Tips on Potty Training
Bowel Movement

Little boy sitting on toilet learning for potty training a bowel movement

Learning how to start potty training a bowel movement for toddlers or kids can be confusing and frustrating for many parents, especially if your child seems unwilling or scared to even try. So, I've created this page to help offer you effective solutions on getting your kid to be fully trained! Downloading my free printable reward charts is a great place to start, but if you haven't already, it is best to focus on urination first. If you're working with boys, they should always train sitting down first until spontaneously going on their own to urinate and having had at least one BM on the toilet.

The average age for potty training bowel movements can often seem later than the age for urination, which is usually around 18-24 months. However, gaining control of the bladder usually leads to control of bowels as well. This is also why having even boys sit to train initially is such a good idea. That way if they are urinating and suddenly have to have a BM, it just naturally works out.

Let's start with some reasons why children tend to refuse having a BM on the toilet:

• They have had been constipated or have had a painful BM on the toilet in the past
• They have been scolded or punished for accidents
• They are uncomfortable sitting on the toilet

If you haven't already, I recommend reading the page about how to start.

Then, follow my three day guide and then if you are still having problems and your only issue is with going number 2, use the following tips...

Tips for Potty Training Bowel Movement

1. Make sure your child is drinking enough water and eating enough fiber. This will help to avoid constipation.

2. Do not scold or punish for accidents. Children may not associate the scolding or punishment with an accident, but instead associate it with having a bowel movement in general. This leads to hiding it by going into a corner or other private area.

3. Make sure they have a chair that fits them comfortably. Feet should be able to reach the floor, it should not easily tip over, and they should be able to easily get on and off independently. Use a stool if you need to as having their knees up can help with elimination. They even make something called a squatty potty for exactly this reason. 

free potty chart to use as training tools

4. Use printable reward charts. These are great for motivating and rewarding children for success, while tracking their progress.

5. Do not allow any type of diapers or pull ups to be worn, except during naps and night time right before bed once you officially start. This will help with potty training bowel movements, because it will be much easier for them to eliminate in the toilet. You may want to use thicker underwear with vinyl coverings to help with messes.

6. Always have boys start by sitting down. This is because when children are first learning, they don’t always know what they need to use the bathroom for and will relax all muscles. So, an attempt for urination may naturally lead to a bowel movement.

7. Encourage your child to sit on the toilet during times he/she is most likely to have a BM. If you can keep track of your child’s routine bathroom habits, it can help when potty training a bowel movement by giving you a good idea of when he/she typically has to go.

free social stories for potty training bowel movement

8. Use a social story when potty training a bowel movement. If your child is absolutely refusing to go in the toilet and possibly even waiting until naps or bedtime to go in his/her diaper, then I highly recommend trying a personalized social story.

Create a book of your child’s day using real pictures and simple captions. Include a picture of your child using the toilet with the caption “When (name) has to go Poo-poo (or your word choice), s/he sits on the toilet and goes just like a big girl/boy! It feels so good and everyone is so proud of her!” You may even have a picture of the toilet with stool in it as part of the story to expose your child to all of the aspects involved in the task.

Read/show the pictures to your child every day. If it's easier, you can even just take a bunch of pictures in order and put them into a photo album on your phone. Then make up the story as you scroll through the pictures. This is super powerful for kids to see themselves as part of the story. Try to include silly parts of the story specific to them to really individualize and capture their attention. My younger son was initially refusing to use the toilet after we started potty training a bowel movement, so I did exactly this while keeping him in underwear only and after about one week of doing this daily, he just initiated on his own, sat on the toilet and went. 

Additional recommended pages:

printable certificates for kids

Potty Training Overview
When to start working on bowel movements
Tools and Resources
Guide for Public Places

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