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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.

Potty Training Time! 10 Potty Training Tips

by Maria Lianos-Carbone

When the Boss was 2, I was pregnant with the Destroyer. I was concerned about having two kids in diapers. So I tried the potty training routine, read the books, researched online and tried it all.

First, I let the Boss run around naked. Funny but slightly disturbing to see my kid fondling his penis freely. Eventually he ended up peeing on the floor.

Next I bribed him with a toy. The Boss is smarter than that. It failed. Even Diego couldn’t entice him to go on the potty. He’d look at me like I was stupid – ‘this is my body and I’ll go pee when I want to.’ He ran away and screamed, “I don’t want to go on the potty!”

Then Daddy showed him how to use the potty. His older cousin taught him the whole bathroom routine. I bought him a new Diego soft seat and underwear.

I even consulted his pediatrician. The Boss was in the office with me so I quietly asked the doctor, “Any tips on helping him go on the p-o-t-t-y?” He replied, “Don’t p-u-s-h it.”

Yes, there was major resistance. Wasn’t he physically ready? Did he really enjoy the feeling of wetness? Did he not mind walking around with a diaper full of poop?

I gave up. He just isn’t ready, I thought. Drop it, let it go, he won’t be 8 years old and still in diapers.

Then one day, miraculously, he simply said, “Mommy I want to go on the potty.”

I nonchalantly replied “sure” even though I was jumping for joy on the inside. He sat himself down, his little hands grasping onto the toilet seat to hold himself up so he wouldn’t fall in. And lo and behold, he started to pee! I praised him and kissed him and told Daddy and called Yiayia and gave him high fives.

The next morning, we started the routine again. The first time on the potty was a success. After than, I asked him if he needed to go every hour. Finally when he agreed, he sat down on his soft potty seat. I read to him, distracted him with a song, turned on the faucet so that maybe the sound of water would help… but nothing happened. Not even a tinkle.

And then, just as soon as he walked away, his pants were soaked. I calmly changed his clothes and told him it was okay and reminded him to call me if he felt he had to go.

Later that day, I had just returned from putting a load of laundry in the washing machine when I caught a whiff… a stench…uh oh, he had done a number two.

Noooooo! And oh what a big, messy one.

I swiftly carried him to the bathtub and cleaned him up matter-of-factly. I reassured him that is was okay, it was an accident, but he had to use the potty next time.

The accident freaked him out so much that he did not want to go on that potty ever again. Not even the little one. Couldn’t care less about the Diego underwear. He asked to wear a Pull-up.

I felt so disappointed in myself. What did I do wrong? Did I pressure him too much? I was too busy doing laundry, I missed my chance to help him do a number two on the potty.
At my wits end, I gave up. The power struggle, that is.

When I stopped beating myself up, I realized that when he is ready, he will try again.

And he did. In his own time. With a little help to soften his stool as he had constipation issues, he finally faced his fear of pooping on the toilet. And when he overcame that fear, he was on his way. Without any pressure from me.

With my second son, the Destroyer, there was a window of opportunity around 2 years of age. But he would trickle every ½ hour so his body was not able to stay dry very long.

At around 2 ¾, he started showing interest again. He could do #1 on the potty but forget about #2. Just like the boss, he too had some issues with constipation.

Two weeks ago, I decided to go for it. He showed the signs of readiness so I didn’t want to waste anymore time. I stopped putting him in training pants. Every ½ hour I asked him if he needed to go. I reminded him that if he wanted to go to school, like his big brother, he’d have to do pee and poo on the potty. I had the Boss get involved too by showing him how do go potty, wash his hands, etc.

I’m happy to report that within 2 days, the Destroyer was fully potty trained. The lessons I learned with the Boss really prepared me for the Destroyer.

So here are my potty training tips:
 
1.  Don’t push it! The more you push, the more they resist.

2.  Wait until they can be dry for more than an hour. If they can’t hold it for longer periods, then their bodies are just not physiologically ready.

3.  Ask your doctor. If your kid has constipation, it may be more difficult for them to sit on the potty long enough to have a bowel movement. Ask about natural stool softeners, ie. prunes or even Lactulose.

4.   Go shopping and let your child pick out the underwear. They will get excited about superhero or princess underwear, believe me!

5.   Set aside a few days to focus fully on potty training so you can be home most of the day.

6.   Ditch the diapers and training pants. Let them wear underwear. Even if they have accidents, they’ll start to realize the concept of wet and dry. Training pants are so absorbent, they can’t even tell sometimes.

7.   Try a rewards program; give a sticker for every time they use the potty.

8.   At night, use a night-time pant but first thing in the morning, take it off and replace with underwear as soon as your child wakes up.

9.   If you have to go out, have your child empty his/her bladder before leaving and bring a change of pants and underwear. Don’t be afraid of an accident and opt for a training pant to go out as this confuses them. Once you ditch training pants, don’t go back.

10.  Celebrate your child’s potty success. He/she deserves it!