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Thursday, May 22, 2014

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Potty Training the Independent Child

Eighteen Months.

That’s how old my son was when I bought his “bitty potty”. Somewhere I’d absorbed the idea that some kids have a little window of time at 18 months where they can easily potty train if they show interest. BabyBoy showed interest, and so I happily invested in a 3 in 1 potty.

It’s a good thing I chose a color that matched by bathroom. Because for two years, that potty did little more than match.

Oh, BabyBoy liked sitting on it at first. But that’s because it was his size. Not because he had any intention of using it.

Well, that’s not completely true. He did use it. He used the seat for a hat and the bowl to carry his trucks in. He used the base as a step stool to climb up and splash in the sink. But use it for its intended purpose? Ha.

I told myself I had all the time in the world. I wasn’t going to push this potty training thing. I’d heard so many stories about potty training coming super easy if you just wait until the child was good and ready.

All the time in the world.

Until BabyBoy turned three and I couldn’t enroll him in a number of programs because he still wore diapers. Time to kick the training into gear. But no matter what motivation I tried, he wasn’t interested. Stickers? Nope. Candy? Nope. I will not confess how many different kinds I tried with no success (and me finishing off the package). I. will. not.

I finally bought a fun candy dispenser hoping that the joy of pushing the button and seeing the candy drop down might be sufficient. It worked! For four whole hours. Then we were back to not a speck of interest.

I began to joke that it all had to do with his fierce streak of independence. This is the child who would not hold on to anyone’s hand while he was learning to walk. He simply crawled until he figured out how to walk on his own, and then he did just that. Maybe once he knew he could use the bathroom all by himself with no help whatsoever, then and only then would he decide to give up on diapers.

And, you know, I wasn’t in a hurry. I could wait for that. Right?

And then BabyBoy reached his half birthday. I’d been tripping over his potty for two long years. My OS diapers were barely hanging on his hips. Nothing was absorbent enough to hold a pee. It was time to get serious.

I gave up on the trainers. I bought underwear with baseballs and ones with Thomas the Train and ones with dinosaurs. I checked out every book about potty training from the library. I brought in the mighty Peanut M&M for bribery. I started setting the timer and ordering him to the potty every hour.

Oh. So much angst. (“But I don’t want chocolate! I want to read a book!”)

And he still insisted on wearing a diaper whenever he needed to go poo.

And then one day I realized I had the perfect motivator. I spent all day long hearing myself say “no” to his request to play a game on the computer.

“Ding!” The light bulb came on.

“You can play a game on the computer if you go poop in your bitty potty.”

Ah. Success is a sweet, sweet thing. (Especially when accompanied by lots of Peanut M&Ms for Momma.)

By the way, he’s determined to do the wiping, dumping, and flushing all by himself. For the sake of all things clean, I’d prefer he were a little less independent in that for awhile still, but who am I to encourage dependence in toileting? Isn’t that what I’m trying to train against?

At least having cloth diapered, I’m not scared of dirty laundry.

Bio: Becka Olson writes and mothers from her home in Southern California.


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1 comment:

mabewithlove said...

This sounds so much like my son! He is just before 3.5 and we've got the pee thing down, but no poop and I've yet to find the right bribe.