Categorized | For Kids

Is that a Poop on my Floor!? When Toddlers Won’t Poop on the Potty

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There are some people that won’t talk about certain when it comes to potty training.  I’m not one of those people.


When toddlers refuse to poop in the potty what's a parent to do?  A BTDT mom's story.  Thank god it gets better!

My youngest son potty trained a few months ago and for the most part it was a very easy process.  Then, things started changing.  He started having frequent accidents, both pee and poop, and we were on the verge on considering diapers again.  I was so DONE with washing 5 pairs of underwear, shorts, and sheets a day.

The pee accidents stopped again and he started going on the potty for pees but the poops in the pants kept happening.  He would walk up to me, smile, and say “poop” while pointing to his pants.  That shit is NOT funny (ok, so it is a little but I tried not to laugh) so it was a bit hard to keep my cool.   I wanted to scream at him “why the hell do you keep pooping in your pants” but I would breathe deeply and say “You had an accident?!  Poop goes in the potty, not your pants.  Let’s go clean you up.”

Part of me is thrilled he is pooping, pants, floor, diaper, whatever.  After almost a year of dealing with his withholding issues and being his “poop doula” whenever it comes easily and pain free I’m thrilled.  The other part, notsomuch.

So what do you do when your child prefers to poop anywhere but the toilet?  I’ve heard of toddlers who demand diapers to poop in, or who go into a corner to secretly poop.  It seems to be a thing, right?

When Everett does poop on the potty, either by asking to get on and go, or when it just happens when he is on the toilet to go pee, it is like a straight up awards ceremony.  I’m clapping, screaming, dancing, and waving my arms like a mad woman.  It is like the potty dance on steroids.  He can’t get enough praise for doing his duty on the toilet.

We marvel at the size, the length, the smell…. yeah… it is gross…. but my little boy does take pride in his poops.  The bigger, the better.  Though he also marvels at the “baby” poops.  Even big brother comes in and makes a big deal of it, which Everett loves.

Making a child feel ashamed that they are having accidents is definitely not the way to go.  As hard as it can be not to be mad when you find a toddler running around with poops dropping out of his underwear and having to slowly retrace his steps to make sure all poops are found, it won’t help to yell or punish.


This week we’ve had a good couple of days following last week and the many poop accidents, including the three on the floor on the carpet in his room.  I think we are getting through the accident phase and he is back to notifying me of when he has to poop and he seems to be looking forward to it.

How we got past the phase:

Consistency in reaction:  When Everett would have an accident I was clear and consistent when I spoke to him about the issue.  I never raised my voice but maintained eye contact and told him it was not the place to poop.  Even though there were some comedic moments in this run (the poop dropping from the pants leg was one of them) I kept any laughter inside.  Laughing encourages the continued behavior.

Results in action: I took the poop from his underwear or from the floor and flushed it and made him go with me so that he saw it should always go in the potty.

Privacy: When he began showing that he needed to poop I had a hunch privacy was part of his routine.  I stayed outside and left the door cracked- close enough to be near in case he needed me but far enough that I couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see me.  I believe this part was crucial to getting back on track.  Your child may need help getting onto the potty but after you should see if giving them space will help them relax enough to go.

Patience:  It can (and did) often take a while for the action to happen.  Rather than asking over and over if he was done I decided to just wait for him to call out.  Sometimes I left him with a small board book or other potty friendly toy while he waited for things to move.

Praise:  As stated above the successful poop on the potty is a pretty big deal around here!  I know my son enjoyed graphic dramatic retellings of his massively large poop, and reveled in the attention.  When poops happen on the floor a poop on the potty is worth the party.

I think we’ve had it easy compared to some kids I’ve heard about going through the same problem.  If you have an experience with it please share how you overcame it in the comments.  It may help others reading this!

UPDATE: My son (the pants pooper) is now almost 5 and has been a successful potty pooper since right after this post. I won’t say it was easy but we made it through.  He is now a regular pooper (2x a day!) but still needs wiping help.  Hopefully all of you reading this will find a way to make it through your current struggle with this same, very annoying problem.  If you solved your problem please leave a comment with tips to help another family!

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.

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  • Ruby

    I am literally at my wits end with my 3.5 year old. He has always been more of a challenging child. He was doing awesome using the potty. Peeing regularly, keeping his pants dry. He was even pooping. Then my husband and I went away for a weekend and left him with my MIL. She said he pooped in his pants all weekend. Before we left he had yet to poop in his pants, after that weekend that’s all he does now. If I let him run naked he would hide and poop on the floor. I created potty incentives, letting him pick out a toy for when he goes poop. We bought the toy and put it up within sight so that he had a visual reminder of his goal. We have added to the shrine of incentives. He doesn’t care about getting candy. This has gone on for months! We would only use disposable diapers or pull-up at night and he would ask for one to poop in or just poop on the floor. (One time he was so desperate he took one wadded it up in his little potty and pooped on it.) He was making progress by eventually pooping in the bathroom on the floor next to the toilet. And now that’s all he does. He has plateaued at this point. It makes me so frustrated. I even started to have him clean it up. He knows where it needs to go. He normally wears cloth pants during the day, or underwear. A couple weeks ago he pooped on the potty. He let me sit and hold him on the big potty (we have four choices…big, two different little potties, cushion seat on big potty), and praise be he pooped! It was glorious, we paraded around, we allowed him to choose a prize. We were all so excited for him, and he was proud of himself. He told everyone making it a big deal for him. The next day and ever since…poop on the floor again, or in his pants. I don’t get it, and I have seriously had it, and now he knows it. I do not know what to do. He will be 4 in 5 months. I would love some advice.

    • Deta Charles Kozolchyk

      What happened with this? I’,m dying to know!! I have almost the exact same thing happening with my daughter! She is 3.5 yrs old and poops in her underwear everyday. Every-day,…sometimes twice a day.
      She pees in the potty 100% of the time, but has never pooed in the potty. She hides in places to poop. She cleans her own self when shes done. And I mean shes a professional….She empties the poop from her underwear and puts it into the potty then flushes it down. Gets wipey’s and cleans herself up, and knows the wipeys do not go into the toilet but into the trash can,…and then redresses herself with clean clothes. And always washes hands with soap and water. It’s like a fun game to her now and she doesnt want help. She goes to Preschool and the preschool doesnt seem to be helping. There are no consequences or sticker charts or anything! If I do those things at home and they dont do those things at school,…it’s all for nothing! I’m at my witts end and dont know what to do!!!! HELP!

  • Makinarus Borokian

    I guess that’s what gets all the toddler underwear ready for the laundry. And this sure tests potty training skills of parents.