The "fecal smearing", as professionals appear to call this behavior, seems to have been a short-lived fascination. Not long after my last post, I found T starting to smear his poop again. Boy, did I make a big impression on him that time. I slammed a book I had in my hand down on the bathroom counter and yelled "NO WAY. We are not doing this. You do not play with your poop. That makes your hands dirty and messy and it is not clean or safe." He looked so stunned, and immediately started crying. So I knelt down next to him while cleaning his hands and said, "I'm your Mommy, and it is my job to make sure that you are clean and healthy and safe - and THEN happy. I know it makes you happy to play with your poop, but you aren't clean when you do and you won't be healthy for long if you do. So you can't play with your poop anymore." He continued to cry, and I felt awful for making him cry, but also felt completely justified in my reaction - at first. Then of course I started doubting - should I have just ignored the behavior and tried to replace it with something else? But darn it, this was such a visceral reaction, and darned if it didn't make an impression. It has been several weeks and he has not played with his poop since.
And, as the trusted professionals with whom I consulted on this said: I rarely if ever yell at him. So even though most of the time we do want to ignore the bad and reinforce the good, sometimes the gut-felt, honest response works best.
But...we've regressed in the peeing area now. I truly don't know if it is due to the amazing growth spurt this kid has been on for the past 2 months, or if it is one of the two supplements we've weaned out of his daily menu, or if I traumatized him by the aforementioned incident and now pottying is aversive. Thing is, I won't know, either. But I am glad to report that we are now three days (almost) completely accident free. Thank goodness for M&Ms. We've gone back to rewarding dry underpants and it seems to be working. Hey, I'd work for chocolate treats, too.
His cold (nearly three weeks into it now) seems to be fading. I suppose that his system could be off due to that as well. Never a dull moment. Certainly is making me very good at hypothesizing!