19 July 2011
Potty Training: The Non-Glossy Version
Aedyn's potty training began at 18 months. He'd shown interest starting at around 15 mo along with staying dry through naps and overnight; so I got a potty and let him familiarize himself with it. At 18 months he was eating breakfast one morning, stopped, looked at me and said "Mama, potty! Potty!" I took him and sure enough, he pottied. And he POOPED! On the potty. He told me and then held it long enough to get on the potty! I went out and got underwear and we started. He went into underwear 100%
Until we went on a weekend trip and for my sanity I broke down and bought Pull-Ups. Unlike my worst fears, he didn't see them as a diaper and he had fewer accidents in them than he did his underwear. it wasn't the 3 day or week long intensive I thought we'd have. But after about a month he pretty much was down to no accidents. 75% of the time he knew when he needed to go and 25% I would just take him when I felt like it had been awhile.
Then we began a cycle. He'd completely regress. All accidents. The first time he trained it was with only praise. The second we gave marshmallows, it worked for a week. Everything worked for about a week. Then he'd say "No Mamlow" or whatever we were trying and use the potty if he wanted to or just go where he stood. We tried naked, we tried clothed, we tried filling him up with drinks and taking him every 20 min. We tried EVERYTHING! And it ALL worked...for a week, maybe 2 if we were lucky.
His brother was born during the middle of all of this, but the cycle had begun before Jaron arrived and continued long after. The one thing I hadn't done was put him back in diapers. I refused. So he was in underwear when we were home and unless it was something like church nursery he was in underwear while we were out too (I was sympathetic to the volunteers and put him in Pull-Ups for them). I was getting fed up.
Finally, I had had enough. We had been playing this game for 8 months. And I call it a game because that's what it was. He knew what to do. He just didn't want to. He proved that when he wanted to do it he would. So it became a motivational issue. Aedyn is very strong-willed, he's not at all bribe-able, never has been about anything. His obedience, compliance and otherwise good naturedness is strictly intrinsically motivated.
He also used it as a weapon. 4 out of 5 times he had an "accident" was right after I sat down to nurse Jaron. Half of the time he would look at me and then deliberately make a puddle right where he stood. One day he asked for a diaper like Jaron. I was so fed up I said fine. (When we started this process he was in disposables, b/c we were w/o a washer and dryer and I hadn't yet taken the Flats & Handwashing Challenge, now we were back to using cloth and One-Size diapers, so it wasn't a huge deal to unsnap one to fit.) But in my stubbornness not to lose I told him, if he was going to wear a diaper like a baby, then he was going to be treated like a baby.
Wearing a diaper meant no juice, only milk or water. No candy, no fun snacks, only fruit and/or crackers. No choices on what to wear, he was in a baby diaper. No playing on his tricycle or with his tools, he could only play with baby toys. No playing in his room by himself, he had to stay on the living room rug where I could see him. No TV, and the crown jewel, NO STAR WARS. Yup. And that was what did it. When he used the potty, he got all of his big boy privileges back, when he had an accident, he went back into a diaper and lost everything. It took 3 days for wet accidents to go away and 5 for solids.
In the past 3 months we've have maybe 3 or 4 accidents, period. Usually because he can't get his pants down fast enough, or he ate an entire pint of blueberries and had diarrhea. He takes himself to the bathroom when we're at home, and tells us when we are out in public so we can take him. He was fully and finally potty trained at 27 months old.
Every child is different. Aedyn proved to us that he was ready and he could do it. Then he changed his mind (this is a recurrent pattern in every area of his life). Just like we have to make him commit to whichever drink he chose in whichever cup, so we're not dumping juice and dirtying 18 cups a day we needed to make him commit here as well. And he rose to the occasion.
I hope his determination never dims, but I do hope that Jake and I continue to make parenting decisions that help him learn to commit to his choices. Like in this instance, committing and seeing something through will result in more freedom and happiness for all involved.
Potty-training is not the current trend, you see a lot more instances of child-led pottying or potty-learning. What do you think? Were we right in strongly encouraging him? or did we rush it? What did/do/will you do with your little one?
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