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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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No One Wears Diapers to College: My Potty Training Battles

Potty training. Those two words can inspire pride and joy in a successful experience between parent and child. They can also provoke groans, forehead smacking and dread to those parents of toddlers wading through this rite of passage and those parents who see it looming just on the horizon. No matter what type of parent you are, and what type of child you have, potty training is something every parent must go through. My question is: With all the different “fool-proof” parenting techniques being marketed to tiny human makers, why is there no fool-proof way to potty train? It has taken just about a year for my now almost 3 year old to be potty trained. I’ll tell you about our experience.

Let me tell you a little about our Lily. Lily, our first child, turned two last September 25th. She’ll be turning 3 this September 25th. These three years have flown by but also seem to have taken forever. I think most parents will agree with this paradoxical view of time. Lily is wonderfully smart and beautiful. She is creative and curious and fearless. She is also stubborn! She is independent, almost to a fault, and will only do things you want her to do if she thinks it’s a good idea too. Enter potty training. Just before her second birthday, she was in the bathtub when she got a funny look on her face. I grabbed her, knowing she probably had to go #2 and put her on the potty. Much to my surprise, she went! Of course, we were at my parents’ house across the country so I didn’t even think about potty training then. Well, we went home and I got pregnant with our second child and potty training kind of fell by the wayside.

A few months later, with Lily closer to 2 ½ we decided to try again. And to our surprise, without much coercion, she potty trained! We had trouble getting her to go to the bathroom on the big person potty. I was having anxiety attacks trying to remember to take her to the bathroom at regular intervals. And extra stress while pregnant is definitely not helpful! We made a breakthrough when we bought a little potty at Wal-Mart for super cheap. We left it in the front room (gross, I know, but a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do). This helped Lily make it in time. We did really great for an entire week. An M&M treat every time she went helped motivate her. Minimal to no accidents. I couldn’t believe it could be so easy.

And I was right. She regressed. For no apparent reason, after that first week, she had accident after accident. I would take her to the bathroom and she wouldn’t go and then pee on the floor 2 minutes later. So I backed off. We did this cycle several times. Wait a month and try again. Wait another month and try again. Finally, as we were nearing her third birthday, I just thought – Enough!

We had taken a month long trip to California and when we came back I just told Lily that that was that. No more diapers. You’re a big girl now. We’re going to wear underwear now. And she did well. It took a day or two of constant accidents but then only an accident or two every other day. It helped that we got her some Doc McStuffins underwear (she loves that show!) My husband, genius that he is, also got her a bunch of “potty presents” from the dollar store.

She gets a present every time she goes #2 in the potty. It works like a charm! So while there are many different ways to potty train, what worked for us is waiting until she was willing to try, taking away diapers all together, and giving her the right motivation. We do use Best Bottom Potty Trainers when we go out sometimes but she hardly needs them now. To parents potty training: Just stick with it. If you need to take a break, do it. Forcing it doesn’t really work, at least not for us!

Bio: I'm Valerie Redfearn, a qualified librarian and current stay-at-home Mom with two girls - Lily who is almost 3 and Violet who is 4 months. My family currently lives in Blacksburg, VA where we love to go to the park, read books and engage in general silliness.

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