Hello cats and kittens! Heather here. I hope I didn’t scare you off last week (No worries! No Herman the Hemorrhoid in this post! <<<except there…). Tori did a fantastic job of schooling you on the basics of potty training, so I won’t trouble you there. I’ll just share Cheerio Champ’s story and what I learned in the process.
I went into potty training my son with delusions of grandeur. He had been interested in the whole bathroom process for a while by two years of age, so I figured I had it in the bag. He also hated to be dirty in any way, so naturally he’d want to have potty training out of the way. I didn’t read any potty training books ahead of time or worry too much about it. The way family members spoke of it, it happened rather naturally and the kids practically trained themselves. How hard could it be?
Come to think on it, this is totally out of character for me. Talk about your Red Flag. I usually read everything I can get my hands on about every topic ever. Somewhere in my heart of hearts, perhaps I knew I was deluding myself.
|The HORROR! *tremble*|
I got a free potty seat with Diego all over it through the Gifts to Grow Pampers points reward system, which I placed on the potty and left for some amount of time without rushing Cheerio Champ. After he became comfortable with that, I started placing him on it every now and again, fully clothed. He thought it was hilarious and would sit there for several minutes before wanting to get down and away from his mom (whom, from his perspective, was clearly losing her mind). Then I started placing him on the seat in just a pull-up (he had outgrown diapers), and he seemed fine with that. It was after the diaper came off that it started to become tricky. The seat rocked and he pinched a finger and then he wanted nothing to do with the seat again. I tried to step back to being clothed, but it was too late. He was now terrified of the potty seat.
I let it go for about a month, tried again. Nope. Still terrified. I tried buying one of the floor model potty chairs, but honestly he was too large. He’s a big kid, man. I’m also positive he had NO idea what it was for. He peed in it once, by complete mistake, so we made a big deal out of it. The next time, he went immediately in it, but after that he had no interest in it whatsoever.
Next came a multitude of bad ideas and poor results. We tried movies, songs, candy, consequences, toy rewards, letting/making him run naked, getting angry (not planned), ridiculous praise (with cheering), potty chants, praying to the potty gods (are there such things?), running water with the hope that he would feel the need to go, trying to “catch” him when he needed to pee…the list goes on and none of it worked.
The biggest difference came when I bought a new potty seat to fit on the potty. It adjusted to the size of the toilet seat, so there was no rocking. It was more ergonomic, so not only did he find it more comfortable, but I didn’t have to watch out for yellow showers (always a plus!). It was costly, but well worth it. I also provided him with a potty book, which helped make the sit more enjoyable, as he was only allowed to have it while on the potty. We also gave him a stool, to allow him to get up there when he wished.
I can not tell you how much I appreciated the sticker chart idea. We began giving him stickers on a poster board each time he had success. It was magical. We didn’t have to reward him after so many stickers. He just wanted to see the stickers on his poster. They didn’t even have to be cool stickers! We called grandma a couple times and proudly told relatives of his success and that was good enough for him. During that time, we moved to a new house. I didn’t put up a new sticker chart, but he continued to use the potty just the same out of habit now and life was good.
He also wanted to stay dry during the day so he could wear his cool big-boy underwear. If you have a boy, I highly recommend buying underwear that are the same type his daddy uses. For our son, that meant boxer briefs, which they don’t sell everywhere with fun cartoon characters and the like. That’s both good and bad, but it didn’t make a difference for Cheerio Champ. He was like his daddy and that’s all that mattered to him.
We just had one small problem: the kid wouldn’t poop to save his life. Allow me to rephrase: the kid wouldn’t poop IN THE POTTY to save his life (Pull-ups or the floor were acceptable). He ended up constipated, which I do not recommend. Not even a little. I tried bribing the child with cake, I was so desperate! CAKE! He still would not poop in the potty. By this time, Cheerio Champ was 3 ½, and I was pregnant. “NO WAY was I going to be changing two sets of diapers when he was plenty old enough to use the potty,” I told myself. He was just being stubborn, I was sick of cleaning up after him, and I had had ENOUGH (I was also pregnant and possibly irrational). One night, he clearly had to poop, and I placed him on the toilet. I had to check on dinner, so I left and came back to find a steaming pile waiting. Oh no. I made him clean it up. That’s right. I gave him a grocery bag and a wad of paper towels and made him pick it up. It was his mess, after all. He gagged and cried, I felt awful, and the floor got cleaned. He never pooped on the floor again. NEVER. Not once! There was probably a better way, but he was pooping in the potty now, so I was good to go (for the record, I think it is a good idea to teach responsibilities and make it a group effort…but making them pick it up out of anger is not such a good idea).
One last hurdle then: bedtime wetting. I sat him down and told him that he was so big that they didn’t make pull-ups in his size anymore. We needed to wear big boy underwear all the time, even when we slept at night. If he felt like he had to pee, he needed to get up and go. I also said we don’t pee in the bed. We pee in the potty. He was absolutely okay with that, and I never had to buy another pull-up. He wet the bed two nights in a row. I washed his sheets (he has a waterproof mattress cover, which I highly recommend) and wet clothes, reminded him to use the potty, woke him at night a couple times to get him to go, and that was done. He was more than ready to be completely potty trained, so that part was easy.
I have an eleven-month old daughter, whom I will eventually have to potty train (I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm). My number one mistake with Cheerio Champ was making potty training a Big Deal. It was obvious how much I was tied up in his successes and failures. With Princess Cheerio, I will be more laid back (and awesome?), as I am in all things parenting with child number two. I plan to start with what worked with Cheerio Champ ultimately, skipping over everything else. No two children are the same, so I’m sure that I’ll have entirely different problems and sentiments with her. I also plan to let her take the lead and not move on until she wants to and not just because I feel pressured by friends, relatives, complete strangers, or circumstances. She’ll train when she’s ready and not a second before.
Maybe you are dreading potty training after reading all that, and I wouldn’t blame you. It was stressful and a horrible experience, but it was absolutely enlightening. I learned a lot about myself, a ton about my child, and I began to parent differently as a result.
Parenting is like a roller coaster: it has its ups and downs. Sometimes you are giddily anticipating the thrill, enjoying the moment (First steps! First word! First day of school!), and sometimes you are screaming your full head off and wondering what the hell you got yourself into. It can also be a lot like looking in a fun-house mirror. In some mirrors, you wonder how you never noticed all these flaws you have. In others, you discover how truly beautiful you can be if given the chance. And in looking in all these mirrors, you realize that there is always another perspective and always the chance to change how you view yourself and the world around you. So just keep in mind that after the trip to the amusement park is over, we won’t remember every mirror or every hill. What we’ll be left with are impressions and fond memories, and we’re likely to forget any hang-ups we had as they never truly mattered in the long run. Relax and enjoy. If your kid is still wearing diapers in high school, they can buy them out of their own allowance.