my 3 year old won’t poop in the potty

He never has.  We’ve tried bribery.  We’ve tried being stern (once…I didn’t like it).  He still refused.  He’s smart and sneaky.  He still wears a diaper at night and for naps, so he will hold it until he has one on.  Usually, ten minutes after he lays down for a nap, he will announce that he has pooped.  We’ve promised him a trip to the ice cream store when he finally drops a deuce.  Still, nothing. 

On the rare occasion when he doesn’t nap or poo around nap time, he will simply ask for a diaper.  Obviously he feels the sensation and knows exactly what is going on.  He’s capable.  I just don’t know if he’s scared, if he doesn’t know how to relax, or if it is just defiance (I really don’t think it’s defiance).  Maybe he’s just nervous or doesn’t know how to make it come out.  He’s tried several times but gets frustrated before he ever really relaxes. He can’t sit there calmly.

After reading about the 3 day method several different places, I’m tempted to try it.  Cold turkey. No diapers.  Truthfully, the reason I haven’t done this yet is because I don’t really want to get up in the middle of the night 8 times to change his sheets.  He has never-ever-not-once woken up dry in the morning.  However, he hasn’t had an accident the 3 or 4 times someone has forgotten to put a diaper on him at nap time.  This tells me we might be successful with this cold-turkey method.  But if there were no diapers, would he just poop in his underwear?  Or would he poop in the potty?  Knowing my kid, he would hold it until his bowels popped… 

We talked to the doctor about this Monday and he suggested gradually training him rather than taking the diapers away all at once.  He thinks it is fine to bribe him with treats, stickers, etc.  Whatever does the trick.  (He also promised that Theo would not be pooping in a diaper when he’s 16…we’ll see).  So with his theory, we allow him to poop in the diaper but he has to stand in the bathroom for a week or so (however long it takes him to get comfortable with that).  Then the following week, he has to stand next to the toilet.  The next week, he sits on the toilet (with diaper on).  Finally, we would remove the diaper and sit him on the toilet.  Does this seem like, well, babying him too much?  Or is taking the comfort of his diaper away cold turkey inhumane? 

I just keep going back and forth and I need some advice. 

Your thoughts?