My Sister Trying to Potty Train My Niece...

Updated on March 21, 2012
M.D. asks from Washington, DC
7 answers

My sister is trying to potty train my niece and has been for months. When she started, I tossed my two cents in that I did not think she was ready. My niece will be 3 in June, and still wears diapers. I know it's not abnormal to not be potty trained at this point, but she seems to be running a little late for a girl.

So, my sweet little niece is rebelling by playing in her poop when she does it in her diaper. If my niece if put in her room for any reason (nap, bed, 2 minute time out, etc) she manages to poop and then she removes her diaper and plays with it.

My sister and her fiance have tried punishing her (time out where they can see her, taking toys away, a firm talking to, etc) and ignoring her, just cleaning her and the room and then not addressing the issue (trying to avoid giving her any attention for it).

I am at a loss of what else to tell her to do. I would have lost my mind if any of my kids did that. I really think she just pushing back on doing it the only way she knows how.

Did your kids do this? How did you get them to stop? I reassured my sister she won't be doing it in kindergarten, but it's very frustrating right now.

My sister's fiance is also on travel for the first time ever this week, my sister just started a new job 2 weeks ago, and she is in school full-time (online) and struggling with her math classes. So she's at her breaking point and I want to be able to give her some advice.


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answers from Chicago on

Oh my son did this too! He did this for over a month while we tried different ways to stop this, he painted himself, his bedroom furniture and the walls. The ONLY thing that got him to stop was a Cool shower to clean him off. The water was not ice cold, but it was not warm either - just enough to be uncomfortable and make him not want this again. It took TWICE and the second we made a touch colder and it was DONE.

As for the advice - it's tough giving it if it is not solicited. With what I reccomended above, that's easy! "Hey sis, I read a story online about a woman who's son played with his poop for a month or so and she used a cool/cold shower to stop him -she said TWICE and it was done and over." She will say something like "Wow, really? I never would have thought - hmmm it seems a bit harsh." You follow up with "Yeah, but it is SOOOO unsanitary for them to be doing this - I think it would be worth a try if I were in that situation." Or something to that effect if you are willing to suggest this to her. That can go with out you telling her what to do, however in general, esp with potty training the unsolicited advice can be stressful.

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter played with her poop when she was poop training. She was 18- 20 months old.

At nearly 3, your niece is more than old enough to be potty trained. In fact, it sounds like she has good control of her bowls! Now she just needs to be taught where to put it! They need to have a health discussion with her, and then they need to ignore it. I'd drop the whole thing till May, and then I'd do a boot camp and throw out the diapers. No pull-ups, just Gerber trainers. I'd then just say when an accident occurs," it's OK honey, next time you will keep your pants dry."

Potty training isn't all that hard if you keep it a biological function and don't see it as some awful mountain you have to climb. Teach them where the poop and pee go (like when you teach them where the garbage goes), give them teh chance to practice putting it in (it takes 12-15 hits in the potty for them to master the muscles), and be encouraging and supportive. And don't turn back. When they are too big for diapers, they are too big. Believe they can do it, and they usually do it. And never punish for accidents, least you want to create a power struggle area.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My boys never played with their poop, but both rebelled when it came to potty training. They knew that I wanted them to poop in the toilet but at times refused to go in the potty because they could control it. So I stopped potty training them and encouraging them to go. About a month later they had potty trained themselves because they honestly didn't want to sit in the poop or pee all day. They new what was expected of them and I just had to wait for them to decide that they wanted to be potty trained.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter did not play in her diaper, but she didn't fully potty train (except for night) til she was over 3. She physically wasn't able even though she intellectually got the concept earlier. DD is typically slower on physical abilities, like walking and jumping, too.

I think she should back off for now. She has a full plate and the kid might also be reacting to all the other changes and stresses. If the child plays in the poop on purpose, then maybe scrub her up very perfunctorily (do not let her have a nice bath), get some duct tape and put her in a new diaper. Give it a break and then start back in slowly with books like Once Upon a Potty. If she likes Blue, there's a song about "gotta go" that she might appreciate (forget what channel it comes on - or it used to - Nick Jr changed so much I don't know if it still plays. YouTube? Hulu?). When she's in the store, pause at the big girl panties. Not all kids are the same, but I think that helped DD. That it wasn't just something *I* wanted her to do, but something kids her age did. Many kids are inspired by others. Friend's daughter backslid til they went to an older child's party and then the child realized that if she wanted to be like her friend, she should use the potty. If friend's houses have little potties, let DD check them out. My DD will check out everyone's kitchen and potty, since there are so many kinds. It normalized it for her. OH, so and so has a potty, too!

Also, I took a week and just stuck it out, but I work from home. I did so much laundry that I ran out of clothing for DD (pants and underpants) some days. Nature's Miracle was my friend. There was no 3 days of potty training here, but she did get there.

My SD was almost 4. It's unusual, but it's not uncommon.

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answers from Detroit on

I have 2 boys, almost 5 and 3. The day before their 2nd birthday, we take their diapers, throw them in the garbage and say bye bye diapers, ewww no more poop on our butts! I go cold turkey on diapers and put them straight in underwear, yes its messy, yes its disgusting but nothing that a 75 dollar carpet company couldnt clean up! As long as a child knows that diaper is coming back, they will never be potty trained. I truly believe my method works. Im a stay at home mom, so I had the time to sit there and dedicate my time to this. But i can guarantee it will work. Diapers out, if necessary use a pull up, but i didnt use pull ups w my boys. Now I have my daughter who is almost 2, shes 22 months. She started to say pee pee by herself, so a month ago, i got her pull ups, so I have till June to use these pull ups, I put her in underwear at home and when we go out I use pull ups. Btw, I never forced it upon my kids, all of them by 2 were waking up dry so they had good control of their urine and poop. Good luck to your sis!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Can't say I have had any advice on training girls. I have potty trained my 2 older boys and starting soon our 3rd son. My advice would to throw away all diapers, or hide them to give to someone who needs them. And put her in underwear (have her pick them out, that way its more exciting.) She should know by now how things work. I went cold turkey w/ my boys and they did great. If she makes a mess she cleans it up (probably w/ a lil help). We also did a reward chart - one sticker for pee, two for poop. After a certain amount we went to dollar tree and they got to pick out a car (which is what they were into at the time.). Hope this helps alittle. Good luck to your sister.


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mom:
I think this child has some issues.
See if there is a Narrative Therapist in your
area that can y'all identify the problem.
Good luck.

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