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Regression in Potty Training Almost 4 Year Old
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Regression in Potty Training Almost 4 Year Old

I have a soon to be four year old who was potty trained completely over the summer and now will not poop on the potty at all.  He has had pooping issues since the introduction of the potty when he was 2.  Although, there was no pressure in the beginning from us, I think he put pressure on himself and when he wasn't ready to use the potty, he decided to hold it instead.  This was a spiraling affect.  He held it, we had to give him two enemas in one night just to get him to go.  We've tried every tactic in the book from the rewards system, to completely ignoring the entire situation and leaving it in his hands, and nothing has worked.  I am starting to become consumed with it at this point and would like this issue to be put behind us.  I just don't know what I can do....Or is there anything I CAN DO?  He takes myralax daily to keep the stools soft and this works fairly well.  Although he doesn't poop on any type of scedule and will usually hold it as long as he can (two days) and then the third day has a huge blow out in his pants, which then causes me to be extremely frustrated and I'm sure he's feeling bad about me being so disappointed and frustrated with this situation.  I don't know what to do at this point....(Oh and by the way, he was completely potty trained over the summer for about two months and has totally regressed back to his old behavior)  So, I know he CAN DO IT....but he doesn't want to and won't tell me why.....Is it control?  Is it that he's scared for some reason?  I am so confused.....
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It surely CAN be a souce of frustration for parents when a four-year-old has not yet accomplished this developmental task. But, it DOES NOT HAVE TO BE a source of frustration. It is up to you to decide what's going to frustrate you and what is not. I know what I am suggesting is not easy, but I'm urging you to work on your response. Don't let it get to you like it is. Your son will accomplish this task. Yes, he's at the late end of the spectrum, but he's not alone. And, to encourage you, if you look around at all the various kindergarten classes in the country, the kids have accomplished toilet training - some at the early end, some in the middle, some at the later end. He'll get it done. If he senses in you that you are heavily invested in the task getting done, it'll only take longer. So be patient and supportive - it'll be OK.
21 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
So, you're saying that frustration is a controllable feeling?  Do you have any concrete advice with my methods or should I just leave it in his hands and not worry about it at all.  Should I ask him to sit on the potty or completely not talk about it at all?  I forgot to mention that he is very strong willed and has a hard time doing what he's told with many other requests that his father and I have    for him.  Why is this such an issue?  He is so smart and is completely capable of this....My frustration is a completely normal feeling and I am not sure how to stop it.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello Grant's mom.  Let me tell you from experience that you are not alone.  I have been through this with my son for years he is now 6 years old/kindergarten) and we're finally having some real progress.  In the past my son was also not having bowel movements (except in his underwear)and I was very frustrated/tried everything from rewards to punishments to ignoring the problem.  I even talked to a psychologist regarding the problem thinking their was a mental issue going on.

It turns out he has something called 'encopresis' where the colon has basically lost the sensation of having to poop.  I had him on Miralax for a few months.  I now have him on a 1/2 t. of Benefiber (an over the counter fiber supplement) daily in his juice. I still have to ask him to sit on the toilet for 5 to 10 minutes...I do this 1-2 times a day.  I've noticed when I don't give him the Benefiber for 4 or 5 days or so that he has a very hard time pooping and soils his underwear several times a day.

I know it is extremely frustrating, but please hang in there.  It will get better.  For 2 1/2 years I about pulled my hair out because it seems our lives revolved around this whole issue...but, finally we're making progress.  I pray that Grant will too make progress soon!



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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you soo much, mom of 3 boys.  I appreciate your support.  It helps to know that I'm not alone.  When did your son start potty training?  How long did it take you to realize that he had a disorder?  I have an appointment in a week with a counselor.  Hopefully, she can ask some key questions that can lead us in the right direction.  Does this disorder (endocresis) develop from the child holding this bowel movement or is this inborn?  Sorry for so many questions, but it's nice to finally talk to someone who's been through this.
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242606_tn?1243786248
Yes, our feelings are not automatic responses, though they can seem to be at times. Be supportive and continue to introduce the option of using the potty, without forcing the issue. And it is a help to make available some little reward whenever he is successful. Relative to the general matter of following directions, take a look at Lynn Clark's book titled SOS: Help for Parents. It will offer you a simple, clear, useful approach to managing behavior. If you read this Forum regularly, you'll know that I totally endorse Dr. Clark's approach to managing behavior. In more than thirty years of working with children and their parents re: behavioral issues, I have seen firsthand that this approach has never been found wanting.
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Avatar_n_tn
i have an almost 4 year old girl who has also regressed with potty training, bm only. she was fully trained for about 9 mos, then started  having poopy accidents, i'm just as lost as you!!
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My daughter turned 3 in October.  She has been potty trained for almost a year.  About 6 weeks ago, she started having little accidents with her bm only in her pants.  We didn't make a big deal about it at first, but now it seems like she's doing it on purpose.  She'll sit and cry on the toilet, and holds it even though she has to go.  We have tried doing nothing, we have tried consequences, but no luck.  So before I go crazy, can anyone help me out with why a child who has had no problem using the toilet for almost a year, all of a sudden decides she doesn't want to do it anymore?  There have been no major changes in our lives or schedules.
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Avatar_n_tn
same situation here,only change was starting school, but this started 6 weeks before school.  it recently turned from pooping deliberately(we think) to not going for days at atime, crying when asked to use bathroom-real power struggle, then started to have total fear and we thinh she was starting to get impacted- no real bm for days, but very leaky stool accidents. she's been on benefiber-hidden in drinks, i increased it a little, and now she seems to be making a turnaround, no accidents in a week., good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
Now, suddenly, Grant will go poop on the potty.  I had to make the final decision that when I see he had to go, I put him on the potty, with a struggle.  But, made no emotions about it.  Once he realized that I meant business and he wasn't getting to me emotionally, he just stopped fighting, pooped and went on about his business.  Sometimes, I think they want to feel control over SOMETHING.  And, this is something they can control.  I decided that it was time I took control.  (maybe it sounds harsh, but I tried every other method and nothing worked!) We're the parents and  our children need to remember that we know what's best for them.  They take comfort in that, I think!
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Avatar_n_tn
I was in the same situation as you.  I finally got my son to poop on the potty by force.   Then about 6 months after being fully potty trained - he started holding it.   This started a terrible cycle - he got constipated and it hurt to go - he would hold it for days and days - I would give him an enema and he would produce such a huge bowel movement that it hurt me to even look at it.   Then he was scared to poop and would hold it for days again - finally I realized that he has something called encopresis.   It is a totally curable condition but you must pay attention - if he starts holding it again, start treatment quickly as it can develop into an awful cycle....there are other threads that discuss this - see 4 year old refuses to poop....
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i need some serious help.
my 4 year old will not poopoo in the potty, i have tryed sitting him on there, telling him he can get candy or a toy after he goes like a big boy.
am i do something wrong here?
he will pee in the potty every now and then but i dont understand why he wont do the other?
any help would be great.
he was behind with everything else he learned to do also.
like crawing, walking, talking, and now potty training.
i feel like this is all my fault, what should i do?
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Avatar_n_tn
I sent you an email tonight will the notes that I suggested.  Best of luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
I found this thread a little helpful and am going to read one or two others that were previously mentioned.  I have a son that turned 4 on 12/8.  Potty training him to pee in the potty wasn't at all difficult (I purposely didn't attempt to potty train him until he was 3).  It took about 3 days.  I took away his pull ups and let him wet himself, then took my time (5-10 mins) changing him so he would be uncomfortable (he hates to be wet).  I also gave him a reward for using the potty.  He loved the reward, he hated being wet, BAM, potty trained.  No accidents at night or anything.  He would actually wake up and use the bathroom.  

While the pee thing was easy, the poop thing was not.  My son doesn't like to be wet, but he didn't care one bit if his butt was dirty.  He also completely ignored any reward I came up with.  He also wasn't ever constipated or anything that indicated a problem.  His stools would be soft/loose, and always in his pants.  When he realized that we were getting frustrated with his not using the potty to poop, he stopped pooping.  He would hold it and hold it until he couldn't hold it anymore.  We would catch him walking into another room or something and dropping down to one knee to sit on his foot.  When we asked what he was doing he would say that he was "making the poopy go away."  No matter what we said he would not understand that it only makes it go away for a few minutes.  Feeling that we were maybe pushing him too much, we went back to not pressuring him.  In order to avoid him holding it, we went back to pull ups and encouraged to him go in his pull ups if he needed to.  That was fine and after making the feeling go away several times, he would finally go in his pull up.  Since we got him going again, we started asking him if he'd like to go to the potty when we saw that he had to go.  The answer was and is always no.  We only ask once, and say 'ok' and smile when he says no.  No pressure, no frustration, no guilt on his part.  The problem is we've been doing this for 6 months now.  He has never agreed to go on the potty, and though I'm very careful with my facial expressions and tone of voice I'm getting very frustrated.  I KNOW that he won't be 8, 10 or 12 and still going in his pants (which is what he does when he doesn't have a pull up on -- I just switched back to pull ups because I can't wash 15 pairs of his underwear every single day otherwise), but still how long can this possibly take??  Is he going to hold it and make it "go away" then go in his pants for another six months?  Another year?  Two years??  I'll be completely insane by then.  What am I doing wrong?  What can I do or say to him to make him understand?
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I understand! I came to this site tonight in pure frustration after my 4 yr old son went through about 6 pairs of underpants today. Never wet- always poopy.  He has been doing this off on for a few months but lately, going in the potty is the exception- and quite a celebration when it happens. Tonight, we threatened the pull-ups.  Do you regret re-introducing them? I dont know what else to do either! I am finding comfort that we are not the only ones dealing with this and I have appreciated reading the advice of all the moms. We too have tried both positive and negative rewards. Hang in there- well figure this out. Im going to look on a few more sites tonight..........
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Avatar_n_tn
I understand! I came to this site tonight in pure frustration after my 4 yr old son went through about 6 pairs of underpants today. Never wet- always poopy.  He has been doing this off on for a few months but lately, going in the potty is the exception- and quite a celebration when it happens. Tonight, we threatened the pull-ups.  Do you regret re-introducing them? I dont know what else to do either! I am finding comfort that we are not the only ones dealing with this and I have appreciated reading the advice of all the moms. We too have tried both positive and negative rewards. Hang in there- well figure this out. Im going to look on a few more sites tonight..........
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Avatar_n_tn
Alright I know there are many 4 year old's having issues with potty training. I hear of the poop problem but what about a boy who does not mind pee in his pants. We have been to the doctor and he is a healthy 4 year old with a birthday 10-12-01. Yes, as I have heard from all of you he too was trained for 4 months over a year ago. Then he regressed and now just does not care. One thing he will do is poop in the potty. I basically tell him to go pee in the potty. This is a child who knows his letters and sounds and shapes and everything else. He is smart as a whip but will go pee. He too is strong willed. He is a happy boy and is sad when he pees in his pants. At first I felt the pull up was the problem because he did not feel wet. Now in training pants he still does not mind feeling wet. HELP! My patience is running thin. I have 2 kids ahead of him and one was easy(boy) and the other was a bit more challenging(girl). I did not believe in the saying that girls were easier until Joey. I could use some advice. Do I throw away the pull ups and just let him pee himself until he just doen't like it and uses the potty. He can hold it through pre school (2 1/2 hrs).
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I am in the same boat here.  Except my four year old has never been trained. He could be trained for urine becuase he will do that on the potty but the other forget it.  I have him in pullups because he is in daycare with my sister and I can't really have her dealing with poopy underwear all the time.  We do try it occasionally and he just doesn't care.  He can be wet and dirty in underwear just as happily as he is wet and dirty in a pull up.  He NEVER EVER complains or mentions he is soiled.  we have to tell him its time to get changed.  Its unbeleivable and really I'm losing my mind.  But not my patience!  

I've spoken to the doctor but will speak with them again soon to see if he should be tested for some type of physical problem.  Most days he has 5 bowel movements - I'm not kidding.  5 that I have to change everday.  He gives no "signs" that he is going.  Doesn' stop what he is doing to concentrate or anything - so I just wonder if he doesn't have the sensation that it is coming out.  UGHHHHH!  Well I'm glad I'm not the only one!
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My sympathies are with you ... I have been there.  One suggestion, the inconsistency is probably not helping?  Personally, I made the decision when my son was 3 1/2 NEVER to use diapers during the day again, even if I changed 100 diapers per day for a while.  Enough was enough.  It was VERY TOUGH, especialy considering that at first, he did not unerstand the diaper/potty connection and that the stuff in the diaper was what we were all doing in the potty.  Everyone involved in his care (special needs preschool teachers, daycare provider) was asked to hop on board and they did.  It took a while, but I was very consistent (and avoided long car rides for a while!) and it did finally pay off.  Good luck.  I know it's hard.  I just kept remindng myself that children with severe disabilitlies are trained every day and that sometihng WILL eventually work.  Take Care.
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I also have a 4 year old that gets very constipated since potty training I have given suppositories. But sometimes it doesn't work. I have considered an enema. But they scare me. For those of you's that have used them are they safe and were there any concerns with using them.
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I also have a 4 year old that gets very constipated since potty training I have given suppositories. But sometimes it doesn't work. I have considered an enema. But they scare me. For those of you's that have used them are they safe and were there any concerns with using them.
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A related discussion, I need help potty training my 4 year old was started.
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