Parenting can be really crappy sometimes, but is there anything crappier, literally or figuratively, than potty training? I can't think of too many other issues that have caused me more stress or annoyance, and I've had many moments of both over the past six years. A phenomenon I didn't realize was a thing, before I had kids, was little ones doing just fine learning how to pee in the toilet, but hardcore resisting doing the same with their poo. So I asked moms to share how they finally got their kids to poop in the toilet, because this is something we have to help one another with as best we can.
I really don't know what causes some kids to do this, and I haven't found any definitive answers in my research, but I have some personal theories. For one, it's something they can control. Something substantial at that, and kids don't have too much they're in control of out there in the big wide world. So, consciously or more likely subconsciously, this could potentially be an empowerment thing. For another, like, as an adult, I'm sometimes overwhelmed by poop feelings. Like, the physical sensation is powerful and your butt sometimes has a mind of its own. Poop can be a lot to try to control. That's got to be especially challenging for a child. Or maybe kids just love poop so much that they don't want to flush it down a toilet. I don't rule it out, because they're a bunch of gross weirdos.
If you're having trouble getting your kid to sh*t and get off the pot, here's some solid advice from mamas who have been there:
"When my second daughter was having difficulty with the poop transition I had to get creative. She was very into a cowgirl episode of Bubble Guppies, so I made a fun song complete with mock lasso and giddy’up motions with the lyrics: 'Do you wanna go poop like a cowgirl, turn around on the potty like a cowgirl.' She would sit backward straddling the bowl and — ta-da! — worked like a charm. The position helped with coaxing the poop out and the absurdity of the whole thing really made her relax.
My first daughter I had to just allow to sh*t her pants for a month without judgement. Then, one day, she went and started going on the toilet herself."
[Writer's note: Literally everything about this answer is why I love Jillian and why you should, too.]
"For my oldest, now 6: bribing. Lots of bribing. Toys, candy, trips to Disneyland. We celebrated the heck out of her pooping and then we booked a stay at the Disneyland hotel for the weekend. She wasn’t fully poop trained until almost 4. My middle child was poop and pee potty trained in a week. He just did it. My oldest is just stubborn."
"I had to hug her to comfort her while she sat on the sh*tter. The alternative was her pooping in her underwear. This lasted a few months until one day I noticed she was gearing up to go and asking me to accompany her. I just waited until she started getting a bit more frantic and then right before she ran towards the bathroom I stripped her down so she had no choice but to hop on the toilet and poop."
"Time. Nothing worked. Rewards, bribes, punishment, tears (mine)... Eventually he just did it. He was fully poop trained just last month at 4 years 2 months... knock on wood. I probably just jinxed it."
"I feel like we tried everything and made little progress over a year plus... But then a few days after her third birthday she woke up and said, 'I want to wear undies today,' and she started going pee and poop on the potty."
"He was pee trained for a year but would poop in his pants every single day. He’d wait until I left the room and do it. I tried everything. We went on our annual vacation to Cape Cod and on the drive there I said, ‘We don’t have a washing machine in our house there, so you can’t poop in your pants’. As soon as we got there and for the entire week, he pooped in the potty. As we were driving home he said, ‘Mommy I can poop in my pants again because you have a washer at home.’ No child that ship has sailed."
[Writer's note: And this is why I love Kim's son and you should, too.]
"Begging was my strategy."
"My son was pee-trained for forever, but refused to poop in the potty. I was so frustrating. But when I told him he could use the tablet while he was on the toilet things changed. Screen time is a hot commodity in our house. I said if he sat on the potty and didn't poop — if he just tried — he could get five minutes, but if he pooped on the potty he could get 10. He was poop-trained in a couple weeks."
"The first time he pooped on the potty was when we were able to get his knees up nice and high. Think full squat. He never did it on a potty chair, it went straight into the big toilet. It took a few times of doing that for him to stop being scared of the big toilet. He started pooping on the potty several months after he started peeing on it."
"My son has been intermittently using the potty to poop and waiting until he's in a diaper at night and pooping then. Peeing is not a problem, except at night. He's just turned 3 so he's not 100 percent able to control the urge to go, but we're focusing on coaching him to sit on the potty and 'try' when we think he probably needs to go. To aid this endeavor we have taken to outright bribery: poop in the potty, get a lollipop. It has been reasonably effective, although I'm slightly concerned that he's going to develop some kind of Pavlovian response to the sight of a lollipop."
"My child was so stubborn she would hold in her poops and get super constipated. She didn't want to soil her underwear and she didn't want to go. It was awful. We ended up just trying again every few months. She was 3, almost 4, before she used the potty, but I can count the number of accidents she's had on one hand. So if it's a struggle just know, your kid won't go to college (or even kindergarten ) in diapers. It will be OK."
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