'Potty Boot Camp' Owner Accused of Taking Her Methods Too Far

potty trainingWhen you were in the potty training trenches — and let us not discuss the aroma emanating from these moist, warm, steaming trenches of our memories — would you have been tempted to sign your child up for a potty training boot camp? One that promised, and I quote directly from the website, “The first day of Camp is the last day your child will ever wear a diaper again ... and that includes nighttime too”?

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I think I might have. The first day of potty training boot camp is the LAST day of diapers? I don’t have to do anything — no stickers, no discussions, no pull-ups, no potty chairs, no carpet cleaning bills — I can just throw money at this problem and make it go away?

That’s what a Maui-based business called Potty Camp offers desperate parents. Potty Camp guarantees:

Your child 10 months and older will be fully potty trained in 3 days or less! I do not believe in rushing a child, but if you have been attempting to train your child for more than a few days with little or no success then the stress can be unhealthy for your little one, as well as the parent. Your child could create bad habits and this will delay training. This is why a third party trainer can make all the difference.

She offers a “positively motivated program with no discipline involved,” and adds,

I do not believe in a single method training. I customize a training plan for each and every child, even identical twins are on a separate schedule. (...) I calculate what is delaying each child or what could delay the child and put a plan together that has most children potty trained by the end of the first day or morning of the second day. I have to remind parents that this is not magic, the children work really hard, and it is one of their first personal achievements in life. Potty Camp Includes everything your child will need to have potty success: all meals, snacks, treats for rewards, stickers.

As she puts it, “You have nothing to lose but those dirty diapers and your child will have 'Potty Power'"!  

Sounds like a dream come true, but Rebecca Stapp, the 39-year-old Potty Camp business owner, has been accused of allegedly injuring a 17-month-old boy during one of her boot camp stints. On May 1, 2013, a toddler’s mother claimed she discovered symmetrical black-and-blue marks on her child's thighs near his groin. Stapp gave an explanation for the injury, but the mom remained suspicious. A pediatrician eventually testified that the bruising resembled thumbprints on his right thigh and said they weren’t consistent with injuries inflicted from typical toddler horseplay.

The same doctor said she disapproved of the Potty Camp methods, which reportedly included having 17- to 19-month-old children consume juice or sugary drinks over an eight-hour period and being forced to sit on the toilet every 10 minutes for three days.

Stapp’s defense team insisted the bruising was from diaper rash, and Stapp has posted a Facebook message claiming her innocence:

As you are all aware nearly 3 years ago 2 moms/ friends got together and accused Potty Camp (both my daughter and myself) of using forceful methods while training. We have trained thousands of children. And since Maui Mama Mag published article with hearsay bias information in 2013. State decided to press charges I made decision not to let these moms prevent me from helping your children if needed. We finally get our day in court where truth will be revealed. It has been a long journey since it has taken state almost three years to organize witnesses. I did not predict a second media outbreak. Helping your children accomplish potty power has been rewarding. I have been blessed and have been able to forgive these false accusations.

Stapp is pleading not guilty to the charge of third-degree assault on the toddler. Additional assault charges brought by a separate party were dismissed after that child’s mother was unavailable to testify in court.

Oof. So, while I have no idea if this woman really hurt the kid, I would guess that a boot camp where a kid is made to sit on a potty chair over and over and over might result in some bruising, if the child was resisting and someone was trying to hold him or her down.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d have the gumption to sue if I sent my kid to this program. Maybe Rebecca Stapp was more forceful than she should have been, maybe not, but at the end of the day, isn’t it our responsibility as parents to take care of our children’s potty business? You can’t outsource every unsavory task in motherhood — I mean, maybe if you’re a movie star and you hire nannies to whisk your baby away every time he or she does something that jeopardizes your manicure — and while I’m not saying it’s not a viable business idea, mayyyyyybe don’t haul out the lawyers as soon as Junior comes home with evidence that “potty boot camp” was in fact maybe a little bit like REAL boot camp?

Everything about this seems crazy to me: the people sending their kids to this lady, the accusations of too much rough handling, the claims of innocence. SHIT IN YOUR OWN POT, KIDS. MOMS, DEAL WITH YOUR KIDS’ MESSES. The end. Call me when there’s a boot camp for stupid people doing stupid things and then suing each other for the inevitable stupid results. I’ll take that class.

Would you try a potty training boot camp?


Image via ssj414/shutterstock

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