3.5yr old toilet trained for wee but will only poo in nappy

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3.5yr old toilet trained for wee but will only poo in nappy

Postby Kelly77 » Thu 11 Apr, 2013 10:47 am

Hi Ngala,
My daughter is now 3 and a half yrs old and has been 'toilet trained' since July last year ( a couple of months before she turned 3). She takes herself to the toilet for a wee, can wipe, pull up pants etc without any help and no accidents. The problem is that she will only poo in a nappy. She will hold her poo in all day if necessary ( for example, if she is at pre-kindy she waits till she gets home then asks for a nappy for a poo). As soon as the nappy is on she will poo and then i clean her up and she goes back into knickers. When we first toilet trained her we realised she was making herself feel sick and grumpy by holding her poos in for days at a time so we ended up just letting her have the nappy for a poo thinking it would sort itself out in time. Clearly, that is not the case! If I suggest that she try sitting on the toilet for a few minutes when she needs to poo she gets very agitated and upset so I just give in. I can't try taking the nappies away altogether as she still needs them for her night sleeps (they are never dry in the morning), so she will just wait till the nappy is on at night to do the poo. I'm sure bribery is not recommended but I have tried this too and she is just not interested in bribes - she just wants that nappy! Any suggestions???
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Re: 3.5yr old toilet trained for wee but will only poo in na

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 11 Apr, 2013 10:17 pm

Hi Kelly77

Thank you for your post. The issue you are experiencing with your 3.5 year old is actually a very common issue. It can be very frustrating for parents and feel as though it lasts a very long time. It is also common for parents to feel isolated when they are experiencing this issue, and feel as though their child is the only one who has this issue. Ngala does, however, receive a number of calls about this exact issue every week from parents of three and four year olds.

It is quite common for children to develop a fear of passing a bowel motion whilst sitting on the toilet or potty. Sometimes this is because the child has had a scary experience having a motion on the toilet (such as falling into the toilet or having water splash up and wet the child when the faeces falls into the toilet, which can scare some children). Often, however, there is no apparent reason for this fear. It is thought that children are not able to fully understand that the poo is not part of themselves and that they fear losing a part of themselves down the toilet. It is also thought that a lot of children do not like the sensation of the poo falling from themselves, but prefer the sensation of the poo passing when held close to the body by a nappy. Very occasionally children may be motivated by rewards or incentives in their "currency" (such as a special toy that is bought and the child is told they can have the toy when they pass a motion in the toilet or potty) but frequently when children have this phobia, the fear surpasses any interest in rewards and this does not work to motivate the child. The child will often strongly resist any types of encouragement to use the toilet or potty, and may become upset.

It is common for toddlers and preschoolers to not have many areas in their life in which they hold control, and for them to work out that there are two areas in which they do hold control - what goes in and what goes out. It is common for them to hold control over these two parts of their life strongly, and resist any attempts by parents to take any control over these areas. Studies show that with fussy eating, any attempts by parents to either get children to eat either through punishments and negative reinforcements, or through encouragement and praise, actually has the opposite effect and makes children more likely to resist eating new foods. Research shows that children are more likely to try new foods if parents approach food in a very neutral way, just repeatedly presenting the same healthy foods over a period of months and role modeling the eating of these foods, but making very little comment on whether of not these foods are eaten by the child or not. The same appears to be true for children who are resisting using the toilet. It appears that any focus or attention given to the issue of toileting acts to enhance the feelings or anxiety that the child is feeling regarding passing bowel motions, and that the child often feels conflicting senses of pressure to pass a bowel motion in the toilet but acute fear of doing so. Although it is frustrating for parents having to deal with changing nappies on an older child who has the physical ability to control their bowel, commonly the most effective way of getting a child to make the move to use the toilet is for parents to completely drop the issue and not discuss the issue with the child for a number of weeks. Frequently this results in the child reducing their level of anxiety over passing a bowel motion, and the child often begins to go to the toilet on her own terms after a few weeks of the issue not being discussed and when she ferels it is in her control. It is ok to briefly mention every few days that one day she might feel like being a really big girl and using the toilet, but it is best to just change dirtied nappies matter of factly and briefly without any discussion or attention drawn to the matter. Keeping potties available, and letting her see peers using the toilet without too much discussion over this can be helpful.

If the child is happy to comply, some parents find that they can request their child gets a nappy on and then goes and stands next to the toilet to have their bowel motion. This can sometimes be progressed to having the child sit on the toilet to have the bowel motion, and even to having one side of the nappy undone whilst having the motion. It is common that children will resist this approach, however, and if your child does resist this idea it is best not to pursue this ideas as it may just serve to continue the child's anxiety over the issue.

Ngala does offer a workshop called "Successful Toileting 3.5 years plus" which you may find helpful to attend if you do not see any results after a few weeks of limiting attention given to the area of toileting. http://www.ngala.com.au/course/Parentin ... years-plus

I hope this information has been helpful. Please call the Ngala helpline if you would more information and support
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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