Monday, July 23, 2007

Fear of pooping -- and the penis lion

I had been warned that with a new baby in the house, Will would be likely to regress in his potty training. Instead, it looks like Owen has actually inspired the big pooping brother in Will.
It’s hard to know, though, how you’d mark regression with Will, whose potty training has been a several-months-long process. We’ve got peeing in the potty down pat, but Will still won’t go with his teachers at school, so he wears a pull-up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. And like some other finicky toddlers, he’s been deathly afraid of pooping on the potty.

Our favorite potty books – “My Big Boy Potty” by Joanna Cole and “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi (with all its crude pictures of gorillas pooping on the ground, alligators pooping in the water and people pooping on the toilet) – have fascinated Will but never got him past his poop phobia.
So, as much as I try to avoid bribery, I decided to make an exception here. Seemed like if he’d go once or twice and realize it’s not such a big deal, the dangled carrots – which have included toy cars, fruit roll-ups, and trips to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone – could quickly disappear. But for months Will never took the bait.

Then the day after Owen’s birth, Will just up and told his Aunt Alicia that he was going to poop on the potty, and after he accomplished that long-awaited feat, he informed her that he was going to get an ice cream cone. She took photos of the poop, called us up at the hospital and let Will tell every member of the family about his poop and then took him for an ice cream cone. After two ice creams, and a lot of pooping in his diaper in between, the incentive switched to Edy’s fruit pops (they’re all-natural except in their coloring so I can feel less guilty as briber). And now for two days, Will has been consistently pooping on the potty and making no requests for his diaper.

I’m pretty sure I never should have bothered with the bribing, though. I think it’s less about ice cream or fruit pops and more about Will’s new-found status as a big brother that’s inspired him to take one tiny step away from babyhood, one giant leap toward the toilet.
Yesterday after his first poop of the day on the big toilet, Will said proudly, “I could go all day long, ‘cause I’m a big brother. But babies don’t go poo-poo on the potty, but when baby gets a little bigger I can teach him to go poo-poo on the potty.”

Since the day we brought Owen home, I’ve made a concerted effort to ensure that Will is excited by Owen’s diaper changes rather than envying the time I’m spending changing Owen’s diaper (which I’ve heard can be the cause of potty training regression). I have Will dip cotton balls in warm water and ring them out for me to use as I clean Owen’s newborn bottom. I ask him to get the new diaper out, and have him help me put the lid back on the Vaseline. They’re all simple tasks that would be just as easily done without Will’s help, but it makes him feel included and responsible.

Next up: Convincing Will, who once shared with me his notion that his former teachers were afraid of his penis because there was a roaring lion inside of it, that it’s fine to let your teachers help you go potty.
If you have any potty training advice or war stories, please share. offers some advice for coping with little anti-poopers at

1 comment: said...

Wow--I found your blog quite by accident as I was following links from one Enki homeschooler's blog to another, and so on...and have to let you know that this post on poop issues caught my eye. My son has major poop issues (going on for about 6 months now)! Maybe we should try your solution... Hee hee! BTW, we live in Marietta, small world, big web. :o)