There are some people that won’t talk about certain when it comes to potty training. I’m not one of those people.
My youngest son potty trained a few months ago and for the most part it was a very easy process. Then, things started changing. He started having frequent accidents, both pee and poop, and we were on the verge on considering diapers again. I was so DONE with washing 5 pairs of underwear, shorts, and sheets a day.
The pee accidents stopped again and he started going on the potty for pees but the poops in the pants kept happening. He would walk up to me, smile, and say “poop” while pointing to his pants. That shit is NOT funny (ok, so it is a little but I tried not to laugh) so it was a bit hard to keep my cool. I wanted to scream at him “why the hell do you keep pooping in your pants” but I would breathe deeply and say “You had an accident?! Poop goes in the potty, not your pants. Let’s go clean you up.”
Part of me is thrilled he is pooping, pants, floor, diaper, whatever. After almost a year of dealing with his withholding issues and being his “poop doula” whenever it comes easily and pain free I’m thrilled. The other part, notsomuch.
So what do you do when your child prefers to poop anywhere but the toilet? I’ve heard of toddlers who demand diapers to poop in, or who go into a corner to secretly poop. It seems to be a thing, right?
When Everett does poop on the potty, either by asking to get on and go, or when it just happens when he is on the toilet to go pee, it is like a straight up awards ceremony. I’m clapping, screaming, dancing, and waving my arms like a mad woman. It is like the potty dance on steroids. He can’t get enough praise for doing his duty on the toilet.
We marvel at the size, the length, the smell…. yeah… it is gross…. but my little boy does take pride in his poops. The bigger, the better. Though he also marvels at the “baby” poops. Even big brother comes in and makes a big deal of it, which Everett loves.
Making a child feel ashamed that they are having accidents is definitely not the way to go. As hard as it can be not to be mad when you find a toddler running around with poops dropping out of his underwear and having to slowly retrace his steps to make sure all poops are found, it won’t help to yell or punish.
This week we’ve had a good couple of days following last week and the many poop accidents, including the three on the floor on the carpet in his room. I think we are getting through the accident phase and he is back to notifying me of when he has to poop and he seems to be looking forward to it.
How we got past the phase:
Consistency in reaction: When Everett would have an accident I was clear and consistent when I spoke to him about the issue. I never raised my voice but maintained eye contact and told him it was not the place to poop. Even though there were some comedic moments in this run (the poop dropping from the pants leg was one of them) I kept any laughter inside. Laughing encourages the continued behavior.
Results in action: I took the poop from his underwear or from the floor and flushed it and made him go with me so that he saw it should always go in the potty.
Privacy: When he began showing that he needed to poop I had a hunch privacy was part of his routine. I stayed outside and left the door cracked- close enough to be near in case he needed me but far enough that I couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see me. I believe this part was crucial to getting back on track. Your child may need help getting onto the potty but after you should see if giving them space will help them relax enough to go.
Patience: It can (and did) often take a while for the action to happen. Rather than asking over and over if he was done I decided to just wait for him to call out. Sometimes I left him with a small board book or other potty friendly toy while he waited for things to move.
Praise: As stated above the successful poop on the potty is a pretty big deal around here! I know my son enjoyed graphic dramatic retellings of his massively large poop, and reveled in the attention. When poops happen on the floor a poop on the potty is worth the party.
I think we’ve had it easy compared to some kids I’ve heard about going through the same problem. If you have an experience with it please share how you overcame it in the comments. It may help others reading this!
UPDATE: My son (the pants pooper) is now almost 5 and has been a successful potty pooper since right after this post. I won’t say it was easy but we made it through. He is now a regular pooper (2x a day!) but still needs wiping help. Hopefully all of you reading this will find a way to make it through your current struggle with this same, very annoying problem. If you solved your problem please leave a comment with tips to help another family!