05 Oct 2010

Potty Training

5 Comments Toddler

Oh. Dear. God.

Isn’t it odd that humans have to teach baby humans how to use the bathroom?  I mean, animals just go.  They pee and poo wherever they want to from the time they’re born until they die.  But not us.  We do our business in a diaper until someone decides it’s time for us to put our business in a cold, white, porcelain receptacle so it can be flushed away into the mighty sea.  And then we end up in diapers again, but that’s another story.

We started potty training Garrett when he was two-and-a-half.  He had all the signs of being ready; holding his urine for long periods of time, waking up with a dry diaper, telling us he was peeing or pooing, and even occasionally using the potty.  We watched Elmo’s Potty Time religiously, read Once Upon a Potty about twice a day, and even watched this silly video that seemed to entertain him over and over again.   So, based on a good friend’s suggestion, we picked a weekend and decided not to leave the house for at least 48 hours.  We gave Garrett the Spiderman underwear he had recently picked out, and told him we were done with diapers.  Then the horror music started and we had one of the worst weekends ever.

Garrett was terrified to use the bathroom.  He hated the whole concept.  There seemed to be a fear of losing control, of growing up, of us no longer taking care of him… My happy boy turned into a fearful, sad mess. I cried a lot.  He cried a lot.  We held each other.  I punched a wall.  He kept asking if I was going to leave him. It was hell.  He used the potty the whole time, but I could see all of his security being flushed down the toilet with his poo-poo and pee-pee.

Although physically ready, Garrett was clearly not emotionally ready, so I made the decision (with only about 55% approval from my husband), to put him back in diapers.  As soon as we did it, I was scared I made the wrong choice.  Surely he’ll NEVER use the toilet now!  I’m the worst mom ever!  He’s going to be doing calculus with a full diaper!  Then I thought, “Who am I kidding?  Garrett’s never going to do calculus!  I failed algebra II twice!”  Seriously though, I was scared that we had emotionally scarred our son and that he was never going to be able to use the bathroom like a normal person.  I even scoured the internet and found thousands of posts from moms saying their kids were three, four and five and still terrified of using the potty.  Cue horror music again.

Okay, here comes the good part. You know how people say, “you’ll just know”?  “You’ll just know” when you’ve met the right man.  “You’ll just know” when you put on the dress.  “You’ll just know” when your kid is ready to be potty trained.  They’re right.  You’ll know.  About five months later, Garrett was ready.  We just knew.  So Russ told him he was done with diapers because he was a big boy now and he was going to use the potty.  It’s been six weeks and we’ve only had one accident, because Garrett didn’t want to stop playing in his fort.  For a couple weeks, we had to give him Jelly Bellies every time he peed or pooed, but that has tapered off.  He is a bathroom-going machine!  He’s even doing great using the potty at school.  I’m so proud of my child’s bodily functions, I could just burst!

The moral of the story is this:  There’s no right or wrong way to potty train, and it takes a lot more than a minor screw up to scar your kid for life.  I think it’s a matter of paying attention to who your kid is, and not succumbing to peer pressure from other parents.  I wanted Garrett to be ready because other kids were ready, not because he was.  But then… He was.

One more thing.  Considering Garrett is probably going to be our only kid, I tend to mourn every little thing we’re “done” with.  I’m done changing diapers now, and I cried about it.  I’m trying not to cry about it right this second.  So, I’m a big baby.  Pass me a diaper.

Here are some things that worked for us.  I won’t call them tips.  Just suggestions:

We started with a kiddie potty, so he could watch TV while he sat.  We thought it was a good way to get him used to the whole idea, and it gave us a chance to sit on the couch instead of the bathroom floor for an hour at a time. The one we got had a cheering feature that we never inserted batteries for.  We thought our cheering was enough, and we didn’t want to scare the shit out of him. Actually, come to think of it…

We then moved the potty into the bathroom, where it stayed.  I wanted him to know that only really rich sports figures and producers watched TV while they crapped, and he’d have to be one of those if he wanted that perk.

Pretty soon, he started using the big boy potty, complete with a stool so he could get himself up there, (although I still tend to lift him up) and a cushy potty seat that’s just the right size for his bottom.  I bought a second potty seat to take with us EVERYWHERE!  I shove it in his backpack with some hand wipes, anti-bacterial hand wipes, and clorox wipes just in case it’s a tragic, public restroom.  The seat keeps him from falling in to the big toilets, and it keeps his little butt from touching anything!

If it’s been a couple hours or so since Garrett has gone, I take him to the bathroom.  Nine out of ten times he says he doesn’t have to go.  Eight out of ten times he does have to go. If he’s adamant, I don’t force it.  But he only holds his ground if he really, really doesn’t have to go.

Get soap that’s easy for them to dispense on their own.  Garrett enjoys washing his hands a lot more when he can do it by himself.

Lastly, believe what you hear about praise.  It’s never too much.  We are so excited every time Garrett uses the bathroom, and we let him know.  We’re extra excited when he tells us he has to go and marches himself in there before we have to ask.  The more we tell him we’re proud, the better he seems to do.  Nothing wrong with that!

Some good articles:

Toilet Terrors

ABC’s of Potty Training

Potty Training Weekend

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Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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5 Responses to “Potty Training”

  1. Reply Paula says:

    When I was little my parent decided it would be a good idea to put my younger sisters potty chair right in front of the TV set where she could watch and take care of business, freeing them up for other things.like making dinner. One day my sister decided the sofa would make fore much more comfortable TV watching. When my Mom came in to call us for dinner my sister had disappeared but we did find a bright, shiney prize right on the middle of the sofa!

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      That is so fantastic!!! I guess I neglected to mention the time, during that first potty training weekend, when Garrett called to the kitchen, “Mom! I have poop on my foot!” I figured he meant something else. Nope. He meant poop.

  2. Reply Sara says:

    A friend sent me this so I could recall a horrifying babysitting experience for her approximately 2-year-old. He was asleep (easy babysitting, right?) and I could hear him jabbering away on the baby monitor. I could make out “on the wall,” but not much else. After a few more minutes I thought maybe I heard “poopie” (is that how you spell that), but wasn’t sure. Then I heard loud and clear “Auntie Gaga! Poopie on the wall!” Damn. Yep. He got into his onesie, his pants off, and indeed had decorated the wall. I demanded he be fully potty trained prior to their next night away. Did I mention that? They were gone for two nights. I had to clean it up. Ugh. Shiver. Eww. I think horror music might have played, but I was too busy trying not to throw up…because then there would have been more to clean up.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Oh. My. God. And if it’s someone else’s kid… FORGET IT! That is almost as hilarious as it is disgusting. Thank you for sharing! (I think.) 😉

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