It Hurts When I Poop!
A Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty
Written by Howard J. Bennett, MD
Illustrated by M.S. Weber
32 pages • Published 2007 (Magination Press)
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Ryan is scared to use the potty. He’s afraid to have a poop because he’s afraid it’s going to hurt. When Ryan’s parents take him to visit Dr. Gold, she engages his imagination with the story of Bill the Coyote’s messy house. She also shows him what happens inside the body, and explains how different foods make using the potty easy or hard.
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: This story is for children who withhold their poop due to a fear that it will hurt to let it out. It teaches about the importance of poop and how a child’s diet can soften a poop to make it come out more easily.
Would a child like it? A child who feels similarly to Ryan will likely appreciate the explanations of what they can do to make pooping hurt less. It’s not a super fun story, but it’s engaging enough, and it’s a useful book.
Evidence-Based Practices: Psychoeducation
Tone: Informative, empowering
Story Quality: It’s a fine story–not super engaging, but it’s compassionate, and it explains the science of pooping in clear, child-friendly language.
Illustrations: Most of the story is illustrated with soft drawings in pastel colors; there’s a story within the story that is illustrated in sepia tones.
Representation: Ryan is a White boy. He has a mother and a father. His doctor is a White or Asian woman (she has light colored skin and straight, black hair), and she shares a story about a male coyote named Bill who doesn’t take out his trash (it’s a metaphor for poop).
Psychological Practices: This story helps children to recognize their body’s signals that they need to poop (e.g., stomach pains), and it teaches children, through a story about a coyote with a messy house, that their poop is like trash, and that they need to “take it out.” It also provides a brief overview of the digestive system and encourages children to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in order to soften their poops to make them hurt less when they come out. It briefly mentions that if changing a child’s diet doesn’t help enough, medications can help even more. The book encourages children to try sitting on the toilet for five minutes at a time before giving up.
Concerns: A very minor, but annoying, gripe: there is an illustration which lists a few foods to help harden poops and soften poops. “Fruits” and “vegetables” are listed in the soften category, but apples and bananas are listed in the harden category. I don’t know how to make sense of that, and children really won’t.
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