Potty Concern

Q. On behalf of my friend I am asking a question about potty training. Her four-year-old still poops in his pants and doesn’t care if he is dirty and smelly. What can I tell her to help her get him used to using the potty?

— Brenda

Brenda, please tell your friend that help is on the way. There are three principles of parenting that apply. Here they are with explanations for each.

  1. Set up for Success

Tell her to talk with her child about using the potty until they both have reached a comfort level with the plans. Working it out so that they are both in agreement on how and when the child will use the potty is very important. Next up is discussing the situation for when they are both out. They must come to an agreement on what is comfortable and will work before she can possibly expect his cooperation. Once they have gotten that far, they are ready to move on.

2.  Make Expectations Clear

This is the time to go over all situations and cover as many extenuating circumstances as possible. She must explain clearly what she expects and then be fair, firm, and positive.

  1. Fair – Explain what she wants.
  2. Firm – Say what she means.
  3. Positive – Show her love.

3. Use Praise and Encouragement Appropriately.

While using the potty appropriately is the goal, there are many ways to acknowledge small successes along the way. These provide encouragement. Positives, even little signs of helpfulness, are great to point out. When she notices full correct use of the potty, it is time to celebrate! That is praise.

NOTE: Parenting means taking control, and being a child means depending on your parents to take it.

June! Month of the Dads

Parents are wonderful teachers, and dads have their own special way. My dad taught me to “never give up!” I don’t think I could live without that one. What do you notice the dad in your house teaching your child? Whatever it is, I hope it is great.

If so, tell him. Thank him for making such a wonderful contribution to your child’s life.

That is a Father’s Day gift he will love and keep forever!

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  1. Sally: I often have people ask me for potty training tips, based on my years of working with kids (and nanny experience). I usually say, “Don’t worry too much. I have yet to meet a 45 year old who can’t use the toilet. It will happen in due time.” 🙂

    Your tips are great, however, as sometimes it goes beyond wanting our kids to use the potty. Sometimes it’s about pooping in the pants – this is a good insight.

    One of my kids did the same thing. It took a few weeks but he eventually grew out of it. We had to keep encouraging him to use the potty and we had to make sure we put him on RIGHT away each morning and EVERY night before bed. We also talked to him about how he was hoping to start Preschool but that couldn’t be accomplished unless he was potty trained.

    Thanks for the useful tips, as always!

  2. Hi Shara,

    I always love hearing your loving solutions. One of my favorite tips about parenting is that it should be fair, firm, and positive. Following those three principles parents can solve just about anything.

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