Potty training can make the most stalwart parent tremble. I know, because I was one. I confess, life gave me the neccesary experiences to make me a little gun-shy. But I did gain humility! And a lot of understanding.
My first daughter was not quite two when she showed interest in the potty and I figured she was ready. Besides we had another baby in diapers by then. So we began. I gave her a small m&m when she went to the potty and I gave her the chance every 30 min. She did great! She told me potty, she kept her pants mostly dry, and I felt like a succesful parent……… For two weeks. Then her accidents became more frequent. It annoyed me, and I hated that it hurt the bond we had had through the process. So began the accident battle that lasted FOUR YEARS!!
My son came along, but I wasnt going to try until he was older. I had heard boys were harder, so I waited. I had also heard that it was good to catch the window of time that they were interested, so I didnt wait too much longer. Since I was still struggling with accidents in my daughter I sought more counsel from other mothers. I decided to try putting a large T-shirt on him and leaving him bare. I might have been lucky but he did NOT like making a mess on the floor. So he quickly learned to go to the bathroom where I had a little potty set up for him. He was trained in two weeks and did not regress as my daughter had done.
My third child, my son was trained in nearly the same way by his grandma while I was on a trip. He also did not regress or have accidents. I started to feel a little more confident in the potty training arena again.
Then my second daughter turned two and again showed signs of being ready. I tried the same tactic that had seemed to help my sons be so successful. It seemed to work magic again and she had enjoyed it. ……… for two weeks. Then she apparently decided it was not just fun, it was work to go potty. And again we were in a battle of wills and accidents for another year. Again our relationship was damaged. Again I hated it.
My third son was potty trained quite easily and I decided that the saying about boys being harder was absolutly wrong. So far my girls were much harder. Impossible might be a better word.
So my darling third daughter and sixth child I was not going to tackle so early. At 22 months, however she had different plans. I would find her playing in the toilet with her cothes off more than once a day. She told me potty all the time. she loved to go sit on it. In the middle of church service she would say “Mommy! I need the potty!” Everyone would look at me, expecting me to take her, and so I would. I was rather annoyed and I decided to train her as she seemed so determined. I put her in a long dress and left her bare, but took her to the bathroom every half hour. She seemed to purposely wait until she was in the kitchen, just after we had tried to go potty, to make a puddle on the kitchen floor. And her brothers thought it was so funny. It was a really bad combination. She got tons of attention for having accidents, and nothing I could do could out weigh it. I tried to put her back into diapers only to have her take them off and make puddles for her siblings to laugh at. It was a nightmare, and I felt helpless.
I decided to try a new approach. By this time she was two and a half, and my patience was thin. I tried to not let it come between us and strove to not react negatively when I changed her.
One day I had a lot of energy and was teasing her and laughing as I changed her. I said “I Love you!” as I let her go. She turned around to say “Yep, but you dont like me when I wet my pants.” I felt shocked. She must’ve still gotten the vibe of my feelings of frustration that I had tried so hard to hide.
Since I was learning a lot about positive discipline a couple months after the afore mentioned incident, I decided to try talking to her about her accidents. I started by saying I was so proud of her for trying to go potty and keep her pants dry. (Even though it didnt feel like she put forth effort, I still tried to acknowledge her possible efforts.) Then I said I noticed that she had some accidents. how did she feel about it. She sighed like she was emotional and said “I just am playing and I dont want to miss anything. Then my pants are wet even though I go potty!” I gave her a hug and said it is really hard to miss the playing while you go potty. I added “I know that you will get better at leaving your play while you go potty so your pants can stay dry. You are getting big and thats what big girls do. I am so glad you are trying to be big.” After our talk she did an AMAZING job of keeping her pants dry. She still had about one accident a day, but I could tell her efforts were doubled. She started doing preschool with me this year and that helped her feel bigger and more successful as well. So her accidents are more rare now, and when she starts again I know she needs a shot of confidence. A reassurance that she is getting big and that I love her for who she is, not what she does. Can you blame me though for being a rather burned out when it came time to think about potty training my next daughter, who came right after her?
I had no motivation to start potty training my youngest girl. We had a great relationship and I was afraid of letting it be damaged again. So searched out a connected way of potty training. Meanwhile she learned to take off her clothes and diaper, signs I used to look for to determine readiness. I read enough that I was determined that she could potty train herself when she was ready, and I mean really ready.
I started by just talking to her about going potty, and taking her in with me when I went. I told her that soon she would be big enough to go potty like me. Sometimes I would ask her if she wanted to try to sit on it, and accepted her answer whether it was yes or no. I wanted to respect her on everything. There were times I felt a little discouraged and like she would never be interested in it, but I never let myself pressure her.
One day she said she didnt want to wear a diaper. She didnt like diapers she said, so I asked if she wanted to try wearing panties like a big girl. She said yes. I helped her sit on the potty, put panties on her, and got her dressed. A few minutes later she had an accident. She cried, and said she didn’t like panties. “Panties make me pee!” she stated. I did not tell her it was not the panties fault. I just laughed.
It took her a couple weeks before she was ready to try wearing panties again. Most mornings I would ask her if she wanted to wear a diaper or panties and then respect her choice. I told her to not worry. Soon she would be ready to wear panties and go potty ike a big girl. After a couple weeks she tried again, only to have another accident. But it didn’t take her as long to recover, and a couple days later she was back in panties. This time she did well. She even told me “Mom! I was going to pee but I stopped it!”
“Oh good! Then did you go potty?”
“No. I didn’t” She said, still holding herself
“Well after you stop it you have to go really fast! ” She said “ok” and darted off. Only a few days later she was dry, and taking herself to the bathroom. I occasionally ask her, mostly if we are in a store, or outside, so she remembers to go. I don’t have to set any timers, she is completely self motivated to do it. Yes she is a little over three, but it was worth it to wait for her to be wanting it and doing it herself. I feel I didn’t do hardly anything to train her, and we both felt good about the process. It was respectful, peaceful, and connected. She is now secure in her Daily Life.