poo dance and other fouls

We use positive reinforcement with our sweet bean, hoping to entice him toward bowel movement on the bowl. We do a poo poo dance, motivate him with stars and a chart, stickers to reward when we put him on the toilet and he does go, we let him wear his favorite Thomas the Train big boy underwear. And God looks down and laughs his ass off.

Sir Beckett refuses to tell us when he needs to use the pot. He’s perfectly content to stew in a heap of ‘rhea, swampass in his underwear. He doesn’t complain. He simply powers through, plays with his trains, behaving as if he didn’t have a pond of crap in his seat.

We don’t know what to do. When we put him on the pot, he will go. But no matter how we try to reward him for “good” behavior, he simply won’t tell us when he needs to use the toilet.

Oh, we’ve tried diaper free days, naked lunches, you name it. And when I catch him, mid-leak on the carpet, I run him over to the pot, then tell him when he feels like that, he needs to come here, to the toilet, and go here. Like Elmo does. Like Dora. Like all your neighbors. It doesn’t matter how many big boys we parade in front of him, announcing, proving, that they only use the pot, not diapers or flooring.

Bribes. We’ve gone there. A train tent for his bed. A new engine… nope, you can’t open it until you make on the pot. So, he runs over and tries, sits there. Squeezes out a few drops. Then he’s off to play, where, while pushing a tender car across a bridge, he’ll push out a hot lump of excrement. Oh, happy day.



  1. YMMV, but I don’t think potty training is anything to be in a hurry about. Except if your child has to be potty trained for preschool…what’s the hurry? My son showed little interest in bribes, also. We did the same things you’re doing.

    He was barely trained when he went to preschool in Austin, but when he got there, that sealed the deal. It never was an issue again. He never wet the bed. We never had school accidents (although he lugged around a freaking wardrobe in his backpack every damned day of kindergarten).

    So maybe give him a break? If his sister is ahead of him, he’ll watch her and get the message. My mother always said: boys have 2 tricks to learn, and girls only one. BTW, you want that boy sitting down to urinate – unless you like to clean toilets and bathroom floors repeatedly or your maid does.

    Best of luck.

  2. hi. my best friend has 5 kids. the older girls were a cinch. the boy? not even a little easy. he is 4 now, and started just after his 4th birthday. they did everything. he would run off somewhere and poo, and yet he’d go peepee on the potty.

    finally they ignored it all together. and when he saw that he wasnt getting attention either way, then he wanted to be a big boy. Good luck. I have seen that its harder when there are sisters around..

    also, how is phil ? and does lucas still get any follow up things or is he all good to go? still praying for you all

  3. Is he 2.5 or 3.5? If 2.5, leave it alone for 2 or 3 months, then try again. If he’s 3.5, it’s time to lose the stickers, rewards, etc. and tell him that using the potty is a rule, just like (fill in the blank with whatever’s an ironclad rule in your home), and that people have to follow rules. Yeah, I’m mean.

    1. Author

      He turns 4 this December. And he doesn’t seem to care that, for a while now, his little sissy only makes sissy & poo on the pot.

  4. My son didn’t start going to the bathroom on his own to poop until well after 4 1/2. Like with your son, nothing worked. Ultimately, we used bribery and that really did work. He got a new toy every time he pooped on his own on the potty without any accidents on the way. If he pooped in his pants, that toy was sent back to the penalty box, and only returned when he used the potty. This system resulted in him finally developing the habit of using the potty for both peeing and pooping. I cannot tell you how frustrating the process of trying to get him to use the bathroom was until we did this. But it did work and he only rarely has any issues, usually when he isnt’ at home or school and is tentative about using a strange potty, and that isn’t always a problem either.

    Essentially, you need to make him an offer he cannot refuse.

    1. I know “they” say to praise the good, ignore the bad….. But I agree with Hebisner, the toys accumulated should go into a penalty box when he has accidents. This is a lot how real life works. When we screw up, there is a consequence. Just saying….

  5. Hi Stephanie, I just potty trained my 2.5 yo using a method from the Soho Parenting center, which my friend used when her almost 5 yo would not poop on the potty. It took my friend one day after 2 years of trying, and took me just a few days (my son was more stubborn and younger than her daughter). If you would like the how-to without paying the Parenting Center’s consult fee, feel free to email me. Be forewarned it does take some tough love. Otherwise I would definately give them a call. Good luck.

  6. Dont worry, I know several little boys that werent fully potty trained until they turned four and some after four. DONT STRESS, He will get it:)

    1. Just love that term…”breeder”. What kind of posts do you expect from someone with kids?

  7. I read your blog regularly but have never commented before. I think I remember you mentioned recently that Lucas needed “brushing” and a “pillow pool”, which leads me to think he is getting some sort of Occupational Therapy for sensory issues? Perhaps his sensory issues (if he has any) are making if difficult for him to feel and recognize when it is time to “go”. If he is under sensitive, sitting in a dirty diaper may not bother him b/c his sensory system is wired differently. You might want to bring this up with his OT. Of course, I could be totally wrong! I’m not an OT but I work closely with them (I’m a speech-language pathologist) and have heard this same issue come up many times with kids with sensory issues…which are very common in premies. Good luck!

  8. LOL. i love the “i’m mean” comment. I’m the same way. I don’t mind my son missing the boat on pee for a while, but poop MUST go in the toilet. I made very sad faces and mope about when he had poop accidents…he caught on quick.

  9. I am going through the joys of potty training right now. Jane doesn’t tell us that she has to go so we started just sticking her on the toilet every half hour. Once we were accident free a few days, we let her go an hour between trips. Now we are up to 3 hours between toilet trips. She is pretty much accident free but still doesn’t tell us that she has to go, I just think she is getting better at holding it until the next toilet trip. Good luck, this whole process is just annoying.

  10. Don’t stress it…no kid ever started kindergarden in diapers. One day, he’ll just get it…hmm…I’m wet/poopy, and nobody seems in a rush to change my clothes. ugh. lol.

  11. I too tried the bribery approach, which for us was 1 marshmallow for a wee-wee and 2 for a poopy, and it just wasn’t working…at all. She was constantly sitting on the potty trying to earn a marshmallow when there was no need to go – and thus making sitting on the potty a negative/boring/no fun/frustrating activity.

    I finally realised my mistake in rewarding the wrong outcome and changed the reward to a marshmallow for every hour that my daughter kept her pants dry and clean. We used a kitchen timer with a loud bell and got all excited whenever it went off.

    For some reason she seemed to comprehend that better and began going when she actually needed to go. Maybe you just need to take a look at this from a different angle, and ask what behaviour you really want to reward. If it is just that you want him to tell you beforehand, then maybe that should be what gets the reward, rather than the outcome on the potty. You may still have some accidents if you don’t make it in time, but he’ll learn that telling you ahead of time is going to make you both happy! Then once you have that down you can focus on the next behaviour. One step at a time, and don’t drive yourself crazy – we all bang our heads on the walls asking what we are doing wrong, but somehow (luck?) most kids manage to be potty trained before they go to school!?

    1. That is a great reinforcer Josie! You get to praise and reward the positive :)

  12. Now that’s a great idea! Positive reinforcement takes the cake (or sends the cake).

  13. I’m in the same boat. My son just turned three and we switched over to underwear. It’s working well for #1. He doesn’t like the feeling of urine trickling down his leg. However, #2 doesn’t really bother him so he does that in his pants unless he happens to be on the potty when he feels like going. We start a no diaper preschool in less than a month so I hope it all clicks for him soon.

    1. Hi Cori,
      Inform the teachers of exactly where you are in the process. As soon as he sees how much fun preschool is, that will usually be the motivation to get on the potty.No potty = no school. Good luck, Bonnie

  14. “He’s perfectly content to stew in a heap of ‘rhea, swampass in his underwear”
    why so much ‘rhea? is that just to add spice to the post? ‘rhea ain’t pleasant to read about or pass … maybe you should modify his food, just a thought …

  15. OK, my son was not potty-trained until 4. When I realized it was not about me (being embarrassed b/c he was not) and actually about *him*, I could let it go.

    This is a control issue. You are not in control of this one, Steph. He will do it when he’s good and ready. Someone told me yesterday that potty-training and tieing the shoes and two things that will happen on their time frame.

    One down, one to go. Yes, he will be starting Kindergarten in velcro shoes. Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.

  16. My youngest just turned three and we have had the same problem with her. What ended up working for us is: Telling her it is just HER pee pee and HER poop, and that they want to be in the potty – and it’s her job to help them get in there. Then we try not to say a word to her about it. We’ve had far fewer accidents so far…I’m hoping it sticks!

    Good luck – potty training can be such a B!

  17. I echo the sentiment that no kid ever went to kindergarten in diapers. My twins (girls) were 4. My first (a boy) was 2 1/2. The fourth and final is closing in on three and could probably be there except the pull-ups, they have Dora too. :\

  18. I tried all the usual stuff with my boy/girl twins and — long story short — they got up one day exactly two weeks after their fourth birthday and they were trained. I never heard them discuss it, but it’s impossible to believe it was a coincidence. So anti-climactic after 18 months of trying and expensive pull-ups!

  19. My son was about the same age (born in Dec also) when he potty trained. One day after seeing his male phyiscal therapist he decided that “I want to be like Mr. Franz and wear underwear.” and then he never had a pee accident. Perhaps there is a male outside family like an Uncle he likes?

    Poop, on the other hand, did take a few weeks longer. I let him have a diaper to poop in (he had to ask for it). and afterwards we would go to the potty together and flush the poop down and say “bye-bye poop”. It reinforced that was where it was supposed to go and gave him more control. and that seemed to work.

    good luck! don’t get frustrated – when they do it on there own there are usually fewer accidents so hang in there!

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