The Poopy Party

The Pediatric Insider

© 2009 Roy Benaroch, MD

Hey! Based on a spot-on comment, I rewrote & updated this. You should probably just look at the updated version, here.

Julie’s 3 year old son uses the potty great—at least for urine. For poop, well, he’d prefer to use a diaper. What she needs to know about is the poopy party, and how to create some fun and excitement to get her son to take that last step!

Keep in mind: there are three ironclad rules of parenting. You can’t make ‘em eat. You can’t make ‘em sleep. And you definitely can’t make ‘em poop. Kids will hold it and hold it, and will make themselves sick, if you try to force them to poop on the potty. Don’t try that. No forcing, no punishing, no humiliating, nothing at all negative is going to work if you want your child to be successful on the potty.

Fortunately, all kids inherently want to succeed and learn new things. As soon as they’re sure you’re not pushing, and they start to get an inkling that—hey, this is the way to go!—they’ll do it. For kids who are a little late to the party, here’s one way to jump-start the process.

“The Poopy Party”: A method to encourage using the potty for stool

This works best at age 3 and above, and seems more effective with boys than with girls. You’ll see why! It’s important to “ham it up” and really play with this to create a sense of fun and excitement about the potty. At no point should you be direct—never say “Don’t you want to use the potty now?” The point is to create excitement, but only to indirectly talk about what the potty is for.

You’ll need: a willing Daddy (this is manly stuff, and seems to work better mano-a-mano), two hardhats, two bright orange construction worker vests, and two big chunky flashlights. Feel free to add any other mechanical-plumber sort of equipment.

Dad puts on his outfit with hat and vest, and goes to get the child so he can put his set on. They’ve both got their own big flashlights. Dad says something like, “Something’s up with the toilet, we’ve got to get it fixed so the poop can go to The Poopy Party!”

Don’t talk more about The Poopy Party…yet. Let the excitement build!

Then go to the toilet and take it apart, or as much of it as Dad feels comfortable putting back together. Talk about the parts, the flusher, the bobber thing, the insides, and where the poop goes down. Then, if you can, go to the basement and pull down some tiles, and shine your light along the big drain pipe all the way outside the house. Go out to the street and pull off a manhole cover (or the utility cover over the water main, or just peer down a storm drain) and shine your lights down there. Then talk about The Poopy Party. Yep, that’s where the poop goes, down there. There’s dancing and singing, and it’s a great place for poop to go!

If you want to go a step further, take the child to the county wastewater treatment plant. You’ve got to keep the hardhat on. Explain there that you want to show your son where the poop goes. They’ve got big tanks and turbines and other manly things. Then go out for ice cream.

Afterwards, hang up the vest in the bathroom where he’ll see it, but – and this is very important – do NOT talk about this any more. You set the stage, make it exciting, but do not remind or suggest. Anything like that will further delay potty success.

And be prepared, once he’s using the potty, to bring the vest everywhere you go.

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4 Comments on “The Poopy Party”

  1. Lara Lewis Says:

    Oh, I was laughing so hard reading this! Did you do this Dr. Roy?


  2. Liz Ditz Says:

    Dr. B., you are brilliant!


  3. None Yo Says:

    Maybe this “seems more effective with boys than with girls” because mainstream culture along with some parents/teachers/doctors/family friends/relatives instill the belief in children, by the ripe old age of 3, that cool stuff like learning how the toilet works and visiting a wastewater treatment plant is “manly stuff.”

    “You’ll need: a willing Daddy (this is manly stuff, and seems to work better mano-a-mano)…” Wow. I shouldn’t have to draw anyone’s attention to the following facts, especially not a pediatrician, but obviously I need to:

    1) NOT EVERY FAMILY HAS A FATHER IN THE PICTURE. I mean, obviously. What is wrong with you??

    2) There are mothers who have occupations like: water treatment plant worker, welder, construction worker, engineer, soldier… You know, “manly” jobs. There are even women who – GASP! – are just generally interested in “manly” things, like how a freaking toilet works.

    3) Again, because I feel this can’t be overstated, there are actually women who understand how the common household toilet works. It’s not a concept that’s particularly difficult to grasp.

    4) Psst… not all little boys are into hard hats, construction vests, etc. Conversely, some little girls are.

    All the blather about “manly stuff” and how men are the only people who understand how a toilet works was simply unnecessary. And also appalling. I see this was posted in 2009, but thanks for the trip back to 1959.


  4. Dr. Roy Says:

    You’re right. Will close comments, work on a rewrite to come out in the next few days. Thanks for your comments.


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