We started working on this when Dear Son was 2 1/2 years old. I've finally all but given up. The kid just insists, for some reason, on doing his "business" in his pants. I tried M&M's in the beginning. It worked for about two days. Then I tried stickers. He never did get into that. After a few months with only one or two successes, we gave up for awhile. After about a six month break, we tried again. This time I promised to get him whatever toy he saw in the toy magazine that he was dying to have. He talked about the toy nonstop. He dreamed about the toy. He begged for the toy. I enthusiastically promised it to him whenever he decided to stop pooping in his pants. Weeks and months passed and the toy he coveted changed again and again. I guess he gave up on each one when he continued pooping in his pants and decided to try wishing for a new one...as if the new one would somehow motivate him enough to figure out this toilet thing. Sadly, he's never earned a single one of them. I even promised him a million bucks once.
Then, about three months ago when I was at the public library with the kids, Dear Son got that look on his face. You know...THAT look. I had a fleeting thought about rushing him to bathroom and then almost talked myself out of it because I knew it would be like all the other times that I rushed him to the toilet only to find it was too late. Before I finished my thoughts on the dilemma, Dear Son announced, "I need to go poopie!" Okay. If he was going to ask, I was going to do my best to oblige. I rushed him to the toilet, and we met with SUCCESS! I praised him. I high fived him. I did a little happy dance around the bathroom. I handed out cigars to the other library patrons. I hugged him and kissed him and told him how proud I was of him. He was really proud of himself too, and I stoopidly thought that we had this thing figured out. Later, at home, he went back to informing me that he pooped his pants and would I please clean him up. Something about this is just wrong. When a child is old enough to demand having his poopy pants cleaned up, he's old enough to do the deed in the toilet, and since he had done it at the library, I now KNEW he was capable.
My expectations for him increased. I was inspired to really try again. This time I started handing out quarters for him to put in a jar and promised him he could spend them next time we went to the store or save them up for something really cool. He began dreaming again of what he would spend his hard earned coins on. I was cautiously optimistic that he would still get this thing figured out. And yet...he continued to deposit poop in his pants. Now it had become sneaky and defiant. He began running off to his bedroom to hide while he pooped in his pants. If I tried to come in, he would say, "NO! I need PRIVATE time!" Of course what followed was his plea for me to change his stinky britches. Other times I would wait 20 minutes to check on him, and then I would find him playing obliviously in the green cloud that had become the air in his bedroom. Sometimes he seemed completely unfazed by the squish in his pants and the stink in the air. Other times he would stand during whatever activity he was doing to avoid sitting in a squishy, stinky mess. You'd think that if he didn't like the feeling of sitting in poop, it would help motivate him to quit pooping in his pants, wouldn't you?
If I had not already had the experience of my daughter being a cinch to potty train at 21 months of age, I would most definitely feel like a failure.
I've tried being angry with him. I've tried showing no emotion. For awhile I even tried swatting his butt. Now don't go scolding me and telling me what a rotten parent I am. This child is nearly 3 1/2 and had taken to refusing to sit on the potty and instead stood looking me in the eye as he deposited a turd in his trousers, followed by a defiant grin, as if to say "So there!" He knew what he was doing! I had had enough. Alas, after a few incidents of swatting his butt for this behavior, I realized that wasn't helping either; all it seemed to accomplish was to make me feel like the worst Mommy in the world.
It had come to the point that Dear Son would poop his pants and then immediately ask "Are you doing to smat me?" Which translates into, "Are you going to smack me?" Of course "smack" only meant a swift swat on his butt, it's not like I was smaking him around or anything. I don't even know where he came up with the word "smack." It sounded so awful when he said it, and the guilt of the whole ordeal was about to push me over the edge. So one day I informed him in my best matter-of-fact voice that Daddy and Mommy were not going to swat his butt anymore for pooping in his pants. He could just decide to poop in the potty whenever he is ready to quit wearing diapers.
Later that evening, Dear Son deposited a present in his pants and insisted his Daddy change him (it's one of the perks of having a Daddy's Boy--whenever Dear Husband is home, he gets the "honor" of changing his son's drawers). Dear Son followed hi request of , "Daddy, will you change me?" with the question, "Are you doing to smat me?" I told Dear Husband I had a talk with our son and promised him he wouldn't "smat" him anymore. Dear Husband disappeared silently across the hall with our boy-child to clean up his mess. After the clean up was done, Dear Son emerged with great delight and excitedly told me, "Mommy! Daddy didn't smat me!" Meanwhile, Dear Husband did not look at all pleased as he took the bag of nuclear waste to the trash can outside. I responded to Dear Son, "I know child, I told Daddy we promised not to do that any....." Before I finished the sentence, Dear Son went trotting excitedly down the hall to find his Daddy. He obviously felt much more enthusiastic about the situation than his Daddy did as he stated, "Daddy! Mommy said we are not doing to smat me anymore!" I heard Dear Husband at the end of the hall respond flatly, "Great. That's fine. You can just keep on pooping in your pants....." Dear Son was already trucking back down the hall towards me as his Daddy finished, "...until you are 20, and then you can buy your own diapers." After hearing the first part that he could keep pooping in his pants, Dear Son didn't seem to care much about the rest. I was giggling uncontrollably at Husband's words while Dear Son said excitedly to me again, "Mommy! Daddy said we are not doing to smat me anymore!"
And so here we are. I've made good on my promise. No more "smats" and no more emotion about the whole thing unless there is "success," in which case I dole out quarters and act really excited for him. Mind you, "success" has only happened one time since the library incident three months ago. The rest of the time Dear Son makes daily diaper deposits.
I'm haunted with fears that my child will forever be the one Adam Sandler talked about in Big Daddy. You know...the "Smelly Kid." God help me, I think he really IS planning to keep this up until he is 20!