Sunday, February 06, 2011

Never give up!

Well, we started once again with the potty training thing. Yes, I did start potty training him at 18 months (very much at his own interest), and yes he is now 3 years and 4 month and not "fully" potty trained. We tried the naked potty training a couple of times, and every time we got to underwear after about a week, he melted down big time, and we gave up. We did sticker charts, rewards, etc., but nothing was enticing enough to keep him going after having a couple of accidents, and I didn't want to push it if he just wasn't ready.

I honestly have to say I have just been plain tired of changing 2 sets of diapers for the last 18 months, and I initiated this latest potty training for selfish reasons once again. It has been frustrating for me because I see him as an incredibly gifted and smart child, and I couldn't for the life of me understand why all of his peers were potty trained and he wasn't.  I think it's partially because he's a perfectionist. And maybe I wasn't as patient as I ought have been in the beginning.

I got him interested in potty training again by bribing him with a nerf gun if he wore underwear for 2 weeks and continued after he got the gun. I didn't put any stipulations on accidents.  He really wanted a nerf gun for Christmas and didn't get one, so it was enough to get him to put on the dreaded underwear.

The first 5 days went pretty well. He was going all on his own, without me prompting, and he only had 1-2 accidents per day. I thought that was pretty good and didn't mind the accidents because he was trying. Then he just plain gave up. Like it was too hard to do every time, so why even try at all? One day he peed his pants twice and pooped once, never even telling me. He just kept on with the activities he was involved with, legs spread wide, soaking or stinking when I found him in such a state. Oh was I frustrated. I forced him on the potty a couple of times. The next day it was more of the same.  I admit I was angry and I began shaming him (only babies wear diapers, blah, blah) and threatening to put him back in diapers and not letting him go to preschool or have the nerf gun because "those things are for big kids and big kids don't wear diapers or poop their pants on purpose"...but boy did that feel all sorts of wrong. I was basically doing it out of anger and selfishness.

After he pooped again in his underwear I called my mom, frustrated and in tears.  I told her I didn't want to give up because I felt like it would set up a cycle of failure and add more frustration and woe to potty training.  I wanted him to learn to not just give up when things get tough. She agreed and said that instead of shaming I could say things like, "I know it can be hard, but I know you're a big capable boy and you can do it!" That sounded and felt much better.

So starting that day I set a timer. Instead of asking him if he needed to go, I calmly insisted he stop what he was doing to sit on the potty. He resisted me taking him to the bathroom when he insisted he didn't need to go, and then it came to me: He was worried about missing out on fun things, so I thought of having him take a book in for me to read to him. Basic, I know, but I hadn't tried that yet. He resisted a lot less after that, though he'd be done before we finished reading the first page.  The next two days we spent time at some friends' houses (who were potty trained) and he was much more willing to go at my prompting there for some reason.

I have been setting the timer for about 45 min. in between potty breaks and he's been able to go every time I take him. He doesn't generally resist any more, nor does he require a book every time.  He's actually gone poop on his own both days, and we have been accident free for 2 days. He's identifying himself more as a potty trained child ("Mom! SuperWhy is potty trained like Dean!" since his superhero outfit looks like underwear over a leotard) and I can tell he's feeling more confident in his ability. I will be extra super duper happy when I don't have to set a timer, but for now I'm glad we're continuing on, even when it was frustrating and difficult for both of us. I am not going to give up or let him give up. It's just not an option this time around.

I think potty training is the most challenging thing I've come up against yet. Hopefully it won't be like this every time...but I don't think it will be. Different children, different personalities and timetables. Crossing my fingers...


Jessica Baird said...

I think everyone relates so much to you on this subject. Also the poor first kids get all the experiments tried on them. For Walt you'll know how to read his personality and what options you have that will work for him, so even though it is super painful you will both make it through, and you will be a much more educated and experienced mother for it :) May the force be with you my friend ;)

Amanda said...

I'm sure everyone has their own stories like this. That is why everyone hates potty training. I have had to use the timer with all of my kids, usually from whenever they start until they are older than 3. I bet that Dean will grow out of needing it soon, but good job on finding out what works and sticking with it.

Juls said...

I was bad but with David it was a huge incentive to pee in the backyard (no one goes near our pine trees so I felt that was a safe place to go) hang in there! emma is actually almost ready although she is afraid of the toilet! I told her we could get her a little potty. She like being a baby and having cute small things.