Power Struggles During Potty Training

My two-and-a-half-year old won’t poop on the potty. It’s turning into a power struggle between us! Any suggestions?

@thinkstock.com/FuseMOLLY: This came from a mom based in Vancouver,  British Columbia. She added that her daughter is doing really well with peeing in the potty but refuses to poop in the potty. She’s resorted to letting her daughter run around the house naked thinking that she’ll know when she has to go and will sit on the potty, but she doesn’t and ends up pooping on the floor. She’s even tried hanging out at the potty, but that doesn’t work either. She really doesn’t want this to become an ongoing power struggle like so many other things at this age when you have a headstrong kid.

DR. SUSAN RUTHERFORD (Molly’s Mom): I think she’s right about the power struggle issue. Something else to consider is that the child might actually be unaware that she can control the act of pooping.

If it were me, I think I might try putting the child back in diapers again for a short period and see if that helps. Sometimes backing up will get you ahead.

MOLLY: What else can she try?

DR. RUTHERFORD: I think that she can try a couple of approaches. Personally, I’ve always wondered about trying to toilet train right in the middle of the two’s when children are the most oppositional because of their limited vocabulary and rational thought is still very immature.

Sometimes it’s better to wait and let the child initiate it herself.

MOLLY: What about trying to toilet train before a child is two?

DR. RUTHERFORD: I think that’s an option, too, but I think you have to be careful about how early to start. Parents really have to gear it to whether the child is physiologically ready for it. Some children’s bodies aren’t ready for it even at two, and others may need to wait until they are three.

As with everything in parenting, we have to gear it to the needs and abilities of our own child.

MOLLY: Are there any good resources out there?

DR. RUTHERFORD: I think there’s a really good resource, a book called, “Let’s Get This Potty Started” by Dr. Heather Wittenberg.  I thought it was a very thorough look at what’s involved and how to approach this. She also talks a lot about avoiding the power struggle.

ding One comment on “Power Struggles During Potty Training

  1. I have a 4 year old who will not poop in the potty. We have tried everything but cant seem to get him to go. He wear underwear at home and at daycare he wears a pull up. Just don’t know what eles to do.

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