How to Potty Train a Four-Year-Old Who Won't Poop in a Toilet

Updated April 17, 2017

Most children are potty-trained between the ages of 18 months and 3 years of age. When children are ready to be potty-trained, they usually display signs of physical and mental readiness. However, sometimes 4-year-old children make potty- training a challenge by refusing to use the toilet.

Visit your doctor to rule out medical issues. Your child may have an infection or other disorder that is affecting his or her potty-training.

Purchase potty-training equipment. Your child may be avoiding the toilet because it is difficult to use. You can purchase potty-training toilets for your bathroom that are the perfect size for your 4-year-old. If you choose to potty-train your children directly on the toilet, make sure you have a stool on which they can plant their feet and feel secure when using the potty.

Avoid punishments for not using the toilet. When children are forced to sit on the potty or they associate punishment with the toilet, their fear of the toilet can lead to an aversion to potty-training. Accidents will happen, so don't make a big deal about them to avoid embarrassing your children.

Create a positive potty-training experience for your children. Reward your children with praise every time they successfully use the toilet. You can even develop a point system with prizes to encourage continued use of the toilet. When your child associates positive results with using the toilet, he will be more apt to accept potty-training.

Discuss your potty-training methods with all caregivers for your children. Inconsistencies in bathroom use may be the reason your 4-year-old refuses to poop in the toilet. All caregivers should be using the same potty-training methods so your children are not confused about using the potty.

Show your child the purpose of the toilet. Your 4-year-old may avoid the toilet because he does not understand how to use it. When your child has a soiled diaper, you can dump the contents in the toilet while your child watches. This will help him associate bathroom use with the toilet.

Talk to your children about any fears associated with the toilet. Many children are frightened by the loud noise of the flush. If you find out a specific fear your child associates with the toilet, address the concerns to encourage him to use the potty.

Things You'll Need

  • Potty training chair
  • Stool
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in South Florida, Beth Swanson has been writing professionally since 2005. Her articles have been published in the magazines “Kiwi," “Natural Home,” “Clean Eating,” “Palm Beacher," the “Miami New Times” and several other publications. Swanson earned a Master of Arts degree in integrated marketing communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder.