Friday, June 28, 2013

My Take-Away From Potty Training My Son

I spoke with a co-worker about potty training her daughter a couple weeks ago, but after another mother at my son's daycare expressed her ongoing struggle with potty training her son, I thought perhaps I should share some of my own experiences and tips.

Though my son was potty trained a few months ago, I feel fortunate in a number of ways.  He never developed some of the fears that other children do at one point or another.  He never seemed to think his winkie would break off or fall off, a very real fear if the child never sees Daddy sit on the toilet without having such a terrifying occurrence befall him.  He also never seemed to be afraid that his poop was a piece of him that will be flushed away, which is such a large concern to some children that they end up 'holding it in' which can end up with constipation, blockages, and may even lead to intrusive surgeries.

No... I'm lucky my son hasn't had either fear, and I chalk it up to a few things...
  1. As I mentioned above, my son saw my husband go potty.  We felt it was important for our children to see that Mommy and Daddy use the toilet so it might not be too scary for them.
  2. When he would go #2 in the big potty, I applauded him..  I told him that his poopie liked being flushed because that's how it goes to poopie school and how it gets to see all it's friends.  I then had us wave goodbye to the poopie and say, "Have fun!  See you later!" as we flushed the toilet.  If he used the little potty for #2, I wear a serious and sad (but not disappointed) expression and say, "Oh dear.  Now the poopie can't go to school and is sad."  If my son asked why, I'd say, "You like going to school, right?  You get to have fun and see your friends.  Poopie wants to go to see his friends too."  Thus, my son was never afraid that we were flushing pieces of himself down the toilet.  And poopie would always be back, happily waiting to go into the toilet again.
  3. We had several options for him to use.  He could use the little potty in nearly any room he liked or he could use the "big potty" (aka. toilet) with his choice of training seat.  As he grew accustomed to the concept of using one of these potty choices, I steered him towards using the toilet, and it was clear he was potty trained, I took the little potty out of the picture.  I told him that he's a big boy and that he doesn't need the little potty anymore... That it's for little boys and girls who still wear diapers, like his little sister.
One thing I would not recommend unless on a trip or a long drive... Pull-Ups.  Those things are the devil.  I firmly believe that for some kids (like my son), they delay potty training by giving the look of underwear with the lazy safety of diapers.  Some kids just don't feel terribly uncomfortable by the pull-ups that become cold when sullied.  Some kids don't care if the image disappears on the pull-up.  If they can keep having fun and then have someone clean their butts for them, then why bother being inconvenienced by the toilet (and self wiping).  It's when my husband and I decided that we were done with the delay and told our son that there would be no more pull-ups that we finally had some progress.  If nothing else, embarrassment of wetting oneself a few times would definitely help with the learning process, and a sullied pair of cotton underwear and pants is far less comfortable than any sullied pull-up.

Oh... and even though bribing the kid with rewards (or should I say rewarding the kid with small toys, temporary tattoos, stickers, etc) might hep the process, it's only does so much... Especially if the child is clever enough to realize that they can milk it by sometimes being successful using the potty and sometimes not quite succeeding.  I wouldn't be surprised if my son saw that my husband and I don't get prizes when we use the potty, and we never wear diapers or have accidents... So the only way to keep getting these prizes is to sometimes use the potty and sometimes sully his pull-ups.  Even with only getting the prizes after a full day of not sullying himself, he'd end up having one clean day and then one sullied day.  I wouldn't put it past him to play the system... Kids can be deviously clever!

Now to start getting my daughter start using the potty too...

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