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Tough Love from 'Potty Whisperer'

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She makes kids clean up their act.

Are you trying to teach your 2-year-old to go on the potty, but he'd much rather use his training toilet as a fishing hole? "Potty Whisperer" Wendy Sweeney, a registered nurse and mother of six, runs a one-day Potty-Training Booty Camp for kids, and has some surprisingly hardcore advice for parents.

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Do you think making kids clean up their own pee and poo is effective...or just plain cruel?


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13 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nicole J. June 9, 2008, 4:43 PM

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having the kid clean up their accidents, as long as it is done respectfully and as a natural consequence of not going on the potty. But I don’t think children should be forced into potty training, because it will only backfire in the end.

I am not looking forward to teaching my son how to use the potty. We are approaching 2 and I think we are getting ready. We’ve had the potty in the house for several months but he has shown no sings of wanting to sit on it.

Anonymous June 9, 2008, 6:12 PM

I waited until my son was ready before I pushed potty training. He pretty much did it himself a month shy of 3-years-old. My now 2 1/2 year old isn’t close and he’s supposed to start his preschool class in 3 weeks, which requires him trained. I’m freaking out a bit and I’m looking for the best method. I think cleaning up is good for kids close to three but he’s the type to just throw a tantrum and not clean. The idea of a physical altercation with a toddler is not acceptable.

I guess my point is A. this method seems fine for certain kids at a certain developmental level.

and B. how am I going to get my kid who’s not ready trained in 3 weeks. should I just keep him out of school?

Kasi June 9, 2008, 6:17 PM

I’m starting my 12 month old right now…she understands what the the potty is…when she starts grunting when she poops we tell her to go “poopy in the potty” and she will go right in the bathroom to her potty chair…she hasn’t actually gotten there before she’s finished but we take her there every time… I’m not pushing her but I don’t think there’s any reason to wait…if they can walk I think you can start getting them use to it.

Melissa key June 9, 2008, 7:16 PM

That is abusive. Why do kids have to be pressured to learn how to use the potty? I’ll tell you why, because parents are lazy and impatient and would rather force their children to clean up their own pee and poop when they have an accident than allowing their child to progress at their own speed. I truly think that the Potty Whisperer should be stopped!

TLC June 9, 2008, 8:29 PM

sheesh, just rub the kid’s nose in it!


I mean, since you are trying to “teach the lesson.” That child, at that age, doesn’t get the cause/effect of the pee thing.

Leave him alone, he’ll pee in the potty when he is ready. Neurotypical kids don’t go to college without being potty-trained.

stephanie June 9, 2008, 8:33 PM

Back in the day when there were no such things as Huggies or Pull-Ups, we had cloth diapers. We learned to use the toilet because being wet sucked! Paper diapers simply prolong use because really, do YOU enjoy stopping your play because you have to pee? If you cant FEEL it, then why bother.
If you want the kid to “learn in his own time” save a tree and buy the brat some underwear! No one likes being wet… it works!

Ginny June 10, 2008, 9:05 AM

Melissa obviously has not made any children clean up their own pee. It is far from being lazy considering it takes twice as long to clean it up.

I still have my 4 1/2 year old clean herself and the floor up when she doesn’t make it to the bathroom. I don’t make her feel bad for making the mess, I just teach her that everything has consequences. In this case, you make a mess, you have to clean it up. I will do the same for my 2 year old whom I’ll be training over the next month (because she is more than ready).

Your kids will live up (or down) to your expectations in most cases. The most important thing is not to belittle them. Once they are showing an interest in the bathroom and what it’s used for, it’s definitely time to go for training. Use their natural interest as an opportunity. But don’t force it.

Lastly, don’t let a school’s expectation dictate when to potty-train. I’d give it a try and see if my child seemed ready to learn. If not, find another school.

Emmy  June 12, 2008, 11:28 AM

I have a four year old and he is fully potty trained when it comes to peeing in the potty, but he will not go poop in the potty and I don’t know how to get him to go. He will only poop when he sleeps, so at night maybe or it is usually nap time. I have woken him up early to try and sit on the potty and feel like I have tried everything, but I am frustrated, any suggestions. His sister is turning three on June 16th and she is great she can pee and poop in the potty and will be fully trained by the end of the summer i think. Is there anyone with any suggestions are has had similar problems with potty training their boy please help me, I just want to get him to poop in the potty.

jsnider2008 June 12, 2008, 2:21 PM

I HAVE A THREE YEAR OLD THAT WILL PEE AND POOP IN THE TOLIET BUT THEN HE GETS PREOCCUPIED WITH SOMETHING ELSE AND THEN USE THE BATH ROOM ON HIMSELF AND I DONT KNOW WHY HE IS DOING IT CAUSE HE DOES PEE AND POOP IN THE TOLIET

Dana June 23, 2008, 1:10 PM

I think making my son (just shy of 2 1/2) clean up his own mess when he goes might work, but how do I get him to clean it up? Typically kids make a bigger mess when they clean things up. We’re moving in 2 months and I would love to have him trained before we move.

Karla Ramirez October 9, 2008, 10:35 PM

Well my son is one and a half and I say he is more than ready.. he throws his own diaper away since he could walk at the end of his 10 months. I think most adults underestimate kids learning capabilities. I expect a lot from my son but I do not make him feel bad when he can’t. He does many things for himself, or I help him but he is always part of the action. He brings me a diaper and lays in front of me when it’s time for a change.

I think all kids need is many praise when they do something good (as simple as their action may be) and few words and even less attention when something naughty is done especially if throwing a tantrum.

Cale February 9, 2010, 6:36 PM


I’m starting my 12 month old boy right now…she understands what the the potty is…when she starts grunting when she poops we tell her to go “poopy in the potty” and she will go right in the bathroom to her potty chair…she hasn’t actually gotten there before she’s finished but we take her there every time… I’m not pushing her but I don’t think there’s any reason to wait…if they can walk I think you can start getting them use to it.

Betty February 15, 2011, 11:06 AM

Anyone trying Wendy’s method how long is it taking? I started 3 days ago with my 2 year old and am seeing progress he actually likes the whole direction of cleaning up after himself and moving the potty around. I am putting the diaper on for nap and bedtime only!


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