Dr Catherine
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4-7 years

Hi Charlene – this is incredibly frustrating but not that uncommon. Some children experience difficulties with poo as a result of constipation – it is worth ruling this out first before you consider other options. Signs of constipation include bowel movements that are sometimes large, hard or cause pain. Constipation can occur if your child’s diet is low in fibre, they do not drink sufficient liquids, is very inactive or develops a habit of holding onto their stools. If his accidents continue to outway his successes and he appears to lose interest completely then I would certainly think about stopping the process for a while. Successful toilet training can only take place with the voluntary co-operation of your son; doing battle with a reluctant preschooler can be even more traumatic than dealing with the accidents when they happen! Throughout the process acknowledge all small successes through praise and encouragement, even if it just means your child is now crouching in the bathroom to do a poo instead of crouching behind the couch, or is helping empty their poo into the toilet. And as with all attempts at toilet training, ignore the failures but don’t go overboard on the successes as this can add to your child’s anxiety. Reluctance to poo or wee can sometimes stem from fear of the toilet so the more comfortable your child feels about the situation the more confident they will be. If you feel comfortable doing so it is also a great idea to let your child see you using the toilet for poos. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding; I have been unwell and unable to answer questions during this time. Regards, Dr Cathrine