Development Physical & Emotional

Toddler Scared To Poop On Potty: 12 Tips & Expert Advice

At some point all parents need to go through the process of training their child how to use the potty.

For some children and their lucky parents, once you have determined the time is right to begin, your child takes to the process like a natural and everything is plain sailing.

There are other kids however who might get the hang of doing a pee quickly, but may be scared of the potty for doing poos.

If your son or daughter is afraid to poop on their potty then don’t worry, because this is more common than you may think.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to help.

Why Are Toddlers Afraid Of Pooping In The Potty?

You’ve heard it a thousand times but it really is true.

All children are different, and that can make it hard to find the exact cause of many developmental challenges that you may face during your child’s early years.

To help identify why your child might have a fear of the potty, and in particular why they are refusing to poop, let’s take a look at some common reasons why toddlers resist pooping in the potty.

1. They are afraid of something

Toddlers and fear of the potty often go hand in hand, especially as your little one is probably very used to and comfortable with pooping in their diaper.

Some reasons why a toddler might have a fear of pooping on the potty include:

  • Uncomfortable with the sensation of their naked bottom exposed to the air.
  • Afraid of making a mess on the potty.
  • Fear of being sucked down the toilet.
  • Afraid of the loud flushing sound.

2. They are not physically or emotionally ready just yet

Your child’s current refusal to potty train might simply be down to fact that they are not ready to start the process just yet.

Toddler Wearing Green Dress Playing Outside

3. They are too busy or not concentrating

Some kids just don’t sit still for longer than a few seconds, and this can make it particularly difficult to get them do do a poop in their potty or on the toilet.

And even if you can get them to sit on the potty for more than a couple of seconds, their mind is elsewhere and they are thinking about everything except the job at hand.

4. They are withholding doing a poop as a “power play” for more attention

According to some experts, one reason why some children refuse to use the toilet is because they are using stool withholding as a power play for more attention.

How Can I Help My Toddler Not Be Afraid To Poop On The Potty?

As we said, all kids are different, so as their parent or caregiver you’ll know better than anyone which one(s) of the causes above might be the culprit.

The best way to help your child overcome this toilet refusal syndrome is by staying patient, not pressuring your child and letting them move at their own pace.

Here are a dozen tips and tricks to get your toddler to poop on the potty.

12 Potty Training Tips To Help Your Child Poop

1. Read Them Potty Books

One of the most effective ways to help your child get over their fear is to read potty books to them.

These amusing books are cleverly written to address the topic in a child-friendly and humorous way, and with any luck your child will want to join in on the fun and copy the characters in the book!

Here are some great examples, the first of which I can personally recommend as I used it to good effect when potty training my daughter.

I’ve also included one for the parents (Oh Crap! Potty Training), which again I can testify is a very helpful read for all you fellow moms and dads out there.

Page 1

Page 1

Page 1

2. Keep The Diapers For Now

You might be tempted to go cold turkey and tell your child that from now on they can only do a poop in either the potty or toilet, but this tactic isn’t recommended.

So if your toddler is insisting that they poo in their diaper or nappy, let them do so.


Because the last thing you want is for them to hold in their poo and become constipated, which will make everything worse.

3. Take Baby Steps From Diaper To Potty

Typically it can be helpful to take small gradual steps when training your child out of using diapers or nappies.

Break the process down into smaller more manageable steps, such as:

  • To begin with, continue to let your child poop in their diaper for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Encourage your child to stand in the bathroom or beside their potty while pooping in their diaper.
  • Next, encourage your little one to sit on the potty while wearing their diaper to poop.
  • Next up, you can try making a whole in the diaper, so that your toddler’s poo goes into the potty. This clever trick will gives your child the security they are used to by still wearing a diaper, but they’ll sense what it’s like for the poop to drop into the potty.
  • Once your son or daughter get’s the hang of the above, it’s time to try pooping on the potty or toilet without a diaper or nappy.

4. Show Them Where Poo Goes

We all know how curious children are, so feed this curiosity by explaining to them where their number 2s go.

You can even make a game out of it and inject some humor as follows.

One experienced mom-friend of mine advised me to tell my daughter that her poop goes to a poo party when it’s flushed down the toilet!

It’s sounds funny, but my little one loved this idea, especially because she wanted to reunite her poop with its other poop friends so it could enjoy some music, dancing, presents, cake and everything else that a great party involves!

white ceramic sink beside white ceramic toilet bowl

5. Move The Potty To Their Preferred Location

Many kids have a preferred or favorite place to poop – for example next to the sofa, in a certain corner or in their bedroom.

If that’s the case with your little one, try moving their potty to that location.

The idea behind this tip is that the more you can do to recrate the conditions they are used to, the less resistance your child will put up and the more comfortable they are going to become.

6. Avoid Punishment, Shaming Or Force

There’s no doubt that it can be very frustrating when your child simply won’t poop in the potty, no matter how much encouragement you give them and how much patience you’ve shown to this point.

This is when some parents might be tempted to punish or shame their child, or try to force them to poop in their potty by removing their diapers.

But doing any of the above, or calling your child a baby or a little boy or girl will likely backfire, so try as hard as you can to stay calm, relaxed and patient.

7. Legs On The Ground

If you are training your child to poop in a potty you can skip this tip for now.

But for those of you who are trying to get your toddler to poop in the toilet, you should keep in  mind that dangling legs will make it harder for your child to pass any bowel movements.

You might therefore want to invest in a step stool like the one below, so your little one can firmly plant their feet down whenever they are sitting on the toilet.

BlueSnail Double up Step Stool for Kids ($27.99, Amazon)

8. Try Sitting Backwards

A simple tip that might be effective is to encourage your child to sit on the potty backwards.

This will enable them to have something to grip onto and could help them feel more secure.

Sure, there’s no guarantee this tip will work, but it’s so simple that it’s surely worth a try.

9. Blowing Bubbles

Do you have a feeling that your child is too tense to be able to poop when sitting in their potty?

If you do, here’s a really neat trick that many other parents rave about.

Give your child a bottle of bubbles to play with, because they are less likely to tense up or feel anxious – and therefore the poo is more likely to come out – when they are blowing bubbles.

10. Use Incentives, Rewards & Praise

We mentioned you shouldn’t punish or shame your child if they aren’t making progress.

It’s also a good idea to go one step further by encouraging and praising any positives along the way.

When your child does something deemed to be a success, for example when pooping in the bathroom or sitting on the potty (while wearing their diaper), reinforce this by giving them a reward and celebrating their achievement.

Psychologists will happily tell you what a powerful tool positive reinforcement is, so now is a great time to use it to your advantage!

cute toddler smiling

11. Don’t Put Them Under Pressure

If you put your child under undue pressure then it’s likely to backfire, and you might find their refusal to potty train becomes even stronger.

Believe me, at some point your child will do their stuff in the potty, but the more pressure they feel like they are under, the more resistance you’re likely to face.

12. Talk To Them

If your child is old enough and has good communication skills, a good tactic could be to have a talk with them to try and understand what exactly is holding them back.

The best time to do this would be when they are relaxed and not doing anything related to the potty.

Maybe they are worried or anxious?

Perhaps they are really afraid of falling into the toilet?

If you can get them to open up and then empathize and reassure them, you’ll go a long way to getting them to do that first poop.

Mother and Son Talking and Hugging on a Sofa

Final Word

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to force your child to use their potty.

Unlike other milestones, you are dealing with an area where your child will set the pace, so as their parent all you can do is accept that they will go when they are good and ready.

There are certainly some tactics that you can use to help your child poop, such as the 12 tips above.

But ultimately all you can do is stay patient, encourage and praise your child, and let nature eventually take its toll.

Related: Navigating Your Child’s Early Development

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

Pin It