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Toilet Training Issue -- 4 year old DD

My daughter is approaching her fourth birthday and still show no intrest in using the toilet for her bowel movements. To say this is frustrating is the understatement of the year.

We started training a little past her second birthday and she took to urinating in the potty very well and by two and a half, she was very reliable and soon thereafter graduated to the toilet.

Her bowel movements were a problem from Day 1 and soon become a real battleground. I guess I had rising expectations in that her training for urination had gone so well, that I thought the bowel movements would soon follow. So I guess I was more frustrated than usual when she continued to soil her training pants.

Taking our pediatrician's advice (after she determined that there was no medical problem), I backed off for a while and waited for my daughter's signal that she was ready for bowel training. Still, she soiled her training pants and when we tried switching to regular panties, she continued to soil those.

By her third birthday, I laid down the law and told her that she was a big girl now and that it was her responsibility to handle her bowel movements. With that, I explained that when she messed her pants, it was now her responsibility to clean it up. I taught her everything from getting herself clean clothes, cleaning herself with a washclothe, dumping out the load in the toilet, scrubbing her clothes clean in the clean and putting the clothes in the wash. At first, she absolutely hated having to clean-up and I thought, at last, I had found the answer. She cried everytime I made her do it, but I remained firm and insisted that she was a big girl now and when a big girl messes in her pants, she has to clean it up. I made it clear that this wasn't a punishment but simply something that had to be done when she messed in her pants and that if she went in the toilet she wouldn't have to be doing this. I thought that after having to do a few clean-ups, she get the message about how much easier it was just to go in the toilet.

Well, she eventually got used to cleaning it up and as we approach her fourth birthday, she is still doing it in her pants. In fact, she has now become very casual about the clean-up process and many times I won't even know about it until I see the washed out clothes in the hamper. I've even seen her get herself a washclothe and clean panties beforehand, and then just go into the bathroom, and then squat down and do the mess in her panties. She then just proceed immediately to the clean-up, just like this was the normal way to handle her bowel movements. When we out in public, she'll tell me she needs to go to the bathroom, but that only means that she's already gone in her pants and now needs to go to the bathroom to clean herself up. I keep trying to tell her that it would be so much easier for her to simply go in the toilet, but she's simply not intrested -- her way is simply to do it in her pants and then clean it up.

I thought we were on the verge of a breakthrough over Easter when my 11 year old niece was with us for a week. My niece was very open about taking my daughter into the bathroom with her and letting her see how "big girls" do bowel movements in the toilet. My daughter seemed very intrested in watching her cousin, and her cousin kept trying to tell her how easy it was to go in the toilet and that she didn't have to clean up any "yucky messes" when she went in the toilet. When she went in her pants, my niece was right there with her reminding her that if she just went in the toilet like she did, she wouldn't have to be cleaning it up.

Unfortuanately, my daughter never made the transition to using the toilet herself and we reamain stuck as her fourth birthday approaches.

Re: Toilet Training Issue -- 4 year old DD

Hi I have just come across this site in search of an answer for my eldest boy when I came across your message and please don't be offended as I know this is unkown territotry for you but I was quite horrified to read how you dealt with this. Was it suggested by someone else or did you just decide to deal with the problem in this way? I would be interested to know. But what you have done is highlight this problem initially which gave your daughter attention and attention is attention whether good or bad a child doean't care. You have then in a very stressfull way for you both provided her with a solution to this problem, and rightly or wrongly she at 4 years old having done this for a very long time and cleaning herself up now views this as normal behaviour and when your niece went to the toilet she would be interested as this is very unusual toilet behaviour to her as this isn't what you do when you go to the toilet for a poo in her eyes. I must say that to reverse this behaviour at 4 years old will be tremendously difficult, but having had three boys and gone through toilet training with them all, and they have all been very different. My suggestion to you would be the next time you or any person in the house willing to take your daughter to the toilet when they open their bowels to do so and let her see what happens. Don't talk her to death and say look this is what you do, just take her shut the door and get on with it. She may well ignore you to begin with, however, when you have finished say out loud something like " What a clever girl mummy is having a poo in the toilet, mummy can have a sweetie now" have a tub of small sweets on or in the bathroom cabinet where she can't reach. If she says I want one or something like that just say we not you can only have a sweetie when we poo in the loo and make it a funny rhyme. (in our house the saying is 1 for a wee, 2 for a poo" but you can make your own up. You may think horror at the thought of using sweets but you can always clean their teeth many times a day it's got to be better than dirty pants.Does she poo at the same time every day? If so 5 minutes before get her to choose a story book and take her to sit on the toilet, read the book and keep her there for around 10 minutes this will be hard or just for as long as you can manage. Also prepare a picture chart for her of lots of pictures and stickers or star chart and when she has sat there for you nicely even if she doesn't produce anything reward her by letting her pick a sticker to stick on her picture or star chart. This will encourage her to sit and spend time on the loo. If she does perform at some point for you, even if it is a trump on the toilet praise her like she just won miss world or something as that is vitally important to get her to do it again. If she does produce anything then you must provide her with a little something sweets are cheap and as I said you can clean their teeth. I used to be a dental nurse so I know the importance of not giving sweets but it does work with this and eventually the children do forget the sweets. But if you reward them with something they're not normally allowed they are more likely to perform. Now don't think this will be quick, IT WON'T you may have to do this every day for two weeks before she even gets the idea, but the more people she sees pooing on the toilet the more she will learn that this is the normal behaviour unlike what she will see as normal at the moment which is cleaning herself up, washing pants etc, this really is negative education. She will be starting school soon, are you going to send her to school with a flannel and spare pants, or is she going to expect these to be available at school, this could be highly embarassing and demoralising for her and she won't understand why because to her it is normal and she probably thinks others do the same. I am sorry if this makes you feel rotten but you did what you thought was best and that it work which I totally understand, it is all a learning curve and we just have to do our best and it doesn't matter if we make mistakes so long as we learn from them, i make loads. Good luck and stick with it you will win and you must do this for your daughters sake or she could end up with low esteme which can then lead to other problems. Please let me know how you get on I would be very interested. I am now off to try and find an answer to my problem with my 10 year old.


Re: Re: Toilet Training Issue -- 4 year old DD

I don't know about that - my dr gave me the same advice - and my daughter is 4.5 and is finally dry all night!!!! It has taken a lot of time, and having her clean her own messes showed her that as she gets older she needed to take responsibility for her own messes.