Did you read Jill’s wonderful and informative post earlier this week about the Potty Training Boot Camp method? Let me warn you, this post is nothing like that. We are, as I type, smack in the middle of attempting potty learning with Little Sir, our 2.5 year old son. This is a post, not from experience and hindsight, but from the trenches. I can’t tell you “how we did it” as much as “how we are attempting to do this”. May you learn from my ongoing mistakes!
Let me set the stage for you. Little Sir is what some might call “high spirited”. It would also be accurate to say “wow, how much sugar/caffeine/stimulants did you just feed him?!” at any given time during the day when in fact, he has had no sugar at all, and might have just woken from a nap. As you might imagine, his toddler tantrums are epic. He is extremely stubborn, and he gets it from me. Therefore, my main goal in the potty learning process was to avoid making this into a battle between us, because no one would win that battle. My desire is to keep it light and fun. He just loves learning new things, so I want it to be about learning and not about shaming or failing or forcing him against his will.
We did acquire and read the Potty Training Boot Camp book. There were a few parts of the Boot Camp that stood out to me as needing modification to work for us. One was forcing the child to clean up accidents and then making them, against their will, do a potty drill 10 times after every accident, to the point that they melt down. So we removed that part and just talked to him gently after an accident. We would clean him up, letting him help, and put him on the potty and talk to him about what happened. One time we did make it a game to “run to the potty”, but he lost interest pretty quickly.
One part of the Boot Camp method that unexpectedly didn’t work for him, even though we had planned to go with it, was the nudity. He would NOT go nude. It was very warm outside, and we had removed the carpet from our downstairs (which is all hard wood flooring or tile). But he would have none of this nudity. He asked very specifically for underwear, and he was scared and uncomfortable naked. He would not be distracted. Meltdown was eminent, so underwear it was. As you might anticipate from a cloth diapered child, he proceeded to use the underwear like a diaper. Still, I think it worked out in the end as long as we kept putting him directly onto the potty and talking about where the poop and pee should be going.
On the second day, we had planned to go to church in the evening. By mid-morning I could see that this was a terrible idea. He was not going on the potty with any intentionality, and had absolutely no self-initiation. I did not want to hand him over to the already-overwhelmed volunteers in his class with the full knowledge that he was going to pee in his pants and they’d have to clean it up. So we had to skip church that week. A week later, he was still tenuous in his regularity but he did go to church. And he did pee in his pants. Fortunately, this was a Sunday where we were the volunteers so we cleaned him up ourselves.
|Our car’s hatchback, packed for a 4 day trip,
with space for the potty in the back!
The first time I took him out to pee in public, I found out that he was scared of all potties except his own “little green potty” (a cheap Ikea potty). For the last few weeks, we have been putting the green potty in the back of our hatchback Honda Fit and taking it wherever we go! Before we go into a store, he and I climb back there, close the hatch, and go potty “in secret”. And yes, I often empty the pee into nearby bushes or just leave it in there until we get home.
We are having quite the time with poop. It is not working out at all, really. He either waits until he gets a Pull-Up at night or he uses his underwear. Let me tell you, poop accidents are another great reason that every household should install a diaper sprayer. It has saved my sanity!
For naps during the day, we are using Flip trainers. I tell him this is “nap time underwear”. Before we started potty learning, he was frequently waking up from his nap dry, so the Flip is perfect for small accidents while sleeping. At night, however, we do have to pull out the disposable option because he pees like crazy all night long. I do try to put him on the potty first thing in the morning so he can pee for the first time on the potty and not in a Pull Up.
It’s been almost a month since our first potty learning weekend, and he’s been in underwear during the day ever since. We never went back to diapers, even when he requested. He has about one accident a day, sometimes more. He still does not self-initiate (ask to go to the potty), and most of the time when he does have an accident, he doesn’t even tell me. He just runs around wet until I notice. I might have had to use a wet wipe to wipe up some pee at Hobby Lobby one day. Maybe. Surely this has happened to someone else?
I’d love to hear your encouraging stories and suggestions as we make our way toward the accident-free, self-initiating day. When will it come?!