5 Year old daughter will only poo in pull up. :( Am I... - ERIC


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5 Year old daughter will only poo in pull up. :( Am I alone :(

flowerforflower profile image

Starting to feel like I have failed my daughter with potty training as whenever she needs a poo she will beg for a pull up.

I have tried the following:

+ Reward charts

+Telling her there are no more pull ups and not buying anymore in

+Reading her the poo goes to pooland book

+Getting angry when she won't use the toilet

+Being patient and ignoring what she is doing

+Making her clean her change herself.

+Getting her to poo in a pull upn on the toilet or in the bathroom= won't poo.

The current Doctors advice is to let her use the pull up as it would be a lot worse if she refused to use the toilet- resulting in constipation which she would do!

The annoying part of it all is that she will also wee in it when she does a poo (probably because it is kind of connected when a little girl goes to the loo. She normally wees fine in the toilet. - Has anyone experienced this?

The most top ever annoying thing is that because she goes off on her own with a pull up on she will play after or during going for a poo so then I end up having to change a pull up that has been sat in! :O It makes me feel sick at times!

Has anyone else ever had a problem with this?

Thank you for listening to me moan on :( x

24 Replies

Morning. I know how frustrated you must feel but have to say that I agree with the doctor. Our daughter became constipated at three and now because of the soiling in her knickers suffers continuous UTIS. She is now nine and I look back on the days when she went in a pull-up with fond memories!! The UTIS are far worse in my mind.Try and grit your teeth and ignore it xx


I share your pain my daughter is 4 and a half and we have exactly the same issue as you have described and I’ve tried all the same Strategies and nothing has worked she will withhold her poo if we make her sit on the toilet even after having extra cosmocol. So each time she needs a poo she goes into the bathroom and puts on a pull-up on her own now and then when she is finished she calls me to change her. We have told her she has to stay in the bathroom until she’s finished and ready to be changed. So she doesn’t sit down but she does often play even if just a game in her head!

I’m waiting for an appointment with the nhs paediatric service that gp has referred us to but I’m not sure what they can do it’s totally psychological she wants to stand to do her poo and I can see she tries to hold it in. I’m worried about what will hAppen at school is your daughter at school now?

The main thing I’ve learnt over the years is not to get angry or tell off or put pressure on as it makes things even worse... x

Sorry I cant really offer any help to your direct problem but I can sympathise at changing a messy pull up. I've just had to put my 4yo back in nappies, he too will happily sit or play in a dirty nappy :-(

You are not alone, I'm in the same situation! I've tried bribes, pleading, no nappies (=tears, poo refusal and "poo gone back in!"= doesn't work)!

My daughter (nearly 5) still uses a nappy to poo and doesn't go at school or when we are out and about. She will hold it in till we get home and then go get a nappy. I have no idea when this will end. She will sit on the loo or potty for a wee, no problems but goes stiff as a plank and refuses for a poo. She gets so worked up I worry about constipation so a nappy "works" for now! I can't see the end in site but I feel like I've tried everything, so am trying to back off but it is so hard when she ends up in tears with a red raw bottom afterwards!!!

Sorry, no advice, just wanted to say you aren't alone

I know how you feel, we’ve been through exactly the same thing and at times I felt so guilty that I couldn’t help my daughter. My daughter is nearly 5 and after 2 years of stress, over Easter she finally started doing poos in the loo without a pull up so don’t worry, you’re daughter will get there too, just in her own time!

We had the added complication that every time she worried out it she started withholding her poo so we focused on getting her to go regularly with the aid of lactulose, senna and when she would poo on the loo in a nappy, regular sitting on the loo after dinner.

We used a number of strategies to get there, the main thing was taking very slow small steps towards using the loo. With our daughter the more she understood and the longer she knew what the next step was before having to do it the more chance we had that she would do it.

First we had a sticker chart for going in her room with a nappy on the potty for a week, then going with nappy on the potty in the bathroom for a week, then on the loo in a nappy, each time she got to a new stage she got to choose a small new toy. We stayed at this stage for months until is was normal for her. We then forwarned her that we would start putting a tiny hole in her he nappy, once she got used to the idea that that was going to be the next stage we had a new chart with different size holes on it, we started with a tiny one that you could hardly even see and worked up very very slowly from there. We had to go back down to smaller holes every now and again if she got scared but eventually she got to the point where she only had the waistband of the nappy left! Bribery with a new toy got her to get rid of even the waistband!

Sorry about me waffling on, I hope this does help you, it’s really hard at times to stay patient with them and keep things as stress free as possible. Good luck, you will get there X

Gemha profile image
Gemha in reply to mcleanan

Your story is really reassuring - we’ll done on such amazing progress - this is my dream! My 6 yr old will only poo in pull up standing up, he has never pooed on a potty/ toilet. The only progress we have made is he now poos (standing up wearing a pull up) in the bathroom. He takes movicol once a day. He tried sitting on the toilet once but said he couldnt get the poo out because there was less room in the nappy- how did you get your daughter to sit and poo with a nappy on???

mcleanan profile image
mcleanan in reply to Gemha

Sorry for the late reply, I’m afraid we didn’t have a problem about sitting whilst having a poo. I found that in everything we did I always had the best results when we got my daughter involved in everything, so she loved helping to make the reward charts and deciding what the rewards would be.

Have you tried getting larger nappies, or starting with a potty if he always goes in the same place?

One of the main things that helped for us was regular toilet time at the same tome every day, we’re still doing it now and it still works.

Good luck with it all, I hope you get results soon X

Oh my goodness. It's so nice to read of others in the same situation. I have an almost 5 year old girl who is doing exactly this and has been since Sept last year following a bout of constipation. This is the very reason why I joined this forum this morning too as we are at our wits end and have tried literally EVERYTHING. From sitting on the toilet floor with her for 2 hours to ignoring to reward charts to bribery and yes even losing my rag if I have to clear up one more pooey bottom!!!!

The sad thing is that she was fully toilet trained and dry at night leading up to this and it feels like such a massive step backwards that we have been unable to conquer.

Any other advice from anyone?

She will literally only poo at home and in a pull up or knickers and will withhold at any other time even through the school day. It's clearly psychological as the bowels are able to function but we just cannot convince her to take that next step to doing the poo on the toilet as I believe she's scared following the constipation and relates it to hurting.

We've even tried going back to a potty but she'll still refuse.

Literally at our wits end!!

I will give mcleanan's advice a try in respect of using a nappy on the potty/toilet and the steps from there if we can progress but it feels like a never ending journey so to all going through it you have my sympathy xx

in reply to VickiLB

Hi, I was wondering if you ever found anything that helped? My little boy is 5 in 2 months and still will only poo stood up in a pull up. I think he's starting to get abpoo phobia now too as he ran and hid behind the table when something about poo came on a cartoon the other day 😖

VickiLB profile image
VickiLB in reply to

I'm afraid you wont like my reply but 18 months in and we are still in the same situation, despite visits and advice from the bowel clinic and numerous different tactics.

I truly feel like I have the most stubborn child ever known to man!

We are currently taking the stance of if she poos in her pull up then she has to now clean herself up and actually she seems to be thinking more about trying to sit on the toilet as we've told her it creates less mess but the fear is most definitely still there and we still haven't had any success.

I'll update if anything changes!

in reply to VickiLB

Thanks for the update! Sounds like a nightmare 😖

Think I'll start by telling him if he needs a poo he has to put the pull up on himself and stand in the bathroom...maybe just get him used to doing it in there. X

My daughter is almost 5 and still asking a diaper for pooing...potty trained since she was 3. She actually never did it in potty or toilet, as far as I can remember. We had a terrible strugle with her just to get her sitting on the toilet. Now we made it to the stage where I make a hole in a diaper so everything hoes straight in the toilet. But she still wants it and I can't make her poo without anything. It's been so frustrating. I tried everything, rewards and stuff, but diaper is always the winner. Recently she even started to refuse going to daycare, because she might want to poop, and there are no diapers and she is ashamed around other kids. She has been sort of constipated since early childhood. I just hope it won't last until school...

Hi, glad to hear other people having the same challenge as us! Daughter is four and a half, starts school in a couple of weeks, and will only poo in a pull up. No problems with wee, always in the toilet (day time anyway). She will sometimes briefly sit on the toilet when she needs a poo, but after a few seconds will say "it won't come out" and ask for a pull up (she squats to poo in that). We've tried steps to rest her feet on on the potty/toilet to mimic the squat, but nothing really did the job. Some good ideas picked up from here, though it feels like we've tried most of them already.

A question for those who have been through this: is it worth going to the GP and starting down the medical route? She's not constipated as far as I can tell (poos most days, sometimes twice, consistency varies depending on recent meals (sorry if TMI!), no leakage)?

I can't see much of a medical issue, it's more habit and psychology (as far as I can tell), so I don't want to add stress for anyone (I worry about it enough already).

Anyway, I'm grateful for the solidarity, folks!

Hi there nice just posted my story on another thread so apologies for copying and pasting but I hope it help you. We have been through this and it’s so hard but here’s light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it helps you and feel free to message me if you want support x

Laura and Sp87 have you had any progress? I’ve been in the same boat and thankfully we’re now through it and I thought this day would never come. My son is 6 and starting year 1 next week, and it’s only in the last 6 or 7 weeks that we’ve managed to crack it. We had to take very small steps to get him there, it started by getting him to poo in pull up in the bathroom with the door open, gradually we have moved on to sitting with pull up (on a potty training toilet seat placed over an upside down step stool - don’t ask! It was his idea and we went with it as he wouldn’t entertain the idea of sitting on the loo for poo even though he been doing it for years for wee). Gradually we progressed to sitting on the toilet for poos and very very slowly we managed to make small tears down the sides of his pull ups til he only had an inch attached either side. Next was having an open pull-up placed under the seat to catch poo, then we swapped the pull up for placing some paper in the loo first. Now we are finally at the stage of pooing on the toilet with no paper in the loo and not training seat. I could cry with happiness every day and the best thing is seeing how proud he is of himself. It took us two and a half years of taking baby steps towards getting him there, and with all of the above I also had him sat on the loo every day at the same time for 5-10 mins, first with pants and trousers on and sitting on the lid, gradually progressing to pants down and on the training seat. He was never used to sitting on the loo for longer than a quick wee and so never had the patience to wait for poo. It’s a horrible thing to go through as a parent and it’s so hard not to become angry/upset/worried, I cried so many times with worry. But they WILL get there are it’s more common than you think. To anyone going through this now just keep going and taking baby steps and encourage them but don’t push them further than they feel comfortable x

Hi! I know this is an old thread but I was really inspired by your story as having the same issues with my nearly 4 year old. I’ve been reading lots of advice and a bit confused about building in regular toilet time? Did you sit your son on toilet after every meal? My little boy will only poo in a nappy sitting on floor (in bathroom). Should I try regular sitting on toilet and then offer up nappy when he asks?

Hi Hulahoops, I feel for you. With my son he was a little older when it became a problem and it was the elephant in the room. We would sit him on the loo just once a day, not necessarily after a meal but always roughly the same time (early evening). I explained to him that nappies are for babies and you need to be pooing on the loo now, though he already understood that and me pointing it out didn’t make a difference. I told him that all we were going to do for now is take baby steps to get him used to sitting on the loo a bit longer. It started off as just a minute but gradually worked up to a few minutes and also progressed from trousers up/lid down to actually sitting on the loo with pants around his ankles. None of this resulted in a poo and I reluctantly continued to let him use a nappy for poos as I was worried he’d start to withhold. At first I said he’s got to start poking in the bathroom now as that’s the place to go, even in a nappy. The first and hardest step was getting him to poo on the loo wearing a pull-up. Very gradually we tore half a side of his pull up, then the other side. The all of one side so it was hanging attached by half a side. All the time sitting o the loo. Eventually we moved the pull-up completely off him but pinned under the seat to catch the poo. Often the weight of the poo dislodged the nappy anyway so I was able to point out that he was already ‘pooing in the loo’. Finally we switched the nappy for loo roll which of course did nothing useful but it was the last step of comfort he needed. My one tip would be to keep reassuring, and make it clear that you will only ask him to take baby steps. It took weeks or months between each stage for us and at times I was tearing my hair out to progress quicker but it always ended in us both getting upset, he was far more responsive to the gentle approach. And I kept gently reminding him that each step needed to move forwards when he was ready. It’s so so hard, but it will end x

Another thing we do was to always tip the poo into loo from the nappy (where possible!) We made a point of it, let him see it in the loo and wave goodbye/flush it himself. I think that helped a lot to normalise things for him and seeing that that’s what happens to poo and it’s no big deal x

Thank you so much for your reply. Getting me head around the fact that this is going to be a long road. Just really worried about taking the wrong steps and making the situation worse. I’m so glad things have got better for you after lots of hard work. Gives me hope!

I spent so long getting upset over it, cried most days and thought I was alone, but forums like this made me realise that it’s much more common than we think and nobody likes to talk about it. My son also didn’t stand up to pee until he was 7 and I worried so much about that but he got there in the end. These things are still taboo to talk about with people who haven’t been through them. It can be a really long road to get them comfortable with ‘normal’ toileting and ‘trained’ but keep in mind that he will want to poo on the loo eventually, and he may already want to. I guess for some kids it’s a scary step to take and they may worry as much as we do. Just try to keep positive and gentle and he will get there eventually x

Yes, I can’t believe how common it is now I’m researching it. Got my little boy to sit on the potty for few minutes with a nappy on today - he got off to do his poo on floor but this was still a big step forward for him 😊. Thanks again for your helpful advice x

Hello milknonsugar. Sorry to hear you are going through the same thing as us I was on this forum 18 months ago and am back with little progress if any and my daughter is almost 6!

I would just say in my experience GP can’t help and tbh we haven’t managed to find anyone who can help. I even travelled from my home in bucks to a specialist childrens continence service in Kent who had never met a child exactly like ours! They mainly dealt with severe constipation issues and soiling in older children and thought we shouldn’t worry as she was so young compared to the children they deal with.

The issue we have I believe is not medical it is psychological and I’ve pretty much concluded we have to let her get there on her own which is extremely frustrating but we have tried every strategy going and nothing works. She will only poo in a pull up standing up and she clamps her legs together and goes stiff. She thinks she is pushing it out this way but I can see she is also withholding. (She does poo most days as she has cosmocol sachets 2 per day).

She’s about to go into year 1 at school. During reception the school have been very supportive and nominate staff to change her. Many people with this issue seem to say their child holds their poo in at school and then go when they get home but my daughter has no issue doing it at school🙄. We’ve tried to talk to her numerous times about how she’s a big girl now and school expect her to start trying on the toilet but she now just shuts us down and refuses to listen or talk about it. I believe it’s an irrational fear. We couldn’t believe it that we had success in the Easter hols just gone when she did surprise us of her own choice and without pressure from us 3 times over the course of 2 weeks did choose to go on the toilet and we thought she’d cracked it, obviously we were over the moon and gave her so much praise but then sadly she chose not to try again and kept refusing and we are back to square 1.

However this is why I am convinced success lies in letting them get there in their own time and it could take years but any pressure or even gentle encouragement we try to give never ever works. It also causes me immense stress so no one wins. I try to put it into perspective I know of other families facing much more serious medical issues and this pales in comparison at least we have a healthy and happy child.

Going into year 1 at school I am anxious about it as the headteacher although overall supportive says she would like my daughter to at least take responsibility for cleaning herself now. I have explained it is not the same as a child who sits on the toilet as there is a lot of mess left when we take off the pull up and I don’t think it is realistic for her to clean it off herself as she cannot see what is there. So I will just have to see what happens but I am anxious about it...

Sorry I can’t help but I know hearing others in the same situation can help when you are feeling alone. I did meet another mum on here over a year ago who had a daughter the same and we kept in touch - her daughter finally decided herself she’d give up the pull ups when she was 7. None of the behaviour strategies worked for her until she made the decision herself and in her own time. So I still love in hope!!

Ps I have written this in two stints of waiting outside public toilets while she takes her merry time with her pull up on 🤨

I’m grateful you’ve taken the time to share, it really does help (help me that is!).

This is really helpful, thank you!

Make her clean herself up. If she poos in it. It’s her job to clean herself up. She’s a big girl, not a baby she knows where she is meant to poo. So the deal is she wants a pull-up to poo in warn her that she will be cleaning herself up not you.

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