two year old sister it toilet trained and he watches her have bowel movements on the toilet but even this doesn't encourage him to try. We've talked to him about it and he doesn't say anything is wrong, ie: it hurts, I'm scared etc. I just don't know what else to do, should I just force him to sit on the toilet and say "no more diapers", do I allow him to wear a diaper when he asks? If I do that when is he ever going to go in the toilet??! If we don't give him a diaper he cries and throws a fit, like it's going to kill him to go on the toilet. I'm really at a point where I don't know what else to do. He never has accidents because he holds it when at school or outside of the home. He waits until he is at home and can have a diaper, he then has a bowel movement no problem. I know it's not medical. Help! Sorry this is so long.
It sounds like you know the solution - stop giving your son diapers. You are reinforcing his choice, thereby continuing the very behavior you say you want to stop. Do you see what I mean? As long as you continue your behavior, his won't change. This is true in many aspects of child behavioral problems. The degree to which we, as parents, can change our approach will, to a certain degree, detrmine the degree to which the child will change. Admittedly, you'll have to bite the bullet and tolerate a certain amount of distress on your son's part, but you'll be helping him. Sometimes in our parenting efforts we do have to bring about a certain amount of discomfort in our children in order to promote their growth and development. This is not a bad thing - it's a good thing, even though it can be difficult.
Our daughter did the same thing. At 4+ years of age, my answer to the issue was to give her the diaper. One day she determined that she wanted to use the toilet instead of the diaper for her bowel movement. I think this determination was influenced by how her peers acted, and she just decided it was her time. I found that the more I talked about it to her, the more of an issue it became with her, so I let her have it her way. Pick your battles. This one is a stinky one, but a minor one, one the less...
I also took the approach for the last year to give him the diaper, after reading so many parenting books that say "don't force your child, don't pressure your child to toilet train". My fear was that if I did not give him a diaper it would in fact be forcing or pressuring him. I'm at the point where I know if I continue to give him diapers, he will be going to kindergarden still using them. I guess I just wanted to know if I do stop giving him a diaper, is this a bad parenting choice because in a sense I'm forcing him to use the toilet. Thanks for your answer and comment. I think for two weeks I'll stop the diapers and see what happens.
my friend's 4 yr son was the same, though he had problems with constipation when he was younger and this had created some fears at first.
Although he would urinate, he would not poop without a diaper. Last month, he was fully toilet trained. She combined the encouragement from his daycare, her own praise, and she stopped letting him have a diaper to use. Although he whined for a diaper for the first couple days, we set up a really simple sticker program (every poop got him a sticker and a piece of gum; 5 stickers got him the BIG reward - a $10 game). We only had the one prize, just because she only wanted to encourage his compliance early on, so he'd have some successful experience (it also made it way easier to say 'no' to diapers, after he'd done it a few times. I swear he only asked out of habit after the first day or so).
It only took the one week to move from the diaper to the toilet. Smooth sailing now.
we had a similar situation with our daughter at about 3 years of age. We even tried putting a diaper on her, but cutting a hole in it and having her sit on the toilet. That worked for a while, but then she refused even that. What finally worked for us was finding the right reward: in her case, bubble gum, which she had never tried before. After a few days of rewards in this fashion, she was completely comfortable going on her own. Later she told me that she was scared of the toilet, and didn't understand where the feces went. If you decide to withhold the diapers from your son, maybe you could simultaneously offer him an appealing reward, so that it's not completely a punitive act. good luck!
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