The Shape of Things: A Simple Potty Training Poop Trick


potty training poop shapes

It’s no secret that poop is one of the most difficult aspects of potty training.  This is one of the most common reasons that parents come to me for help, and if you stop to think about it from your child’s point of view, you can understand *why* this can be so troublesome at first.

For most of their lives, no one has much paid attention to their poop, but suddenly today, now that we’ve started potty training, it’s become the subject of hyper-focus.  If you have a child struggling with poop, it can even be tempting to look in there and see if the poop is coming!  (Hint: That’s not going to help!)  Everything about poop is just…. bigger than pee.  The feelings are stronger, poop is BIG in relation to their little bodies, and there’s a lot more substance to it than pee.  It can vary in quality and how easy it is to let it out.  And, most of us send mixed messages about poop (we may even do this unconsciously):  it’s dirty and gross, but we’re also highly anticipating its arrival.   Most of us are uncomfortable having others around while we poop – but we put a potty in the middle of the living room so our child can learn!  At the same time, our culture is rife with poop jokes – though that may actually highlight our discomfort with it.  With all of these conflicting feelings and messages, it’s no wonder that children can have some performance anxiety about pooping on the potty – which can seem SO public compared to the comfortable “privacy” of their diaper.

My family was no stranger to these issues when we worked on potty training with my daughter.  As with many kids, she too struggled with poop at first.  At some point along the way, we discovered a fun technique for making poop more relatable: talking about its shape!  This evolved naturally from our down-to-earth conversations about poop after it had successfully come out: just taking a few minutes to relate it to other things she was learning about in the world around her.  “Look, there are blueberries!  It’s a blueberry poop!”  We talked about simple aspects like color and shape – things she would see and be interested in, in other settings.  This transformed poop from being uncomfortable, strange, weird, big, and gross, into something exciting, fun, and familiar.  Soon, our daughter was excitedly coming to us: “I pooped a ‘J’!!!”  “I pooped the number 2!!”  And eventually even, “I pooped an ALLIGATOR!!”  (Yes, with little legs and all.  And yes: we have pictures to prove it, but I’ll spare you those graphic details here :) ) This excitement about the shapes of her poop even allowed us to help the poop along faster: “Let’s see what letter you’re going to make today!”  While this tool is not going to solve all of your poop problems, it is a handy one to have in your toolbox.

As always, if you find yourself really struggling with helping your child poop – of have bigger issues like withholding poop, I offer a wide variety of personalized consulting services to assist you.

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