I never in a million, GAZILLION YEARS imagined how excited, how elated, how downright happy I would be when my kids pooped on the potty for the first time. I mean, who equates poop= miracle? The little guy performed his very first miracle the other day, and even though it wasn’t really of his own accord (he had a ton of fruit that morning, and I think while going pee-pee the miracle snuck up on him) I danced around and carried on as though he pooped a golden egg into his special little potty. I was screaming in delight, high-fiving him, giving him hugs, I eagerly grabbed a handful of m&m’s (yes, I’m that mom, and don’t worry, his hands were clean when I did it) and I even called his big brother in from a game of Minecraft to share in the celebration. Big brother took one look into the potty, and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to NEVER, EVER call him up to bear witness to a miracle, EVER again. He did high-five and give hugs to our newest member of the poop gang, and quickly ran away. And was it overkill to call my husband up at work, and put the little guy on the phone?
For all intensive purposes, this is my first real experience with potty training. I’m going to admit something, and I’m not proud of it. Here’s a picture of my big guy, when he was potty training:
The big secret: I did not potty train him. No, he didn’t learn all on his own (he’s brilliant, but not that brilliant). During his toddler and preschool years, I was working, and a very good friend of mine was taking care of him for me. In fact, this photo was taken in her bathroom. I’m pretty sure this was his first miracle on the potty, and she wanted to take a picture for me so I’d remember forever.
My friend was what I affectionately called “the potty training nazi”. She was strict and firm. She set it up all, and my job was to enforce it, and carry on the routines she had set in her home. By God, my boy was potty trained right at three. He was in big boy undies, and although he’d have an accident or two in the beginning, he was good to go and out of diapers AND pull-ups at three. I owe it all to my friend.
Now, getting back to the little guy…. I tried really hard to be strict with him, but he practically laughed his little blonde head off. Oh, you want ME to sit on THAT? Here, let me leave a big fat stinking miracle right in my pull up! How do you like them apples?!? It didn’t matter how much we wanted to bribe, to plead, to beg, to act nonchalant like we really didn’t care as some form of reverse psychology. Little guy could care less about potty training, so I decided to back off. To be honest, I was tired of constantly asking him every five minutes if he had to pee-pee or poo-poo. I even went so far as to buy him big boy undies and he tried those out, just to see if he’d be more inclined to tell me if he had to go or not. He held everything in the entire morning, and as soon as I slipped a pull-up on him for nap time, he let it all go. I mean, he really, REALLY didn’t want to go on the potty, and who was I to chase after him? I don’t think either of us had it in us!
Little guy will be three next month, and he’s starting to care a lot more about his bodily functions. He tells me he has to go, and I get into marathon mode. I scoop him up, fly to the bathroom, and I give him his privacy as I wait for him to call to me. So far, he’s been doing a great job. I still give him a few m&m’s as a reward, and if he would give me another miracle on the potty, I’d probably give him the whole damn bag, I’d be that happy! What I’m learning from this whole experience, the secret to my success is that you really can’t do a whole lot until the kid is ready. I mean, you can give them some hints, and offer up the potty. You can check out the special “let’s go for a ride on the magic potty” books and read to them as often as you want, and you can read the myriad of articles online for tips and pointers, but if the kid doesn’t care? Well, you’re screwed.
How do you know if your kid is ready? He/She will let you know, trust me. Don’t worry about the different signs that point to readiness. Don’t impatiently wait for your child to grab themselves or keep track of when they hide in a corner, so you can start to map out their potty schedule. I was doing that, and it drove me nuts! Here’s how it went down for me: little guy said after putting him down for a nap: “Mommy, I have to pee”. He’d never done that before, and so I reacted accordingly, and he’s been on the fast track to diaper freedom ever since. There was no magical check list. It was simply that.
I’m also learning that each kid is different. Potty training nazi won’t work on little guy, because he’s just not that way. I have to let him come to me and pretend the idea was all his, because that’s just the way he works. That might not be how your kid operates, though. Maybe your kid won’t tell you verbally, but will show a lot more interest in the potty. Now that the little guy is excited about it, and wants to do it, it makes my job a whole lot easier, and comparing his success to other kids’ success is plain dumb. I read about these kids who are potty trained at one year of age, and completely trained at two, and that’s a wonderful accomplishment, but it’s okay if my boy isn’t there yet. Right now, if I can get him potty trained by preschool, I’ll feel successful!
So, here’s my bottom line: encourage. It’s the only thing you have control over, and the best thing you can do to help your potty trainer along, and let nature (ahem) take it’s course. Soon, you may find yourself staring at a miracle, too. Just don’t take pictures of it. No one wants to see that. Trust me on this.
It’s your turn! I’d love to hear about your own potty training experiences (or misadventures)! What worked or didn’t work for you?