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Need help! Almost 5 year old never pooed on toilet!

Hello I'm after advice..

My son is 5 in April and started school lady September. He has never EVER done a pooh on the toilet. He is completely dry day and night but has always refused to use the toilet to pooh. He will pooh is his pants. Originally did have constipation but this is no longer the case.

When he needs to go he sneaks off and does it in his pants. He is getting worse and has now started to lie about it.. So refuses to be cleaned which ends in arguments.

I have been to the doctors numerous times who have no advice. I was under the health visitors and tried all of there advice with no avail.. We have tried everything. I am at my wits end.

Now that he is at school it is even more stressful because he will pooh himself there too and also not tell the teachers. I am so scared someone will see and then he will get teased about it.

He just does not seem to be bothered by it at all? Iv tried ignoring iv tried being nice iv tried being mean he just isn't faded.

Does anyone have any advice??????? 😬

I am waiting for a school nurse referral but god knows how long that will take.

Thanks in advance from one upset confused mum.

13 Replies

Hello. My heart goes out to you. I know how hard this is. I also have a nearly 5 year old and it took us a loooooonnnnggg time to get to poos on the toilet but we did get there in the end and so will you - have faith. You must be at your wits end. I don't have any quick solutions for you but a few thoughts below that will hopefully help.

- try and get a referral to your local paediatric continence team from your GP. It takes a long time but I suspect your son is still withholding after his constipation experience. They will be able to help and check out whether there is any continued constipation issues and help you through it. Can you tell us anything about his bowel habits? Are they lots of little soilings? how often are bigger ones? how big? Smell? Colour? Softness? Just because he goes regularly doesn't mean he's not still constipated and if so it will be important to tackle that with a stool softener like movicol.

- Start a programme of getting him to sit on the loo 15-20 minutes after his meals (don't worry about doing this at school) on a potty or proper toilet seat with a step high enough to make sure his knees are at a right angle. Get him to rock back and forwards and try to trump and play some bubble blowing games. If your heart has sank reading this thinking 'I've tried that', do try and find the energy to make a routine of it. It is your best chance of success. It won't happen straightaway but just stick at it. Tell him he doesn't have to actually poo but it's to help him, and incentivise this with whatever works for him - Sweets/choc/ipad time. Praise him for doing it like mad. Tell him you know he doesn't want to and you understand that he doesn't like it, but you really want him just to give it a go. If he gets madly upset first time, say ok, fine; but we're going to try again next meal time. He'll give in eventually. make the time on the loo fun and keep it short, even if it's just a couple of minutes to begin with.

- There's a brilliant book called 'Meet the Poos' that is designed to take some of the fear out of pooing on the toilet. It's about £7 on Amazon and well worth the investment.

- Buy something for him that is his prize for when he first poos on the toilet. Ours was a pair of spiderman pyjamas that we kept on a shelf in the bathroom and paraded in front of her at least once a day. 'Oh, imagine how great it will be when you do your first poo on the toilet! You'll get these. I;m sure it won't be long now!!'. My little girl had nearly grown out of them by the time she got them but she was so happy!

- Will he poo in a nappy? We used to offer her a nappy if she wanted a poo. She'd put one on, run away and hide and come back with it full. It gives them a bit more control over what's happening. There's a book called 'constipation, withholding and your child' that recommends this. Once you have got that process established you can encourage them to go into the bathroom to do it, and then to sit on the toilet and then it suggests cutting a hold in the nappy but I never bothered with that. But I would get her to watch me tip the poo into the toilet and wave good bye to it going off to meet its poo friends like in the meet the poos book. If he won't, you can buy the 'dry like me' pads for their pants that are quite a good way of just making it easier to clean them! You just put them more towards the back of the pants to catch the poo.

- With school, I would work on just getting him to tell a teacher. Don't focus on the soiling, just focus on the need to get him clean. Reward him for telling the teacher. He will not be the only one in the class still soiling (or so my primary school teacher friends tell me) and kids really don't bat an eyelid about it at this age.

-When you do finally get that first poo on the toilet and the whole house goes mad with excitement, remember, he might not do it again next poo. This is just a first positive step forward and keep up the positive encouragement and try not to get frustrated if you are scrubbing pants again. Just remind him that maybe next poo he could try the toilet again but you just need to get him cleaned up this time.

That's it (sorry for long post). Good luck and keep faith. I am sure it must be super hard with school as well. Have they been OK about it? Lots of people on this forum have great advice for dealing with schools.

Helen :)

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Thanks so much for your reply Helen. He is currently on Movicol once daily and his poohs are proper formed stools.. They are actually usually quite large but soft enough to pass.. which is the added issue as he will then just sit on it.. Making even more of a mess!!! We have tried your suggestions but will re-try! I'll try any thing to be honest!!!

He currently has a reward chart just for telling us he has done one.

I have only just been back to the GP last week who told me that it is all in the school nurses team hands as they have to now make the referals for the continence team. The school is regularly prompting the nurses to follow this up but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast 😔


Oh and yes the school are pretty good with it.. But I don't think either teacher has seen it before so don't know how to handle it really! They do help him when he has done one.. But Im not sure how that will pan out as he goes up in the years through the school


Glad school are being ok about it. Don’t think too far ahead, things can only get better right?! Keep nagging for the school nurse to see you. The continence teams are the only ones who really understand but it can be a long wait for an appointment once you get referred. I actually don’t think you’d get much more advice than the above but it would be really good to have someone to talk it through with face to face. It’s great he’s on movicol so keep that up. It may be his bowel is a little stretched from the Constipation which is making them larger than is comfortable but then they will always seem enourmous when you have to clean them out of pants anyway! The aim is type 4 on the Bristol stool chart, pale brown, smooth and slim sausage type girth. My little girls used to be more like banana + girth which is quite uncomfortable to pass when you are only little.

It sounds like you’re doing everything right. Consistency and calmness will win this for you... eventually. And you’ll be so proud of him and you when you do. :) X

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Thanks so much for your reply again. It's just such a worry 😔 I don't want him being picked on.. Kids can be cruel sometimes


I know 😔 It sounds like that’s not happening yet so stay positive and keep up the good work. X

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Hello, my daughter is 5 and scared to poo so will go on the toilet but after days of holding. She responds well to a sticker reward chart so have you tried that? You might have to find a way to get it started if he has never done one in the loo. Maybe a sticker if he tells you he has done it, then move to a sticker if he tells you before he does it and then to a sticker for doing one on the toilet? We reward now with fun days out rather than toys but I have done both. I have even bought the surprise bags of toys (reasonably cheap) and she got one for each poo. I hope this helps and/or someone else can provide some good advice. I know how these sorts of thinga can make you feel. X

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Thank you for your reply. He currently has a magnet reward chart just to get him to tell us when he has done one.. But the appeal is starting to waver with him and he's back to his old tricks not telling us.. Which means more mess and sore bums when it finally comes to cleaning him up.


Hi there totally sympathise with what you are going through with your son we’ve been there and still on the journey to cracking it with my 6 year old daughter!

I recently put a post on my page with some of the things we have done to improve the soiling situation with my daughter - have a read and you might find something that may work with your son

Agree with the others sitting on a toilet after a meal has been a key success for us! It took a while to get the routine going but now my daughter just sees it as part of normal daily life and will go for toilet time after breakfast or dinner! It’s really helped to minimise accidents and get my daughters bowels more regular.

Good luck


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Thanks for your reply I will have a look at your posts now.. I'm willing to try anything to help him!


Does he have siblings? If not perhaps you could do this with him:

My youngest took a long time to poo in the potty or toilet but what helped in the end after the sticker chart failed was to convince her older sister (who was 8/9 at the time with no toilet issues) to also have a sticker chart. Children can be quite competitive and my youngest didn’t like it that her older sister was getting frequent stickers and she got none, she slowly got into the swing of it so that she too could get stickers. I am eternally grateful of my older daughters help.

If no sibling perhaps you could have a sticker chart and give yourself stickers or perhaps get your son to give you a sticker after each poo...

In my opinion anything is worth a shot in desperate times!

It took many years to get to where we are now with my youngest now 7 who is still prone to constipation and withholding. But it is so much better than 4 years ago. She still refuses to use the school toilets though which is an issue x


Hello. Thank you forthe reply.. I will try anything to be honest so I will give it a go. He has a 7 year old sister who has had no issues with toileting so I'll get her on board too.


Give it a go, I remember talking to older daughter quite frankly and telling her I needed her help with an important thing. At first she refused and said she was too old for a sticker chart but I told her I was desperate and her little sister needed her help. In the end she felt quite important being part of the process and actually quite enjoyed the novelty of a sticker chart. They both chose stickers at the weekends.

I used to make the charts with large a3 sheets of paper and felt tips. I could customise then.

Good luck

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