Potty Training 101

When I found out I was having a boy, I was immediately horrified by the idea of potty training. For some reason, it just felt overwhelming to me. So, when Bug started to get to an age where he should be trying to use the potty, I turned to Big Guy. “This is your responsibility,” I told him. “You’ve got to teach him how all of the boy parts work, and how to pee standing up and all of that. I’m just not equipped for it.”

Big Guy responded in a manner I am all too familiar with… he nodded in agreement and then promptly put it out of his mind. Now, in all fairness, I wouldn’t expect him to handle the “transition to womenhood” talk with LadyBug. Certainly a division of labor is not only fair in this case, but logical. So, while I had started encouraging Bug to use the potty seat on the big toilet (hello, diaper and potty companies, not all boys are in the 25% for weight/height), he still really needed a demonstration. Bug, as smart as he is, needs extra help figuring out gross and fine motor activities. He can’t quite get from point A to point B on his own. Since I am used to Big Buy’s tactics for avoiding things he doesn’t want to do, I turned to one of two arsenals I have in these situations… nagging (the other is tears, but we weren’t there yet). Yeah, I hated to do it, but geez, man, show your kid how to pee already. I’m honestly not sure if Big Guy ever stepped up to the plate on that one because Bug ended up heading off to preschool a few days a week where his slightly older classmates modeled the proper technique.

In the meantime, I occasionally requested that Bug use the potty and he typically refused. We tried Pull-Ups, we tried underwear. We skipped nudity because Bug felt strongly about having his clothes on, but we did the requisite candies (Skittles due to peanut allergies) and sticker charts. He just didn’t care. He was perfectly happy letting me change his diaper. I fretted about the situation, honestly. My sister said, “He won’t be going off to college in Pull-Ups.” But I wasn’t so sure. I mean, my kid is the King of Avoidance. This is a child who would walk 10 feet out of his way to avoid stepping over a 2-inch obstacle.  I nagged a bit, but didn’t really push the issue. I kept telling myself (and everyone else), that he’d eventually get it in his own time. I’m not sure I really believed it, but it sounded good. It sounded like calm and supportive parenting.

Finally, the peer pressure started to pay off and Bug’s school told us to send him in underwear. He was staying dry all day there. Huh? My kid who wouldn’t even look at the potty at home? Turns out, he even learned how to pee standing up WITHOUT MISSING the potty. How incredible is that? All my worry about Cheerios floating in our toilet were unfounded.  Still, he didn’t do it at home without intense pressure and I didn’t want to be the pressure-to-pee person. As he neared his 4th birthday, I started to feel like I should be trying harder. And I probably should have, but then…

A few weeks’ ago (with months to go before the dreaded 4th birthday), Bug walked up to me and said, “Mama, I need to use the potty!” I stared at him blankly for a moment, before rushing him in and unsnapping his jeans. We celebrated wildly and sang songs about it, but I still thought it was a fluke. But, then, later that day, “Mama, I have to pee!” And as I walked him to the bathroom, he added, “I can do it by myself.” Uh, ok.

And since that day, he has fairly consistently gone to the bathroom on his own. We have to remind him as he’s grabbing his crotch that he probably needs to go, and the whole pooping on the potty took an extra week or two, but now he stays dry day and night for days at a time. He doesn’t ask for rewards. He just does it. Even when he’s busy having fun.

So, here’s my advice to parents who are in the throes of potty training. Forget about it. Let your patience (re: laziness) be your guide. If my kid won’t be heading off to college in Pull-Ups, yours won’t either. Trust me on this one.

5 Responses to Potty Training 101

  1. I wish I could believe you, but my daughter is the most stubborn child around.

    How old was Bug when he went to preschool, and had he EVER gone on the potty for you?

    I cannot get her to sit for me, on the seat or chair (she is height-challenged at 3-1/2.)

    Preschool teachers did say she is one of the few kids in nappies – and there are 2-1/2 yr olds in there. But they are not pushing.

    For such an independant child, it still astonishes me. Guess I’ll hold out hope!

  2. I actually skipped a phase in my blog. There was a short period of time (after preschool ended for the year) where he’d go if harassed, but it was infuriating.

    I think what got Bug was the peer pressure. He was was just over three when he started at the school. Did you ask the preschool to put her on the potty, even if she doesn’t go? Bug went and tried when all of the other kids did – it was an expectation in that class (he was in an older preschool class than your daughter is). He wouldn’t do it for me, but he did it there.

    Anyway, I just gave up pushing. I would ask him regularly about using the potty and when he’d get a diaper rash or be uncomfortable from his diaper, I’d remind him that he could stop it at any time by using the potty. We did some bribing, but it got to a point where it was obvious that he knew when he had to go and was capable of using the potty and just didn’t want to do it. That’s when I started to give up hope… he’s also really stubborn.

    I can’t make any promises, but I suspect that my sister is right. Unless there’s a physical problem, your kid won’t go off to college in diapers.

  3. […] Potty Training 101 – While I was expecting potty training to be a series of stops and starts, a battle of wills and a toilet full of Cheerios, it turned out to be a kind of Zen experience. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, … var addthis_pub = ”; var addthis_language = ‘en’;var addthis_options = ’email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more’; […]

  4. Loved this line: “but geez, man, show your kid how to pee already”

    I have a feeling my husband will be the same way when L starts to Potty Train!

    What an independent little guy Bug is! My 3 year old niece still asks us to take down her pants for her.

  5. Hi….wow…we’re just thinking about potty training. The thought of it still overwhelms me, so I’m being kinda lazy. Might pay off! LOL

    Just wanted to stop by and say welcome to Sprout’s band of bloggers….you’ll love it! I look forward to getting to know you and your blog! HAve a great weekend.

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