My son dares to poop in his diaper alone

Mother: “My almost five-year-old son only wants to poop in his diaper. He was potty trained early on but kept asking for a diaper when he needed to poop. Now, 2.5 years later, he still does. Those big poopy diapers of his are a lot of work, especially on vacation. When we come back from the beach, we have to clean it too.

“We always make him try to go to the toilet without a diaper first, he does that obediently for the shape, but then nothing comes. We have already put toilet paper in the pot so as not to startle him with the splash, we hold his hands and squeeze with him, we have a present in prospect. Someone suggested that claying together might help, but that’s where my patience ended. I have four children between the ages of six and a half to six.

“He is also a good motor, happy child. Sometimes a bit anxious. Would he like to hold on to being small?”

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Put snips in the diaper

Carla Spaander: “In a busy family, this behavior can be profitable because it means attention: nice and cozy on the toilet with mom and dad. He may also find it too exciting to defecate on the toilet. It sometimes helps to practice in small steps by cutting the diaper. Lay the folded diaper flat, and cut a triangle in the middle of the bottom so that when you unfold it, it creates a diamond. He can start with a very small snip, and make it bigger and bigger, until the poop eventually falls into the toilet bowl. Sometimes a child only has the adhesive strip of the diaper on.

“You can always consult with your child when he dares to cut the triangle a little bigger. In this way you support what we call ‘brave thinking’. The reward for daring to poop with such a clip is a one-on-one moment with mom or dad.”

Exclusive attention

Marga Akkerman: “Your idea that he wants to stick to staying small could well be. He is the second of four children born in quick succession. Then a relapse in development often occurs, concretely in a relapse in cleanliness. It could also be that diaper pooping is his way of getting your attention to himself. With so many young children, you as parents are mainly arranging and exclusive attention is sometimes lost. With this elaborate pooping ritual, he manages that attention well.

“More personal attention can therefore play a role. Preferably give it in a way that stimulates its development. For example, by reading a special book with him every day at a suitable time. You can give him a permanent place next to you at the table. Ask him regularly if he likes to feed one of the little ones. That way he can start to feel bigger.

“In addition, reduce your attention to the poo diaper as much as possible. After a few weeks of new attention, you can bring up that he’s going to poop without a diaper. Does he think he is big enough to try that? Or would you rather go on the po for a while? By letting him think along about this, it also becomes an important topic for him in the context of getting bigger.”