I’m in the middle of potty training hell. My stubborn 3-year-old has the potty part down cold, but refuses to poop on the toilet. He also refuses to wear a pull-up and insists on wearing big boy underwear. He tries with all his might to hold the poop in all day until he can get a pull-up on when he goes to bed, only to call my name 15 minutes later to announce “I pooped in my pants” with a smile so big you would think Santa just stopped by for an evening visit. But lately he can’t seem to make it that long so he prances around on his tippy-toes trying to hold it in for dear life until he finally realizes there is no stopping it.
After several days in a row of picking him up from school only to be greeted with a poo-filled bag of dirty underwear that smells like a combination of skunk and vomit, I was at my wit’s end. I needed help, so I took to Facebook last night and posted the following:
I have a very stubborn 3-year-old who refuses to poop on the potty but also is refusing to wear a pull-up during the day. If I have to bring home another bag of dirty clothes I’m going to scream. Any advice? Do I just tell him no more underwear and only send pull-ups to school? He went #2 on the potty a few times and then just quit for some reason. Not sure if he’s afraid or just trying to make his mommy go insane.
Within 12 hours I had a thread of almost 30 hilarious comments from cousins, neighbors, friends, aunts and co-workers. To appreciate the humor, I’ll highlight a few:
Cousin: How bout a “if you poop in your underwear you have to wear them as a hat on the way home?” rule?
Friend: When you find the answer will you let me know…. I’m having the same problem with my 3! She won’t be bribed… It’s driving me nuts!!!
Former co-worker: well I have the total opposite. I get the yelling at top of lungs (restaurant bathrooms included) DADDY!!!!! I WENT BIG POOPIES!!!! COME SEE! Its a lot of fun.
Former co-worker: Each kid triggers on different “reasons” to make the leap. Our daughter was having issues. One day my wife brought her to a ballet class. She thought it was heaven on earth and asked Mommy if she could go every week. Well, the answer was truthful: “Sorry honey, the weekly classes only allow girls who wear undies and go potty”. Done.Game over. No problems since. Find the “ballet” in your child.
Former co-worker: We’ve went through the very same thing and finally seeked out professional help. Long story short (and you can call me if you think it’s an idea you want to pursue) – make the child responsible for their messes. On day one you say, “Pooping and peeing in the potty is your responsibility. You’ve been having trouble lately, so we have a new plan. If you forget to go to the potty for poop or pee, you have to be responsible for cleaning it up. That means taking off your dirty pants, cleaning the floor if any got on there and cleaning out your pants in the sink (or putting them in the laundry).” So, then you wait for the inevitable and then the hard part starts. You stand back. You say “I see your body forgot. So, you need to go and…..”. Do NOT do it for them. I know, it sounds harsh at first. And it’s gross (from someone who hates touching anything poo-related it’s hard, because they DO get dirty). Let me tell you though, we suffered through this one and off from 3years old-4years old. On day one, after I explained what would happen, he was disgusted. He had one or two accidents after that and when he realized how not fun it is to clean up, the problem ceased to exist. Now, the folks I consulted were also of the philosophy that we don’t bribe or reward kids for toileting – so if he does do well and doesn’t have an accident you don’t have parties or praise him. You just state facts “I see you choose to use the toilet today. How did that make you feel”.
Aunt: My Advice after raising 4 kids…..don’t sweat it…keep a diaper on him and don’t make a big deal about it at all….trust me…it will work out. Don’t make his home threatened by “rules”….it has to be a “fun” environment to live in and if it is…he will come around.
Another Aunt: Talk to your mom–I remember Michael not being able to poop on the potty and told them he’d do it when he was 4–and he did–on the golf course in the potty. Let him sit it in if he won’t wear a pull up. One time if his friends say something will take care of it. Oh the little things that try a parent.
***Side note- I think it’s hysterical that my aunt openly shared my little brother’s poo issues!***
Brother: thanks for throwing me under the bus aunt T! this is O’s problem, dont drag me into this
: Aunt T- Thanks for the laugh by calling out brother and his poop issues!!
I guess it runs in the family. Good thing he found someone to marry him before she found out:)!!!
Brother: I seem to remember having those issues because a certain sister told me there were alligators in there! Karma’s a B sister!
Me: Mary!!! She was always the mean sister.
Sister: I think you deserve what you get for calling me the mean sister. I’m going to tell O it’s cool to poop your pants (even cooler to wipe it all over the couch after helping yourself to some yogurt)
Mom: I think it is payback for you telling Michael there was an alligator in the toilet when he was little. He didn’t use the stool until he was 4! Have Uncle Mike talk to him! It’s no big deal….go back to diapers if he wants to.
Husband: I think I have Pink Eye from just reading this thread. The whole house will have it if O tries to clean his own mess.
Neighbor: I’m kind of on the side of going back to diapers till hes ready. You’re all in pain and eventually he will think uh no way I’m too big for diapers. All kids are ready for different reasons at different times. Stop driving yourself crazy! L was a late pooper. I had to watch her poop in undies in corner and then grab her put her on potty and clean it out. I never gave her positive or negative attention for it. I refused to feel miserable yelling at my 3 yr old over poop. I mean they are only three! But I was home all day so I could control it easily and grab her quick to change or go on potty. I know day care would be different. I only tell u the L story to ease your concerns. I think it’s very very common for potty training success to come in stages. Pee success first, poop later, overnight dry later, or all in reverse!!!!! C was potty trained at 2.5 no problem but he’s 4 now and still in an overnight pull-up. And I don’t care!
Cousin: First of all, nothing brings out parenting experts like a good potty training question….except maybe “how do you get your kid to eat vegetables?” or “how do you get your 3 week old to sleep through the night?”. I’m no expert, but I know one thing, I don’t know any able minded grown ups who still crap their pants….well, on a regular basis anyway. This seems to fall in line with “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Diaper it up until he is ready….but if he doesn’t want to wear one, tough luck…you have to earn your underpants with clean days. (You can steal that for a t-shirt slogan if you want). Three other comments. 1) I love that Michael Oppold got thrown under the bus by Aunt T. 2) Angie and Ginny I will pay to see the look on the faces of David and Brian when you let their kids smear poop finger paint all over the bathroom while trying to “clean up” 3) Love that the Oppold’s are getting with the times and are using facebook for stuff like this rather than filling my work email inbox.
****Side note- This was by far my favorite comment.****
After reading through the thread of comments I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud. I also realized I seriously needed to chill out. As my mother always says “This too shall pass”. Sometimes I forget he’s only 3, and my expectations for behavior are a little unrealistic. It’s not like he’s doing it on purpose just to drive his mother insane. He’s 3! He’s not the first kid to have poo issues and he won’t be the last. Clearly my frustration, scolding and looks of disappointment aren’t helping.
So for now I’m going to tell him I love him, encourage him, order him some “Oops I Crapped My Pants“
and call it a day. There are bigger things to worry about.