19 July 2011

Potty Training: The Non-Glossy Version

I originally started Milk Bubbles blog as a way to get my mommy potty talk off of Facebook where my non-parent friends weren't so thrilled with hearing a play by play of Aedyn's successes and failures in the bathroom arena. I stopped a month later, with Aedyn fully potty trained. But here's the whole story.

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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  1. I started with Jackson at about 2 and a half, and it took about 6 months for him to finally be fully trained and I spent a fortune in matchbox cars for rewards/bribes. In hindsight, I wish I had just waited until closer to 3 to start. Once he knew when he had to go and knew what to do, like Aedyn, he didn't feel like doing it. Only at that point did it become a discipline issue. Once he understood this was the expectation, he decided to comply and it was done. I think it is a mistake to make the initial training a matter of discipline/obedience only because each child has to be able and willing to learn what to do, and discipline can't create readiness or accelerate mastery. Once they've learned, however, and truly have the ability to perform, I think it is right to expect that behavior. Discerning when your child has truly crossed that line can be challenging!

    I'm now attempting to potty-train my youngest (4), who has sensory under-responsivesness and low muscle tone. He also has a severe auditory processing/speech disorder that makes him more like a 2-year-old in terms of communication, so I know this is going to be a long process. I have him running around naked from the waist down, since that is likely the only way he will be able to register the sensations necessaryto get it. The challenge will be discerning what he understands and, therefore, what my expectations should be as we go along. Every child is unique, and we are called to parent them uniquely with the wisdom that the Spirit provides.

  2. I'm so glad to know that my child isn't the only one going through regressions. Alyssa was 23 months old when she decided she was ready. I was going to wait until right after her second birthday. But one day she asked to go, went and two days later we bought her underwear and haven't looked back.
    She will go weeks without an accident and then all of the sudden we will have two weeks of 3 or more accidents a day. We did not do any sort of reward when we started, going on the potty was enough for her. Since then we have tried candy, stickers, tons and tons of praise and all works for about 3 days then she is over it.
    She still wears diapers at night, so putting her back in diapers during the day wouldn't be a punishment for her. All of her friends that are at the day care and are her age are still in diapers so she wouldn't care.
    I'm hoping for her it is an age and maturity issue and as she gets older the regressions will get less and less.


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