It's called STR - scientists are baffled!
May 10, 2019 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Did your toddler refuse to poop in the toilet? What did you try that convinced your little no-frontal-lobe humanoids that it is a good idea? Pediatrician told us to just wait it out. I have been waiting a long time and it is time to try something. But what?

Riding on the wave of this question on the blue, here is a slate article about Stool Toileting Refusal, complete with actual scientific paper.

Excerpt from paper: Children were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 2 written toilet-training instructions. Both groups were advised to use a child-oriented approach to toilet training. In addition, those in the intervention group were requested to avoid using negative terms for feces and, before training began, to praise the children when they defecated in the diaper.

So apparently about a quarter of kids don't poop in the toilet... and praising them for pooping in a diaper (?) might cut 2 months off a seven month process. Has your kid been part of this group? What worked for you? Our pediatrician assures us that making a big deal of it will only convince the kid to refuse to poop at all, and there's nothing good down that road. We have read every poop book at the library, we have had multiple demonstration sessions. It goes nowhere. With all the usual caveats of You Do Not Have My Kid, You Are Neither Me Nor My Pediatrician, etc., what do you think might work here?
posted by Vatnesine to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I gave my son 1 M&M to sit on the potty, no pressure, but it generated a lot of sitting on the potty. Pooping was rewarded with a matchbox car. It took about a dozen cars. YMMV, of course. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 6:46 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]

My kid really responded to make-believe, so we invented funny animals that lived in the bathroom and would talk to her in goofy voices when she was in there. I don’t know how much it helped — daycare probably did the heavy lifting for us with the potty, and it was definitely not a single weekend event, more a several month transition — but she loved the characters and still remembers them.
posted by eirias at 6:54 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Bribery. Here’s a bucket of ~6 matchbox cars, you can have one when you poop in the potty. Still resisted for about two weeks but ultimately the bribe won. Six cars later, it was a habit.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:14 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

I finally resorted to bribery, and it worked. One sticker for peeing, two for pooping. Stickers went on a sticker sheet, and when the sheet was full, we bought a toy. I think we went through about five sticker sheets before it wasn’t necessary anymore.
posted by FencingGal at 7:16 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]

Any slightly older, potty-trained friends or family for lil' Vat to look up to and want to emulate? Invite them over.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:31 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]

Totally bribery. Big glass jar full of M&Ms in a visible spot. 1 M&M for peeing in the potty. 5 M&Ms for pooping in the potty, plus a sticker on your chart. 5 stickers = a Thomas train (which is what he desired). 30 stickers = a trip to Legoland. And by the time he'd pooped in the potty 30 times it was a done deal. Good luck!

Also: during this whole process, zero pressure. An occasional question: Do you want to try to make a poop in the potty? If the answer was no, nothing more than a happy "Okay!" from me.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:40 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]

We did chocolate chip for trying, five for a pee and a ***whole*** popsicle for a poop. Bribery works.
posted by Toddles at 8:09 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

Totally bribery #2. Three children, one grandchild, all successful! And NO pressure, roll with the refusals and 'accidents'. Make sure the child can drop their own pants too.
posted by GeeEmm at 8:11 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Bribery never worked on my kids. It really depends on their age and personality. For kid #1, aged 3 and change, it was reading a book called "Softy the poop." For kid #2, age 2.5, who very much wanted to be a big kid, it was going to a slightly older friend's house and forgetting a diaper. She asked for one to poop in, our host said that they didn't have any more because her friend was done with them, and that inspired her. You really have to with what you know about your kid.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:52 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

What worked for us was just letting him poop in his underwear and having him help clean the mess. Poopy pants are a good motivator. Having poopy pants is a last resort for the end of 'normal' potty training development, imho, which was where we were. Stories, modeling, and bribery never worked because diaper pooping was working great for my kid. Different kids develop at different rates. Lots of kids have a year plus gap in pee training and poop training. I wouldn't stress this or make some major push necessarily - you're not the only parent riding this struggle bus.
posted by Kalmya at 2:57 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

+1 on bribery. Our kid refused to use the potty for a long time. One day when she was 3 I offered her a quarter for every time she used the potty. She had it down in an afternoon. That said, I just don't think she was ready before that and then suddenly she was. Kids develop at different rates and these superpowers switch on suddenly.
posted by merocet at 9:21 AM on May 11

The Slate article talks like this is a mystery that has scientists baffled, but the fact that this happens with so many kids doesn't seem surprising to me. Think about your own poop habits. You get used to pooping under certain circumstances and it can be hard for your body to relax and do it if the circumstances are too different. A lot of people have trouble pooping when they're traveling, for instance. Imagine what would happen if someone told you you had to start pooping in a diaper. Would you even be able to do it? I don't think I would, not right away anyhow. So of course little kids have trouble making the reverse transition and pooping in a completely different place.

I didn't have this problem with my kids because we did elimination communication and they got used to pooping in the toilet as babies, but what you often see recommended that makes sense to me is a method where you very gradually change the circumstances under which the kid is pooping. First have them do their pooping in the bathroom, but still in a diaper, then ask them to sit on the toilet while pooping in the diaper, then cut a hole in the diaper, then finally their usual pooping circumstances have changed enough that they can give it a try without the diaper and still have everything feel normal enough that it works. I think that's what I'd try.
posted by Redstart at 4:26 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Another bribery example: for a highly puzzle-motivated kid, we brought out a small puzzle (24 pieces), but kid only got the box. Every time kid used the potty was worth a piece of the puzzle. Worked like a charm and by the time all the pieces were returned, good habits were established and we've never had any issues since.
posted by papergirl at 6:48 PM on May 11

According to my mom, our pediatrician suggested - and this is 100% true - that she tell us that our poops were going to a poop party. They could only get to the party by being flushed down the toilet. It worked for the pediatrician’s kids and apparently worked for my sister and I too.

I don’t think I’ve ever told this story before. It sounds super weird written down! 💩 🎉
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:22 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

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