Potty Problems

My son is four and has had no desire to potty train. He has had some stresses in his life. I left his dad about a year ago, and we live in different parts of the county and have lost contact, so my son doesn’t even receive birthday cards from his father. My son is willing to pee in the potty but not poop. But he really doesn’t have any dry nights. I have been cutting off his drinking at 7:00, an hour before he goes to bed, and I put him on the potty before bed. His doctor is really worried; she said to give it six months then she wants to evaluate him. I don’t know what to do. Please help.You wouldn’t believe how common it is that children of this age, especially little boys, are unable to be dry at night. The stresses in your son’s life have nothing to do with it. The reason most kids wet their beds at night is that they have small bladders, and they sleep so soundly that they do not become awake enough to notice that their bladder is full. I suggest that you just leave the problem alone and don’t make a big deal of it; it is basically normal. Allow your son to wear diapers or training pants at night for a few more years. If you try to train him at night too early, you will fail and both he and you will be discouraged.

If he gets to age 8 and still wets his bed at night, buy or rent a wet-alarm. These devices have electrodes which are attached to a piece of cloth which goes inside the child’s pyjamas. When the first drop of urine touches the cloth an alarm goes off and wakes the child up. The shock of the alarm sound makes the child stop peeing, and he can then go to the bathroom. In just a few days he will learn to wake up before the pee hits the cloth! One of my sons had this problem and was cured in under a week (at age 8) with a wet-alarm.

The unwillingness to poop in the potty is a different problem. Begin by not allowing your son to wear diapers during the day, just “training pants,” so it will not be comfortable if he poops in his pants. Tell him he’s a big boy and can learn to do it in the potty. If he messes his pants don’t make a big deal of it, just do the usual washing and changing of the pants.

My guess is that the problem is that he can’t just produce poop at any time; it has to happen at a certain time of day, usually about half an hour after a meal. Most kids have regular times when they are ready to poop. Observe your son’s pattern for a few days and find out when he usually fills his diaper. If there is a regular time of day when he poops, then put him on the potty just before that time, and stay with him and read him stories until he produces something in the potty. Then praise him for doing it. Continue this pattern, only putting him on the potty at a time when you’re pretty sure he will have something to put there. If there isn’t a regular time of day, you may still be able to notice when he needs to poop if you pay close attention to the sounds he makes. In that case get out the potty immediately and put him on it and read a story. Praise him when he produces something in the potty, and make a big deal of him emptying it into the toilet. Point out how much better it feels to have dry pants, and how proud you are of him for being able to use the potty. Let him know that he doesn’t have to wait for you to put him on the potty, with training pants he can go there himself and use it when he needs to. With careful observation and patience on your part, he will soon be trained.

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