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How I Survived Potty Training My Son

Brown diaries – The Final Installment
by Julie Green

For those of you familiar with my blog, Little Green One, you know the road to toilet independence has been a long one, paved with no shortage of obstacles. After all, there were, I’m sorry to say, not one but a total of three installments – which is proof that when it came to to potty dance, this mom was going at it all wrong.

I’m pleased to announce that we are now there, and my son isn’t even 20!  Still, I feel so ravaged from the process, which started so many moons ago — somewhere between 3-6 months ago — that by rights, I really should have an “I Survived Potty Training” T-shirt.  (Come to think of it, maybe I should market those. Watch this space…)

The point is, like many moms and dads desperate to burn the Huggies or Pampers, I too was so keen to get my son on the toilet that I committed cardinal sin number one of potty training — I worked on MY timetable as opposed to HIS.  With hindsight being what it is, I would have followed the incredibly common sense of parenting educator, Janet Lansbury, whose post about potty training made me rethink my strategy.

In case you don’t know, Janet’s whole philosophy, known as RIE, is very much child-centred, meaning — and I paraphrase very lightly — we parents don’t give our kids nearly enough credit for following their own cues when it comes to development.  They are way smarter than we think, and most are onto, and don’t at all respond well to, coercion.

Well, in the Green house that certainly was the case. My son could “go potty” at will, it seemed, yet for the longest time refused point-blank.  When we asked if he needed to go, he would get livid.  Truly snarky.  We tried sticker charts for a while, then Smarties. And when he wore the “cool” undies we bought him, he soiled them within a matter of minutes. He may have walked around the house like John Wayne but never complained about the load he was carrying. He didn’t give a rat’s, so what’s a parent to do?

Then came the turning point.  To a large extent, I backed off.  While he got the occasional Smartie for “producing”, he still wouldn’t tell us when he needed to go. We let him wear underwear when we were sticking around the house, and started popping him on the potty at routine intervals when he didn’t strongly object.Bar a few accidents that finally saw him burst into tears on our (thankfully) hardwood floors, he stayed more or less dry for 3 consecutive days.

Then we got reckless; we attempted to Leave The House. A dribble the first time at the local park.  Then with each passing day, we took him farther afield and practiced on public toilets. He held his bladder. He’s been dry now for a week and I hate to tempt fate, being what it is, but I think we’re there.  Some nights he stays dry, but so far we haven’t even thought to cross that bridge yet.  For now I’m happy waiting to follow his lead, to see where it takes us…

Julie M Green (aka Little Green Mom) is a novelist and freelance writer who rants and raves about all things mommy at Little Green One.  She lives in Toronto with her husband and two-year-old son, Jackson.  Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.