Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The joys, and otherwise, of potty training

Weaning was pretty effortless. Improving nighttime sleep hasn't really involved that much input from us ... though I gotta say, I'm still not loving the naplessness. The worst is when he does nap on one day, because of having been in the car at the wrong time or having had a bad night's sleep, and that sets off a cycle of sleeping badly at night, wanting a nap the next day, and sleeping badly the next night. The only way to break the cycle is to deal with a tired, cranky toddler who is trying to fall asleep across your lap all afternoon. But other than that, we've been getting pretty steady improvement without a ton of work.

Potty training is another story.

The first few days were great. Sometimes Marko would go in the potty. We'd all cheer. Sometimes he'd go on the floor, and we'd mop it up. Either way, no biggie.

But it's been over a week now and I just feel so frustrated. Not that we're not making progress, because we are. But I just don't know where to go from here to make sure we keep making progress. I watch Marko like a hawk to guess when he might need to go. I keep track of when he last went. I lure him onto the potty and keep him there by reading endless books. Often it works. Sometimes it works unexpectedly -- like yesterday when he zipped over there all by himself and went without saying a word -- and I feel so proud! But sometimes, he inexplicably does not go in the potty, and five minutes later goes on the floor. And I have no idea why.

I just want to yell, "What the heck, kid? An hour ago you took yourself to the potty and I didn't even need to do a thing till you asked me to dump it out! And now you're randomly peeing next to the potty and telling me to clean it up!"

Scheduling was working really well for awhile there. I'd just put him down every hour, and he'd usually go. But then it suddenly changes partway through the day. He goes two hours without going, then goes, then goes again 15 minutes later. It just feels like there's no rhyme or reason to it sometimes.

I just don't know how to get from "willing and motivated to go on the potty" to "willing and motivated NOT to go anywhere else." I don't want to punish him for having accidents. But I don't think he really thinks it's important not to go on the floor. He's quite happy to help me clean up. But I think my little talk of, "When you need to pee, you go on the potty ONLY, never on the floor" is going in one ear and out the other as he answers "Marko pee on the floor! Clean it up!"

I remember being at this stage with the dog, too. And eventually, he did get it. I can't say what specific thing I did to seal the deal on potty-training the dog. I just kept taking him out often, staying out till he went, taking him out immediately if I saw him starting to go ... and eventually he got it. Without even any M&Ms. But it did take awhile and maybe I've just got to have more patience.

The really frustrating part is that I don't want to go anywhere while we're working on this, for fear that putting him in a diaper will just confuse him and cause us to lose all our progress. But we can't stay home forever, either. Some people tell me I must never put him in a diaper while we're potty training, and others say it makes no difference. I do know that he was totally clueless all of Sunday evening, after having been in a diaper for church. But the previous time he was in a diaper for half the day, the other half he was just fine and only had one accident. I don't know what to make of that.

I'm trying to work on deep breaths and not freaking out. After all, I've been putting up with occasional, or more than occasional, pee on the floor for months. He's finally doing it less and my life is getting easier. Would it be the end of the world to stay at this stage for a month or more? No, it wouldn't. There is no deadline. We'll be okay. If we get too fed up, we can always stick him back in diapers and try again when he's three. I'm sure he'll be out of diapers before college. I repeat these things to myself many times.

Please tell me they are true. Also, if you have potty trained a child successfully, I'd like to hear how you did it, how long it took, and whether you were super frustrated too!


Beth @ Me as a Mommy said...

We did the 3 day potty training method and it worked REALLYREALLY well. It's essentially 3 days of pure hell, but then you're done (hopefully). We had great success and Mason was totally trained by day 3. Days 4-7 were perfect with no accidents. Then we woke up on day 8. Something in the night had clicked and he realized he had control over something. He spent days 8-about 15 pulling down his pants and peeing in sneaky spots while laughing hysterically. It was AWFUL. I was about to lose it and put him back in diapers. I finally told my husband "today is the last day. If he pees on the floor/tv/wherever today, he's going back in diapers." We haven't had an accident since. I really do think they can sense our frustration and motivations (or lack thereof!) stay strong, and keep doing what you're doing... it will click eventually!

Unknown said...

I started letting my little guy run around pant-less at home when he was about 32 months old. We kept a potty chair in the living room and one of those seats that goes on the toilet in the bathroom - he had unrestrained access to a potty at all times.

I didn't use rewards, other than a "good job" or "you're growing up to be a big boy like daddy and brother" (he looks up to both of them so much.) I tried rewards for other things in the past and he's they type of kid that will weigh how much he wants the prize vs. how much he wants to just keep doing what he's doing - he can always get a prize later when he does the thing I want him to do.

Finally, I will admit that I bought one package of Pull-Ups. I used them only for the times that we were going to be away from home and nowhere near a toilet for long periods of time - about once a week or less. When they were gone, I bought one pair pf plastic pants to put over his training pants when we went out. I carry an extra pair of undies, pants, socks, and shoes wherever we go.

I know how hard it is to not show anger when they pee on the floor for the fifth time in an hour. It will go by faster than you think. The key with my guy is this: the bigger the deal I make of something, the less he listens. If I insist he sits on the potty, he will either have a fit or sit there and hold it - even if he really, really needs to go! Just keep on not making a big deal and I'll bet he figures it out soon. Really!

Anonymous said...

My own feelings is later is better. In some cases, later means about three years old. (Most of my kids did train earlier for bowel movements.) I know with a baby coming, you want to achieve this milestone and not have to worry about two in diapers, but my experience is, later equals less stress and fewer accidents. None of my kids were potty trained before two and a half years of age, even though I tried with every single one of the six. Friends of mine with large families kept giving me the advice not to bother till three, and I think they were pretty wise.
Even though another generation started it all so much earlier, their experience included a LOT of accidents. I had accidents myself all the way into grade school.
I also had bladder infections trying to hold it in, but I don't think that actually happens with boys.

Anonymous said...

If he's waking up in the morning with a wet diaper, this could be a sign that he doesn't have batter control to "hold it" in time for him to connect the need to go with going. A good sign that he is ready is that he wakes with a dry diaper. There's nothing wrong with the kid that waits till 3 or even 4 to go on the potty. He just might not be ready.

Sally Thomas said...

I didn't even start any of mine before they were 2, though one daughter showed much interest earlier. Boys, not so much. At all. One son "got" it by being in a little playgroup/preschool program 3 days a week (he had to be at least nominally out of diapers before they'd take him). The other . . . well, our potty-training program with him was known as "Peeing for Peeps," if that gives you any idea. And it took . . . forever. At 5, he would get wound up in things he was doing and forget to go. Bowel training was the worst -- it was like he didn't want to take time out from his busy day to sit on the pot.

When my older son was potty-training age, we were living in the UK and walking everywhere, and I had the location of every public toilet in town memorized. Our round of errands would be like, "We'll leave our house, and there's a public toilet outside the market square. Then we'll go to the supermarket. Then we'll go to Starbucks, because there's a bathroom there . . . " And I took tons of changes of clothes with me everywhere I went.

Toddler boys seem to me to care less about feeling wet or dirty -- they just have more important things to do -- and going to the toilet is something you do when you've run out of other things to care about for the moment. The switch does flip, but when it flips is a hugely individualized thing (kind of like reading and other later pursuits).

Hang in there.

Sheila said...

Anon (and others) -- I don't mind if it takes him longer. But he's got a lot of interest now and I figure we'll go with it. He likes sitting on the potty, and doesn't like wearing a diaper. He does wake up wet, because he doesn't sleep through the night regularly, and 12 hours is a long time for anyone to wait to go to the bathroom.

Even as a baby, he would wait for me to take off his diaper before he went. He didn't like to be wet. He's less sensitive to this now (and boy do I wish I'd taken more advantage of it *then*) but he's enjoying potty training and getting fewer rashes, and I'm saving some laundry, so I don't mind doing that. I just have to be more Zen and remember that the world won't end if this takes a year!

Though I think it won't -- because our past several "misses," I realized afterward that he had been trying to tell me he had to go. He just won't say "pee in the potty." Instead he asks me to read him a book, or to sit on the floor, or he pulls me in the general direction of the potty ... because he's not quite sure what he wants to do, I guess, but knows that he needs me to be there helping him out. (He's the same about bedtime. He never asks to take a nap, but if he's really tired he asks to go in the dark bedroom and sing songs. He knows that's what we do when he's tired, and that it makes him feel better.)

Anyway, I figure if I'm more attentive to these cues, we'll do better. As it is, he often goes a whole morning or a whole afternoon with no accidents, and one day he only had one real accident the whole day ... and he had just woken up and was groggy. It might take a few weeks to really get it, and he'll probably have tons of accidents until his bladder gets bigger, but I'm kind of okay with that. I'd rather have him comfortable with the potty now, if he's willing to keep at it. Trying to follow his lead here ....

'Akaterina said...


With E. we did what you did - as soon as she was interested in it, we bought her a little potty and showed her how to use it. Within a week she would at least poop on the potty, though not always pee.

Many mom's I know were surprised because she was not quite two when she was "potty trained" (we still have accidents and haven't even touched night-time potty training), but she lead the way.

She has her moments of rebellion, where she will refuse to go on the potty and leave a trail behind her. Sometimes these moments last for days, and we are back in pull-ups. But with a sensitive bum, she love the cotton panties better, and when I explain that only big girls who go pee in the potty get to wear panties, she straightens out.

So, no, I don't think it is too young if he is leading the way. I am personally opposed to these methods of "three days of hell and your kid will be potty trained". Neither I, nor any of my siblings were trained that way, and I don't intend to do that with my kids. Allowing them to take the initiative has worked with the first, we shall see about the second and third. So what if it takes a week, a month, three months? Kids are smart and usually stubborn and will do it in their own time.

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