Friday, May 22, 2009

Wit's end

It appears, God help me, that I am in exactly the situation that I swore I would never, ever be in.

After avoiding it for as long as I thought I could, it appears that potty training (or more accurately, the lack thereof) has become a battle royale in our home and that Rob and I are now locked into a power struggle with the most stubborn boy EVER.

It is ugly, my friends, it is really, really ugly.

Graham, aka the most stubborn boy EVER, has been wearing big-boy underwear all day, every day for weeks now. He lets us know when he needs to pee and does so in the potty several times a day.

But, with the exception of that one time when he was rewarded with a toy and a celebration so exuberant you would think he had graduated goddamn medical school, he will not use his potty for number two.

Graham is three and a half. He is ahead of the curve in every other aspect of physical, emotional and intellectual development. We have tried to be patient, but finally drew a line in the sand when for weeks he never wavered from his routine of using the potty all day to pee and then soiling his night-time pull-up withing minutes of putting it on every night.

He is more than capable of pooping in the potty.

But he won't.

He holds it. He clenches. He begs for his bedtime pull-up. He cries and rants and raves and sits on the potty, sometimes for over an hour at a time chanting "I want a pull up, I want a pull up, I want a pull up."

He has, the last two nights, spent nearly all evening on the potty and started to fall asleep there before being sent to bed, without a story and with a pull-up that was soiled within five minutes.

And while on the potty last night he looked me straight in the eye and with just the hint of a smirk threw down the gauntlet.

"Mommy, I am NEVER going to poop in the potty...NEVER."

And I have no idea how it came to this but, God help me, I believe him.


*Do you think it's possible that the folks at the Parent Bloggers Network can read my mind? I was actually writing this post when they sent out an e-mail asking bloggers to post about their potty-training trials as part of the Pull Ups brand's Potty Project, which is a series of webisdoes following six families attempting to say bye-bye to diapers.*

*Raising a kid can be hard on you AND your wallet. All the expenses can begin to drain your account faster than you can throw out dirty pull-ups. That's why there's tons of help for you online. Log on to find a variety of financial aid services, including payday loans waiting for you to choose from. Find it all, and save yourself some stress!*

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Naomi said...

email me. (urbanmummy at gmail) I'm not a miracle worker by any means, but I did manage to get 2 of my friends kids over the same hump. Perhaps I can offer some suggestions? (I'm on mobile so can't type too much now)

Mandy said...

Oh lordy did we struggle with this issue. Really struggle. It took about 6 months to get Nate to poop in the toilet. I thought that in despair, I was going to explode and die a swift, but messy, death.

We survived. You will too. But hold on for the ride.

flutter said...

Oh, man.

Katney said...

Undoubtedly a potty training Wii would be a great game. But let me throw something in here as a Grandma who's long past it all.

Having heard that boys train later than girls, we told our just past two year old son that of course he couldn't go to preschool like his sister did because he had to learn to use the potty first. Three weeks later he had trained himself completely.

Of course, he was still jsut past two years old and couldn't go to preschool till he was three. But that is another story.

Is there something he can't do till he is "ready". "sigh, it's too bad, Graham, but you can't xxxxxxx until you poo in the potty. MAybe someday we will be able to go to the xxxxxxxxx. We just have to wait till you are ready to poo in the potty."

kittenpie said...

I'm curious - has he said WHY he won't poop?

And one of the things "the books" always tell you is some kids have issues with seeing it go down the drain. My solution to that, in case it ever came up, was to preemptively tell Pumpkinpie that her poop was going to play with the other poops in the lake, so we waved and told it tohave fun when we flushed. Just in case that might be part of the issue, which I'm not sure it is, but you never know.

Badness Jones said...

My boy is just over 2, and although he will sometimes pee in the potty I really haven't started training him yet. I'm afraid. I'm really afraid.

Melisa Wells said...

He'll do it eventually. I've been where you're at: BOTH of my boys were closer to four when they finally decided they were done with pooping in their pants.

I think that the Pull ups have something to do with it. This is a gross suggestion but what if you just make sure his mattress is protected well (and you have extra sheets) and put him in regular underwear at night? He might be totally grossed out at how it feels, going potty in the cloth underwear rather than the pull ups, which pull moisture away from the body.

I know it's a pain (and more work for you), but it might speed the process.

When it comes down to it, he is learning that THIS is something he has control over (where he poops, I mean), and a growing little boy quickly learns the value of that power.

I've been there. I'm sending you hugs. xoxo

Ellyn said...

Good luck. I really mean that. We had this same power struggle last year at this time. What finally did it for us was the switch to the big boy bed. You can't get poo in the big bed you know. Mark figured it out in a couple days after that. He really wanted that bed.

Karen said...

You have my condolences, but I have no advice to give. I've heard of this strange phenomenon before, but I don't know what was done to overcome it. Just know that I'll be joining you with The Most Stubborn Boy EVER this summer. I'm sure that Micah is aware, and yet refuses to potty train.

mare ad mare said...

I am sooooooooooooo glad that part of our lives are over...sorry, don't remember how we got past it - I try to suppress those memories!

karengreeners said...

Don't give it power, y'know? It's a struggle, and he likes being the winner.

My friend went through this - she just gave her daughter the pull up, no discussion (and no celebration when she does use the toilet). It'll get boring, the attention will cease, and eventually, he'll use the toilet.

I would let him sit in his shitty diaper for at least a half hour or so. Tell him that you'll get to him as soon as you're done x. He won't like it one bit, which is the point.

Shauna said...

This is exactly why I haven't started potty training yet.

I heard someone who told their kids that only kids that don't wear diapers can go to Chucky Cheese (or some such place). Then Chucky had a special diaper day so the kids could see what they were missing and bam, it worked. Might be worth a try?

Anonymous said...

My oldest is the same age and I think we are just finally coming to the end of that same battle. That battle that has lasted about a year when we tried to start potty training. He's only just now keeping underwear dry - so I am thinking it's time to start sending him in underwear to daycare. I can not believe how much money I have spent on pull ups!!! And I think the thing that finally clicked for him? He's going to JK in the fall - and there's no pull ups allowed there. I'm not sure if we did the right think (since apparently I was dry at a year, thanks mom for sharing that with me 50 million times) but this too shall pass...right?

KG said...

Good God. That's terrifying. My son will be 2 in July and my mom is already riding me about potty training despite my perpetual "He's NOT ready" statements. I just know the kid isn't ready. Not even close. I have the feeling I'm going to be in your shoes ....

Jess said...

My son had a potty, my daughter, a flip-lid that sat over the real toilet. Maybe switching to one or the other?

My day-care says some kids don't like the feeling of it leaving their bodies - like they're pooping their insides out.

It's SO FRUSTRATING. We just kept going. And he got lots of snacks of prunes. (Constipated kid? NOT FUN.)

And eventually, we let him sit (and sit and SIT)until he got his business done. Two books in the bathroom, no other toys. It was poop-toilet boot camp.

Jess said...

Oh, I forgot. We also told our daughter that this was the LAST box of Pull Ups we were ever buying.

She got it. I think we had three whiny nights about it.

InTheFastLane said...

I don't have the answer for you, but I do know that several of my friends have run into this same issue, so you are not alone. I think it just took time.

Have you tried giving him the pull up, but making him sit on the potty wearing it? Just a thought.

He will have lots of tenacity when he grows up...(just trying to put a positive spin on it for you :))

Chantal said...

Kids are tough. My neighbour is going through the extact same thing with her 3.5 year old. As they always say "He won't be pooping in his pullups at his wedding" aka: he will do it eventually. Don't give up. said...

No advice. Really. I had 2 boys who did the SAME THING. Shoot, Justin was READING BY 4 but still had regular (ha) accidents. In fact, I wouldn't even call them "accidents" because he'd go in a corner to hide and then just continue about his day, hiding his lumpy butt.

Great memories...

I feel for you. But he WILL poop. Eventually. Stick to your guns. This is strictly a power struggle for him. You can let him be in charge and try again in a year and I won't judge you for it. But it'll still be a struggle in a year, then and other people WILL judge you. Or you can keep plugging away, chipping at his resistance until he realizes he has no say in this part of his life. Big people poop on toilets. End of story.

Hugs. Good luck.

GoMommy said...

Hello! My son went through the same thing. He was terrified and refused to go on the potty. The pediatrician recommended Miralax- yes, a laxative. He had no choice but to go, and it did get him over his fear- but he was at the point where he was holding it for so long, he was constipated and in pain. So I wouldn't recommend this until you have exhausted everything else- and we definitely tried everything!

Bird's Eye View Photography said...

oh...*shudder* boys and potty training do not mix well. I am about to embark on training my 2nd boy.... I am NOT looking forward to it!

I can't find my blog said...

I know that I don't often comment here but this compelled me to do so. I hope you don't want to string me up after this...

My boys are 9 & 7. The older one pee trained so fast and so young it made my head spin-went from diapers to no diapers-even at night in about a nanosecond. Problem? He still has some poop issues. Still. Younger one resisted any training but did poop much easier/faster, but at an older age. But now? still has pee accidents on a regular basis, usually when he's doing something that keeps his attention rather than listening to his bladder. Sigh.

All this to say, in my experience, just let it go. Don't push (no pun intended,) because it becomes like the food thing. The more you try to get them to do it, the more they push back.

Good luck, I know how frustrating it is (and continues to be for me.)

Unknown said...

Oh honey, I feel for you. We went through pretty much the exact same thing, at the same time in my oldest son's life. He absolutely REFUSED to do #2 in the potty but he would hold it for DAYS. So at least your little guy is still going!

But I know how frustrating it can be. My only advice at this point is to just let it ride and realize that he will eventually do it. He just has to make up his own mind (if he's anything like my Ben, which is sounds like he is...) I know it's hard to do that, trust me I DO. But that's finally how it worked for us. He just had to do it on his own time...

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

My boys both had difficultly transitioning to pooping on the potty too but bribery worked wonders.

My cousin went through exactly the same thing as Graham is doing with both her girls. She made them stay up super late one night until they pooped on the potty...because as soon as the pull up went on, out the poop came. One night and they were both cured. It's not so much fun but it seemed to work :)

Good luck! And I can assure you he will poop on the potty! Not too many 5 year olds poop in their pull ups. (my almost 5 and 8 year olds both still need them at night - now there is a story!!!!!!!!) Doctor says not to worry about it. But he didn't say I couldn't be frustrated about it.

JCK said...

I have two friends whose children would only poop in their pull-up. The parents finally let go of it and the children decided they were ready to poop in the potty within a month. My only advice is to back off. Unfortunately, that is really, really heard. But, I believe it works when the parents take a step back. The power struggle never works and you don't want him holding it in forever.

And you can completely ignore my advice. :)

Jenny said...

I hate to tell you this, but it's not him, it's you. Or at least that was the deal when we went through this with my youngest. It was a power play, with pooping on the potty being the only power source that stubborn little boy had. When I stopped caring about him pooping in his pull up (and switched to the cheaper store brand ones since it had to be changed before he went to sleep anyway) he stopped trying to avoid it. And one day he got up from playing quietly, and went and sat on his little potty and pooped without me even knowing he'd gone in there. When he was good and ready. So there you go.

Melanie said...

Haven't read the other comments, so might be repeating.

1) My son 'got' poop right off the bat, pee was our struggle. Still, what I did might help you. I caught him in the act, whipped off the pullup and plunked him mid-poop on the toilet. He forgave me.

2) Others I've spoken with dealt with your challenge by getting their child to sit on the potty wearing pullups to poop. Then they started cutting a hole in the pullup, until eventually the kid was essentially wearing the frame of the pullup.

3) withhold something new that you know he really really wants. "Oh, well, I have this for you. But it's for big boys. You have to be a really big boy to have it. So when you're ready to be a big boy and poop in the potty, you just let me know."

Hope something there helps you!

Lindsay Lebresco (Graco) said...

Looks like the good news is there are a LOT of people in this same situation- me included. I have an almost 4 1/2 year old boy- sounds identical to yours. Peeing on the potty since his 3rd birthday- here we are a year and half later and we are no closer. I have given up. I'm ready to just wait until he's ready.

I've tried bribery, punishing, "no more diapers left, oh no!," books, a frickin' Leapster to use while he sat on the potty for hours (yes hours) at a time, cold showers when he pooped in his underwear after I cut them off of him and made him throw his beloved Cars underwear in the trash, a huge bash when he did manage to get a mouse-sized terd in the toilet ONE time, need I go on? I don't see an end in sight as of now. Kindergarten maybe.

I know this doesn't make you feel any better because you might be a year out. Good luck. I'll be checking back (maybe for a while) to see the celebration :)

RCRambling said...

I may be back to find out what you end up doing, since we have just started this endeavor at our house. And the pooping part scares him to death!

He's battling just using the potty already, even though it excited him so much at the beginning. I can get him to use it with bribery, but beyond that, he waits until the pull-up or diaper is back on.

Mine is under two, so we aren't ready to go hard-core on him yet (taking away all the diapers and such), but I'm worried it will get to that point.

BIBI said...

My heart goes out to you! I am in the same boat with my two-year old soon to be three.

*sigh* I guess I'll be emailing Naomi as well for help. =)

Lindsey said...

I have a son that turned 3 in January he is potty trained during the day at home...and basically at Grandmas house.

He started going pee on the toilet pretty quickly but it took around 4 or 5 months to get him to go poop, unfortunately they really won't do it until they are ready.

For my son telling him that I was going to call Mickey Mouse and tell him he wasn't going poop on the potty really helped.

My sister who has a son the same age just spent almost all day with no underwear or diaper on her son and she asked him every 10 minutes or so to go sit on the potty....pain in the butt but he was trained that day.

Best wishes...I also have a one year old I am hoping his big brother helps me train him!!!!

Jaina said...

I wish I had advice, but alas I do not. Best of luck though, I'm sure he'll get it. Maybe if you can get him to tell you WHY not?

Parent Club said...

he will poop in the pottty. he will go on a date. he will get a job.

all grown up things happen eventually.

breath in. breath out.

Tara R. said...

My son was the same way. We were worried we wouldn't get him to do #2 in the potty before he started school. Would not go, period. I can empathize. It's frustrating, but it will eventually happen.

Wendy said...

Hey Kelly,

Ah, toilet training is so fun eh? Personally, I'd lose the pull up. I skipped them altogether with Maddy, preferring to let her mess herself and decide it was not a pleasant feeling. She learned awfully quick for pee at least, within a week of peeing down her own leg. Poop was harder, she fought going in the potty ~ but realized that going in her underpants was not pleasant whatsoever & was something she was socially embarrased about b/c unlike a pull up, pooping in undies is smellier and very messy and people notice. (I stocked up on cheap underpants cause some things you just cannot wash out/or sometimes don't have the stomach to).
I also found it was and still is important to keep lots of fibre in her diet for 2 reasons: the first being she is forced to go regularly and the second being that she never has a hard poop. She had one of those and it scared her from using the potty for a good week.

Oooh and trying getting him to run before sitting on the potty. Chase him around the yard, around the block then sit him on it. It seems to make kids have to go.

Heather said...

Toilet training has never been fun in this house. I feel your pain, I do.

But one day he'll decide to do it and you'll wonder what you were stressing about.

Loukia said...

Good Luck to you - not fun or easy... my oldest son made the transition relatively easy, thank GOD. I never thought he would do it, but he did. Yours will too. You'll see!

Damselfly said...

Wish I could help! All I have is sympathy. My boy will say he doesn't need to sit on the potty and that he's not having a poop *even while doing it right in front of me in his diaper.* We've got a stubborn one too.

Tania said...

We got over the hump in a most icky way. We thought that being constipated was part of the issue, so we gave her a stool softener, and left her without any underwear or diapers. After a HORRIBLE week, she started to use the toilet (most of the time).

Anonymous said...

Oh man. Poor you.

Maybe don't give him a pull-up at night? It sounds crazy, even to me, but he's holding out for that pull-up. What's he going to do if he doesn't get one? He'll be out of options. It'll be messy, but he won't like it and maybe it'll work? Just tell him that he won't get a pull up until he poops in the potty.

That's all I've got. I wish I could be more help.

Christine said...

My first child was so easy to potty train-2 weeks and he basically peed on himself, got grossed out and went in the bowl. My daughter was pretty stubborn about pooping in the potty until I bribed her. Seriously, she was four and refused to go in the potty-not pee or poop. So, I had to find something she really wanted-Strawberry Shortcake movies. She could only watch them when she was on the bowl and if she went in the bowl, we immediately went out and bought another one. Whatever. It worked. When my third one came along, he was not as easy as child #1 and not as difficult as child #2, but I used the same tactics as with child #2 and bribed him with Star Wars toys. He could only play with them if he was on the toilet. He was potty trained in weeks at 3. It is tricky finding out WHAT their price is, but EVERYONE has a price. I know it is frustrating, but hang in there! Eventually, they get potty trained.

Lucia's Mom said...

I would also recommend backing off a bit. If you push before the kid is ready you can have constipation issues and that can be horrible for all and last years and years. If he's pooping every day, then that's good!

I'm not happy it ended up this way but when we started trying to potty train, she would not poo for 3 days and after 3 days I would use a suppository on the recommendation of our pediatrician. We went back to diapers and it still happened. Because with potty training they need to learn to hold it in, not just let her rip where ever they are. Two times of suppositories and she said "it feels funny, mommy, I don't like it." I started telling her that she would need the poo-poo medicine at bedtime if she hadn't made a poo that day. And miraculously she usually would that day.

We added lots of fiber to her diet and tried to get her drinking as much water as possible. Got over the constipation problems and then re-started potty training.

Her first big poop on the potty she snuck in there and did it herself. I gave her a high-five and took her picture next to it (she was so proud of herself). Then we would comment on it, how enormous it was and how amazing it was that she made it. She really became proud of them. We also bought these special big girl wipes for wiping up afterwards. She thought that was cool.

But honestly, the best trick that worked, was when her dad gave her a chocolate treat for pooing on the potty.

btw, I also congratulate her for poo-poos in her nighttime diaper because at least she got the poo out. Now I gently say, but you silly goose, did you forget to use the potty? Now she's regularly pooing once a day even while we travel.

I guess your pull-up sponsors won't like this, but I wonder if going back to diapers at night-time might be better. He might be more motivated to escape "baby" diapers than big-boy pull-ups.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Well, I wish you all the luck! I mysteriously have lucked out. My 2yo poops on the potty like a champ...its the potty that's a bit trickier for him! (Though I couldn't guess how we managed that!)