Remember how, during Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge), we were potty-training Shlomo and a siren went off while he was on the potty?
Well, 6 months later, we are about back to where we were then. How we did it, I don’t know. I think by just making a direct reward, a direct consequence, and letting it be. In other words, the direct reward and direct consequence are the only things that we associate with pooping. It was just getting to be too much, and we felt like everything in his life, and ours, was connected to poopng . . . something we didn’t feel was healthy or beneficial.
Direct reward: He gets his pacifier from the moment he’s off the potty until he leaves for gan the next morning. There is no connection between the pacifier and the potty, you say? You’re right. Except that the pacifier was the only thing he really seemed to care about on a long term basis.
No potty, no cookie? No problem, I don’t need a cookie anyways.
Potty and half an hour of uninterrupted playtime with one of us, even on a busy day? Well, that’s nice, but I get it enough anyways, and when I really want it I’ll poop in the potty.
No potty, no pasta (because pasta is constipating and he eats too many carbs)? Who cares, I like vegetables and as long as I’m not hungry it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
No potty, no tablet? Meh, who cares.
Poop in pants and pick it up with a wipe? Who cares?
Poop in pants and pick it up with my hands? Ewwwwww. But it’s not so bad, it gets a reaction, and the solution is simple: Don’t poop.
No potty, no pacifier? But I waa-aa-aaa-annn-ttt.
Originally, I suggested trying poop-f0r-pacifier for a single week to see if it would work. The idea was that at the end of the week, something would have changed. Either he would give up the pacifier, he would poop in the potty, or possibly both.
In the end, what happened was none of the above; and all of the above.
He is much less dependent on the pacifier, and can sleep well without it. (If Tova wakes him up, we give him the pacifier whether or not he’s pooped. Tova waking him up is not something that he can control, plus it means that he won’t become resentful of her waking him or us up. Win-win.)
And when he wants the pacifier, which is nearly every day, he sits and poops on the potty.
If he poops in his pants, he helps clean it up. Just like he would clean up after himself if he spilled oatmeal. We clean up our poops, he can help clean up his. Because he is a clean freak, this is a very awful punishment – which is why, when it was done by itself, he held in his poop for a whole week and became seriously constipated.
Shlomo isn’t pooping every day yet, but we’re averaging about three times a week, which is pretty good. Sometimes he holds in his poop so long that he gets poop smear stains on his underwear – poop that tried to come out but got pulled back in. When that happens, he has two choices: Put a big poop in the toilet, or touch the poop in the underwear. It’s been about a month since the last poop outside the potty, and we’ve only had a few big smears and a few little ones. Tfu tfu tfu, may it continue to get better.
Also, at some point more than a month ago, we switched from potty to toilet seat. We took the stool and the toilet seat and sat him on the big toilet. At the beginning he was afraid and held Yitzchak’s shoulders, until he realized he wouldn’t fall. Then he had a choice: No toys and potty, or toys and big toilet. Guess which one he chose – the big toilet. He poops with his tablet in hand. And if that means that he only poops 6 days a week and doesn’t poop on holidays, so be it. The maximum is three days, and even that is only once a year, and not every year.
The toilet seat has this lid in the front meant for making sure that the pee won’t spray all over the place. He complains that it hurts his peepee. Solution? Stick a wad of toilet paper between the plastic and the peepee.
We are still working on peeing while sitting on the potty. At present he insists on standing up to pee and then sitting back down to try pooping. Eventually, I think he will get it. In the meantime, he has peed on himself a few times when we told him to push down his peepee and pee into the toilet while sitting.
I write the bathroom-appropriate details because I assume that some of my readers are parents who are potty-training boys, and I assume it will be helpful. If Shlomo reads my blog when he is older and protests my explicit instructions meant for potty-training parents, I will let him reword it. Otherwise, I will save it for him and his wife when his son decides to pull the same stunts.
I take comfort in the fact that Tova, unlike Shlomo, does not like sitting in dirty diapers. She will cry until you change her diaper, even if it only has pee in it. Shlomo did not care if his diaper was wet or dirty, unless it got his clothes wet or dirty. The biggest obstacle to his potty training was that he simply did not care. For all that he is a neat freak, having a gross bottom was someone else’s issue and not worth the break from playing. Hopefully, since Tova seems to dislike being wet or dirty, she will be happy to learn how to keep herself dry and clean by going to the potty. She is also a girl, and supposedly girls train faster – but this we will see in due time.
Update from after Shabbat, Feb. 28: Apparently, I need to stop posting poop-training updates. Shortly after this was published we found poop in his underwear – or rather, slime in his underwear. It was much more than just a little stain. Then he pooped in the toilet. The next day, we found another stain in his underwear. And the day after that. Sigh. Today I told Shlomo that my contract includes washing poopy underwear for maximum eight months, and that it applies to one-, two-, and three-year olds, but not to four-year-olds. Then I got a brilliant idea: My contract doesn’t include washing a 4-year-old’s poopy underwear, right? And the extra loads are a waste of water and electricity; if I don’t do the extra loads I suffer from the stink and have to make sure nothing touches it. Solution: He can hand wash his own poopy underwear. Fair enough, no? It takes the task of my hands, and saves electricity and water . . . and teaches him some responsibility. We’ll see what happens now.