I was driving home from work today and as I motored along Westlake Ave — a busy Seattle street that hugs the west side of Lake Union — I passed a man walking two Boston terriers who were poised mid-process in the act of taking a long and thoughtful shit. Two dogs, the exact same size, the exact same breed (dogs whose faces have always reminded me of Andy Rooney), humped over in unison in that vaguely humiliating dog way, pumping out what were surely identically-shaped turds. And there was this guy holding two leashes strained in two different directions, who was not standing there wishing for death or crawling into the bushes to escape the snickering glances from the cars passing by, but was stoically digging out two plastic bags from his pocket, ready to scoop up and presumably dispose of his dogs’ feces.

Sometimes I am thunderstruck by the inherent goodness of people, you know? Not always, but sometimes.


I have been trying to stop myself from writing about potty training because while I feel perfectly fine about discussing baby poop, I feel a bit more uncomfortable talking about 3-year-old poop, but I cannot help myself tonight: DEAR GOD THE POTTY TRAINING IS KILLING ME. I am convinced we have fucked it up in every possible way, and even though I swore I would never backtrack once we embarked on this oh-so-rewarding journey, after a recent weekend of our kid holding it until he was in pure misery, we pretty much put Riley back in pull-ups and stopped dragging him to the potty every ten minutes and man, I sure don’t know WHAT the fuck to do at this point. He poops at night and during naps, and no amount of bribery, explanations, supportive discussions, or outright threats is making a difference. Tonight he did something I guess I’d call a shart on our couch and I am no stranger to cleaning up disgusting substances but a plastic bag and a Boston terrier on a busy street is sounding FAR more preferable to dealing with someone’s stubborn refusal to crap in an area designed for crapping, and HELP HELP HELP. Is there something proactive I should be doing at this point? Or sit back and let it be for now? Seriously, any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Home life in CRAZYTOWN:


114 Responses to “Goodness gracious”

  1. clarabella on September 18th, 2008 10:08 pm

    Gah! No comments yet on my feed. I have nothing to say about potty training as mine is 16 months old and still in diapers and will be until he’s 10 if it’s as terrifying as I hear from you and other sources.
    (That said, I saw your twitter earlier and cringed at the idea of SHIT ON THE COUCH. OMG! I am not helping.)
    However, that video of your boys sure is crazy adorable, and I hope that mitigates some of the shittyness (pun intended). Keep on keeping on, lady.

  2. My Buddy Mimi on September 18th, 2008 10:08 pm

    We went four months trying to get our daughter to poop on the potty, and that was after she was successfully potty trained in terms of peeing. We tried everything under the sun, but what finally worked was outright bribery. We offered her a trip to Disneyland (we live in LA, so it is not THAT far away) if she would poop on the potty every time for a week. We are going next Tuesday. Let’s hope she doesn’t stop…

  3. Becca on September 18th, 2008 10:13 pm

    Ha! I have two Boston terriers and I have to say, I have been that man on Westlake so many times! The two silly beasts off in different directions “taking care of business” and me not knowing which way to go to clean up…but compared to potty training a 3 year old. I’ll take the Boston route any day.

    As for Riley, I may not be the best advisor (being childless and all) but I was a nanny for 5 years for the same family with five children (I KNOW, crazy people right!) The youngest boy did the same thing with refusing to get into potty training and the only real solution was to let him do it at his pace. Hard as it was to continue to clean up a 3 year old’s diapers, he kind of had to find his own comfort level with pooping in the potty. He’ll get there when he feels ready. Just hang in there with him. :)

  4. BethanyWD on September 18th, 2008 10:24 pm

    I have heard (you probably have, too) that boys are tougher to train than girls. Yes, that SUCKS.

    And, since you asked, I wrote about my experience potty training my kids here (maybe it will help??):


  5. Mama Ritchie on September 18th, 2008 10:27 pm

    Oh man, C is going to be 4 (4!) in mid December and we are STILL dealing with the pooping. I thought we were done the day he said, “Mommy, Charlie go poop now on potty” – he sat down on the big potty and took a giant dump. I was coaching him through it as if he was giving birth and I hadn’t felt so excited since the day I got engaged (I would say since the day I found out I was pregnant but honestly I was just scared shitless). I was like, wow, well, it was a struggle, but all in all, not so bad.

    He didn’t poop again on the potty until 6 weeks later. We’ve tried bribery – both with candy (m&m’s) and toys (Thomas trains – those fuckers are expensive). I bought a bunch of books on it and two in particular worked well – Once Upon a Potty and Where’s the Poop (a lift-the-flap book where under one flap on each page is a little drawing of feces). The novelty wore off. I tried special big boy pants. I’ve even resorted to shaming him (I guess you’re still a baby then – god I suck).

    He would hold it and hold it until once he actually made himself sick. So I am now giving him Miralax to make his poop soft – cuz he’s afraid it’s going to hurt – and I let him pick where he wants to poop (always the diaper). He has gone 3 times on the potty. I’m hoping #4 will come soon.

    I think Riley will poop on the potty when he’s ready. The big trick is not going down the mommy shame spiral every time he doesn’t. I know it won’t mean anything to say this, cuz it doesn’t when people say it to me, but he’s not resisting because you did something to fuck up his progress. He’s just not ready.

    God, give me a Master’s in Poop! On second thought…

  6. niknak on September 18th, 2008 10:31 pm

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now and really enjoy it.

    Let me ask you a question. Do you really read all the responses you get to your dailey blog?



  7. Nicole on September 18th, 2008 11:00 pm

    We had the same thing with Ella- she had a total fear of doing a poop on the potty and since we were halfway between diapers and panties, I wanted to KILL myself. My MIL did give me a little trick that moved things along a bit faster (although it wasn’t any sort of miracle). She would make Ella wash out her underpants in the toilet and also wash off her own butt in the bathtub, ie rub the soap on and rub the poop off as I sprayed the water. Ella absolutely hated that but I was adament. I didn’t mind if I had to keep changing poopy diapers but I drew the line at cleaning up shitty pants and since she totally knew how to hold it when she peed, it didn’t seem unreasonable to expect her to either wait for a diaper to poop or else do it on the potty.

  8. Robyn on September 18th, 2008 11:04 pm

    Seriously, we can NOT control when a child decides to poop on the potty. It has nothing at all to do with parenting.

    It’s the one thing THEY can control, for as long as they like. What I found with my two boys, if you can handle it, is the fact that they don’t like the feeling of the poop in thier diaper. They’d want to be changed right away…and I’d be all, “Okay, in a minute”, and “Yup, just gotta do this first” and hold off for as long as you can each time. He might reconsider his “control issues” and decide the potty is a better deal.

  9. Kristi on September 18th, 2008 11:15 pm

    Well, my son was a perfect Virgo to potty-train because he hated having his clothes dirty (but even then, it didn’t happen AT ALL until he was 3 1/2.) My daughter (who is almost 4) has been a total nightmare. She was in pullups until 3 months ago when I realized, oh shit preschool starts in 3 months! First, she was awesome with the pee because I bribed her w/M&Ms – wanted NOTHING to do w/poop on potty. Then, she figured out poop on potty but argued with me every time I said she had to sit on the potty for pee – so she just started peeing everywhere. My poor carpet has more kid pee on it than dog pee – and that’s really sayin’ something. Anyway, we may have turned a corner in the last week, but it’s too soon to call it. So basically, I have no advice.

    Oh, also sometimes people totally pull out the dog poop bags when other people are looking with no intention whatsoever of picking up said dog poop when noone is watching (not that I have done this).

  10. laughing mommy on September 18th, 2008 11:24 pm

    I have an almost 3 year old daughter who I’m potty training right now, so I feel your pain.

    When we potty trained my older daughter she did great with pee, but didn’t want to poop on the potty. We ended up bribing her with cheapy toys like Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop. We put the new toys in a basket on the bathroom counter top and told her if she pooped she could have a new toy. (She referred to these toys as “poop toys” which is just all kinds of wrong.)

    But, it worked. For a while. Then she decided to just hold her poop FOREVER. We finally had to take her to the doctor who gave her a stern lecture and a mild laxative. We’ve had no problems since.

    Good luck to you! (And to me since I’m in the potty training trenches too.)

  11. Hanh on September 18th, 2008 11:27 pm

    My guess would be that kids are afraid of the toilet because it’s sized for adults. I mean, imagine if you have the ass of a toddler, the gaping hole in the seat looks like something you can entirely fall into. Maybe there’s some kind of “training seat” cushion that you can put over the toilet to make it seem more little-person friendly? Idunno, just a wild guess.

  12. Reese on September 18th, 2008 11:29 pm

    My daughter is three and we have been doing the potty training thing with her off and on, no lie, since January. It’s now September and she seems to be finally getting it. I think a big part of it is the kid’s readiness factor. If they aren’t really ready, nothing will work. I’d just let it be for now if I were you.

  13. Trina on September 18th, 2008 11:36 pm

    Take the FREE potty training class at Seattle Children’s hospital. It was the most informative and the nurse who teaches it gives you her phone number to call when you need help. Here’s the link http://www.seattlechildrens.org/child_health_safety/classes_events/potty_training.asp

    Also, it is totally a control thing. 3 year olds feel out of control 99% of the time. This is something they can control and they do.

  14. Lesley on September 19th, 2008 12:47 am

    The HaHaHa man and his squawking cheering section (tenaciously cute D) is awesome.

    Btw, I don’t know if America gets this show but damn it’s hilarious. No Heroics.

  15. Rachel on September 19th, 2008 1:13 am

    My son got the whole peeing-in-the-potty thing down at around his third birthday. Six months of poopy Thomas underwear later, he figured out that he was supposed to poop there, too. It was a very, very long six months. We tried bribery, catching him as he was about to go, making him try every half hour, admonishing him gently about where big boys do their pooping, etc. I unfortunately don’t remember what finally did it. I think he was just finally ready.

    I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear, right? Sorry.

  16. Jen on September 19th, 2008 3:00 am

    If he is pooping during the night and during naps just put him in a pull-up and let him poop then. I have 3 kids and my middle one who is 5 and does both pee and poop on the potty stills wears a pull up to bed b/c he is such a heavy sleeper. The pooping on the potty takes time and he will get it. You don’t want him to hold it in so long b/c the more it hurts coming out the more often he will hold it in and the longer it will take to get him to go on the potty……hope this helps!

  17. Jennifer on September 19th, 2008 3:22 am

    The video is awesome. Good luck with the potty thing, my girls aren’t old enough yet but it’s just around the corner and I’m terrified!

  18. Danielle on September 19th, 2008 3:24 am

    I hate to say it, but I think you have to just back off. I know you don’t want to. You want your kid to crap in the crapper for christ’s sake! But he is going to do it when he is ready. At least he is going in the pull-ups. Just deal with it. I don’t mean to sound harsh though, just my opinion. Hang in there!!!!!!!

  19. Jennie on September 19th, 2008 3:44 am

    I would love to offer some helpful words of advice, but I’m lucky like you and dealing with similar issues potty training my 2.5 year old. And it’s making me CRAZY! So really, I just wanted to say good luck, I feel your pain, and at some point they have to start going on the potty consistently… right? Please jeebus let that be right.

  20. justmouse/chaosmomm on September 19th, 2008 4:03 am

    i wish i could offer you advice on the potty training, but it’s been waaay too long since i had to deal with any of that.

    i will comment on the doggy poop bags. i dunno if it’s different where i live or not, but it’s something like a $250 fine if you get caught NOT picking up the dog poop. i am mortified if i forget to bring a poop bag (or 3) with me on our walks!! i’ve even been known to go home, get a back, and go BACK to pick it up! (but not always – especially if it’s on that cranky old guy’s lawn who tried to get our cars towed!). and seriously, if i ever catch the guy who keeps letting his little dog shit in front of our house and doesn’t pick it up, i am going to run out there with a baggy, pick it up and THROW it at his HEAD!!

  21. Eric's Mommy on September 19th, 2008 4:12 am

    We were in the same exact boat. It was right around Eric’s 4th birthday that he finally started to poop on the potty. We thought he would never do it! He would hold it forever, until he produced a baseball sized turd, in his pants. We didn’t even bother with the training pants, we bought really cheap diapers hoping that they would be uncomfotable and make him want to be out of diapers and use the potty.

    I also felt awful, like I was doing something wrong. Why were everybody else’s kids pooping on the potty?

    Then he just started doing it. Out of the blue one day he pooped on the potty. He had done it a few times before but would then just revert to pooping in his pants again.

    Let me tell you, it was pretty embarassing to pick up your kid from preschool and he is running around outside holding his ass crying “I pooped, I pooped!”

    I don’t have any tricks or tips, we didn’t use any. He just finally decided to do it on his own. I have no idea what made him do it. I have a feeling Riley will catch on soon.

    Hang in there, I went through the exact same thing.

  22. beach on September 19th, 2008 4:17 am

    Shart on the couch…..I just laughed OUT LOUD and sprayed coffee all over my keyboard….thanks Linda!

  23. schmutzie on September 19th, 2008 4:21 am
  24. warcrygirl on September 19th, 2008 4:35 am

    Hoo boy do I know what you’re talking about. It sounds like he has the mechanics down pretty good (except for the sleeping), it could be a control issue at this point. If I were in your shoes I’d put him back into Big Boy underwear (that phrase always reminded me of Bob’s Big Boy. Yeah, I know) and tell him he can crap in his pants ALL HE WANTS. MOMMY DOES NOT CARE. And whatever you do, DO NOT CRAP IN THE POTTY! If it is a control issue he will do his best to do the exact opposite of what you ask. A variation of this tactic worked with my youngest; with my oldest it was a modesty issue and since he wasn’t really good with verbal communication at that point we just weren’t getting the message.

    Good luck!

  25. robin on September 19th, 2008 4:43 am

    My son is 3.5 and we are in potty training hell too. Everyone keeps telling me that he’ll do it when he’s ready. I have no choice but to believe that. I’m hoping it’s true..he’s GOT to be potty trained for pre-k. We’ve tried everything and he just outright refuses. He’s one of the last kids in his daycare class to be in pull-ups.

    Last weekend I found a turd under the dining room table. The running around naked thing DID NOT WORK either. He pooped, but not in the potty, obviously. Then, just yesterday, he went in the bedroom, shut the doors, a sure sign he was going to poop. He wasn’t wearing anything so I followed him in there to encourage him to use the big boy potty. He sat down on his ‘thinking chair’ and proceeded to pee while just looking at me. I was speechless.

    He’s stubborn, just like his father, so I am praying, PRAYING one day he’ll just make up his mind to just do it already and we’ll be done with it.

    Good luck.

  26. Beth on September 19th, 2008 4:50 am

    No advice, but Mia pees in the potty and tells me when she has to poop and I put a pull-up on her. Not ideal, but it works and she’s had so many issues we’re unwilling to push her too hard.

  27. autumn on September 19th, 2008 4:54 am

    I have no advice because I’m in the same boat. My daughter just turned three and I have tried everything. she seems to be a little confused about the process because RIGHT AFTER she goes in her diaper she’ll say she has to use the potty and then go in the bathroom, take her diaper off, throw it in the trash and THEN sit on the potty. NOT HELPFUL! I feel like a miserable failure as a parent and my husband keeps saying we must have missed our chance which throws me into a total panic. I’m not glad that you’re struggling but it IS nice to know that I’m not the only parent left in the world with a not-yet-potty-trained toddler.

  28. Mika on September 19th, 2008 5:05 am

    I had the same problem with my 3 year old son and found this to be a helpful guide: http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/pa/pa_btrainin_hhg.htm
    Especially the part about no more reminders: though that was the hardest to for me to remember to (not) do!!

  29. Gina on September 19th, 2008 5:10 am

    I don’t have any advice beyond don’t stress about it. My son was stubborn and refused to poop on the potty. We stressed out and worried and fretted that he would never be able to go to school (and also – babies poop, but once they get to be 3 or 4? It becomes shit and who wants to change that?) Anyway – not to terrify you into thinking that Riley will be a stubborn kid like mone and not do it until the week he turns FOUR, but the lesson I leanred is that it’s not worth getting too uypset about it. They will do it when they are ready. My son is now a perfectly normal, well-adjusted 11 year old. And all kids are different – my daughter basically taught herself at age 2.

  30. Lizzybee on September 19th, 2008 5:11 am

    We have had similar issues with Moose pooping on the potty. But recently we seem to have turned a corner.
    What worked for us? Bribery of course.
    I figured out the approximate normal times he goes poo. Sorry if this is TMI. Once is in the morning, shortly after breakfast.
    Well a Saturday morning dawned clear and bright one weekend, and it occurred to me to tell him we would turn on Disney only after he pooped in the potty. That day? He pooped in his pants. He was very upset when I told him we would not be watching and Mickey that day. But I was strong, and followed through with the threat. The next day I told him the same thing, and miraculously, he immediately went to the potty and took a massive dump. It was very gratifying. I gave him one Teddy Graham as reward, and then we settled down to watch Disney for a bit.
    Now this isn’t to say we haven’t had our accidents, but this definitely turned a big corner for us. I would venture to say that this worked really well for us, and you could try it too!

  31. Marie Green on September 19th, 2008 5:12 am

    Sorry, no time now to read the other comments, I’ll have to come back later and do that.

    I’d say that sometimes potty training becomes less about poop and more about control, and 3 year olds LOVE to feel in control. My guess is that he’s not pooping in the potty because he’s too focused on the power struggle.

    If you think this might be the case, I’d just stop training all together and wait a few months. Maybe if it’s HIS idea… then again, who knows with 3 year olds!

    Good luck!

  32. ELC on September 19th, 2008 5:19 am

    Thank you for making me laugh while simultaneously scaring the crap out of me for the potty training that will start in my house all too soon. Also – your video? Hearing your kids laughing made my baby laugh – so thanks again.

  33. Jen on September 19th, 2008 5:21 am

    Just take a deep breath and give the potty training a rest for now. I know it is a really stressful situation, and you know that Riley is feeling it too. Just use the pull-ups, for like a week. What worked for my son was, all together now, HIS DECISION. “You can choose when you want to poop in the potty. Are you choosing to act like a big boy? YAY!!” etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    Also, I know it’s getting colder and you live in town so this might not work, but we let my son run around outside with no pants for hours at a time and he potty trained really easily.

  34. Melanie on September 19th, 2008 5:24 am

    I was exactly like you with my first. Stressed myself out to the max. Pushed, pushed, pushed the whole this issue daily. Everyone always told me she’ll do it when she’s ready, but it was REALLY hard to believe. Well, she did end being potty trained….JUST before starting Junior Kindergarden a month before her 4th birthday. But to this day she still accidents, night wetting etc. (she’s 7)

    So with my second, I did not bring it up at all I let her ask to use the potty (which was about 2-3 months after I would have started pushing the issue with her). Just this year she started Juniour Kindergarden at 3 just like her big sister. But she has not had an accidnet in 6 months, not one, not even at night!

    I can’t say for sure that it was the difference in approach. But I can say it was SOOOO much easier.

    And who the hell made the “Skinny People” remark??? WOW how shallow is that shit!

  35. divrchk on September 19th, 2008 5:33 am

    I’ve potty trained both of my kids and they were very different. My son, now 5 1/2, was like yours… He hated to poop in the potty. He would hold it for days. What we did was send him to school in underpants and he’d poop, in a diaper, when he was home and asked for it. It wasn’t worth us suffering with him holding the poop in. He would poop in some weird corner of the house.

    As he got older, we started making him poop, in the diaper, in the bathroom. Then, we had him poop, in the diaper, sitting on the toilet. Finally, my husband cut a hole in the diaper and, somehow, he didn’t notice and the poop fell into the toilet. This was the turning point.

    I never thought this would work. My son is smart – reading and writing in preschool, etc… He was close to 4 by the time poop wasn’t a huge deal in our house.

    If you think he won’t poop in his underpants if you give him a diaper (we used generic diapers for poop instead of pullups because they are CHEAP) when he wants one, go with it…

  36. Jessamyn on September 19th, 2008 5:59 am

    I haven’t read all of the comments up there, but I have read several of them, and Mama Ritchie’s situation is a lot like ours. Katie is four and a HALF as of early September, and she still will not regularly poop in the f’g toilet. She requests a diaper. We have tried everything. I’ve done the shaming, I’ve tried praising, I’d told her I had confidence that I knew she would do it (because she seemed afraid she wouldn’t be able to), I’ve told her that I was afraid she would never do it (because she said she didn’t WANT to do it), I’ve told her she had to do it for school, we’ve done potty charts, we’ve gotten “poop stickers” just for pooping only, we’ve offered to sit in the bathroom and tell her stories while she sits on the toilet, we’ve cut a hole out of the back of the diaper so she could wear a diaper AND poop in the toilet simultaneously, we’ve tried ignoring it, we’ve told her we’re not going to say anything else about it (but if she does go she’ll get a new toy or other reward).
    We have given her fruit and prunes and Miralax. Oh, and I’ve also retreated to my room in despair while Geoff cleans her up, and he’s done the same with me. We’ve also tried dealing with all of it as emotionlessly as possible, though I admit I am bad at that. She pooped in the toilet two days in a row LAST August. And between then and this month, probably 5 times in the toilet. And now suddenly, this month, she has pooped in the toilet probably 6 or 7 times this month alone, once completely and totally voluntarily, and we keep thinking we’re out of the woods – but then last night she wouldn’t poop anywhere but a diaper again.

    And I can not say with more agreement that potty training is FUCKING KILLING ME. It has made me feel like a terrible parent, it has made me feel like she is a terrible child (which I feel guilty about feeling). It has made me wonder if she needs a doctor’s intervention. It has made me ashamed of her and of me – especially when we’re travelling and staying with friends or family and I have to keep going off to clean up poop. One day I’ll think that possibly we’ll be done with this any day now (she pees just fine and has had probably one accident in a year and a half), and the next day I envision that we’ll still be dealing with this a year from now. And many people have commented on how nice the age spread b/w Katie and Annabel is “because you don’t have two in diapers at once.” And inside, I laugh maniacally.

    So I’m just saying. I feel your pain. And I wish for a quick end to the training in your house. And I don’t believe it’s you. And I am feeling sane right now, so I believe that one day this will end for both of us. I also believe that you will probably always know of at least one kid, my kid, who was older than probably anybody else’s kid you know when she finally started pooping in the toilet every time she needed to poop. (What do I win?)

  37. Felicia on September 19th, 2008 6:16 am

    We have not reached the potty training stage yet. (Good God, what do you do at night? Let them get up and go by themselves? Have them wake you up?)

    However my sister in law did with my neice. What worked for her to pee in the potty was letting her go pants-less for a week. But she was happy to poop on the floor or in her underwear. Nothing seemed to work. What finally worked was going to preschool. Really like the others have said it just comes in its own time.

  38. JennB on September 19th, 2008 6:19 am

    We were very, VERY lucky that our 3-1/2 year old potty-trained herself for the most part. Since the baby’s been here, she’s doing a little regressing, but we’re telling her that once the pull-ups are gone, there will be no more and she’d best remember how to hold it until she’s at a potty and wait until it’s all out. I mean, if there are no diapers, there are no diapers.

    I think it takes longer for boys, anyway. They’re growing into men, and like to sit in their own product and stew in it for a while. (You know, how men like to share their farts? “Hey, did you smell that??)

    That said, my daughter did deliberately fart in my face last night while I was reading her stories. So, maybe it’s just a kid thing. Then she laughed her ass off. Nice.

  39. nonsoccermom on September 19th, 2008 6:21 am

    I say sit back and let it be. In my opinion (and experience), little boys can’t be potty trained until they are good and ready. It is a lot less stress for you in the end if you just wait him out. My son was slightly past his 4th birthday before he could be reliably trusted to poop only in the potty. We had tried EVERYTHING by the time he was 3.5 or so and finally just gave up and sure enough, one day he just came home potty-trained and that was that. It becomes a power struggle, I think, and in my son’s case we just had to make it out to not be a big deal. Peer pressure will get to him eventually…

    GOOD LUCK. I have SO been there.

  40. superpoopers on September 19th, 2008 6:30 am

    A few thoughts.

    1) I have read that if you put warm water in the potty before you sit them on it, it will help them pee and poo. Brilliant when you think about it – I wish I’d heard it earlier.

    2) My kids need time to poop, even though they want to hop off the potty after they pee. Every day at 3 different times (based on their body cycles) I have them sit longer on the potties and leave the room. They didn’t like this idea at first, but got used to it and now they don’t mind at all. It ended some occasional constipation issues we were getting.

    3) My kids love to use the toilet to pee, but they prefer to use the low-to-the-ground potties for poop. I guess they feel more secure that way. Might be worth a try.

    Good luck!

  41. Stacy on September 19th, 2008 6:31 am

    My method for training my 2 1/2 year old boy was two fold…
    First, his daycare was amazing.
    Second, I stocked up on dinosaurs, disney “cars” and stickers. When he went potty at ALL in the toilet, he got a sticker. When he had a total of five stickers, he got to pick a dino or a car. If he went “big stinkies” he got two stickers. Eventually, I incorporated cheerios into the mix. I would let him put (literally) a big handful of cheerios into the potty, and say “Hey MISTER, Don’t make big stinkies on those cheerios. HUH? WHAT? YOU’RE MAKING BIG STINKIES ON THOSE CHEERIOS? OH MY GOODNESS!” and then follow up with giving him the two stickers for his “chart.” Eventually, he put two and two together..and realized (by some random act of god) that Mommy REALLY liked when he went poopies. To this day, everytime he makes “big stinkies” he gets super excited and says LOOK MAMA, I DID IT! (except now, I don’t need to give him stickers or a toy).

    Good luck…May the potty-training force be with you!!!

  42. birdgal on September 19th, 2008 6:32 am

    I’m probably going to get some shit (HA!) for this, but we had to go, uh, an unorthodox route for getting our almost three year old daughter to poop on the potty. She had been peeing on the potty without incident for about 3-4 months but REFUSED to poop anywhere other than a pullup. She would ASK me for the pull up so she could do her business (she was wearing underwear most of the day). We tried everything to get her to poop on the potty and nothing worked. One day, both my husband and I were fed up and told her she only had a certain number of pullups left and when they ran out, she couldn’t use them anymore. When we got to the end of the package, she proceeded to hold it in and make herself (and us) miserable. So, we decided to do what the doctor would have to do if the holding it in went on any longer–we gave her an enema. It was SUCH an unpleasant experience that she did not want to repeat it–plus she saw that pooping in the potty wasn’t really that scary after all. Ever since, she’s been pooping in the potty like a champ :). Not saying you need to give Riley an enema, but it’s just what worked for us, and trust me, we REALLY didn’t want to have to go there!

  43. kim on September 19th, 2008 6:35 am


    I have a suggestions, not sure you will like it, but here goes:

    Let him sit. when he goes in his pants, just make him wait to be changed. I have a friend, her son was 5 and still held it until he would go in his pants, F I V E. I sat for him from time to time and she asked for my help. She said,do whatever works, please (in a begging voice)…he went in his pants, I put him in the tub and washed him, 20 minutes later he did it again. Again, I washed him, then the cycle once again. He was out of underware (mom always sent extra)….the next time he went,I was so exasperated, I sat him on the “poop chair”, it was my son’s time out chair and told him until his dirty undies were dry (in washer and dryer already), he would have to sit. I felt horrible, the child was embarassed and furious with me. It worked, my friend did the same thing at home, two strikes and in the “poop chair”. He did this twice at her house and then decided the privacy of the bathroom was much better than the “poop chair” in the living room. I am not a fan of embarassing a child, it was just to the point where he was not going to be allowed into Kindergarten, his friends would be much more “hard on him” than his mom and I were and we were out of options.

    I hope you don’t get too many nasty comments about what I just wrote, sorry if you do…..

  44. Eva on September 19th, 2008 6:42 am

    I recommend constant nudity, never taking him to the potty, setting him up on the big potty with a stepstool so he’s in charge, just mentioning it as an option if it seems like he has to go, and, if there’s an accident, saying, “next time you can use the potty!” and having him help clean up, and also telling him if he puts pee pee/poo poo in the potty, he can have candy!!!! like mini M and Ms, and making it a BFD when he does. Nobody likes to piss or shit on themselves–that’s the strategy here.

  45. Maria on September 19th, 2008 6:47 am

    My daughter was surprisingly easy (thanks a lot, right) to train. There is something to be said for not being “ready”, but if he’s had some success than he probably needs the additional push. My sister in law had a similar problem. I know you’ve mentioned bribery didn’t work, but here’s a scenario that she had success with…

    Every time he was successful he got 1 matchbox car. If he wasn’t successful afterwards, he had to give 1 back for each accident. He was so into the little cars that it was worth it to him to be successful. He carried them around like trophies, and didn’t want to give them back. After a while he got into the rhythm of going on the potty for the sake of it.

    Good luck!!! I’m not looking forward to going through the process with my son when he gets older. The good news, if you can find a light at the end of that very long tunnel, is once your eldest is trained your younger boy will most likely have a much easier time. He’ll want to do what his brother does.

  46. kelly west mars on September 19th, 2008 7:03 am

    Maggie is 7.5 months + she is my only child so I have no personal advice to give, but I PRAY she is nothing like I was. . .

    I had so much trouble pooping as a young child that my parents had to insert cream into my butt. . . like all up IN THERE if you know what I mean. It was traumatizing. I can vividly remember being 3 + this happening to me. Sure, it made me poop like a champ, but now whenever I see stuff that is supposed to go up a butthole (enemas, plugs, etc) I start hyperventilating.

    No joke.

    I’m going to make sure to stuff Mags with fiber + lots of liquid come that time so she has loose shits.

  47. Krissa on September 19th, 2008 7:05 am

    I second the idea of having HIM clean up the mess – with supervision, of course, and not in a “shame on you!” way. More like “OK, so you went in your underwear, so now it needs cleaned, and YOU need cleaned.” As emotionless as possible, just very matter-of-fact.
    If it is a control issue, he still has to deal with it. I also think making them wait before changing a diaper would help – and he still has to clean his own bum.

    Also – and this sounds weird – but maybe have Dad (and/or you, depending on how open-door your fam is) show him that pooping in the toilet = no big deal! Totally easy! If he’s just sort of nervous about the whole thing, maybe seeing that it’s perfectly normal would help calm his fears.

  48. Melanie on September 19th, 2008 7:15 am

    I just remembered the suggestion that my mother gave me, and it did help my oldest decide that the potty was not such a bad option.

    When she pooped in her undies or pull-up I had a wet washcloth waiting in the fridge! So I would clean her up the nice way then the final wiping was done with the cold washcloth…unpleasent enough to get the point across without being too mean.

  49. SART on September 19th, 2008 7:19 am

    You what seemed to work most for my family? We stopped talking about it, stopped pushing him to potty, stop the rewards, reprimands, etc…

    He’s 3.5 and we’ve been potty training him for over a year. We’d have good weeks where he’d only have 1 or 2 accidents. And then we’d have weeks where it was 5-6 a day. Riley shit on the couch – Reeve shit in the kitchen floor one morning… I was SO stressed about it, and I was harping on him every minute he was home: “You gotta go potty?” over and over again. I seriously thought I was going to need strong drugs and therapy to get over all the potty drama.

    So one day I had enough and I just shut up about any and everything to do with pottying. Lo and behold, it worked! He still tells me everyday when I pick him up from school that he’s had “no accidents” and now he initiates the “potty, potty mom!” We even have him trained at night now. We just took him out of pull-ups at night, said not word one about it and voila, 2 night accidents in 4 months.

    Dude, I know it’s hard not to want to force their asses on the toilet 24/7. It cracks me up that thing that worked for us was just leaving him alone and letting him realize that it really sucks to piss/shit yourself. Once he figured that out, we were golden.

    Good luck to you all!

  50. Claudia on September 19th, 2008 7:20 am

    Looks like you’ve received plenty of advice already. I will say that yeah, you can kind of sit back and let it happen on its own. My first child was easy. My second….not so much. She does everything on her own schedule and doesn’t give a shit (ha) about what we want. She was between 3 and 3 1/2 before she was finally potty trained. We got rid of the pull-ups (she still wears them at night) and put her in cotton training pants and sent her off to daycare (their suggestion). For the first week or so, she refused to use the toilet AT ALL. Held her pee all day until she got home. Stubborn!! I was worried about the state of her bladder but she has always played by her own rules. The only advice I can give is to just not stress over it. Eventually he will do it. Oh, and my second used to poo on the floor and in the tub. That was fun to clean. You are not alone.

  51. Suzanne on September 19th, 2008 7:34 am

    It will happen. I know that’s no great statement but it’s the truth. After all, how many high schoolers do you see wearing Depends?! After going through it with two boys, and soon with the third boy, my experience has been that forcing the issue doesn’t work. When they’re ready, they’re ready. After months of wondering when it will (if ever!) happen for my middle son, all of the sudden one morning he looked at me and told me he only wanted to wear underwear from now on. And that was it. No accidents, no problems.

    I have two friends who ‘forced the issue’ and with one, her son ended up with severe constipation issues which just made matters ten times worse and the other, her daughter just ended up having tons of ‘accidents’ which led to emotional issues.

    Hang tight, keep the Resolve on the ready and you’ll make it through!

  52. Jen@OurDailyBigTop on September 19th, 2008 7:37 am

    I feel your pain! I’m in the thick of PT and it’s a long process. I’m not sure if you’ve already heard this but it will happen. I thought my 3 year old would never get it – he didn’t mind being wet, he could hold it for hours but get this – he peed at school. All his classmates are potty trained (peer pressure works). We are doing much better now after 10 days of accidents. Have yet to deal with #2 – I’m happy to continue giving him diapers/pullup until he’s ready. My friend’s son held #2 for so long that it caused issues. TMI?

    Don’t make a big deal. Someone told me to relax b/c he will get it and besides had I ever seen a kid go off to college in diapers?

    I can totally relate to your frustration. Just when I was about to throw in the towel, I reminded myself that I can win this battle of wills. Stay strong.

  53. superblondgirl on September 19th, 2008 7:39 am

    We had that same, hellish problem. Pee was good, but poop involved hiding in corners and doing it in the pants. My mom helped me with the solution of a birthday meaning “big boys who are 3 wear underpants and use the potty! You are a big boy! You are 3!” etc. etc. It actually worked, talking it up for a while beforehand. Though, of course, it’s coming too late for you to try that… My best advice would be to let it go and he’ll do it in his own time, shitty (ha! pun!) as that is to have to do. It’s less stress for everyone (like with the food and not eating normal stuff and just letting go, you know?). I keep finding that sometimes (lots of times) parenting is just about letting life take its course, no matter how much you want to control it and make it better, and that things often end up working out on their own. Kids are amazing like that.

  54. Lise on September 19th, 2008 7:48 am

    I really, really struggled with potty training my twins (boy and girl). I am also convinced that I completely fucked it up and scarred them for life. (Although I imagine we won’t see the effects for years!) I finally had to cave and give them candy rewards, but I think that turned the tide. My daughter also refused to poop on the potty for a while, and requested a diaper. So we did that for a while and then when I reached my limit with that, I think we refused to give her a diaper and she pooped on the floor a couple times before deciding to use the potty. Now, about a year after we started, they still have accidents occasionally, but are “trained,” and stay dry through the night most nights as well. (And no longer need any kind of reward.) It took much, much longer and was much,much harder than I thought it was going to be. I learned a lot about myself and my own control issues during the process. I think as with any aspect of development, potty training is a process of leap forward, plateau, regression, mastery. So if you decide to put Riley back in pull-ups for pooping, I don’t think you are going to harm his progress. Maybe he just needs to back track a bit before taking that final step. I hate it when people say this kind of thing to me, but he will get there. And if you are like me, you will start to forget (or is it block out?) the process immediately. Hang in there!

  55. Roberta on September 19th, 2008 7:49 am

    For what it’s worth….

    Our 3-year-old boy (turned 3 in May, so a few months older than Riley) is still struggling with this. I don’t care about putting him in diapers when he’s sleeping – but the thing where he pees on the potty and then starts playing and poops 5 minutes later has been driving me batshit insane.

    The one thing that seems to be helping is when I just let him run around half naked, and put the potty chair where he’s playing. Clearly it doesn’t work if we’re going anywhere, but since I’m 8 months pregnant with twins, and roughly the size of a blimp, I don’t really want to go anywhere anyway.

  56. Tara on September 19th, 2008 7:55 am

    Wow, lots of comments on this one! I agree with the “chill out for a bit” advice. It’s all up to Riley, and there’s nothing you can do to speed things up if he’s not ready.

    My son’s potty training has been a sheer rollercoaster ride for almost a year, since shortly after he turned 2.5. He learned to poop on the potty first, then started peeing in the potty but pooped in his pants, then seemed to get everything together UNTIL we moved him from the 2’s room to the 3’s room at daycare, when he promptly started shitting his pants again. It’s been a few months since then and I think (cross my fingers) we’re good now. He really seems to prefer pooping on the potty–he talks about how big boys poop in the potty, not their pants, and he asks us to leave the room when he’s on the potty so he can do his grunting in private. At least he’s not asking for reading material in there. . . not yet, anyway.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. You & JB are great parents, Riley is a great kid, and all will be well. Just try not to stress over it–easier said than done, I know, but try.

  57. anon on September 19th, 2008 8:03 am

    check out the potty whisperer,

    the theory holds that the child wants a situation to control and potty training is the last hold on being a “baby” so they refuse to potty train or something to that effect.

    it comes down to training the parents and making potty training less of a struggle for the adults. the author believes the child needs to clean up their own messes, and they soon discover that clean up sucks, so they start to “choose” to use the facilities instead.

  58. Meagan on September 19th, 2008 8:04 am

    I don’t know if this is helpful or horrifying, but from everything I’ve heard, boys just take longer with potty training. Into the fours isn’t uncommon. I’m sure you’re not doing anything wrong. Who knows, if you give it a break for a while maybe he’ll decide on his own to start using the toilet?

  59. Ang on September 19th, 2008 8:16 am

    I feel your pain! A couple of things helped with potty training for me…
    1. When they’re big enough, we made a “no arguments” list – things that when they’re asked to do, they need to do. You see this type of thing in some parenting books – sit down with them and discuss the problem, come up with the solution together, and write it down. Even if they can’t read, they really like a list! It was a limited list but all those things that kids like to drag their feet on that stress out mom – time to get dressed, brush teeth, and go potty. This cut down on accidents with my 2nd child in particular who didn’t want to stop playing to go to the bathroom.

    2. Another really mean (but effective) technique – when they have control but just can’t be bothered to go and do it in their underwear – clean them up with a cold shower. It just has to last 10 seconds and they get the picture. I think it took 2 times of cold showers with each kid, they really hate it. Again, this is really mean but they have no memory of it anymore anyway – and it worked!

    3. Some kids are just heavy sleepers and don’t wake up to go to the bathroom. My daughter was 4 1/2 before we figured out that her room was too dark and she was so out of it that she couldn’t find the door of her room in the middle of the night! We put a nightlight on an extension cord on a dresser by the door and she was finally able to get up and go.

    I know these ideas probably aren’t for Riley yet – but it’s good to have some ideas for the future! We also did m&m rewards – we had a little gumball machine that would spit out two when you pressed the lever. If you pooped in the potty, you got more!

    Good luck, hang in there.

  60. Michelle on September 19th, 2008 8:16 am

    I have to disagree with people who say that boys are harder to potty train than girls. I have a boy and girl and my son was much easier.

    I think it depends on the child. I agree with the person who said to let him go at his own pace. I know with my daughter she just did not like to sit on the potty for as long as it takes to poop sometimes. I think it is important to remember that their attention spans are just not in sync with the amount of time it takes to poop on the potty. I know with my daughter, it was a privacy thing as well. She would not poop at daycare. She would wait until we got home and then she would go off in another room and poop in her diaper. She mastered peeing on the potty fairly quickly. It took a couple of months before she took the initiative (on her own) to start pooping on the potty.

  61. Angie on September 19th, 2008 8:32 am

    We just got our 3 year old boy trained. We got the experience down to 3 weeks by identifying a motivator, which in this case turned out to be going on the next pre-school field trip. You have to be potty trained to go. Also, we gathered parental forces with two other parent couples at pre-school who wanted their boys potty trained too. Since our 3 boys are all friends at school it worked great because the boys encouraged each other so they could ALL go on the field trip.

    The only other advice I have is don’t force it. It is a total control thing for them. Once we backed off and let him tell us when he needed to go, things went a lot better.

    Good luck! I know how much fun sitting on a bathroom floor can be. It does get better. :)

  62. maria on September 19th, 2008 8:39 am

    Naked time! No better way to help facilitate the connection between feeling the urge and seeing the result. Just hang out outside or in a non-carpeted area.

    Become completely disinterested in the process (no threats, cajoling, no rewards, no interest). Just state matter-of-factly, “we tinkle outside or in the potty.” or “poo-poo goes in the potty.” and put it there with no further comment. When you get tired of paying attention, say “we tinkle in the potty or we wear a pull-up.”

    Seroiusly, the more you get invested in the process, the crazier it gets. Just let him do it in his own time, and ignore the situation.

    Hope this helps.

    -Mama of three potty trained kiddos (8,5, and 2) and one 11 month old still in diapers, but toddling around naked as often as possible.

  63. Val on September 19th, 2008 8:43 am

    I don’t have kids, but I was a summer mother’s helper for a couple of summers. I have two things:

    1. A friend from work had a kid that would not potty train. She would go in her diaper and demand to be changed immediately afterwards. She decided if the kid asked to be changed, she was smart enough to potty train so she did not change the diaper until she knew it was getting really uncomfortable. It took about a month, but it finally worked.

    2. My old boss’ kid was afraid of the big toilet. He would go at home in his kiddy potty, but not at daycare where they had to use the big toilets. The boss was a first time mom and did not connect he was afraid. After I informed her of the situation, she found and purchased an kid-sized potty seat that fit on the regular “big” toilet. The kid dragged that seat around for like 2-years. The parents did make him carry it as a way to encourage him to stop using it. He did not care.

  64. Melissa on September 19th, 2008 8:56 am

    I agree with the naked thing. When our 2.5 year old daughter is naked she goes in the potty. When she’s in a pull up, she goes in the pullup. I hate pullups btw. I’m kicking myself for buying them for her because I thought I learned my lesson with my son. The LIKE them.

    Our son however was much much harder. I totally get your anxiety over the issue. But my lesson learned – as someone else said – back away and become disinterested. If you make it a battle it will be. He’ll potty train when he’s ready to do it. You can make it a fight,negotation, battle of wills or you can step back – give positive reinforcement when he deserves it and just try to hang in there.

    Its a long process for a lot of kids. My boy started kindergarten this year and peed his pants on monday. just takes times.

  65. Lori on September 19th, 2008 9:01 am

    OR… you could do what the Chinese do. We just returned from China (actually been a few weeks now) where we were fascinated by this:


    We didn’t see babies and toddlers in diapers. Seems the kids poop and pee on the street. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of the actual deed. The question I wanted to ask: how do you know when they need to go so you can throw them out of your arms onto the street?

    Then… one day we saw a family huddled around a tree. The mom was wiping the toddlers butt and the dad was cleaning the bottom of his pants. His own pants, not the kids. So I guess it isn’t a foolproof method.

    I got to thinking: maybe the Chinese think our method of making the baby sit in his own feces is much more barbaric.

  66. Elizabeth on September 19th, 2008 9:02 am

    I’ve never potty trained any one, and I live in fear of the day I have to. My plan consists solely of the magical bribing power of M and M’s. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much my entire parenting plan. I am sure my kids will turn out fabulously on the M and M plan.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say Good luck, it sounds Hideous. And just think, if he doesn’t get potty trained before he goes off to college, then it’s his roommates problem.

  67. Kate on September 19th, 2008 9:03 am

    You’ve already gotten lots of advice on the potty-training, but I’ll second those who said to just lay off. My oldest had a terrible time with it and as soon as we quit harping at him, and reminding him, and trying to force him, he started going on his own. A friend who used to be a school nurse said it is SO common and truly is about control. And to keep pestering them, or being negative about it, only does more harm than good.

    I’d say to him “Riley, you are a smart boy. You know how to go potty and where you’re supposed to go. Whenever you’re ready, you can do it.” And DROP THE SUBJECT. Which is SO hard. If he has an accident, say “That’s oka buddy. You’ll get it next time.” I did this with my son at age 3 and within 3 days he was going on his own.

    And try to remember, there no kids in kindergarten that aren’t potty-trained. It WILL happen.

  68. Nic on September 19th, 2008 9:06 am

    We bribed with Tootsie Pops for every time she pooped in the potty. Worked for us.

  69. Mary on September 19th, 2008 9:08 am

    My boys were both right around their fourth birthday before they got rid of their diapers. With the first one, I wailed and moaned and tried everything I could think of. With the second one, I was sick of it and just let him decide when he was ready. And they were trained within a month of the same age.

    Just hold your nose and don’t listen to people who tell you all babies can be trained by age one (Hi MOM!) and it’ll happen soon. I promise.

  70. Shawna on September 19th, 2008 9:14 am

    My daughter is trained for poop but not pee so we’re working on that and thanking our lucky stars that it’s not the other way around. I don’t know what to tell you about Riley though; we have friends with a 3 1/2 year old daughter that they cannot train for poop. They’ve been trying for a year and a half and they’ve tried everything short of threats: bribing with stickers and M&Ms, taking her there all the time, etc. And these people are phenomenal parents. Like, the kind of parents you secretly try to model yourself after. If they can’t do it, I think the ball must be in the child’s court, i.e. she’s just not ready. Maybe Riley is the same?

  71. Traci on September 19th, 2008 9:16 am

    I’m in the camp of moms with boys who figured it out around three and a half. My oldest son used to tell me, very condescendingly, when I would ask if he wanted to go on the potty- “Oh no mom, I go in my diaper(or pull-up).” Like, God, you dumb ass, you should know this by now, ha ha.

    We had to have our younger son potty trained before he could start preschool, and I was pretty sure we wouldn’t make it. But lo and behold, he just decided one day to give it a try, and he did it. Nothing we tried before that would work.

    This is one of those many aspects of getting through the first five years of parenting that seems much better after it’s over with!

  72. Christie on September 19th, 2008 9:17 am

    Oh girl…I wish I had miracle advice to give on the potty training issue but I don’t! I have no children of my own but I do have two beautiful step children. My step-son is now 13 but about 3 years or so ago he was with us for the summer. It took me awhile but I started noticing that his shorts he wore to bed were always wet and wrapped in a towel in the laundry! I talked to my husband and we figured out that at 10 years old he was wetting to bed EVERY night! I was livid, becasue he had tendencies to be very lazy so I thought he was literally too lazy to get up durign the night but my husband calmed me down! Instead of embarassing him we would wash the sheets each night and his clothes and after 7:00pm he wasn’t allowed anything to drink. My husband would get up at 3:00am and wake him and make him go to the bathroom! After a feww weeks of getting woke up in the middle of the night it was over. We talked to my husbands ex and she said she tried everything with him and he was stubborn so she was very pleased when he came back home and no longer wet at night! My husband said that even when he was younger (10-11) he had the same issue and then one day it just stopped. THANK GOD HE GREW OUT OF IT (HA)!My husband is SUCH a heavy sleeper though that I can totally see that happening…maybe his son is a heavy sleeper as well…who knows…but it stressed me out…I was a mess!

    As for the doggie poop bags…I have a little dispenser that fits on one of my leashes…I have two German Shepards so poops in public are large and usually pretty gross! We venture to the Dog Exercise Park in our area rather often and you HAVE to pick up the poops or there is a huge fine. Went two weeks ago and we were walking along the trail when my male took the biggest, stiniest, runniest shit in freakin earth! And there I was gagging and cleaning it up…with three bags! Then a man and his black lab strolled by, lab was off the trail in the weeds a bit and took a big shit….the man kept walking…so the bitch that I am walked up to him and said, “Here’s a bag if you don’t have one becasue your dog just shit and it needs to be cleaned up”. i am sure he cussed me and called me inappropriate names but HELLO I JUST CLEANED UP RUNNY GROSS STANK ASS DOG SHIT…THE LEAST HE COULD DO IS PICK UP THE SOLID PILE HIS DOG LAYED!

  73. little miss mel on September 19th, 2008 9:51 am

    pottytrained “pee” our almost 3 yr old in January. It wasn’t until this summer, 5 months later, that we were successfully pooping on the potty.

    Before, He would just poop during nap times, in a diaper or when he woke up in the morning, also in a diaper.

    The bribe was always out there, a mickey mouse doll, 3 suckers, the whole thing, and nothing worked, until one day I asked him if he wanted to go poop on the potty before his nap and he said yes. So we went. 30 minutes later, and one kibble later, he was rewarded all of his prizes. We couldn’t back down due to size of poop.

    It slowly went from there, to now a few months later successful pooping on potty!!

  74. Tela on September 19th, 2008 10:04 am

    Just drop the issue. Keep him in pullups and keep the potty available to him. Otherwise leave it alone. He does want to be a big boy and will eventually add this to his list of big boy things.

    We had the same problem with our daughter. I had our second child 2 weeks before her third birthday and no longer had time to argue about it. I would say within two months of my dropping the issue she was potty trained, and she did it all by herself. I think she was really proud of that.

    Oh and once he does start going try not to make a big deal of that too. Ignoring the whole damn process seemed to work for us. Good luck!

  75. Korinna on September 19th, 2008 10:20 am

    I love how little kids will decide to only wear a shirt or only wear pants.

    Of course, I often feel like just taking something off–but find the fear of arrest (and a Michigan winter) is enough to keep me clothed.

  76. Christy on September 19th, 2008 10:32 am

    My now 7 year old had a hard time with the poop part of potty training. She was just terrified of pooping on the potty. I finally just gave her the option of a pull up for poops. So, she wore panties most of the day and a pull up only when she needed to poo. She started using the toilet on her own not long after. Wiping was another “don’t rush her” issue :)

  77. Marcie on September 19th, 2008 10:35 am

    We took a big neon pink poster board and made a weekly chart with six weeks on it for our daughter. The boxes were big and the six weeks filled up the whole poster board.

    We taped it to the wall in the bathroom, at her eye level, so she could see it while on the pot.

    We bought TONS of different, small stickers. (Elmo, Dora, stars, etc.) She got to pick out a sticker every time she peed.

    But for poop?! Poop we bought HUGE princess stickers and called them ‘Princess Poop’ stickers. For some reason, she wanted those princess poop stickers so freaking bad. I think b/c they were so big and glittery.

    At the end of each week she got a surprise, which we left sitting up on a high shelf in the bathroom for her to see all week.

    By the end of 6 weeks she had it and didn’t even ask for stickers anymore, the novelty wore off. But we still leave the poster hanging up and she’s super proud of it. Always pointing to the princess stickers and saying, “That’s when I pooped!”

    We tried this b/c my MIL said that the sticker/chart thing worked with my husband when he was little. And it really did.

    Also, we always left her in big girl panties during the day and just let her have accidents in them. Once, after pooping in a pair, we threw them away and that really freaked her out. She did not want us to throw her panties away. That seemed to help too!

    But hey, just know that I’ve never seen a seven year old in diapers! He’ll get it soon…

  78. Stephanie on September 19th, 2008 10:45 am

    I read you almost daily and appreciate your honesty and humor so much. I keep swearing that I’m going to write an article about potty-training, mainly a memo to grandmothers and all other believers in the “they’re two, so start potty training” school of thought that is just so unhelpful. We had some of the same problems with our daughter, and reading Dr. Brazelton’s section on “Toilet Learning” in his book, Touchpoints, helped me so much. It confirmed what I already knew on one level: back off; they’ll do it when they’re ready. Your job as a parent is to support and encourage and be available, not to force the issue. I highly recommend reading the chapter.

  79. Casey on September 19th, 2008 11:21 am

    Dude, I’m SO scared of potty training. We’re putting it off until next summer when my kid is 2 1/2 but I’m hoping there’s some magical potty training fairy that will show us and magically do it for us. You should have it down by that point, maybe I’ll ship my kid to your house.
    Good luck!

  80. Joy on September 19th, 2008 11:39 am

    We lived your story. The good news is that my son is now potty trained. The bad news is that it happened after he turned 4. He flat out refused. We tried everything. You simply cannot “make” a child use the potty. Some kids are just not ready no matter how much you think they should be. They are the ones who are in control of their little bodies. After 2.5 years (yes! that damn long!) he is finally trained and doing well. You have to just tune out all of those people that tell you their child potty trained themselves at 18 months or you have to make them do it. They don’t know your child and every child is very different.

    Be careful with the withholding of poop. Our son had some major issues with that. Talk with your doctor if you think he is withholding on a regular basis. Too much withholding can create problems with the nerve endings making it difficult to know when you have to go.

    Hang in there! Once it happens it will be a dream come true. Then you are on to training the next kid in line…

  81. ang on September 19th, 2008 12:03 pm

    My daughter was almost three before she’d poop in the potty. I mean, the kid was old enough to want freaking PRIVACY (she hid behind the couch when she needed to do her business) but not go to the toilet.

    Good luck, man. Is all I’m sayin.

  82. m2min on September 19th, 2008 12:30 pm

    I probably shouldn’t post this publicly, since I know it sounds awful, but it worked.

    My son was 3 1/2 and doing the exact same thing: waiting until he was in bed with a pull-up on to poop. He would NOT go in the toilet.

    One day I had had it with him. He asked for a diaper and I refused. I took him into the bathroom and put him on the toilet and told him we were staying until he pooped. Four hours later we were still there so I sent my husband to the store for a child sized enema. I know. It sounds terrible. We gave it to him and held him on the toilet while he pooped and all of us cried. But he did it and then we praised him to the skies and bought him half of toys r us.

    The next day he woke up and walked into the bathroom and pooped in the toilet without even mentioning that he had to go.

    He’s 11 now and doesn’t seem to be scarred. :)

  83. Kelly on September 19th, 2008 1:15 pm

    I SWEAR TO GOD we are going through that here. Except my story has taking a 3 yr old to the ER bec his “butt hurts” so bad he can’t go now and is given an enema.

    He has been going pee on the potty for the past year, but poop?! No. He won’t do it and he is as stubborn as they come. So now, he at least SITS on the potty and “tries” and then we put a diaper on. Ugh. It is seriously a pain in MY ass at this point.

  84. kristylynne on September 19th, 2008 1:19 pm

    Could Riley be constipated, or perhaps at one point he was? Because it only takes one bad poop experience on the pot to blow the whole operation. Our son had terrible constipation problems and we ended up giving him Miralax because without it he would not poop. Not in the pot, not anywhere.

    Once he was on the Miralax for a while, when we saw he needed to poop we just grabbed his protesting ass up and set him on the pot, and he had to go, so go he did, even though he didn’t want to. And then we immediately went to Target and bought A NEW TRUCK. That won him over big time. No problems since then.

  85. Jennifer on September 19th, 2008 1:21 pm

    I was in a similar situation with my 3 year old. One night, I took him aside and asked him why he didn’t want to go on potty. The answer, “I’m scared. Sometimes it hurts.” Okay…so the next time he was in the bathroom with me when I myself had to BM, we talked about that sometimes it does hurt and you make the “funny poopy face” to get it all out. Honestly, how stupid is this, but it worked! He has not had an accident since then and he accepts that this is “hard to do, but we all do it.” I am the type to not back down, but explore how he is feeling and how we resolve those issues.

  86. kristylynne on September 19th, 2008 1:31 pm

    Also, have you seen that book called Everyone Poops? I love that book. It has illustration of different kinds of animals pooping, and talks about how everyone eats and everyone poops. And of course it has a kid pooping in the pot too. This book really got our son interested in poop. Which may or may not be a good thing, but he IS fully potty trained, so.

  87. Momma on September 19th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Honestly, I do think you are fucking it way the hell up if you keep pressing it. Let it go, he WILL do it. So what you have to change bigger poops, buy bigger diaper. It’s not a big deal, the world will keep turning.

    My guy was 4.5 but you know what? He did it in one full-swoop, didn’t look back, no accendents, poop, pee, dry at night dry all day. HE was done. It was painfree for all of us.
    Trust me, there are bigger more important hills to die on.

  88. jonniker on September 19th, 2008 2:18 pm

    The best part, to me, is Dylan in the background who’s a mixture of “This is so rad!” and “What the fuck? Should I scream too?”

    I love it.

  89. Cara on September 19th, 2008 2:45 pm

    We tried for one month to potty train Payton (he’s 2 wks younger than Riley). Turns out that WE were the ones who were trained. Never once did he actually TELL us he needed to go. We just took him every hour or so and he’d go. He never pooped on the toilet and he, too, would wait until naptime or bedtime when he had on pullups to poop. After a month, we put him back in pullups too. I think that just means they’re not ready for potty training yet.

  90. Erin on September 19th, 2008 3:17 pm

    I didn’t read the 89 or so comments above me, so forgive if I’m repeating here.

    We had the same issues with our son and I finally just let it go because frankly, it was driving everyone nuts. Our Ped pointed out that the chances of him going to University in a diaper was pretty slim, so that helped. Eventually, one day, after seeing all his little pre-school friends go to the potty on a regular basis, he asked for underwear and that was that.

    I think some kids just aren’t ready until they’re ready. I know mine wasn’t and no amount of cajolling, bribing, begging, etc. helped. We just had to wait it out.

  91. LLL on September 19th, 2008 3:21 pm

    My nephew, who is now a great 13 year old young man who does great in school and sports and is just a stand up kid, pooped in a diaper until he was FIVE. He would ask for one and then go hide and poop. No amount of treats or begging or questioning as to why the hell it would feel good to have poop smeared across his rear (said in the nicest way of course) helped. It’s a battle you cant win. I would occassionally encourage, but let him go at his own pace. The joys of poop.

  92. confiance on September 19th, 2008 4:00 pm

    No kids yet, but I can tell you the story my mother loves to tell everyone – boyfriends in particular.

    Evidently, I got the whole “pee on the toilet” concept rather quickly. It took a stomach bug, however, for me to accept pooping on the toilet. I did NOT enjoy diarrhea, or the required wait to have a diaper changed only to require another change only 10 minutes later.

    Of course, then you have to decide if you’d rather make your kid sick and cranky or to continue potty training hell.

  93. kirsten on September 19th, 2008 4:08 pm

    Oh! I feel for you! My daughter was a holder too and didn’t PT til she was over 3 years old. We did all the coercive (and non-coercive) techniques but one day she just changed her mind. It had nothing to do with us, though I suppose our previous efforts might have given her an idea of what to do once she was actually ready. I’ve pretty much blocked all of the details of that period out of my mind, it was so awful. I don’t know what the solution is for you, other than to just sit back and wait. Good luck.

  94. Deb on September 19th, 2008 4:36 pm

    He won’t go to Kindergarten wearing diapers. I promise he won’t. Don’t be hard on yourself. When he’s ready, he’ll do it. I raised four children, three of them boys. Each one was easier to potty train. I think that’s because I relaxed more each time. Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is simply get out of the way.

  95. Elisette on September 19th, 2008 4:41 pm

    I heart ALL these comments. 3 yrs 7 months, potty training for eight months, let’s count those 1-2-3-4, yes FOUR poops in the potty. And two of them he snuck off and did by himself and I thought WHOO! WE DID IT! Six weeks later…. We tried bribery and taking away toys, no go. We’re just waiting now.

  96. H on September 19th, 2008 7:15 pm

    I, too, think pooping is a control thing and it will come naturally with time.

    I am so used to picking up dog poop with a bag that it doesn’t phase me a bit. I do double bag, though, because once I discovered my bag had a hole after I’d rubbed dog shit all over my winter jacket as we finished our walk.

  97. Jenny H. on September 20th, 2008 7:07 am


    I have two boys. My first was finally potty trained shortly before his fourth birthday. He would pee, no problem. Poop? Not so much. Finally, I just put him in big boy underwear 24/7. I told him that if he continued to poop in his pants then he would have to rinse it out in the toilet. I was tired of cleaning his poopy pants. So the first time he pooped in his pants,(his father helped him,relax)he had to wash it out. And he did NOT like that. I asked him what made him think I liked doing it and that seemed to finally do the trick. We also promised him a pinata if he would go pee/poop in the potty for a week. Don’t ask. Worked though!

    Good Luck with the Urban Potty War. I’m right there with ya, again. My youngest just turned three. He’s not that crazy about pinata’s, and he is waaay more stubborn than his brother so I’m kinda stumped…

  98. Samantha on September 20th, 2008 7:10 am

    It will happen, eventually. Everyone eventually poops on the potty. I so feel your pain. We went through the same thing and I’m not sure if there’s anything else that tests your parenting skills like potty training your child. But I tell you, when it happens and continues to happen you will never be happier. Stay strong and I think you should try laying off for a week, then jump back in and try again.
    Good Luck!!!

  99. Margaret on September 20th, 2008 8:21 am

    Struggled with the poop boy, age 3. My friend came to babysit for us while we had a weekend away. She told him that the diaper time was over, that he always had to poop on the pot, and it he didn’t it was his problem. He had to clean it up, clean up the bathroom, do the laundry. We returned on Sunday evening with a totally trained boy and a big fat gift for my friend.

  100. mandy on September 20th, 2008 12:23 pm

    sit back and let it be. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or horrify you, but my son was 3.5 before he was reliable with potty pooping. It didn’t bother me, so I didn’t consider it late.

  101. Caleal on September 20th, 2008 12:59 pm

    This really has nothing to do with your problem, but my Labrador can’t poop without sporting a huge dog-erection. The situation has been the bane of my existence for quite some time now.

    People most certainly are not shy in commenting about it.

    I am most certainly deathly embarrassed by it, however.

  102. Lisa {milkshake} on September 20th, 2008 7:41 pm

    My daughter wasn’t completely potty-trained until after 3 1/2. She would do the same thing – wait until she had a pull-up on to poop (she would pee on the potty). We put them on her again because she was holding it in and was miserable.

    It bugged me for the longest time, but then I realized that I can’t MAKE her go. What we finally did was put her potty in her room during naptime and she eventually started pooping in private. She would call me when she was done and I would go in and wipe her. Eventually I had her go before her nap.

    She’s fine now! I think he’s probably not ready yet.

  103. Melissa on September 20th, 2008 9:09 pm

    Take heart! As a mother who’s potty trained four of her own – 2 boys and 2 girls, put the pull ups back on him and wait a month or two, don’t mention it at all during that time. Then, start fresh like it’s the first time. And really, in the grand scheme of life..don’t sweat it. He’ll get it.

  104. Stacy on September 21st, 2008 1:30 pm

    My 3.5 year old boy, Tobias, is still waiting for the predictable night-time diaper to do #2. So obviously he can hold it and knows what poop is. Its a struggle and it gets to be beyond frustrating but, from the sound of the comments prior to mine, it is not abnormal.

    With the dog poop thing . . . good for that guy! No one likes to step in crap whilst walking about the neighborhood. :) Funny visual though.

    God bless!

  105. Navi on September 21st, 2008 5:25 pm

    That video reminds me so very much of the episode of Friends where the power goes out and they’re all BWAHAHA-ing and the power suddenly clicks on. Or the one where Pheobe and Joey hatch their plan to get Ross & Rachel together (it’s not SANTA’S plan).

    Or, something else where it sounds like I have a life.

    I just love listening to Dylan trying to add to melee, is all.

  106. Rachael on September 21st, 2008 7:07 pm

    The ’shart’ on the couch ALMOST made me regurgitate my lunch. Oh god! I couldn’t cope, just couldn’t cope.

    Somehow, by some stroke of luck, the 3 and 3/4 YO in my life just GOT toilet training at age 3 + 1 week. Well all but 1, count em, 1 mishap and that was only because he was put down to bed already asleep and we weren’t able to do the toilet run first.

    The key for us was definitely a small amount of bribery (1 small sweet after each successful visit for the first 2ish months), referring to it as the ‘big boys toilet’ or ‘going to the big boys toilet just like Dad’ and constantly asking if he needed to go. It worked for us. Although it did backfire on Dad recently when said 3 + 3/4 YO was standing, hand busy at groin and his ever vigilent father asked “do you need to go to the toilet” to which our young man replied “No, just itching my diddle”. I had to walk away.

  107. Jeff on September 22nd, 2008 6:29 am

    Been there. Believe me. Two things come to mind….

    1.) There will be a time when the switch in his head will flip, and he will suddenly “get it”. You cannot flip it for him, and I’m not sure that there is anything that can be done to help expedite him finding the switch. Just (ugh) bear with it.

    2.) A mistake I made that you can learn from – I too was at the end of my rope with my oldest. I had reached a point of my insanity where I was taking her EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES to the potty – just to sit there, or have her spray something into the toilet, or every time give birth to a massive poo-baby- I don’t really know. But I was satisfied with the every 15 minute trip to the potty and have her sit there (despite her frantic objections) – regardless if she produced something or not.

    Our pediatrician sat me down and explained to me my insanity. That I was confusing her rather than helping her see the value and purpose that the toilet serves. The game plan that she gave to me, and that I pass onto you is – he should have a morning potty visit right out of the bed – then three hours later another, and a visit every three hours after that. His system is not in tuned with this schedule – but over time he will be, and he will see the value and purpose of the toilet with these spaced out and meaningful trips every three hours. Give his body the time to build up a need to go to the potty (something that 15 minutes does not allow). And perhaps he may even say he needs to go before the next three hour mark. Then again, he may drop a dripping load on your couch again 20 minutes after his last visit. Stick with it. And don’t fall into the black-hole of 15 minute trips. It seems natural to fall into that trap, but it doesn’t serve the purpose.

  108. jakesmom on September 22nd, 2008 11:27 am

    My boys were both 4 when they potty trained. What worked for me is keeping a calendar and everytime they peed, I put a star sticker on the day. When they pooped, they got a 2 stars put on the day. After 10 stars, they got to go to the toy store to pick out a toy. It only took about 2 weeks and they became potty trained (during the day). The nighttime potty training took a little longer. Both were about 5 1/2 when they started going through the night dry.

    Hang in there! This won’t be forever!
    Good Luck!

  109. Jennifer on September 22nd, 2008 2:23 pm

    OK, let me number 100 to say that they won’t do it until they are ready. With mine, the light just switched on. Poop really wasn’t an issue-he hated the squishiness after a while. What helped was that we did a one weekend “booty” camp. NO pullups, no diapers (except for naptime). He had to change his pants, clean up the pee, etc. He didn’t poop that day, so no grossness there, but he got the point.

    A week later, we were out of pullups for daycare, so I bit the bullet (oh, and Target wasn’t open when we had to leave that morning), and sent him in underwear. Only one real accident since then, and the poop ones were really minor-he started, literally thought, oh shit, and then made it to the potty. At a couple weeks past three, he’s almost completely trained. I just need to be brave enough to let him go through the night-he’s dry about 85% of the time, which I’ll take at this point.

    Give him room, and tons of praise. Oh, and a good stiff drink for yourself.

  110. Jess on September 22nd, 2008 3:22 pm

    WHen my daughter turned three, she potty trained in two days, and never had an accident again.
    A year later, when my son turned three, we tried the same. I gave up after awhile. At three and a half, we tried again. You know, since having a 42lb kid shit in his pants is a bit much. Again, absolutely no go. And we tried EVERYTHING. Every single piece of advice, every method, and nothing worked. Since he was getting ready to start preschool, in July I started getting a little panicky.
    In August (he turns 4 in Dec), one day he woke up, took off his diaper, and says “I’m wearing unnawear today.” And from that point on, he REFUSED to put on a diaper again.
    It took a week of accidents, and another week of fewer accidents, to get him to understand his body’s rhythms and use the toilet as a precursor to bodily function rather than an afterthought.
    My point (longwinded though it may be…sorry) is that he will do it when he’s ready. The more you try to force it, the longer and more painful it will be. Just leave it alone for awhile, and he’ll figure it out on his own. After all…you never see kids in Kindergarten in diapers, do you? (And I was a teacher, so I know this doesn’t really happen.)
    Breathe. Relax. And let him figure it out.

  111. Josh on September 22nd, 2008 8:44 pm

    Let him learn outside instead of on the toilet. Guys love that kind of thing. And the cleanup would be just like the guy with the two dogs. You could even hose him off outside if the weather permitted.

  112. pippa on September 23rd, 2008 5:24 am

    I’ve done this four times now, and I can tell you what I know: It’s a battle of wills you CANNOT win. There’s no way to control it, and boys especially seem to view it as their way to control YOU, so you can do what I did: give up. There is a very good reason that I had two potty-train this year (yes, Bug turned five in August, so sue me!), and it’s because Bug was NOT going to go in the potty. I couldn’t squeeze it out of him, so I just left it. All his friends were trained (he did not care). A trip to Chuck E. Cheese was in the offering (he did not care). I bought him every kind of underwear under the sun (he did not care). I consented to karate classes like his brother (he did not care). Finally, I said “Whatever. But I’m not chasing you or assembling anything to change you. I’ll deign to change you on my schedule and only if you bring me EVERYTHING to do so, including a clean pull-up, garbage bag, wipes, etc. He did it for about four months, decided it was old, and trained.

    Sorry you have another boy following. The girls were WAY easier. Just up and decided to train in exchange for ballerina classes. ;)

  113. pippa on September 23rd, 2008 5:26 am

    Oh yeah… I should add that when all my kids trained? It wasn’t so much “trained” as “decided to go on the potty” and we had no accidents, no struggles, no nothing. I really wonder if we as a society aren’t trying to do things sooner than they are ready. And using cloth diapers helped with the first two… they didn’t like being wet.

  114. Stacey on September 24th, 2008 5:35 am


    You may not even make it this far after all the great advice before mine, but if you do, PLEASE please read the above link. This dude is the guru of common sense parenting, and I think all of us lose our minds from time to time in this department. Potty training is definitely one of those times. This technique mayseem a bit harsh, but it works (for me at least). Three year olds, especially smart ones like Riley, have the mental and physical skills to go poop on the potty–sometimes they just need a motivator that makes sense only to them, so figure out what his most beloved “currency” is, and take it away til he does his business. I promise it won’t take long. It will be worth the tears. (His AND yours!) Best of luck.
    You are my favorite blogger. Thanks for all the laughs.

Leave a Reply

  • Stuff I Like:

      space eeny Eeny Meeny, by M.J. Arlidge Dark, twisty, kept the pages turning for me. I’m excited to read more of this author’s series centered around detective Helen Grace. space speaker DKnight Magicbox Speaker Small and not expensive and just exactly what I wanted: a decent-sounding mobile speaker that plays music from my phone. space browwiz Anastasia Brow Wiz My favorite brow tool at the moment. Great texture, easy to apply, blends really well. Expensive but worth it. space maclongwear MAC Pro Longer Concealer My latest weapon in the war against eye circles. Awesome coverage, matte finish, and a little bit goes a long, long way. space station11 Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel Every good thing you've heard about this book is true. It's seamlessly woven together, a gorgeously heartbreaking gratitude practice that completely defies its genre. space blackout Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, by Sarah Hepola I knew this was going to be amazing because, well, Sarah Hepola. You don’t have to be a recovering drunk for this unflinching story to resonate, anyone who’s had to pick up the pieces and start over will find something hopeful here. space [More things I like...]