This is just a heads up, in case you have an as yet un-housebroken child meandering the halls of your house and didn’t know about this fascinating bit of child development already.
Your small child is not a freak if they finger paint with their poop. At least, they’re not necessarily a freak. They could still be seriously disturbed in the long run, but if you catch your kid schmearing poop on the side of their crib or their bedroom walls during the pre-or-mid-potty training phase, that’s not (necessarily) an indication you’ve got a future serial killer, Enron executive or parking space stealer on your hands. It just means your child is, well, interested in their poop. And that’s A-O.K.. Don’t just take my word for it – read some of the responses that show up from a Google search on the subject.
Some children… not all children, but some children (“some” as in “many”) get a little visit from the poop fairy when they’re starting to figure out their body functions. What this means is that the child, usually when left alone during nap time, pinches a loaf into their diapers and gets interested in seeing what’s stinking up their drawers. Since little children aren’t too good at thinking things through, they end up with poop on their hands which inevitably gets on everything else they touch.
Some children are absolutely mortified by this experience. That won’t necessarily stop them from repeating it in the future (again with that thinking things through bit), but at least they’re mighty contrite when you open the door to discover a freshly painted boudoir. Other children absolutely revel in playing with their poop and go out of their way to make a massive mess. Either way, this goes with the territory of toddler stripping that usually precedes and joins potty training.
I was at a friend’s house the other day whose eldest is younger than my daughter. This is a woman who will give full-fledged 3D descriptions of every moment of her labor to perfect strangers on an airplane, but it took over an hour of us chit chatting before she mentioned (sheepishly) why all the drapes were removed from her son’s room. The reason? He was a poop reveler and had just had his first experience with poop smearing the day before. My friend was so mortified and concerned, she could barely talk about it. I readily appeased her with stories of how totally normal it was for kids to play with poop (though 100% disgusting, I concur). I regaled her with the story of a friend for whom the idea of poop smearing was so normal that she’d posted an (unrelated) videotape of her two year old being goofy on Facebook… without ever explaining why he had duct tape wrapped around his diapers. I was lucky to get my Poop Fairy cherry broken when a mom friend’s son (three weeks older than my daughter) busted out his big move a month or so before my daughter gave it a try. I can’t imagine how I would have reacted had I not already known that this is a normal phase when I walked in on my daughter a few weeks later.
What To Do If the Poop Fairy Visits Your House
Calm Your Shit Down
That’s right, you heard me. Calm your shit down. The worst thing you can do is freak out over a poop painting fiesta. All that will do is make your child even more fascinated by the power of their poop. Even if, initially, the little one was a bashful poop partier, all he or she will need is a whopping reaction from Mom or Dad and – presto!- you’ve got an instant committed poop painting enthusiast on your hands.
So, when you enter the room and see little Susie’s gotten turdy during time out, force yourself to keep a deadpan look on your face. Calmly back out of the room, close the door, take a deep, deep breath, assess your clean-up plan and wordlessly re-enter the room. It’s probably best to just proceed with the whole clean-up attack without uttering a word. Your child will be awed by your level reaction and quickly bored into thinking poop fingerpainting is so much of a non-event it’s not worth the hassle.
How to Prevent Future Visits from the Poop Fairy
Lock Your Shit Down
Now that everything is nicely cleaned and cloroxed, it’s time to implement Phase Two of the Poop Harm Reduction plan. Namely, figure out how to keep your child from doing this again! When our daughter discovered poop surprises, we immediately started putting her footie jammies on her inside out (zipper on the inside). This really takes some technique! We took a huge sigh of relief after the first night passed incident free. We honestly thought the whole thing was licked… until three weeks later when she figured out how to undo her jammies, even with the zipper inside. Some folks will tell you the best technique is duct taping the diapers on, but that’s arduous to remove later and still not foolproof. Our 100% effective method was putting the footie pajamas on backwards (zipper in back). By the time my daughter houdini’d herself out of this tactic, she’d outgrown her fascination and was well on her way to productive potty usage.
Best Technique for Preventing Poop Parties: Backwards Footie Pajamas
Remember this is a phase your child will outgrow… in fact, they’ll certainly move through it faster the more you help them to become independent with toileting. Try to view this as an opportunity – by the sheer virtue of the fact that your child has figured out there’s poop in his or her soggy bottoms, she’s telling you she’s ready to start figuring out potty training. If anything, a Poop Fairy visit could be regarded as a thing of joy. Behold! Your days of non-stop diapering are soon to be over! Help your child with potty training ASAP. You’ll soon discover that as they master the fine art of pooping in a potty or toilet, their previous fascination with holding their poop will be replaced with producing a poop in the right spot — one that can quickly be whisked or flushed away!