Potty training my son was not hard at all.
It sort of spoiled me, probably, for potty training. (Which is funny, because everyone told me that girls are so much easier to train than boys.)
Potty training my daughter, on the other hand, was a little more challenging, because she WOULD NOT poop on the potty.
We trained both kids at about 2.5, using the cold turkey no-training-pants method.
(I am a HUGE proponent of getting it DONE when it comes to potty training!)
My son was trained completely in 2 weeks, and my daughter got the hang of peeing on the potty 100% of the time in less than a week… but three and a half weeks later we STILL could not get her to even try to poop on the potty.
I know 3.5 weeks isn’t very long in potty training land for a lot of parents, but I believe that’s because many parents confuse their toddler about toilet training by being wishy-washy.
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We NEVER “took a break” from training or put a diaper back on after we started, and I honestly believe that’s why I’ve never had one of those 6 month training marathons.
Even if we had to go out, which I tried not to do until training was complete, we did not use diapers. If we HAD to go out, I would just take extra clothes, put the potty in the trunk, and put a puppy piddle pad on the car seat under my kid to prevent having to wash the seat in case of accidents. (Piddle pads just barely make my list of the only potty training supplies you need.)
When I was complaining about the pooping situation at 3.5 weeks into potty training, that’s what friends and family told me to do – “just take a break, maybe she’s not ready”?
Or “Just let her poop in a diaper!”
I wasn’t about to give up that easily, because I knew my daughter was mentally capable of doing this – she just needed the right encouragement and motivation, and it’s my job as a parent to figure out what that is!
What we were doing wasn’t working.
What we were doing was wearing normal big girl underpants, and getting 1 treat for pee, 2 for poop.
What was HAPPENING was that she was successfully peeing on the potty 100% of the time, enjoying those single treats and then pooping in her pants and getting downright heartbroken about it – without ever mentioning to us that she HAD to poop!
The one simple thing that had to be changed for her to poop on the potty
I thought about the situation and realized that something had to change about her pooping circumstances.
She KNEW she didn’t like the way poop felt in her pants, she KNEW she wanted to poop on the potty because that gets 2 treats… but she wasn’t GETTING there, or even trying to get there.
It occurred to me that maybe having underwear on gave her body that same sense of “safe to poop” as diapers did… (the main reason I don’t think training pants are remotely useful)!
So, we took away her underwear and her pants.
We FURTHER changed the circumstances that she was used to pooping in.
Entirely pants-less for three days, and she had the pooping-on-the-potty-situation figured out in two and half.
She did poop on the floor a few times (I think 3 or 4 times?) and that was really sad for her. And for me. hahaha.
Every day we started naked, she would ask for pants, and I would tell her that she could have underpants once she put a poop in the potty.
We also ended treats for peeing on the potty – this was a month in to the process, and we figured maybe we better up the ante for getting a treat!
Now she got treats AND underpants when she had a successful poop!
She did have accidents for a couple more weeks, but I think that’s to be expected. When she had an accident, we’d go back to no pants or underpants, until she pooped in the potty. The accidents didn’t last long!
We also never shamed her (or her brother) about accidents.
When responding to accidents, don’t get frustrated – even if it’s been a month, and ESPECIALLY if the child is frustrated themselves – just stay neutral and say, “this feels yucky because poop shouldn’t get on your legs/ bum. If you put the poop in the potty, it won’t get on your legs! As soon as you feel like a poop wants to come out, run to the potty – and if you get some poop in the potty you can have TWO treats!”
Celebrate each accomplished trip with a huge dance party and lots of praise!
Not every training tactic will work for every child – spend some time trying to determine what the problem is for YOUR child
For my baby, it seemed like the circumstance in which she was pooping was still too “comfortable” – so she wasn’t forced to try something new.
For other kids, they might be afraid of a big toilet – for those kids, make sure you have a tiny child sized potty available. It can also be super hard to “push” with your feet just dangling, so be aware of that! (I wasn’t at first.)
Some kids don’t know how to “push” with their tummy. Help them understand that they have to do this – roaring like a monster or coughing can help them engage their stomach and you can explain that when we roar or cough, that’s the way it’s supposed to feel “with our tunny” when we are pushing out a poop!
If your kid seems to be afraid to try to poop, discuss this A LOT and in only positive ways. TELL THEM over and over and over again it’s not scary:
“It can seem scary to try new things, but pooping on the potty isn’t scary at all, plus I will be with you and I will hold your hand! I (or daddy, or big sibling) poop on the potty all the time and it isn’t scary!”
Kids need a lot of reassurance!
Of course, be aware also of painful poops. If your kiddo is constipated, that can make toilet training for poop REALLY hard – make sure they eat a diet high in veggies + fruits (here’s 10 ways to get your toddler eating more veggies) and make sure they are drinking PLENTLY of water!
(I KNEW my daughter was not constipated because we eat a very poop-promoting diet and when she did poop – on the floor – it was soft and came out easily. Be aware of what the situation is for YOUR child!)
Be patient and keep pressing forward
For developmentally normal children, I think the trick is just to be patient, TRY NEW THINGS, and keep pressing on.
If what you’re doing isn’t working (after a couple of weeks) try a new thing.
Stay home as much as humanly possible and make potty training your SOLE FOCUS.
Don’t get angry or frustrated about it – that’s only going to make successful training more elusive.
If you’ve found an awesome “trick” that you tried that got your kiddo over the potty pooping hump, share it with me!