three year old won't poop

10 Tips to Help Your Three Year Old Poop

10 Tips to Help Your Three Year Old Poop

Are you at your wit’s end, wondering why your three year old won’t poop on the potty? Read on to discover why and learn ten tips and tricks to help them conquer pooping on the potty.


Can we talk about pooping?

It’s not a topic you’d choose, but it’s one of those conversations that has to be had.

As a mom and potty-training expert, I understand how difficult getting your three-year-old to poop is. And the frustration can start to ooze into all areas of your life.

Your Google search history is all about why your three-year-old won’t poop.

Conversations with your spouse are all about bowel movements and how you spent hours in the bathroom.

And you’re left wondering how you made it this far as a parent.

You’ve tried stickers, their favorite show, and candy bribes. You’ve begged, you’ve cajoled, and you’ve encouraged.


Why does this feel so hard?

You managed to give birth, keep them alive through the exhausting newborn stage, and wean them off bottles, but you can’t seem to figure out this– getting your toddler to poop in the potty.


Why is your three-year-old so scared?

And how do you explain to them that it will hurt worse if they keep holding it in day after day?

Rest assured, this is a common problem among children of potty training age, and you are not the only parent feeling frustrated and unsure. Many toddlers who master peeing in the potty struggle with bowel movements. But before tackling how to get your little one to poop on the potty, we first have to understand why your three-year-old won’t poop.



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Reasons Your Three Year Old Won’t Poop On the Potty


  • Your three-year-old might be constipated.

Just one painful bowel movement is enough to make a child afraid to go again. So they hold it in every time they have the urge to poop. Not allowing themselves to go when needed makes the poop firmer and causes constipation. And so the vicious cycle begins.

You’ll need to deal with constipation before you can get your three-year-old to poop on the potty. Make sure your child is getting a high-fiber diet and that they’re regularly pooping. Until they’re having soft, consistent poops, getting them to poop on the potty will probably prove difficult.

  • Your three-year-old may need more control.

You might balk at this statement, but even children like to have control. If you have a toddler, you know what I’m talking about. They would rather sit in a poopy diaper than let you be in charge and tell them when they need to go to the bathroom. 

  • Your three-year-old is scared.

For little ones, pooping in the potty can be a scary thing. Toddlers often see poop as a part of themselves, and when they think they’re losing it, they can feel afraid. The sound of the poop falling, the splash of the water, and even the feeling of it coming out can all scare your child. 

  • Your three year old needs privacy.

Have you ever noticed that your three-year-old goes to a secluded corner to poop? They are used to having a semblance of privacy when wearing their diaper. And now, all of a sudden, you’re expecting them to poop while you sit in front of them and encourage them just to do it. They might be feeling too exposed.

Understanding why your three year old won’t poop on the potty is a crucial first step in getting them fully potty trained. Once you know why they aren’t pooping, you can tailor your approach and provide the necessary support they need to get things moving.

Now that you’ve identified why your child might be afraid, you can begin to help them feel at ease and confident on the potty. Let’s look at 10 tips and techniques that can pave the way to success in getting your three-year-old to poop on the potty.


Here Are Your 10 Tips to Help Your Three-Year-Old Poop On the Potty


  • Establish a routine.

Set regular times for your three-year-old to sit on the potty throughout the day. This could be after meals or when they typically have bowel movements. Following a predictable routine, you help their body adjust and establish a natural rhythm. Being consistent is key.

  • Create a comfortable environment.

Creating a positive environment is an essential step in potty training. Ensure the potty is in the bathroom and easily accessible for your three-year-old. If you decide to use a child-sized potty seat, make sure you have a step stool in front of the toilet for your child to rest their feet. If you’re using a potty chair, ensure it is stable and secure. When your three-year-old poops, they need to be able to rest their feet. This helps your child feel physically supported and relaxed.

  • Encourage relaxation.

Helping your child feel relaxed while sitting on the potty will help the pooping process be smoother. Teach them to take big, relaxing breaths or sing a potty song. You can also let them watch a few minutes of their favorite show. Remember to remind them that pooping is a natural process that everyone does, even you.

  • Offer incentives.

Positive reinforcement can be a great way to encourage your three year old to poop on the potty. Use a sticker chart and let them pick the stickers. Give them a small treat that they picked out at the store, or allow them a special privilege. The anticipation of their reward can encourage them to make an effort and finally poop on the potty.

  • Use books or videos.

There are a lot of great books that can help encourage your child to poop on the potty. These books often validate their feelings while providing fun visuals and depicting stories of children who successfully used the potty for bowel movements. Being able to see other children poop can help your toddler feel more confident and comfortable.

  • Provide privacy.

As we discussed earlier, some children just need personal space when learning how to poop. They’re used to hiding in a corner. Your hovering doesn’t help them feel at ease. Close the bathroom door most of the way but remind them you’re just on the other side. You can also use a small privacy screen to give them that feeling of independence and privacy. This allows your child to focus on their own body as they navigate what it feels like to poop.

  • Offer support and praise.

Stay positive and supportive through the potty training process. Getting frustrated when your little one won’t poop or has an accident isn’t helpful. Encourage your child, even if they don’t succeed right away. Cheer them on just for sitting on the potty and trying. Celebrating every step in the right direction will boost their confidence.

  • Address fears or anxieties.

If your child tells you they’re nervous or scared, talk to them about it. Listen, validate their feelings, and offer reassurance. Address their concerns and talk through the process with them. Allowing them to express their feelings will help them feel safe and supported.

  • Make it fun

Incorporate elements of fun into potty training. Add toys, books, songs, or interactive games your child enjoys. Distractions like these can help your three-year-old relax, reduce their anxiety and help them associate pooping on the potty with positivity.

  • Be patient 

Remember that potty training takes time. Don’t put too much pressure on your toddler or yourself. Accidents will happen, so handle them calmly while encouraging them to try again next time. Continue being consistent and supportive, even if the process takes a long time. Your child is mastering this milestone.


Final Thoughts on Why Your Three Year Old Won’t Poop

You can agree that when your toddler doesn’t poop on the potty, it can cause a lot of frustration and self-doubt. Just remember, you’re not alone. Understanding the reason for your toddler’s resistance can make a significant difference. Implementing these tips can help your three-year-old overcome their fears and conquer this important step in their potty training journey. 

Still feeling like you need help? Get more in-depth support, personalized advice, and tailored solutions here. Together we can get your three year old over this potty training hurdle.


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