It Hurts When I Poop

It Hurts When I Poop by Howard J Bennett. A book review by Julie N on @addisonreads

It Hurts When I Poop by Howard J Bennett. A book review by Julie N on @addisonreads

The Facts

  • TITLE: It Hurts When I Poop: A Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty
  • WRITTEN BY: Howard J. Bennett, M.D.
  • PAGES: 29
  • ISBN: 9781433801303
  • Available on Amazon, here.

Initial Thoughts

It Hurts When I Poop is a hard bound book with color illustrations and a lot of text. The colors are somewhat muted. Though not formally divided into sections, the book has three different “feels” to it, pages with more lively illustrations of the poop-challenged protagonist of the story, Ryan, pages in sepia tones that tell the tale of a Coyote named Bill, and pages that have a more clinical feel, showing how our body’s digestive system works and what kinds of foods support our digestive systems.

Super Speedy Summary

This book begins with an introduction to Ryan, a dinosaur-loving boy who is afraid to poop, and as a result does everything he can to keep his poop in, has terrible tummy aches and, you guessed it, constipation. His worried parents bring Ryan to Dr. Gold, who shares a story about a coyote named Bill. As a child, Bill loved to pick up trash, but as he got older and became independent, he no longer liked to clean up. He let his trash pile up and in no time the trash became like a “big bully” that had taken control of his house. Coyote Bill decides it is time to become the boss of his trash, cleans up and feels oh so much better! The Dr. explains to Ryan how his body’s digestive system works and that he can become the boss of his poop in the same way that Bill became the boss of his house by letting his body take out its trash. Dr. Gold then sends Ryan home with a plan to eat healthy foods that will make it easier to poop and Ryan leaves the office enthusiastic to give it a try!

Mama’s Musings

I will never forget when our copy of It Hurts When I Poop arrived to our home. We had begun potty-training our three year old son with some early success but within days, our once free-pooping toddler became petrified to poop. He would withhold for days and whenever he felt the need to poop, would run around the house in fear, trying to make it go away. I had high hopes that this book, recommended to me by a preschool director friend, would diminish our son’s fear and get him back to pooping with ease.

Though the book seemed a bit sophisticated for a three year old, I was surprised that my son sat through the book attentively and seemed to be taking in the messages. I did my best to stop as we went along, translate some of the concepts to simpler language, and check for understanding. He seemed especially enthralled by the story of Coyote Bill and we began using the metaphor often, encouraging our son to “become the boss of his poop.” Within a week of getting the book, along with the help of some stool softener, our son’s fears diminished and he began pooping normally again to everyone’s relief!

A year and a half later, this is still a favorite book of my son’s. Each time we read it, he focuses on a different aspect, one time paying extra attention on the chart of our digestive system and the next discussing the foods that make it easier or more difficult to poop. He likes to reflect on how he used to feel so scared, but doesn’t anymore and I can tell he feels a sense of pride at his ability to take charge of his body.

Though the book can at times be a little dry or complicated for a toddler, its greatest magic lies in the power of its metaphor and in its universal theme.

At the time I am writing this review, I just wrapped up the first season of my Mother’s Quest Podcast, where I interview other mothers about how they are living what I call our E.P.I.C. lives, becoming the hero of our journeys and author of our stories. These interviews reveal the fears and limiting beliefs we each hold, even as adults, and the metaphors we find that help us step up and “become the boss” of our own lives. But, at the end of the day, this book is about much more than poop! It’s about our universal desire, no matter what our age, to overcome our fears and make powerful choices to take charge of our bodies and our lives.

About the Reviewer

It hurts when I book, guest book review by Julie Neale on @addisonreadsMother’s Quest Founder, Julie Neale honors both the magic and the mess of parenthood and believes our children challenge us to grow into our best selves. She is on a mission to live a truly E.P.I.C. life and, through her example, inspire her children to do the same. Her “for-purpose” venture, Mother’s Quest, provides inspiration, coaching and community so other mothers can live their E.P.I.C. lives. After a 20-year career as a leader in youth-serving non-profit organizations, Julie turned her focus to coaching, training at the Coaches Training Institute, and facilitating a process known as “reflection” for youth development professionals. Through this and her parenting experience, she realized that mothers need an opportunity to reflect on their own growth, dreams, and plans and created Mother’s Quest to champion them. She writes about the transformative experience of parenting in her own life at and hosts the Mother’s Quest Podcast, which launched in December 2016. Julie received her Masters in City Planning, Community Development from UC Berkeley and a BA in Communication Studies from UCLA, where she met her husband. She currently lives with her husband and two boys in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Connect with Julie!

So I have to be honest. When I first heard of this book (and I have heard of it from a couple different parents at this point) I thought of it as a satire or some sort of light hearted book. I thought maybe it would be a series of coaxing mechanisms to help encourage your child to use the bathroom or show them there was nothing to be afraid of.

I was pleasantly surprised that this is not at all the focus of the book, that rather the story does not minimize the pain or validity of being afraid to use the restroom. In fact, it justifies it (which is something I think all of our children truly want, for their feelings to be validated – don’t we all?). I so appreciate the analogy the doctor provided in the story and it seems like the young readers of the book can truly connect with the main character, Ryan and his troubles – but also his triumphs.

I especially love the fact that though this book could be considered a “book for special times” (as in those moments during potty training) that it can serve a great purpose on your bookshelf by teaching more about the digestive track and providing a story that can be applied to many different situations – being in control of your fears in general.

Potty Training – Conquering Fears

Of course, It Hurts When I Poop is most obviously applicable to your bookshelf if you are going through the potty training phase, but I love that it has long term value on your library by addressing fears. We will absolutely be grabbing this book as Addison nears her potty training time.

Click Here To Add This Book To Your Collection

I hope you’ve enjoyed the new content I have been bringing to the blog. I enjoy sharing not only book reviews, but my thoughts on building your intentional bookshelf. If this phrase is new to you, The Intentional Bookshelf, I strongly recommend you grab a copy of my book and join my email list to start building a home library for your family that reflects your most sacred core values and interests.

Has your child experienced trouble with potty training? How did you help them through their fears and apprehensions?

Disclaimer: Any links in this post are affiliate links. That means when you choose to purchase these books via my links, I will earn a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support of this blog and we hope you love this book as much as we did.

It hurts when I book, guest book review by Julie Neale on @addisonreads

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