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 This is the biggest concern  that my friends and I hear… “They will pee on the potty, but not poop.”

I went through this with our first son and hear it SO much from other Moms!!

So, without sharing too much of what is in the book, I wanted to make this post as helpful as possible.  When I hear the problem with peeing, but not pooping, I remember two things:

  1. I can help this
  2. This is a phase!

I had heard about a 7-year-old waiting until he came home from school to put on a diaper to poop.  I was afraid this would be our first son (at the time, he was only 20 months old, but still…) so I was so nervous!  I tried a bunch of things until I found what worked for our family (included in the book) and I realized that he needed to be distracted.  He was scared and I didn’t want him to be scared of the potty, so I used the distraction techniques every time.

Our son was trained to pee on the potty at 20 months old, but not until closer to 24 months with having bowel movements on the toilet.

How do you deal with it?

Well, I don’t want to give away all of my secrets, so I am saving my best ones for the book, but I just kept telling him “No! No!” when he would poop in his pants.  It was gross and I would let him know that I did NOT approve!  I wasn’t mean, but I was firm and wanted to get my point across.

I would take the soiled underwear & dump the poop into the potty (while he watched) and we would flush it. Then I would offer a treat if he pooped (sticker, ice cream…)

What ended up working for us was when I knew he had to poop, I made sure that I would start distracting him while he was on the potty.  I used several distraction techniques together (all shared in my ebook)  and we were able to take care of this.  Most kids are scared of going poop.  It is not that they are trying to be defiant, but that they have a genuine fear.   Once you are able to help this, using one of the techniques, you will have your child pooping on the potty in no time!

A few ideas to get you started:

  1. Read to them on the potty, let them play on the iPad or Kindle or phone to distract them while they are sitting there, give them a special toy to hold while they are on the potty.   Do not let them have these things if they get off of the potty. This is a distraction, but also a reward for sitting there!
  2. Teach him to tell you when he needs to go so you can put a diaper on him.  Many kids wait until bedtime to go (they feel safe this way).  That is OK!  Really.   Just be sure to put a diaper on him at naptime & bedtime.  Check them after 20 minutes.  This will pass.
  3. I heard this one time (I never tried it)…  Cut a hole in the diaper and let them poop through their diaper, on the potty.  Crazy, but I’ve heard it works?   The poop goes through into the potty.  It just lets them feel secure.
  4. Talk to your child.  “Poop is yucky and messy, so it goes in the potty.  That is easy to clean!”
  5. Provide a step stool.  Some kids just have trouble having a bowel movement & a stool allows it to come easier because they brace themselves and can “push” more easily.
    Whatever you find that helps you, you need to just help them to go the first time and then it will be easier and they will understand that it is OK, not scary and that they will feel better afterward.

You do not want them to become constipated and you want to make sure that there is not a health issue (allergies, etc…) causing them to not be able to go.  If you suspect this, see your doctor before beginning to push the issue.

If you are potty training your child, you are welcome to download my coloring book for free:


This is my ebook, Potty Train in a Weekend.
Potty Train in a weekend

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Oh man, that lollipop trick is genius! I have three boys-6, 4, and 20 months and I needed these posts BAD. My older two took until they were four…I think I missed the window with them when they were younger and by time I tried to potty train them they were in the “no” phase and it had me literally in tears on a daily basis. My 20 month old has just started sitting on the potty and pretending to “go” so I’m going to find some time to try your method. I’ll report back, thanks!!

  2. My biggest concern is having the toilet accessible all the time. We keep our door closed all the time because i don’t want my sins falling in and so forth -a safety issue. How do you keep your bathrooms accessible and not let them play/ grab anything off the counters and use the potty chair as a stepping stool?

    1. Hi,
      I had the same concerns. (Our kids would try to play in the toilet water- GROSS!) I kept the training potty right outside of the bathroom door. I would lock the bathroom door and put the ‘baby potty’ on the outside, against the door, so they can use it without going into the bathroom and I will know because they will be in the hall. Weird, but helpful for those first few months.

      I hope that helped. Let me know if you need any suggestions and I can tell you what worked for us. 🙂

  3. My daughter will wait for HOURS between potty visits. I am struggling to figure out how to make her use the potty. I give her lots of juice and water to try to encourage her to go, but she still will wait. On Sunday, in a span of 9 hours, she peed only 4 times. How do you plan/train for that?

    1. Oh- that is so tough! Our kids didn’t do that, but my brother’s son did. He did just what you are doing. He took him on his back porch (screened in), left him naked with just the little potty and a lot of toys. He gave him juice, water, tea… and just played out there.
      If it helps, our kids only go about once every two hours, but I still took them every 20 min. when we were training, to get them used to the potty & to pushing a little to try to go.
      I hope that helped.

  4. My son is 3 and can poop and pee in the potty, but he hates to poop. He locks his legs and stands really stiff. When I carry him to the potty he throws a fit. He will poop if I make him sit there but is so upset each time we have to do his inhaler. So, he usually just holds it or poops in his pants. We have tried candy, stickers…he likes the candy but still sneaks and poops in his pants. His acts like it hurts when he does it on the potty, but its not hard. I think he just doesn’t like it??

    1. My best friend’s daughter was this way. Crying and saying it hurt, but it was soft, too. She found out (she was 3 at the time, too) that her daughter was just scared. The Dr. had her give her a stool softener for kids and it made a big difference. She started going more often, even though it really wasn’t hard to begin with. Once it became more regular, the fear went away (she is 5 now).

  5. I just started potty training my almost 2 year old yesterday. My question is, how do you handle them not peeing on the toilet every twenty minutes? I set the timer for 30 minutes and have her sit but nothing happens 4 out of 5 times. Do I still make a big deal about her sitting on the toilet and trying? Or what? She’s gotten better at having accidents. Today she rushed to her potty and lifted the lid after she realized she was peeing on herself. And I’m struggling with bed times. But I read your posts and I’ll give them a try and see how it goes. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Yes, I still made a big deal of “good try!” when they would sit on the potty. Our kids didn’t go every time, either (I’ll update that in the post.)

      That is awesome with the knowing that she needs to run to the potty when she starts to pee- that’s how they get it!!

  6. Hi my friend joy wants to get potty training tips advice for her son he is 2 years old, still in diapers. Should she still do the towel potty training method for her son to go potty number 2 for her? Thanks.

    1. What is the towel method?

      I wish my book that I am writing was out because I have so many thoughts on this from so many moms- too many to write on here, but my advice is to do what you can to get them distracted on the potty when you know they have to go. The fear is keeping them from going.

      1. The towel method is where my friend joy lays a towel down on the floor and lays her son down w his diaper off underneath him and where he goes number 2 on for her. The towel potty training method works for her. So every mom should try it with a towel instead of the potty.!

        1. Hmm… I’ve never heard of that, but I can see the concept behind it. Transitions them…

          1. Hi if any moms need help with potty training their child, toddler ,baby let me know I can help walk you through the towel potty training method ok.

  7. Two questions:
    My daughter is 26 months and still in her crib. Can we just potty train for daytime?

    I tried at 22 months but she was terrified of public toilets so made it difficult beyond being at home. She will sit on big potty at home but typically will only be successful on baby potty.

    Thanks for your advice!

    1. I would definitely just do the daytime. I never worried about the night=time training. It can happen anytime, in my opinion.

      Our 3rd son is scared of the public toilets, too. I just make it a game where we have to completely cover it with toilet paper & he likes that enough to get on (he won’t stand to pee at a public toilet).

      Or- you could just always have your portable potty in the car. 🙂

      Good luck!

  8. I have 2 boys ( 4 1/2 and just turned 2.) the older is great about going potty but cannot seem to get down going poop on the toilet. We have tried big rewards for going on the toilet and disciplining when in his pull-up or underwear, but it’s like the disciplining is forgotten by the next day! He will sometimes go on the toilet for a few days, then back to in his pants. I have no sense of smell so I have to constantly check his pants. I just don’t know how to get over this hurdle of no more accidents!! He will (hopefully) be going to VPK this fall, I can’t have this still happening 🙁
    We also haven’t even begun with my 2 year old. I know we need to, but dealing with the older feels exhausting enough!

    1. We had this trouble, too. I have a book coming out (hopefully next week) and it addresses it with advice from a bunch of different families. 🙂

  9. Hi there! I am on day 3 with my 21 month old son. I have been following Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddler program and my son still doesn’t communicate to me in any way that he is about to go…he just starts to pee and poop AWAY from his potty. I calmly pick him up and say “Pee-pee/poo-poo go in the potty” every time. He has accidents A LOT (pee mostly, he seems to be holding his poop). He has finished peeing 3 times in the potty but no poop. I get really excited & do a “happy dance” and let him hold half the potty bowl to take it into the “big potty” to say “goodbye to Lochie’s pee-pee.” He likes this part, but still seems to have no interest in walking over to the potty on his own or letting me know before he starts to go. He has walked over to the potty once for my mother-in-law when she asked him yesterday to show her how he goes to the potty, but he is beginning to cry a little now when I pick him up to “finish” the job. He still does not speak (he only says about 3-4 words, none of which refer to anything potty related) and I am thinking of teaching him the sign for potty, but not sure how to do since we are trying to avoid diapers, etc. I am wondering if the fact that he cannot communicate to me that he has to go is a big part of the problem. I am sure he is sensing that I have about had it, too. I have been doing this for 3 days now and thought he would at least be walking over to the potty by now!!!! Help!!!! I am also doing this alone as my husband teaches both during the day and a few days a week at night. I am ready to pull my hair out!

  10. I have been potty training my 21 month old for about 4 months casually and she ha no problem going pee on the potty but will not tell me or walk there herself. She has been having more accidents lately after I put her on the potty like she isn’t emptying her bladder fully on the potty. I am at a loss and don’t know how to teach her to go there herself!! When I ask her if she needs to go she will always say ‘no’ and sometimes will have an accident very shortly after that. If you have any advice for me it would be amazing I am ready to stop cleaning pee accidents all the time!

  11. We have been potty training for about two weeks now and my little girl still has accidents constantly! She will tell me after she had an accident but just doesn’t seem to care about stopping and going to the toilet. The other day she just stared at me while she peed and then told me she had to go potty. I don’t know what to do to help her want to go in the toilet. This is rough;)

  12. My three and a half year old daughter has been potty trained since she was eighteen months, except she will not poop in the potty. She knows when she has to go because she asks for a diaper. We have tried rewards, playing on her dads phone while she is on the potty, but nothing seems to work. She flat out refuses to go in anything but a diaper. She will hold it for a full day until I crack because I worry about her getting constipated and give her a diaper. Her older brother was so much easier to potty train, because once I got him to do it once he got the hang of it. She did it when she was first learning because I make them go naked when I’m training them too. But it was only because I ran her to the potty while she was going. I’m at a loss for how to convince her to go in anything but a diaper. Any ideas?

    1. Our son had trouble with this and it took him a little while to get the hang of it. Did you get the book that I wrote? I have some more ideas in there- I can’t even remember all of the ones that I put in there off hand… . You might have to extend the naked thing for a few more days. How log did you do it?

  13. I just started training my 18 month old son today. At first he didn’t seem to understand what the sensation meant and would just openly pee on the floor, by 9AM he started doing the potty dance and would hold it. The first time he did the dance I set him down and he peed on his potty, after that time he would do the dance but refuse to go on the potty, he wants nothing to do with it. He eventually ends up going a bit on the floor then stopping himself, but still continues to do the dance and refuses to go on the potty. I have no clue whats going on. I’m dreading waking up tomorrow and starting again. He gets so excited when he does go in the potty but it’s so difficult to get him to actually go, he’d rather hold it. I’m worried about him getting a UTI if holding it continues. I also feel terrible! He starts to cry because he has to pee so bad but knows he shouldn’t pee on the floor and doesn’t want to go in the potty. Thoughts?

    1. I would give it one more day & then if it doesn’t seem to go well tomorrow, give it two months & try again. I had to do this with our third son. Some kiddos just don’t seem to be quite there yet, but that’s ok b/c he will get it next time. 🙂

  14. My son is using his potty seat and started using it consistently at 19 months. But he will only use the potty if he is naked from the waist down; the moment my husband and I put shorts or underwear on him, he always has accidents. I think that he believes the pants are his diapers. Is there anything in your book about this?

    1. Yes, because our son did the EXACT same thing- EXACTLY! Ugh- it is so hard, but it does get better! 😉

  15. Hi. I wanted to say Thank you for your book. I got the ebook last week after struggling for months with potty training my daughter (now 22 months old). I have had pretty much everyone telling how to potty training or criticizing that she is too young. My husband and I felt like we were at the end of our rope and I began praying about what to do. Something, I admit, I should have started with. Anyway, as I was praying the other day, the Lord brought a parenting website to mind. When I went to find it I found yours and it just clicked. What you had say was simple and it made sense. So, we talked about it, bought the book and picked our three days. We have just finished day 2 and only had one accident. Praise the Lord! But as I’m getting ready for day 3. I actually had a question about day 4 and so on. Here goes. I am putting her on the potty every 40 minutes, but she hasn’t went any of those times. She will sit there for a couple of minutes and say “done”. So I let her and we keep playing. Ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes later she will say “I pee” and head for the potty. Each time she’s done this she has went. So, to make a long story long, I am just wondering how to get her to go when I give her the opportunity? (For when we are out in public.) Her notice is right, but, she starts going about 20 seconds after she announces it. Any advice would be truly appreciated. Thank you. And thanks again for the book.

    1. OH- how fantastic!!! I’m so excited for you!! 🙂 That’s hard (not going on demand), but honestly- she will just start soon enough- sometimes it is just really hard for them, but I’d bet she’ll be doing it within a few weeks. You can put her in a pull up or training undies if you are nervous when you are out. We’ve done that, once they are trained.