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4 year old son

Hi all . I have just joined the group. I’m so upset for my son he has just turned 4 and still doesn’t poo in toilet/potty. He has been out of nappies for 2 years now but always just hides and poos in he’s pants. He crosses he’s legs when he goes as if he is trying to keep it in, it’s so upsetting to watch. He has been on Cosmicol for about a year now so had always been quiet regular (in he’s pants ) and stools soft, but after a recent bout of diarrhoea he has been holding it and now severely constipated. I now think this has put us even further back from going on the toilet because of the pain it’s causing him. He point blank refuses to talk about bowel movement at all. I really do not know how to move forward. How can I encourage him to go on the toilet, he starts school in September and can’t bear the thought of him being scared to go to the toilet . Also any tips on how I can get him to pass this huge stool he has been holding for a week now or longer

3 Replies

Hi, I’m so sorry your son is having so much trouble with the loo. My son is 8 and has always had trouble pooing in the toilet so I understand how upsetting it can be.

Have you tried a schedule of ‘sitting on’? My son used to be very resistant so for a while I let him play games on his Kindle during his sit on (he’s only allowed to read on it usually) and sometimes he would be so engrossed he would do a poo and not realise! We do ten minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner and we often ‘catch’ a poo.

I’m afraid I don’t have any advice about constipation as it isn’t something we have had to deal with but creating a relaxed environment in the toilet can’t hurt?

I was so worried when it came time for starting school but actually found the majority of staff were really supportive. Perhaps it would be worth a visit before he starts (if he is still struggling) to make a plan to prevent/deal with accidents?

Working with a psychotherapist has really helped my son to talk about this issue as he was in complete denial initially. I know that isn’t for everyone but ERIC have some books that might help to open the conversation too?

It can be such a difficult thing to help a child through. Hopefully you’ll get the advice you need to address the constipation and onwards and upwards from there x


Hi, sorry to hear what you are going through. My 4 year old daughter is similar in that she won't poo on the toilet, only in pull-ups. She has been stool withholding for 2 years and is also on cosmocol, it got really bad in Oct and had to have an enema after disimpaction regime failed to get results (could not get poo out herself). This is a very last resort.

Have you upped the dose of cosmocol to deal with the constipation? Maybe try 4 sachets for 2 days, then 6 and up to 8 for a few days and that should give a really good clear out and you can then start reducing. I would get the constipation sorted before trying to get him to poo on toilet. My daughter is going every day or every other day now we have reduced the cosmocol to 1.5 sachets but keeping very close eye on her. Finally have an appointment with the constipation clinic next week so will see whether that is helpful or not. Have you seen anyone other than GP's?

My daughter started school last September and I was stressing about it but school are really good, she wore pull-ups with knickers over the top for a couple of weeks during and after disimpaction. She didn't have any accidents at school, apart from skid marks, but it was resssuring for her. Our next step is trying to get her to use the toilet but it feels like a mountain to climb, the book I read says to try and get them to poo with pull-up on but sitting on potty/toilet and then start cutting holes in it but hard if they won't sit on it at all even for ridiculous bribes. To be honest we are happy that she is having bowel movements at all and trying to be more relaxed about it but it is stressful. Also sit and squeeze on toilet at the same time every day to train muscles which then creates a habit of going at that time every day.

Good luck and hope things improve for you soon x


What worked with mine was making it very soft with her meds (5/6 - 'chicken nuggets' or 'mr whippy' size/texture) and having rewards for routine. If she tried properly morning and night - squeezing for a few minutes- she got chocolate coins. It eventually trained her body. Now she tries twice a day which drastically cuts accidents.

Initially we put a nappy on her to do this, only when pushing, but then a potty.

Also we found descriptions of HOW to push a poo deliberately as sometimes they think they are pushing but they are holding on (this was in the Ins and Outs of Poop book).


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