Caution: potty words ahead. This is a bit of a crappy post; we talk about all things potty training. So read no further unless you are okay with poopy talk.
If you are still here, yes, you read that right, poop training. It’s a thing, and unless you’ve been personally affected by this side of potty training, you may have never heard of it. For those of us who have had to poop train, it’s very real, and it can be about a zillion times more frustrating than just your average potty training.
While potty training my 2-year-old, she started picking up on it fast! I wasn’t surprised, she was a fast learner, and I was hopeful potty training would be a breeze. However, we found out rather quickly, that she wouldn't poop in the toilet. She would hold it. As long as it took. She'd hold it until we put a pull-up or diaper on her. Usually, at nap time or bedtime, she’d finally go. It was enough to drive any parent crazy.
I basically succumbed to her requests to poop in a diaper though, because I didn’t want her holding it. I have heard horror stories of constipated toddlers, and the issues that it can cause. So I avoided her holding it at all costs.
Waiting It Out
At my next opportunity, I consulted with her pediatrician about the problems we were experiencing, and he made it pretty clear that these types of problems were NORMAL! That alone gave me so much relief! He assured me she would use the bathroom when she was ready and that forcing it could cause more harm than good. So we pressed on...for a whole year.
That’s right, we put up with this for over a year! She wore underwear all day, she’d pee in the potty whenever she needed to, but would request a pull-up anytime she had to poop. We even were able to potty train her through the night during this time, but we never had much success with poop training. We would encourage her daily, and provide an array of incentives, but whenever it came down to it, she’d cry and plead to have a pull-up.
This time could have easily been described as frustrating and exhausting, but I really tried to have a positive attitude. She wasn’t ready, for whatever reason it was traumatizing for her, and I really didn't want to make it worse. We made it work, and always reminded her that she wasn’t in trouble if she went in a pull-up and that it was ok for her to figure it out on her own. Every time we’d meet with her pediatrician, he’d continue to tell us to wait it out, let her figure it out when she was ready, but to keep up the encouragement.
Finally, we had our breakthrough. She started talking more and more about going in the potty, and the prizes she’d get if she did it. She had gone once or twice in the past, but never with any consistency (pun intended). Once we had enough interest from her, I decided to hide the pull-ups for a day. I added a mild laxative to her juice and encouraged her regularly to use the bathroom.
Our rule of thumb was as long as she didn’t cry, we’d continue to keep the pull-ups from her. She protested several times during the day, but because of the laxative, there came a point where she couldn’t hold it, and we rushed her to the bathroom. We made a huge deal out of it, gave her all the incentives we’d promised, and did the same thing the next day.
We continued this method for 2 or 3 days, and then we didn’t need the laxative anymore. She’d still request a pull-up but we could talk her into using the potty with lots of praise and encouragement. As long as she wasn’t crying, we felt good about pushing her to use the potty. It took about 2 weeks for her to stop asking for a pull-up, but eventually using the potty became normal for her.
Here are some tips that were crucial for us:
Because our little girl had been using the potty to pee in for so long, she was comfortable peeing on any type of potty--a training potty, a regular toilet with or without a potty seat... pretty much whatever was available. We thought she’d be fine going number 2 on any seat as well. But using a training potty again was key. She could put her feet on the ground to feel more secure. As soon as we started using her training potty again, it was a game-changer!
I pretty much used every bribe on the planet--stickers, treats, toys--you name it--we tried it. Positive reinforcement is always the way to go! A small Paw Patrol toy as a reward was the way to our little girl's heart. We let her pick it out herself, and though it was a bit annoying taking her to the store every time she went--after a year of waiting--the payoff was worth it.
There were many times I was so frustrated, and completely over changing a dirty diaper every day, but I had to take a step back and realize that her little body and mind were not ready for it. I always tried to check the language I was using, and the message I was sending her. Making sure that I wasn’t telling her she was doing something wrong, or that she was any less because of a skill she hadn’t acquired yet. Using positive language through the tough times, and the exciting times will help keep the experience all-around positive moving forward.
Always consult your doctor
Always talk to your doctor first. They can help determine if there is a bigger problem at hand, or if other methods should be used. From my experience, our doctor always encouraged us to wait until she was ready, but every child is different, and your doctor may have a different insight on your child and their health.
I can’t even explain the relief it was to finally finish potty training, a year after starting. Our experience was much different than any of my mom friends, and I was discouraged many times. But, it’s been amazing to watch my child overcome something that was so difficult for her, and as silly as it might sound, I’m so proud of her ability to poop in the potty now!