The Boy Who Cried "Poop!"

This post is dedicated to my mama friends who are dreading the pee puddles and skid-marked underpants that are the tokens of potty training.  To those of you who wanted to know what we learned, what disasters we survived, and how we finally nailed it, enjoy.  Anyone else who doesn't want to read about poop… you really should, it's pretty hilarious.

Is there any better way to kick off the new year?

Mom thought I was a little crazy when I told her that Camden and I were going shopping for a potty chair.  Camden's second birthday had been only a month earlier, and there we were in Target running between the Elmo Adventure potty and the one that sings when you flush.  {Toilets are crazy exciting these days.}

BUT, Camden had been super interested in the whole business of the business.  He loved to sit on the throne fully clothed, and then tell me, "I poo poo!" or barge in on Roy or I to check out the whole process.  Even though he was on the young side, I wanted to catch him while he was interested, in that narrow window of time where the potty is cool and fun.  I figured if at the end of the first day he clearly wasn't ready, we would go back to diapers and try again later.

So we walked out of Target with the singing potty, as soon as I verified that there was an off switch.  And batteries I could rip out, if need be.  He just loved it.  And every time he flushed the plastic handle the potty shouted, "YAY!" and Camden got the biggest smile and echoed, "YAY!"  Fifty-trillion times later I secretly went for the off switch, but I was just happy he was stoked about it.  I wanted to keep it fun.

Next I ordered books.  Camden's two favorites were A Potty for Me and P is for Potty!, which he brought me to read several times a day.  It helped that we could point to his own potty chair and explain that it was the same as what was in the book(s).  For about two weeks we read books about the potty, watched movies about the potty, continued to "pretend" to go potty, and made a big deal about how he would soon be a big boy like these characters.

That groundwork was key for us.  It made potty training in three days much easier than I expected.

Day One

Our schedule was cleared.  For three days we would be doing nothing but potty training.  So on day one I set my alarm and got up earlier than normal so I could do a few things for myself.  Like shower.

I dressed in something I wouldn't mind getting peed on, knowing I wouldn't set foot outside my front door {hello college sweatpants!}.  I taped an Elmo potty chart low on the wall where Cam could access it and put a roll of animal stickers nearby but out of reach.  I put our singing potty in the bathroom and got the potty we were borrowing from a friend and put it in the kitchen.  I got out the cleaning materials for the inevitable messes, I brought all of his favorite toys into the kitchen, and prepped for a full day living on the tile.

I was in the middle of setting out the rewards {fruit snacks and stickers} near the kitchen potty, when I heard a thump in Cam's room.  And then the unmistakable pitter patter of little paddle feet across his carpet to his door.


No way!  Camden had just learned to climb out of his crib.  On day one of potty training.  Seriously.

Luckily he hadn't figured out our doorknobs yet, so I hurried and finished preparations before letting him out of his room.

"It's Potty Day!" I told him when I opened the door.  "Today you get to be a big boy and use the potty!"  You know, I acted like it was Christmas and his birthday combined--the most exciting day of the year--and the buzz was clearly contagious.  He was so down! 

After breakfast I whipped out Mickey Mouse, the only stuffed animal he has any sort of attachment to.  I had previously snipped off his red pants for this special event.

"What is Mickey wearing?  *Gasp* Is he wearing big boy underwear?  Good job, Mickey!  Do you want to wear big boy underwear too, Camden?"

"Yeeehs?"  {His little high-pitched voice makes everything sound like a question.}

So we got on some underwear with a fire truck on it, which is pretty much the coolest thing that could possibly be on any type of clothing.  We talked about how great it is that he and Mickey are big boys and are wearing big boy underwear.

Next I slyly grabbed a medicine dropper as I said, "Mickey has to go potty!  Hurry to the potty!" and we ran to the singing toilet with underpants-wearing Mickey in tow.  We pulled down the mouse's underpants, placed him on the potty, and I put the dropper behind the stuffed animal's back and squirted out the water.

"Look!  Mickey went pee pee!  YAY!  Good job Mickey!"  Cue the potty song and dance.  It involves high knees and racing around the kitchen island as fast as we can.  After we dumped the fake pee into the big toilet, Mickey got a sticker and a single fruit snack.

"Now do you want to go on the potty, Camden?"


There we were, sitting on the little potty, as cool as Mickey Mouse.  Even though I tried to sing songs and keep him occupied, Cam was over it pretty fast.  So the underwear went back on {no pants} and I set our timer for five minutes and we started playing with cars and drinking juice.

Two notes:
- It was so important to keep pumping this kid full of liquid.  We made fresh squeezed juice from the fruit in the back yard, plus I had apple juice from the store.  I watered both down and alternated between those and ice water.  He thought he was getting quite the treat.  We also feasted on salty snacks all day long to keep him thirsty.  Doing this made him have to go number one about every fifteen minutes, which was good.  More opportunities to learn.
- I didn't answer phone calls or do the dishes at all on the first day.  Everything truly focused around Camden, as I had to keep a close eye on his physical signs that he had to go.  I knew he would think it was pretty fun to have my full attention as I sat and played whatever game he wanted, but I didn't expect it strengthen our bond like it did.  <3

When the timer when off I told Camden that the sound meant it was potty time!  And it was, of course, exciting.  Soon he was trained like Pavlov's dogs.  Every five minutes he heard the timer, and he ran for the potty.  Only problem was… he wasn't going pee in the potty.  He would sit for a minute and then run off and play.

When he peed while playing with his cars, he looked up at me and said, "Uh-oh!  Pee pee!"  So he totally knew what was going on, and that it was an uh-oh.

As I was moping up accident number three, I was thinking we should quit.  But, looking back, those first three accidents were fundamental in his understanding of what happens when you don't make it to the toilet.  And he realized he didn't like the wet feeling.

Plus, I tried to use the accidents as a teaching tool.  Each time he went on the floor I pointed at the puddle and said, "No pee pee on the floor!"  Then I would pick him up and sit him on his little throne and say, "Pee pee in the potty!"  And I would do that several times, going back and forth between the accident and the potty, which he thought was pretty funny.  Soon he was singing it with me, and I watched the concept click in his eyes.

Another part of the accident routine that I think helped, is that we had a "yucky bin."  Just a little basket I placed in the kitchen with us, where he would drop his wet underwear after an accident.  "We don't like to wear yucky, wet underwear!"  {He loved saying "yucky bin."}  Then we put on a new pair of underwear and talked about keeping it dry.

Finally, we had a success!  Seriously, it's weird how rewarding it is the first time your kid goes in the potty.  But I wanted him to feel rewarded.  Thus, we celebrated with the potty dance, a single fruit snack, and a sticker.  He liked choosing which animal to put on the chart, and of course the fruit snack was great, but his favorite thing was actually the dance.  If I had known how much he would love it, I probably would have skipped the whole "treat" enticement.  For Camden, the potty dance was totally exciting enough on it's own.

Then I told him, "Now you're a big boy!  You don't need diapers anymore!"  He helped me take the remaining diapers out of his dresser and throw them in the garbage.  {It was a clean garbage bag and I removed it when he wasn't looking so I could donate the diapers.}  It was good for him to have a visual concept of "no more diapers."  And we were committed to not going back.

After Cam had three "hits" on the potty {even a drop counts} we increased the timer to every ten minutes.  After three "hits" with ten, we increased to fifteen.  Accidents were still happening occasionally, but now it was more like… streaming down his leg as he was running for the potty.  He had the concept down, he just needed to recognize the feeling of needing to go a little sooner.

At nap time I put a pull-up on over his underwear, and explained to him that he needed to tell me if he needed to go potty.  The idea was to keep underwear on him so that he would feel uncomfortable if he went in bed, but there wouldn't be a huge mess to clean up.  I must admit, I abandoned this idea after throwing away the second pair of pooped-in underpants.  Now we just stick with pull-ups, but someday I might go back to this when we are night training.

Camden climbed out of his crib when he was done with his nap, and learned to open his bedroom door.  Scary!  But he was dry.

After  his nap he wasn't quite as interested in the potty anymore.  {And I don't blame him!}
It was more of a struggle to convince him to sit there, but I didn't want to make it seem forced or like a chore!  I had to get creative with ways to get him to sit on the potty, and forced myself to keep smiling and making it fun.

"Your trucks want to see how you go pee pee on the potty!"
Or I just had to do a better job of reminding him about his rewards.
"Let's go potty so we can do the potty dance!"
Or {especially if he had to go number 2} I had to put a show on for him.

I don't recommend watching movies when they aren't on the potty.  Camden would get so engrossed in the show that he wouldn't realize he had to go in time.

When Roy came home from work all hell broke loose.  My sweet boy became downright defiant!  It was important for Roy to understand everything we had been working on, and exactly how we had been doing it.  Consistency was the only way we were ever going to pull it off!  And once Camden saw that Daddy was on board with this potty thing, and that the rules didn't change with him, he complied.

That night we took off the front of the crib so Camden wouldn't be dangerously climbing and falling anymore.  But then there's the door-opening!  Bah!  Talk about too many milestones in one day...

I'm not gonna sugarcoat this for ya… at the end of the day I was exhausted.  And I expected day two to maybe be worse, since we had ended on a more difficult note.

Day Two

Thankfully, I was wrong.  Day 2 just clicked.  We hardly had any accidents at all, and the timer was set for every 30 minutes throughout the day.  He still ran to the potty at the sound of the timer, and he was starting to tell me when he had to go all on his own, even if the timer hadn't gone off yet.

If he went to the potty before the timer went off, I reset it to 30 minutes.

We kept everything consistent to the day before.  We played with Play Dough, Mr. Potato Head, and trains, drank juice, and went potty.  But in the afternoon we ventured into the backyard to play, still pantless.  {Thank you Arizona Januarys!}  He actually asked to go while we were out there, which was great.

I could count accidents by looking in the "yucky bin" at the number of underwear in there.  Day one we had about ten.  {Even though some accidents were small, we always changed.}  And the end of day two there were only three!!!!

Day Three

No real accidents all day!  Woohoo!

On this day we drank less juice, and I had my timer go off quietly at thirty minutes, only to remind me to simply ask Camden if he had to go.  You know, just in case he was so excited about a game that he forgot.  A few times he said yes, but if he said no I believed him and waited for him to tell me when he wanted to go to the bathroom.

Boys.  Despite his sitting on the toilet, we still had to throw some underpants in the "yucky bin" because of the firehose problem.  Let's just say I had to change my clothes more than he did.

The big final exam came that evening when we had dinner at a friend's house, and Camden wore pants over his underwear for the first time.  Our friends were so kind to be willing to be our first outing in underwear.  We brought his little potty, and plenty changes of pants and underwear.  We went through all of them!

Camden didn't make any big puddles, but just had little accidents.  It made me realize that being potty trained at home is one thing, and being potty trained in public/new environments is another.  Still, he almost always told us when he had to go, and made it to the bathroom several times.


It has been two weeks since our first day of potty training, and we never have accidents and everything is perfect… said no one ever.

The other day we went to McDonald's with some friends, and I let Camden go play in the play place without a second thought.  Without thinking about the fact that I was sending him into a maze swarming with kids, and when he has to go potty I have about thirty seconds to get him to a bathroom before the inevitable.

A half hour later I heard him crying, and he waddled awkwardly down the oversized jungle gym steps in soaking pants, looking so sad and embarrassed.  Poor guy!  I felt really guilty.  But lesson learned: don't send him out where I can't be near him for the alert.  Not for a few months, I think, when he hopefully gets better at heading to the bathroom earlier.

Everywhere we go we bring a change of clothes and underwear, but he honestly has only had two major accidents out of our home, and that's it.  The bigger problem is getting him to quit asking to go potty so often.

Camden is the boy who cried, "Poop!"  Half of the time he's just faking me out, giggling like he totally tricked me and it's hilarious.  Little stinker.  One of these days I'm going to not believe he really has to go and then we're going to have a mess.  I'm counting on it.

Was this a lot of work?  Yes.  But it was worth it to be where we are now.  He is stoked about his big boy underwear, he always tells me when he needs to go, he now prefers the regular toilet, and he requires minimal help and no reward.  Just a high five and a short jig.  I would do it all again, no question.

It was an intense three days, but Camden and I are closer than we were before.  I can't explain it, but potty training has brought us even closer--I love this kid to pieces!

For all you friends at the cusp of this grand adventure, here are my resources:

Fellum's Three Day Theory (watch the video)
Growing a Jeweled Rose
These Are the Days
Diary of a Bewildered Mother

I read everything I could, picked out my favorites, and adjusted for our family.  Hopefully our experience helps you in some way.


UPDATE: We unexpectedly relocated, moving to a new town and a new house, less than two months after potty training.  The big change sent Camden into a relapse, which we were thankfully able to get through without going nuts.  Click here to see how we survived and how we are doing three months later.

1 comment:

  1. You are such a great mama!! This post is gold! I'll definitely be referring back to it in a couple of years. Thanks :-)