My Four-Year-Old Won’t Poop on the Potty

4 year old won't poop on potty

We have a toddler vs. potty situation in our home that’s been going on for quite some time now.

Our nearly four-year-old son is vehemently opposed to pooping on the potty and it doesn’t appear as though there’s a change on the horizon anytime soon that I can see.

His fourth birthday is coming up in just over a month. So, naturally, our most recent angle on the potty issue has been to get him excited about all the ‘big boy’ things he’ll get to do when he turns four. Namely, pooping on the potty. Of course, he gets swept up in the excitement and says he’ll do it! Then we all cheer and celebrate, and high five. Because, COME ON, he’s almost four!

Shouldn’t we have already checked this box off?! I mean, four is too old for diapers, isn’t it?

The potty struggle has been going on for about a year now. He was a smidge late to the game in the first place. However, I wasn’t terribly concerned since so many friends, family, and general word of mouth among parents is that boys tend to be a little slower on the uptake with potty training than girls. Our daughter, who’s now seven, had nailed it at age two and a half with little drama or fuss. So, when our little guy was closer to three before he started to use the potty to go pee, I didn’t worry much.

Once he figured out the peeing part, I just figured pooping would naturally follow within a few weeks. We regularly encouraged him and gave him praise for a job well done when he’d successfully pee in the toilet, and we waited patiently for the next milestone.

And, we waited… and waited.

Weeks turned to months and now, here we are, almost one year later STILL buying diapers.

Of course, my mom brain starts to tumble into anxious territory. Is something wrong with him? Is something wrong with me? Have I failed him? Why won’t he go? Doesn’t he want to be a ‘big boy?’ I should encourage him more. No wait, I’m making too big a deal out of this, I should encourage him less. I know, I’ll bribe him! And not just with candy. No, with big juicy bribes of dinosaurs and toy trucks and anything at the toy store he can imagine!

Nothing worked. Nothing.

His answer has been, and continues to be, “Mommy, I will poop on the potty ​later.” Okay, so, when is ‘​later?’

I should mention, it’s not like I have messes to clean up. He always asks me for a diaper and then tells me when he’s “all done.” He’s very regular (like clockwork, actually) and so I know when to be prepared if we are going out. So realistically, it’s not even that much of an inconvenience. Then why am I bothered?

I know he will ​eventually do it. We ALL figured it out at some point, right? So why do I find it so troublesome that he hasn’t gotten it yet?

I’m ashamed to admit that with some friends and family, I feel embarrassed by it. I worry that they judge him, or more realistically that they judge me. I worry about how long it will take him to “be ready” and if this will go on for several more months or if he really get it when he’s four.

My research (which has all been Dr. Google) assures me that he’s okay and this is normal, some kids just take a little longer. It’s not that he’s not capable of it, he’s just not interested. I can definitely see that. Our little fella has ZERO interest in sitting around on a potty for five or six minutes to do the deed. No, thank you. Not when he can whip on a diaper, roam around, and play with his toys throughout the process. He’s got a system, and he’s not interested in changing it.

So, I guess we wait.

We wait, we encourage, and we follow his lead. He’ll be ready when he decides he’s ready. He is whole and perfect and beautiful just as he is, potty or no potty.

Maybe this whole exercise is to teach ​me something, not him.

A lesson on patience and acceptance. A lesson on letting go of control. A lesson on love.


1 Comment

  1. Stefanie on February 2, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    I’m in this same boat right now. A month away from my son turning 4 and he will not poop on the potty. He waits for when his pull up comes on at night and then I have to wake and change him or he goes in the morning when he wakes up. Did your son end up using the potty at 4? We can convince him with big toys to go on the potty but it’s not getting him to completely move on.

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