Has your potty-trained child started to have poop accidents again? Learn what to do when your 4 year old poops in pants and doesn’t care.
I didn’t get it. My son had been potty trained for two years, but out of the blue, started pooping in his pants. He simply refused to try to pee or poop in the toilet, and instead would hold it in until it practically seeped out. I was beyond tired of washing dirty underwear, ready to lose my mind with yet another accident.
Maybe your child has also been potty trained for a while, but for the last several days, has been having leaks and accidents. Perhaps he’s potty training right now but can’t seem to poop in the toilet. He’ll blatantly wait until bedtime—when he wears pull-ups—to finally poop. Or he’s even pooping in his pants for attention, provoked by your reaction.
Regardless of the reason, no amount of admonishment or explanation can convince him to use the toilet to poop. Nope—every day, yet another pair of undies is soiled or streaked once again.
When your 4 year old poops in pants and doesn’t care
I can certainly relate, friend. There’s nothing like cleaning up poop stools to make you lose your patience. It doesn’t help when your child doesn’t seem to care one bit that he’s dirtied his undies or that he should be a “big kid” by now.
What we have to remember though is that kids don’t do this intentionally, as hard as that may be to believe. This isn’t a “control” thing that he has purposefully planned against you. He might feel confused or doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing to head to the bathroom.
It’s important not to get angry, but to work together to fix the issue. The more you can get on the same side as him, the more likely he’ll comply.
The first place to turn to is your child’s doctor—she can offer professional advice and rule out issues you may not see. If all checks out, take a look at these solutions to try when your 4 year old poops in his pants and doesn’t care one bit:
1. Ease your child’s constipation
A common culprit for pooping in undies is constipation. He might’ve had a difficult time pushing hard poop, which then scared him the next time he had to poop. Of course, this only contributes to even more chronic constipation and pain, adding to the cycle even more.
He’s so stressed out that it’s no wonder he can’t relax enough to pass a bowel movement.
One fix is to increase his fiber intake, from eating more high-fiber foods like prunes and apples to taking fiber gummies. Another is to make sure he drinks plenty of fluids like water or even fruit juice. Aim for however many cups of water as his age at a minimum. Consider reducing dairy to help him poop with ease.
And if needed, you can always ask your child’s pediatrician about giving a suppository or stool softener. If you go this route, you can then time the medication with sitting him on the potty to help him release his bowels.
Free email course: Want to potty train without the power struggles? Join my newsletter and sign up for the FREE 5-day email mini-course, Peaceful Potty Training! No more putting unrealistic deadlines or using rewards that eventually fizzle. Join the mini-course today:
2. Give your child clean-up responsibility
Your child might not care about pooping in his undies because he hardly has to deal with its consequences. Meanwhile, you’re dealing with cleaning up the mess every day.
To help him see what happens when he doesn’t poop in the toilet, have him help you clean up his mess. For instance, he can watch you dump poop in the toilet and wash the undies. He might grab new clean clothes and load a new batch of laundry.
Yes, you’ll have to guide him through the clean up process, so it’s not like you’re clear to hand the entire task to him. But he does see what happens when he has an accident. More importantly, he feels compelled to poop in the toilet if he knows he has to clean up otherwise.
3. Sit your child on the toilet regularly
To make pooping in the toilet feel more regular, have your child sit on it at predictable times and for a set length.
For instance, have him sit on the potty for 20 minutes after each meal, or whenever he tends to poop in his undies. You can also set a timer so he knows that there’s a set time to go through (and not based on when you say so).
Make this a regular part of your daytime routine, just as he brushes his teeth after meals and changes into pajamas at night. That way, he develops a new habit that feels automatic. And offer some privacy as well—he may not want you in the bathroom with him every time.
Is your 3 ½ year old not potty trained? Check out these 6 do’s and don’ts.
4. Offer positive reinforcement
No one likes being scolded or told what to do day in and day out. Encourage your child to poop in the toilet by praising any bit of progress you see. The more supported he feels, the more inclined he can be to continue that behavior.
Keep in mind to praise progress, and not only what you define as “success.” Don’t just praise him for the times he poops in the toilet instead of his undies (because, at this point, those times might be few and far between).
Instead, praise him for being willing to sit on the toilet, or for telling you he had poop (yup, even in his undies). Thank him for helping you clean his soiled undies, or for eating healthy fruits and vegetables. The more you praise him for these steps, the more encouraged he can be to keep going.
Learn how to get your toddler to tell you when they need to potty.
Learning how to stop your child from pooping in his pants, especially when he’d been potty trained for a while, can be a challenge. Thankfully, with encouragement and consistency, you can overcome this potty training regression and convince him to poop in the toilet again.
Address issues with constipation, from dietary changes to being supportive about his fears of pushing. Give him the responsibility of helping you clean his accidents so he’s not “off the hook.”
Sit him on the toilet at predictable times of the day, and for a regular length of time. And finally, offer positive reinforcement every step of the way—he’s more likely to change through praise than punishment.
No matter how long or short he’s been potty trained, now you know what to do when your 4 year old poops in his pants and doesn’t care one bit. No more streaked or soiled undies, friend—just regular, mess-free toilet use instead.
Get more tips:
- The Real Reasons Your 4 Year Old Won’t Poop on the Potty
- How to Handle Potty Training Poop Anxiety
- Is Your Toddler Afraid to Poop in the Potty? 7 Tricks You Can Try
- How to Get Your Toddler to (Finally) Poop in the Potty
- What to Do When Your Toddler Won’t Poop on the Potty
Don’t forget: Want to potty train without the power struggles? Join my newsletter and sign up for Peaceful Potty Training, a free 5-day email mini-course:
Leave a Reply