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  • By Steve Hodges, M.D.

"My Child is Terrified of Pooping on the Potty"

The following question was posed during a free webinar on bedwetting and accidents that Dr. Hodges presented with Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions. You can listen to the webinar here.

A child who seems afraid to poop in the potty is likely constipated and more fearful of pain than of the toilet itself.

Q: My 4-year-old child is terrified of pooping in the potty — she will only poop in a pull-up. What can I do?

A: Chances are, your child fears the pain she associates with pooping, not the toilet itself. Children who hide to poop or request pull-ups to poop typically are constipated, as we indicate in our 12 Signs Your Child is Constipated infographic.

Because pooping is painful for them, they naturally want to avoid it as long as possible. The process has become an ordeal and a struggle, and they are more comfortable pooping in pull-ups because that’s what they’re used to.

For the time being, use MiraLAX or enemas to make sure your daughter has soft, mushy poops daily — poops that resemble numbers 4 and 5 on My Poop Chart, our version of the Bristol Stool Scale. Don’t worry about where she poops. Once she regularly has soft poops and makes the connection that pooping doesn’t hurt anymore, you can help her make the switch to pooping on the toilet.

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Must-read books for kids by Steve Hodges, M.D.

• Bedwetting and Accidents Aren't Your Fault

• Jane and the Giant Poop


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