Little MPB has been pee potty trained for a while now.  We can go days without a pee accident.  Keys to his potty training success have been simple:

  • We absolutely cannot tell him or suggest to him that he needs to pee.  If we suggest it, he will not go, under any circumstance.  Rather, he tells us. 
  • He prefers to pee on his own – he wants his privacy, and honestly he doesn’t need our help, so why not? (Assuming we are not in a public washroom, in which case, he has to go with either Mr. MPB or I, not matter how much he protests because we believe in being safe).
  • If he asks “where is the bathroom?” in a public place, this is his way of telling us he needs to pee.
  • Standing is best, because that’s how big boys do it.

But, poop is a whole different story.  Half-way through our Hawaii trip, he was 70-80% poop potty trained.  We had lots of time to work with him and no real pressure.  He never liked it, but it was working.  But then, Mr. MPB left, and so did poops in the potty.  He completely, 100% regressed.  To the point of withholding and making himself constipated.  And now adamantly refuses to sit on the potty.  While him and I were in Hawaii, I decided not to stress over it and deal with it when we got home.  But it hasn’t been that easy.  But here’s what happening now:

  • We gave him a gentle laxatives last week to help make it remove constipation from his life, as per doctors orders.  We are also adding flax to anything we can (i.e. pancakes, yogurt, etc.)Pooping is now easier for him, but he still will not sit on the potty to poop. 
  • We are getting his life back to normal to the absolute best of our abilities.  Remove the stress, and make sure he knows both his parents are here with him.
  • He told us he’s scared to poop in the potty.  But, he wont tell us what scares him.  So, we created a poop monster spray to use before poops (i.e. Febreze wrapped in a no monster drawing we made as a family).  But, so far this hasn’t worked.
  • Unless he poops in the potty, he gets absolutely no TV/Tablet and no ice skating.  These are his favourite things in the world, so we hope they will motive him.  Truthfully, these ‘motivator/threats’ have not worked, much to our surprise.  And at this point I’m regretting the skating decision because the weather is so nice right now that it would be great to be outside skating in the evenings.
  • We are not forcing him to use the potty.  We’ve presented him with options, and he can make the choice.
  • We are being stern and matter-of-fact about poops in the potty, but we are not getting mad at him when he doesn’t.  Truthfully, this is unbelievably hard for Mr. MPB and I – we know Little MPB knows what he’s doing at this point, so not loosing our cool is not an easy task.
  • Daycare wants to put him back in a diaper.  We have said absolutely not.  We think he’ll work through this in a few weeks and we don’t want to go back to a diaper.  Its now a daily lecture from his teacher, and it’s pissing me off.  They advertise as a daycare that works with children and families for potty training, and we pay them for this, so I think they can just deal with it for a few weeks.

So, here’s my question, has anyone else had this happen?  What do we do about this regression?  Any advice is welcome advice at this point – okay, not any advice since this is the internet after-all, but almost any advice is welcomed)

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17 Comments on “Regression

  1. Oh man I’m so sorry. We are much earlier in the potty training process than you are but after A pooping some poops in the potty she started withholding as well (as in didn’t want to poop in the potty or her diaper). It’s super frustrating. We have been giving her chocolate chips if she poops on the potty (which honestly only sort of works, but she does love them) and focusing on making sure she gets plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Maybe try some positive reinforcement like a candy reward or toy? I have no idea if that will work though since we are having mixed success. Also, we give an ounce of prune juice at dinner to try and help keep the poop soft. Good luck. I completely feel the frustration and we are not so far down the rabbit hole!


  2. Ok, you may not like what I’m going to say. 1.) Boys especially are notoriously hard to poop train. 2.) Daycare wants to put him back in a diaper because it’s a sanitary issue. I’d want them in a diaper/pull up too. Not only is it not sanitary, but I don’t have the time to be cleaning up the extra mess that pooping in underwear makes. It sounds like they’ve been a great daycare and have really worked hard on the potty training so I wouldn’t be too pissed at them. I would try your best to to find positive reinforcements and rewards when he does poop on the potty. Heck, being that he doesn’t even want to sit on the potty right now, I’d give him a sticker or something really small every time he does. Bella gets 2 chocolate kisses if she poops in the potty. It’s rare that she does but when she does it boy do we celebrate, lol. Honestly, if Bella didn’t take her own diaper off every time she wets it making things very expensive, we wouldn’t even be trying to train at all. It’s just easier to do when it’s child led. I hope whatever is stopping him from trying right now gets better, but in the meantime, I’d try not to sweat it too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm, taking away activities smacks of punishment… which can be linked to feelings of shame and also implies pressure to comply. I would take these negative consequences away and ease off on the pressure… he will get there when he’s ready.


  4. Ps. On a psychological level, holding pop in is around issues of control… one of the few things a toddler can control. He might be doing this to mitigate feelings of helplessness, feeling out of control (mr MPB being away and other changes). So although he ‘knows’ what to do intellectually, pooping in the potty is about so much more than just rational behaviour.


  5. Tru did this for awhile around age 3.5 to 4. It sucked and was extremely frustrating but eventually, he started going in the toilet and never looked back. Our dr also recommended a milk laxative since tru would hold it till he was constipated. We tried to bribe him with toys that he would get once he had no more accidents in his underwear. It didn’t really work though. Honestly, I hate to say it but I think the only thing that worked was just…. Time.


  6. We bribed the literal crap out of Charlotte for poop. She got a reasonably significant and coveted present every time she pooped in the potty, plus a peanut m & m. For her, that meant mostly stuffed animals. She was desperate for a plush Donald, Daisy, and Pluto to complete her Disney collection, so that’s what worked for us. I’m not proud of that level of bribery, but it worked! School never hassled us about poop accidents. She was probably having a poop accident at school once a week for a few weeks but then it clicked and she was good. Good luck, mama!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Poops are the bane of my existence right now. I’m right here alongside you. Right along with the daycare guilt too. They asked if they could start putting a pull up on Hunter again and I said that they only can at nap time since he isn’t sleep potty trained yet. Otherwise they can continue to change his underwear any time a little slips out and smudges his underwear. I even put a ziplock bag in his backpack for them to put the dirty underwear into it. But this isn’t about H it’s about Little MPB. Can you recall if one of his last poops may have hurt him a little? Even if he didn’t cry out in pain, the pushing strain could have hurt a little bit and scared him that if he has to push again it could hurt more. Kind of like a kid bumps his head on a toy in a playground and from then on he remembers how it hurt and airs on the side of caution going forward so he doesn’t hurt himself more again. He could be scared that it might hurt more next time. I know 100% that is part of why H won’t poop on the potty despite not saying that it hurts and scares him. When I talked to the doctor about it he recommended continuing on with the laxative routine for 4-6 months once we got the constipation cleared out in order to re-train his bowels to release the poop daily instead of thinking it needs to hold on to it for a few days. He said that the laxative will help make the poop nice and soft and easy to pass so once H’s brain recognizes what normal pooping feels like and that it isn’t a hard, scary scream-fest every time, he will be more open to going on the potty willingly. He said the bowel is a very intelligent part of the body and if its owner holds poop in for even a day or two longer than normal, it automatically adjusts itself to hold on because that’s what it thinks the body needs. Then it stays like that until shown otherwise.

    Just some food for thought with Little MPB as a possibility.

    It’s incredibly common for kids, especially boys, to struggle with the pooping aspect of potty training and also common for a regression to happen too. Some people allow a diaper when the kid asks for one to go poop and remind themselves that there will be a stage where the kid will start to go in the toilet eventually. I know of two four year olds who still ask for a diaper when they need to poop and another four year old who only just stopped asking for a diaper. That is the route that we are going at the moment in order to simply get the poop out of H, but I know a lot of people would prefer to just go hard in the potty encouragement and hope that persistence will pay off. Both ways are right if you feel it’s what works best for your family 🙂


    • Your last paragraph describes my nephew… And you’re right, they will eventually stop. My mom was so upset that my sister let him do that, and I was quietly judgy (no kids of my own yet so of course i’d never let him do it 🙄). But… One day he stopped and it was before he was 5 and the world was good again. My kids never asked for a diaper to poop in, but I promise you if they had, I’d have probably given it to them!!!


  8. Bryson was very hard to poop train – took 4 months longer than potty training. He got the pee part down in a few days (even no pullups at night! Matthew had them until he was 5!) but the poop… Ugh. I found that not letting him have undies helped – he HATED it falling into his pants. But there is no silver bullet – one day, he just did it on his own and that was that.

    My nephew took 8 months to poop train. He’d go and get a diaper to poop into. I just don’t get it. It’s weird, but so common. Try not to stress.

    As for daycare – I agree with the earlier commenter that it’s a sanitation issue and they don’t have time for it. Poop in undies is miserable to clean up, and they shouldn’t have to be doing it in particular classrooms (where potty training is required). Same thing happened with Bryson at school – they had me put him in a pull-up because of the pooping in his pants and that seemed fair to me. If you’re not willing to do it, which is ok, then I think it’s fair for daycare to ask you to keep him home until he’s poop trained. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but that’s pretty normal. Kids can’t enroll in 3-year old preschool here in the public schools unless they’re fully potty trained, and they will have you not bring them if they regress. I know it sucks for you, but imagine having to deal with poop undies all day with multiple kids – that’s what daycare teachers would potentially have to deal with.

    How old is little?? Is he 3 yet? This could take awhile… And that’s normal. But oh, I so get the frustration.

    Hang in there.


  9. Regressions are SO FRUSTRATING. D has been poop potty trained since she was about 12 months old – due to constipation issues, potty was the most comfortable place for her to go. But pee is her big control thing. In fact, after almost two years of being pee trained, over the last month she began to hold it until it was too late and she would pee a FLOOD. So far the thing that worked for us was putting her in a diaper. We told her that kids who won’t out their pee in the potty because they choose not to need to wear a diaper. We were very careful not to make it a shame issue (No ‘babies do this’ or anything of the sort), and told her that if she went until the end of the day with a dry diaper she could go back to undies the next day. It took one time putting her in a diaper and we haven’t had another holding accident in almost a week. I doubt this would work if little MPB prefers to poop in his diaper, but at least, solidarity?


  10. Ask him if he wants to wear a diaper or poop in the potty. Then go with it. Life is short but power plays are very very long.


  11. H was scared of poops too. We bribe with choc chips. Haha it was the only thing that worked!!! We have had a bit of a wee regression here. Honestly I think it is just laziness as she knows she can wee on the floor at home and just take her undies off and then come tell me. I find it so hard not to get annoyed by it!!!


  12. Poop candy. We went through a regression and then we started bribing with poop candy. She had seen Easter Bunny Reese’s peanut butter cups in the store and really wanted them. They became her poop candy. You could only get one if you pooped in the potty. It was so quick to turn around as it’s an instant reward.

    She’s been potty trained for eight months now. The poop candy only was needed for about a month. Then she would just go without. It’s nice as you can carry it in public too.


  13. We had the opposite problem. M hated the feeling of poop in his diaper but more than 1 pull up leaked with all pee! Of course he wasn’t trained until he was almost 4.


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