4 year old starting school and still will only poo in... - ERIC


6,694 members2,476 posts

4 year old starting school and still will only poo in a pull up

OhBoy07 profile image

My 4 year old starts reception in 2 weeks and still cannot poo in the toilet, only in a pull up, despite 2 years of me trying and failing to achieve this. He also soils and is on Movicol and Senna. If I am slow to give him a pull up (in the hope that as he’s so desperate to go it might just slip out in the toilet) he just holds it and will say he doesn’t need one even though he’s clenching to keep it in! My question is really to parents of children who are at school but still poo in pull ups or nappies. How do you manage it? How does your child manage it? My son cannot even wipe his bum yet (another battle and so messy when pooing in pull-up) do your children wipe their own bums after pooing in pull up? Do they bring pull-up to school and out it on in toilet if they need to poo? Do they just not poo at school? What did the school say when they found out a reception child still pooed in a pull up? I feel like a crap parent who hasn’t managed to toilet train an extremely willfull and stubborn child, and yes I feel embarrassment at having to admit this to teachers but mainly I’m just worried how my boy is going to deal with this. How do you and your child navigate the pooing in pull ups still and being at school, how is it working for you both? Thanks.

16 Replies

Not quite in the same boat yet but didn't want to read and not reply...What I was told by teacher friends is that it's really not unusual and they have to be supportive in schools, so if that means taking pull ups in then so be it. You've not failed at all, you're doing everything you can and you can't make him xx

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to MummyPie

I think I just need to concentrate on enabling him to be able to clean himself up as best he can and have to send a pull up in with him in case. He's a terrible with holder so there's every chance he will hold it till he gets home but I still can't help but worry. Lol, I really can't make him, believe me I've tried everything, it's not happening. I remember in the first lockdown, asking the playgroup for advice and now all this time later, still in the same boat, only worse as now he has Encopresis too. Many thanks for replying xx

Please don't be so hard on yourself. You should talk to your son's teacher so that they are aware and ask the teacher what he/she wants you to provide.This is actually more common than you think so stop being so hard on yourself because kids have a way of doing things when they are ready and for your boy this might be his thing that he will grow out of when he's ready.

Cheer up, starting school is an exciting time so try to enjoy it so please talk to the teacher and I'm certain you will be reassured :)

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Mum2mum

I know I am thinking of worst case scenario, and there's every chance he won't even do a poo at school but wait till he gets home but I just wish he would poo in the toilet. I am excited for him and I think he will have a great time at school but I do worry about how he will deal with it if he needs a poo. I will email the school this week and ask to speak to his teacher. In Nursery, they knew about his Encopresis and were supportive so I'm hoping in reception they will be plus knowing he still uses a pull up. Thank you for your reply, it is much appreciated.

Hi, my son is just 4 and will only poo in a nappy. He can put nappy on himself but needs help cleaning up. Luckily he’s not due to start school until next year but I’m not too worried at the moment as I think he will just poo at home. School day is shorter than his nursery days and he never poos there!

We’ve found it really useful to regulate his bowels - he is on movicol but we also introduced probiotic choc balls, flaxseed on his cereal and do a regular ‘toilet’ sit (nappy in bathroom!) after his tea and he will do a poo 99% of the time then.

I honestly know how you feel. I feel like I’ve tried everything to get him out of a nappy and just feel like I’ve failed him. But, groups like this and movicol mummies have made me realise this is much more common than we realise and schools are very used to it. Good luck xxxx

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Hulahoops

I sat down with my son on Saturday and explained that he needed to be able to start trying to clean himself and lo and behold, he didn't need a poo all day Saturday, and only finally did one today after 2 days after getting upset while on toilet saying he didn't want to wipe or take the pull up off himself. I was so desperate for him to go that I reassured him I would wipe and take pull up off and then he went! I did get him to hold the pull up and empty poo in to the toilet, and after cleaning him, I made him sit back on toilet and try with some tissue to wipe his (clean) bum so a bit of progress ( I think). What are the probiotic chocolate balls? I've not heard of them. Thank you so much for your reply. I hope we both succeed in the ditching of pull ups for good. xx

Hulahoops profile image
Hulahoops in reply to OhBoy07

Oh bless him. It’s so hard isn’t it. I think it has to be absolute baby steps - good idea getting him to do a practice wipe on a clean bum at the end! I might try that. I recently put a larger nappy on my son so it feels a little looser and made a deal that I would start tearing the sides a little to make it feel looser still. Such slow progress though isn’t it?

The probiotic balls are from bioglan - you can get on subscribe and save from Holland and barratt or Amazon I think. Not the cheapest but seem to be helping keep him regular. I also put a teaspoon of the troo fibre syrup (honey substitute) on yoghurt. I think these have helped a bit.

Good luck - I hope he enjoys starting school and that things improve for you x

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to Hulahoops

I tear the sides of my son's pull up too to make it looser, but whenever I torn a side completely so it's attached only one side, surprise surprise he can't go, or suddenly doesn't need a poo. About two months ago, he actually asked me to pin the pull up under the toilet seat and he pooed in it. I thought all my Christmases had come at once, I didn't make too much fuss, but I told him well done and what a good idea of his it had been etc, the next night he didn't want to know and refused to do it unless wearing a pull up again. It is really slow progress. I really am sick of everything to do with poo and the toilet :-) I will look into the chocolate balls. Thank you.

Hulahoops profile image
Hulahoops in reply to OhBoy07

It sounds like you’ve got further than me 😂 mine has never once even entertained the idea of doing a poo anywhere other than sitting in a nappy on the floor. I think the worst thing is if they start holding it in so I suppose we just have to be patient. So hard though - I feel like all I think about is poo 😂. I’ve got a seven month old too and just really want this to be over now. Fingers crossed!

Have you tried the poo story its an nhs approved app. Days naked without pull ups on. Being free maybe.

I did try some poo stories, poo goes to poo land etc and when he was younger I let him run free but he still wouldn't poo in potty or toilet, just on the floor and screaming if I sat him on potty and toilet. I've had a bit of success lately, in the last week and half. I bought cheap nappies (not pull ups) and just did up the left side so the other side was flapping down. He hates it and tells me he doesn't need one/won't go ever again etc but by staying calm and telling him this is the only way he's getting one and by sitting there making up stories, he's been going and 9/10 times, it falls straight into the toilet. I put tissue paper down there so it doesn't splash and after I tell him 'you do realise you're pooing in the toilet' and he's really pleased. I should just whip the damn nappy off him as it's basically just secure around one leg but this is a huge breakthrough but I'm worried it will be too much too soon and he'll just refuse to go again. It's stressful every night, so far I've been lucky that though he's been moaning and the odd scream, he has pooed with one side down but if he ever refuses to do it, there's no way on earth I can make him. I'm hoping it will be second nature soon to do it like this with no fussing, then slowly progress to the next step. So far no sneaky poo at school but still some at home.

My son has just started reception and is in pull ups full time due to a combination of constipation and laxatives. The school have been really supportive, he keeps a bag there in case they need to change him. So far he hasn't used the toilet or pooed himself at all at school, he is either holding it in or training himself to not go until he comes home. The whole situation is stressful as the doctors have said its psychological rather than medical, but having the school on board has helped massively.

That's great his school is so supportive. If my son soils, I'm told they will make him comfortable and make sure he's not made to feel embarrassed but policy is I would have to clean him up. I put a men's tena shield pad on the back of his pants and so far, nothing has happened so I think like your son, he's holding it or training himself not to go until he's home. Yesterday we had several incidents of sneaky poo in the morning and afternoon and I'm sure if he'd been at school it wouldn't have happened. I think maybe just more relaxed at home and less bothered if it happens as he knows no one will know and he'll get cleaned up. It is stressful but you are supporting your son and that's all you can do. I feel awful when I think how I've lost my temper in the past due to sheer frustration and worrying over him getting bullied etc but I can't do any more than I'm doing and I'm sure you can't too.

Hi - my son has just started reception and we've been dreading what will happening in terms of poos. He poos on the loo but with a nappy (wees are fine, all on the loo, no nappy) and there is no way we've been able to persuade him to go without the nappy. We've had a lot of help from ERIC to get to this point and if it wasn't for the school issue I'd be happy to leave it at that for now. But he is holding his poos at school, and I'm actually okay with this as he still poos at home and doesn't seem constipated (and so far hasn't been constipated). But he can't always hold when he goes to after school club and has so far poo-ed in his pants 3x since he started in September. School won't let him bring a nappy or facilitate use of a nappy. We are thinking of going cold turkey and removing nappies from our house after half term but I'm worried this is too drastic (and he will wee the bed as he is no where near ready to go without a nappy at night).

OhBoy07 profile image
OhBoy07 in reply to PoointheZoo

I don't recommend going cold turkey with the nappy/pull up. I did this about 2 years ago on the advice of everyone telling me 'well he'll have to go eventually'. He held it in for over 2 days and ended up refusing breakfast on a Sunday morning, laying on the sofa saying his tummy was hurting and didn't feel well. I ended up giving him the pull up in the end as he was so miserable and a few months later the soiling started, which I believe was a direct result of not giving him the pull up over those two days plus all the other instances of him withholding. We are nearly a year down the line and he is still soiling though much more manageable. It's only been in the last two/three weeks that I've had some progress with him pooing in the toilet. I now buy cheap Fred and Flo nappies from Tesco, (not pull ups) I fasten them on the left side only leaving the other side hanging down and put tissue down the toilet. For nearly 3 weeks, the poo has been going straight in the toilet, nothing on the nappy and it's so much easier cleaner when wiping. I sit him on the toilet every night after dinner and read to him until he poos. He often still makes a fuss, saying he doesn't need to go or he wants both sides up but I tell him if he doesn't go that night, he may have an accident in school. I just want to rip the nappy off him as he really doesn't need it, it's just hanging on his leg, but I do not want to go back to square one when I feel he is closer than he's ever been to ditching the nappy for good.Can I ask, is it a fully formed poo or leaking out. I put a men's tena shield pad on the back of my son's pants (they are black in colour and quite slim and discreet) and this is enough to handle any poo leaking out, and so far, nothing has happened at school, only at home. It's easy to rip the dirty pad off, wipe bum and put fresh pad on. Prevents anything coming through on trousers too. Maybe your son could wear one and take a spare in bag in case of an accident?

Also, are you sure your son is not constipated. My son was doing a poo every day when the soiling started, then what really alerted me, was he started wetting himself, when previously he'd been completely dry. He would have lots of small wee accidents during the day, full blown wetting of a night time and a couple times just wet himself on the way home from school, just peeing in his trousers all over the pavement as couldn't hold it in, the reason was the constipation putting pressure on his bladder. Even though he was pooing every day, he had old hard poo stuck inside him, hence soiling and wetting. This also caused him to have 3 urine infections in a very short space of time. Has your son been examined by a doctor? If not, it would be worth taking him. My son currently takes laxido or Movicol to keep his poo soft and Senna to encourage bowel movement.

It is really difficult when your child doesn't want to poo in the toilet, it make everything that bit harder. I'm still trying to teach my son how to wipe himself as he hates it, but I get him to practice on a clean bum after I've wiped him. Small steps all the time. Regular toilet sits help too. If your son can go either of a night time or in the morning, it will help reduce the likelihood of accidents at school. I would love my son to go in the morning, but there is not always time and he seems to need to go before bed, so that works ok too. Good luck, it's very stressful and I have wasted lots of tears and time over this but I'm hoping it all eventually works out.

ERIC-Charity profile image

eric.org.uk/help-at-school-... Hi there, have you looked at our Help at School page? It might be a good idea to contact the helpline again for help at this point too 🙂

You may also like...