Sing a Song of Pooping

January 29, 2008

We're in the throws of potty training James, and I hate to say it, but so far not so good. For a child who's mastered all of the developmental milestones at the appropriate times (with virtually no guidance from his lazy-sack-of-a-mother), things are surprisingly different. Even the singing potty doesn't seem to help.

Yes, that's right, it's a singing potty--much different from the coffee cans that we were all trained on. It can sense when the child sits down and it's all like:

PEE ON ME something something.
GET A PRIZE yadda yadda yadda.

You get the idea. It also has a victory song for successful attempts. At least that's what the box says.we haven't heard it yet.

As if the singing isn't cool enough, this potty also has a shiny silver target at the bottom of the bowl, stars that flash and sparkle when you do your business, and an automatic sticker dispenser on the side.

He just doesn't seem to get it.

He'll sit on his potty with a look of bold determination on his face, while his eyes are fixed firmly on the prize--a medium-sized Tupperware container filled to the brim with big, fat, Peanut M&Ms. He'll try with all of his might to make something happen--he'll tap his hands and feet, hum the tune to Eye of the Tiger (I taught him that), and give himself pep talks--but nothing does the trick.

And then, after he gets tired of trying, the same thing happens every time--he'll hop off his potty, pull up his Sponge Bob underoos, and resume playing. Within three minutes we'll hear a chorus of sad sobs coming from his room--after all, it's a real bummer when you pee in the bed of your dump truck.or on your newly built block tower.or in your pet greyhound's ear.

So today my dear readers, I come before you, humbly seeking your advice. One reader has shared her successful potty training technique with me, but what about the rest of you--how did you teach your kids to hit the singing target? How did you get your husband to stop eating the reward M&Ms?

James will be three in April--am I pushing him too hard? Am I letting him off the hook too easily? Should I trade him in the newer model?

I don't care if you're young or old, male or female, a parent or childless--I need some input and ideas, people. Help a girl out.


Marathoner in Training said...

I am sorry, but you can not stop your husband from eating the reward M&Ms....:) Go Jered... As for the potty training, I can not help you.

Brad and Rebecca said...

Heidi would set the timer every 15 minutes and keep trying. There will be accidents...thats just inevitable. Hang in there and look at the bright side- Jared is the stay at home dad...let him deal with it.

Laura said...

Amen to the earlier post--let your hubby deal with it. Enjoy being the worker, cause trust me, potty training sucks!!

Lori said...

My oldest was born in April and I think was trained by October before he turned 3. That said, I don't think not being trained before he turns 3 is bad or unusual AT ALL! The thing I finally realized with my second was that when I was actually ready to put all that time and effort into it, she got the hang of it pretty quick. Once James figures out that *feeling*, it will be no time at all. Just keep taking him to the potty every 5 minutes if you have to and he'll catch on quick :)

Vanilla said...

I'm with marathoner in training, so long as Jared isn't soiling himself he can eat the reward M&Ms.

Don't stress too hard over it Amy, my oldest didn't start taking an interest in it until he was 40 months, and my youngest just turned 3 and is still struggling to get it. When James is ready it will happen quickly, but I wouldn't push him too hard just yet.

Heidi said...

Maybe he's scared of the singing potty? I'm just saying. I don't think I'd want the world to sing every time I peed.

After the debacle with my first one's potty training (wherein I became a banshee-type-mother), I determined to let my children potty train themselves. I don't know how that will work yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Rhien Family said...

In my minimal experience of one child...

Our daughter trained herself.

She has had less than a handful of accidents since we put her in her big girl undies.

So, I really have no advice other than maybe he's not ready? We went straight to the big potty, never even bothered with a kiddie one... let alone the singing sparkly- sticker-dispensing wonder you have...

Another thought, I know that one or two peanut M&M's worked when I was a kid, Everyone gets treats when they go... even older siblings, and parents. Jared should like that.

Although, with inflation being the way it is, maybe your kid just needs more M&M's to make it work :)

Seriously though, good luck. We just lucked out in a big way, most kids don't just wake up one day completely potty trained with the bladder skills of an adult. (she can hold it longer than even I can- sorry, Too Much Information.)


Staci said...

I have two 10 & 8. My oldest was about 2 1/2 when he was sucessful at PEEING in the big toliet. He didn't like the small potty we had. SO...I threw some cherrios or fruit loops in the bowl and BAM...he was aiming and firing RIGHT in the bowl. Amazingly he still is a pretty good shot. ;P
#2 for him was ANOTHER story. He wore underoos too and only pooped in them...a small victory but still a victory. He out grew that on his own after another 3-6 months.

My youngest son potty trained VERY early. Before he was 2. He wanted to be big like his brother and was determined. Just his personality. He's still that way. He would use the small potty...probably because he was so small/young. He would bring his big brown teddy bear "Bob" into the bathroom with him. :P I got "Bob" his own potty (a little kids step stool) and sat it right next to him. He LOVED having a "friend" going potty too. He also brought in some of his fav. books. He sat there and took his time. He really did everything on his own and I just followed his lead.

Hope there were a few ideas in there for you. GOOD LUCK!

Mindy said...

The only thing I can tell you (may or may not be helpful) is that both of my boys were 4 before we mastered the potty... okay, that's a lie. My 6 year old still pees his bed at least once a week.

sarahbobeara said...

if you weren't now living in maine, i'd say let him start peeing outside. don't boys of all ages love that? but you don't want frostbite on anything that will be passing on the family

if it was me, i'd back off a bit. is he in diapers or pullups? just enjoy the diaper age a little longer, do you know how annoying it is to hear 'i have to pee!' when the walmart bathrooms are waaaay on the other end of the store.

Hilary said...

I have two sons - neither of which were fully trained before sometime after turning three, which I figure is when they were ready.

I'd suggest offering, but not placing too much on the end result. If he's sobbing in his room so soon after trying, he's experiencing and reacting to "failures" rather than "successes." This will just stress him out about something he's still simply unable to accomplish.

Keep in mind too that he's dealing with a lot of new things right now - new home, new people, Mom's new job. It just might not be the best time for potty training. And summertime is always easier - with fewer clothes to remove in a hurry. :)

Pass the M&Ms please!

P.O.M. said...

Girls are so much easier. My niece didn't like the little practice potty. She only liked the real one. It made her feel like a big girl to use the big potty. My sister also used the trick of getting special undies - like with princesses on them. That worked the best.

He'll figure it out sooner or later. GOod luck :)

Marcy said...

Don't sweat it! Seriously! My oldest was jsut shy of 3 when she was potty trained. I got so fed up (nothing worked. I tried EVERYTHING! Charts, treats, books, timers, EVERYTHING) that I just stopped trying. And then a week after that? She PT-ed herself LOL. Day and night trained and only has had 2 accidents in the past year (she's 4 now) I think it was more of a control issue than anything. Everything had to be on her terms.

Jen said...

My twin boys potty trained at different times. One was around 3 1/2 and the other one was 4. I was so happy to have one of them out of diapers I didn't care that the other boy was still in them. I definitely didn't push (I was insane enough already) and they both were potty trained pretty quickly--including through the night within a week.
Of course there's always the "Naked and $75" method that someone told us about when my daughter was potty training. Basically you stay home for a week, letting your child run around naked, using the potty as often as possible. Without the encumbrance of clothing, it's that much easier to just 'go' when the time comes. No pressure. After a week you can once again dress your potty trained child and go out while the $75 carpet cleaner comes and cleans up all the accidents.
Good luck.

MillerFam said...

Hey Ame,

Well, I am no expert in potty training but here is my 2 cents. Drew was much easier being a boy b/c we waited till July (he was 2 yrs. 8 mths then) and he just went outside or off the back deck and thought it was cool. It took much more convincing for #2, he wanted a diaper and I let him do that till they ran out.

Definitely stay home and don't go anywhere for like a week. Only put him in underwear or naked, there will be lots of accidents, but he needs to feel being wet to get it. Have lots of extra clothes on hand for changing.

And finally. If you start it, DO NOT STOP TRYING. Otherwise you will be "potty training" for months and months and months. So, start as you mean to go on if you know what I mean. If you give up and go back to diapers he will think that will happen each time you try to start up again.

It will be nasty, it will not be fun, it will take some effort on your part, but it is TOTALLY worth it in the end. I promise.

Hope this helps!

carla said...

no expert here either AND Im the one consuming the reward confections BUT I echo yer "leave him to his own devices and just proffer the opportunity" thought.

That said my 2 year old is a no-napper (never napped) AND my domicile a mess (I keep waiting for it to clean itself) so my advice might not be the best...


WyniaFamily said...

Yeah, most of these comments will work. Keep the "BiG KID" underware on.. once you put a diaper back on they won't work for it! :) Take them to the potty like every 10 minutes. (Hopefully you only have to do that for three days- Do it on a weekend or when you don't have someplace to go!) Once he does it, he will be more motivated...don't worry... I don't see many 12 year old boys peeing their pants. It will happen! :)

Jess said...

Well, I know nothing about potty training children, but I have potty trained my dog. I gave him a treat when he went outside in the right place. Can you give your kid a treat as reward? Or, do you have a clicker? I used that too with my dog.

Caden & Carter's Mom said...

Just want to echo some previous answers... don't pressure too much, BUT if you do want to move forward ditch any form of diapers, pull-ups, etc. and only use regular undies or the bare bum method. Pee running down the leg sends the child a VERY clear message. And, Elmo's Potty Time video... our first attempt at PT was a disaster. A week later, my son watched the video non-stop for 2 weeks and was ready to go. Trained at 2 yrs. 7 mos., now he's 3 1/2 and we're still working on the nighttime thing. Good luck!

Bahston Beans said...

No advice. But I would like to wager $5 that you'll wake up in the middle of the night to find Jared using his head lamp and the light up toilet.

The Roberts' Report said...

Well I'm not a "perfect parent" by any means BUT I am wicked SMART. So here's my advice. Since he seems to relax while he's playing and not while on the pot. Try having him use one of those portable potties as a chair while he sits in front of the TV for a movie. See if he'll relax enough to do it. Then the more successes he has the more he'll realize how to control those muscles. BUT and it's a big one. If he can never do it on his own for 1 week. You need to stop and wait another month. Then try again for 1 week. That way you aren't pressuring him! He's got time!

OH I also tried a sticker chart for Emma with a picture of some toy she REALLY REALLY wanted at the end of it. And told her everytime she went potty she could add a sticker. That was nice, not to have to do candy all the time as a reward!

fairygrandmother said...

Just echoing what most have said. Let him run around in underwear or naked for a week or two. He needs to feel what it's like to pee. Don't comment on accidents at all, just clean them up and move on, he doesn't need guilt tripping. I didn't give treats, I used to clap and sing silly songs and dance around, when they got it right, which seemed more effective somehow!

chattypatra said...

After reading all the previous posts, I feel as if I have peeked into the mysterious ongoings of a secret society. It's so entertaining! Loved Jed's input and, yes, Rachel, I can tell that you are indeed wicked smart. Heh.

Amy, I was going to suggest that you let him run around the house naked, until I remembered where you are living now. Oops!

Honestly, I too would freak out if my toilet broke into song. It would definitely have the opposite effect that was intended. What if it sang even louder when I finally did my business, all bells and whistles and stuff. I mean, do you really want your neighbors to hear that particular sound nugget?

I think Rachel's suggestion is right on the money. Both the technique and the reward system are brilliant.

My condolences to Gracie. You don't have to be golden to be golden, if you know what I mean.

Grandma said...

Thank Grammy for the carpet cleaner!!!! I was enjoying hearing the singing potty chair, but if I had to hear the song every 10 minutes, I would drive the car over it. I think it would be fun to rig it to sing when company uses the bathroom. and Hi C and C's mom!!!How are you?

Mary said...

OK Amy, I just made a special post for you over on my blog. I didn't think posting a youtube video in remarks would work. It is a Japanese potty training video and it's hilarious!

I don't really have much else to add to all that's been said. Don't be afraid to push a little. After all, we are supposed to teach our children and sometimes they need to be pushed. I think my boys were trained sometime between 2 1/2 and 3 years. I got lucky with Emma; she trained herself at 25 months!

Cheryl said...

Lots of good advice here. I would just echo the no diapers or pull ups idea, because he needs to feel what wet pants feel like. Also the no pressure, no scolding advice is good. You don't want him to feel terrible that he isn't doing it in the pot, just happy when he does!

Something to make you feel better: my sister's kids were not potty trained till after age three, and the boy took great (I think devious) glee in peeing all kinds of inappropriate places -- on the couch, in the closet, etc.

If Bahston Beans is right about Jared, I hope you will blog about it! :-)

Boquinha said...

Potty train at 4. It's soooooo much easier and saves everyone a headache. Why push it sooner? Diapers can be handy. Let it go, enjoy not yet potty training, and you'll do it in a day when he's 4. Totally worth it.

Heidi Taylor said...

Good luck Amy. He will get it eventually. Keep up the good work. Heidi

Anonymous said...

It seems like everyone has gone all wrong with this rewards system, positive feedback fluff. Instead of a sticker for tinkling in the John, how about a five-minute wall sit for peeing the pants? Instead of M&Ms for pooing in the water, how about 20 pushups for making stinky underwear? Sure your son might fester permanent, indelible resentment, but he'll either be potty trained or as solid as a rock!

katieo said...

My advice would be to chill.
Our oldest (who is 6) didn't train until (literally) right before preschool. He had just turned 4. And then once he had it, he was rock solid. Something just clicked. We seriously had to clean up 3 or 4 messes (all pee) TOTAL with that experience.

That said, up until that point, we had tried EVERYTHING. The rewards. The little potty in front of the tv. The Dr. Phil "throw a potty party." We even told him we would go to Chuck E Cheese if he'd just tinkle in the toilet. No luck. All the while pretending our guts out: "Oh yeah no biggie, whenever you're ready...are you ready? whatevs."

Finally one night we were getting him out of the bath when he accidently peed in the toilet. He was reaching for his towel, turned around, and bullseye! the teeniest couple of drops of urine landed in the toilet. So what did we do? Packed up and went to chuck e cheese of course! I think we actually went 4 times that week. We eventually moved to M&M's...
no probs after that. But he was 4, and I think once he got it, it just stuck.

I don't think that was very helpful. But I'm going to leave it anyway.

katieo said...

oh yeah, and we never did pullups. Just seemed like it dragged the process out.

Amy said...

I *JUST* blogged about the same thing on Monday ! I've resorted to using semi-threatening coloring sheets, feel free to borrow them! Good luck!

Rhien Family said...


I cursed myself yesterday by saying our daughter has good bladder skills yesterday on your blog.

This morning I woke up to Alli saying Oooohhhh, Ohhhhhh, and the sound of pee hitting the ground next to our bed, covering the carpet and a couple of our decorative pillows that were tossed on the ground the night before. I guess I spoke too soon on saying she was completely potty trained. (I guess every parent has to go through some accidents- I'm just counting my blessings she's as good as she is.)

Best of luck.

me said...

ok, I'm laughing too hard from everyone's comments to even come up with something myself!

I have two boys and have yet to start the potty training adventure yet. I think I might try the clicker method though, that seems pretty reasonable to me!

(again, laughing too hard to be coherent right now!)


Prof Scrub said...

Dear Potty Trainer,

Quite frankly I am disturbed by your insistence on potty training. If the young and bright lad wants to continue to use nappies, or better still, express himself wherever he pleases, I firmly believe he should be allowed to do so. My mother never potty trained me and I turned out great. I do still occasionally enjoy wearing nappies and there is nothing wrong with the occasional poop in the street. Rather satisfying.

Prof Scrub

Jill said...

I'm sorry, this might be long.
We've trained three so far.
#1 was older than I care to admit. We started too early, and tried everything in the book. What finally did the job was a case of salmonella. Not a method I would recommend, however, it was highly effective. The poor kid had to go #2 so frequently (we stopped counting at 18 times one day) that he got a lot of practice. Besides, if he didn't do it the potty, it was an unpleasant experience.
#2- Age three. Princess underwear. You just CAN'T pee on Cinderella.
#3- Age three. Manipulative child. Waited until we offered him a list of about 8 toys he really wanted, and a dinner out at Carl's Jr. (yuck). All he had to do to get this list of prizes, was #2 in the potty, ONE time.
He finally did it, and got the loot. I think waiting until HE was ready worked out really well. We had very few accidents with that one.
#4 is exactly the same age as your son. We have introduced him to the potty, but no serious training yet. He's not ready, however every kid is different. We have until September to have him trained so he can start preschool.
I agree with those who say no to pull ups. They are no different than diapers, just harder to change, and more expensive.
Good luck, and don't get discouraged, I'm sure he'll be trained by the time he's 8.

p.s. My niece has one of those talking potties. Early one morning, her dad was getting out of the shower, and accidently dripped some water in it, and it started talking.
Scared the snot out of him it did.

Melissa said...

I have no potty training advice but I want to congratulate you on your blog being well read enough that you have yourself your very own troll/spammer. THAT is something to be proud of. ;)

Eric said...

Hi. I've been enjoying your blog for a couple of months, but haven't commented before. I have a 19 month old son and haven't started potty training yet, but my FIL sent me this article.

Not sure yet if this guy has good advice on child-rearing, but if you're looking for something else to try...

Julie from MI

Sydney said...

As soon as I allowed my son to pee standing up- he got it!

We started at the park when we let him pee on our car tires, then on the trees in the back yard, etc. It clicked for him. I think it was the trying to sit him down to pee that made him refuse.

Take him outside and cheer him on and see if it works for you too!

AMiller said...

OK - So ask and ye shall receive. My daughter trained herself. My son - - well that is a whole different story. We started at barely 2 and he was doing great, then he regressed and we were still fighting with him having accidents at 4. So, my advice, don't push too hard. If it isn't coming, lay off and try later - do you know any 6 year olds who aren't potty trained?

seven said...

I'm not a mom, but I think there's not a whole lot you can do until he connects the feeling in his bladder with the peeing-in-the-greyhound's-ear. I would say leave him in the underwear so he can feel it when he pees and maybe start to equate the urge with the result, so to speak. Good luck! Also, enjoy this funny song, 'cause it's better to laugh than cry, right?