Q&A: 2 Year Old is Afraid to Have a Bowel Movement on the Toilet

CME WebsitesChild Development, Toddlers 12 - 36 Months

blockquote_bgMy son is two and three months old. He is toilet trained and asks me to go to the bathroom frequently. He hardly ever wets his underpants. However, he is afraid to have a bowel movement on the toilet.

It is common for some children to have a fear of having a bowel movement on the toilet. Some children are afraid of flushing and are afraid they will be flushed down too. It may sound funny to adults, but to young children these are real fears and they need to be addressed with empathy. You can allow your child to have a bowel movement in a potty chair that you place in the bathroom next to the toilet and then allow him to empty it himself into the toilet. Or, if your son has gone in a diaper, do the same – take the diaper to the toilet and allow your son to empty it into the toilet, reinforcing that BM’s belong there. You can calmly talk about the flushing process in toddler terms and reassure him that he can never be flushed down the toilet.

Young children sometimes see the BM as an extension of themselves and flushing it down and losing it causes fear. You can continue to read books on toilet training with your son to ease his fears. Also make sure you son is not having any trouble with bowel movements, such as constipation, which is one reason some children withhold BM’s on the toilet and later go in their pants. Since your son is only 27 months old, he is still young enough that he has plenty of time to practice his independent toileting skills and hopefully in a few months will be over his fear of the toilet. Just remember to be calm, matter of fact and do not scold him for having a BM in his pants.