Thursday, May 27, 2010

Potty Training: Scared to Poop

*Warning: TMI - if you can't handle the reality of mommy-hood and all the gross things that come with might want to skip this first paragraph...

Before I started potty training Little Miss a wise woman told me her experience training her son...he was so reluctant to poop on the potty, he would hold it until he was so constipated he couldn't get anything out. Which led to her scooping out his poo with a spoon...pretty traumatizing for both of them I'm sure. She wished she hadn't previously got upset at him for having accidents.

Once I heard this story I was bound and determined to never get upset at Little Miss if she pooped in her panties during training, or on the floor, or anywhere. We celebrate poop at our house! This is the way I looked at it - she already knew how to poop. She knew what it felt like. All I had to do was guide her to the potty and help her learn that that is where her poop should go and how nice it was to be clean.

Our potty training for poop started when Little Miss was about 2 months old. Every time she was pooping I'd hold her little hands, get our faces close together and grunt with her. Soon she was just grunting on her own to let me know she was pooping at 3 months! This was a tactic my grandmother used to teach her kids. By 6 months she would have them pooping in the potty so she didn't have to scrub out the cloth diapers. Brilliant. We never got that good. But at least I knew when she was pooping!

Teaching her to grunt and let me know when she was pooping was something we kept up and it made potty training a lot easier. She was pooping in the potty pretty consistently (as long as I was paying attention to the signals) from about 14 months on. It was the pee that took us awhile to master.

So that is my pooping experience.

What happens if your little one is scared or embarrased to poop in the potty and just plain refuses?

First - Check your attitude. If you're visibly grossed out, or upset when accidents happen - then don't expect your child to make the jump. You are your child's world. Your child lives to please you. And if pooping gets a negative reaction, they're going to hold or hide it.

Remember too that most children have a issues with pooping in the potty - you're not alone.

So once you are ready to keep a smile on your face as you scrub out poopy underwear and lovingly, but firmly, remind your child that "Oops, it was just an accident. That's okay. Let's try to get your poop in the potty next time where it belongs" - then things will start to change.

Second - Poop is awesome! Make your child believe that! Little Miss knows that poop means her body works and is healthy! She also understands if I tell her she can't have anymore cheese or bananas because it will make the poop hard to get out.

Consider the reasons why your child is having a hard time pooping on the potty...

Constipation - If your child is constipated do not force pooping on the potty until this problem is resolved. Make sure to balance his/her diet - not too much cheese or bananas and make sure there is lots of fiber! Buy the whole grain fish crackers instead of the regular. Buy whole grain bread instead of white. Eat apples with the skins on and make sure veggies are being eaten even if you have to sneak them in.

Embarrassment - Maybe your child is old enough to want privacy. If this is the case have him/her help you make a special pooping tent that goes over the potty. Or if your toilet is positioned right next to the shower curtain - use that. Tell them it's a special pooping curtain that makes them invisible so they can go poop without anyone seeing, but it only works if they sit on the potty.

Fear - Don't push them. Ease them into it. Make pooping be a really cool big girl/boy thing to do. Let them see you poop. Tell them everyone poops - mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, uncles, aunts - and they all put their poop in the potty. Flushing poop is the funnest, Little Miss still waves and says "Bye-bye poopy" when she flushes.

If it's the splash that scares your child - try laying some toilet paper in the water first, this will reduce the splash.

Never punish or humiliate. Be kind, loving, and gentle - but firm with reinforcing where the poop belongs. If there are accidents your child is more than likely scared of your reaction. Tell him/her that it's okay and you know they can do it next time! Have your child watch you place the poop from the diaper or panties into the potty and let them flush it away.

If your child is regular then get him/her on the potty for a potty party about the time poop is going to happen. Keep them on there longer with lots of fun games and books. Here are some books that might help the situation...


  1. did you just recommend that bunny pooping one? i'm nervous! :) i'm sure kids think it's hilarious, though. i'm also a little nervous about "free the poop", but whatever works!

  2. Great tips. I read a book that had a few more.

  3. So true! whenever I would get frustrated with Emma for pooping in her panties we would back track and almost have to start over. your attitude really makes a bug difference.

  4. Thanks for including Perry Poops, are family favorite, even though Sadie was not pleased with it. Dianna-you'll be happy to know Perry Poops is a french book and we own both the english and the french versions.

    I think it's nice to share potty training books. It could cost a lot to get one or two or multiple potty books, I lent mine to Barbara.

    Welly...don't know what happened there. I would have said he was fully potty trained. Could go anywhere, at anyone potty, #1's or #2's it didn't matter. All of a sudden last week, he started messing in his pants. And he didn't give any sings. He usually would give some kind of nervous, I gotta go sign, but nothing. He's had maybe 6 or 7 poo accidents now, and I'm so frusterated, cause I know he can do it, he's been doing it for a long time now and would even wipe his own bum.

  5. Great tips on potty training. I have 2 kids and when it came down to teaching them potty training or any life skills for that matter. The # 1 thing to have is patience, love and understanding...everything else will follow.


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