Q&A: How can I stop my child from playing with her stool after she poops?
My 2 1/2 year old has taken off her diaper and pooped on the floor a few times. She messes up our walls, floors, etc. like it were paint. I get so upset that I yell and scream obscenities. Then, after I clean up her mess and calm down, I try to sit her down and explain to her that what she's done is wrong. I tell her that she should tell me when she needs to go to the potty and that its dirty to play with her poop. What am I doing wrong?
You aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong. The better question is what can you do to change your daughter’s behavior? First, think about this from a 2 1/2 year old’s perspective. She doesn’t understand the significance of smearing stool as you do. At least the first time, stool is the same as paint to her. At 8, or even 5 years, this behavior would have a much darker significance, but not at her age. So it is up to you to teach her. Screaming certainly gets the point across, but probably frightens her. What’s more, the more attention a child’s behavior gets, even if it is negative attention, the more frequently it can happen. If it occurs again, be very firm but calm in your message. Tell her ‘no’, tell her why, clean up and show her a more acceptable paint. At the same time, continue the positive training efforts by pointing her to the toilet and praising her for successes. Despite what you are (naturally) feeling inside, a calm, consistent message and redirection is the more effective approach.