Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Potty Training: If its difficult, just STOP!

I get it. I really get it. Changing diapers suuuuuucks. Paying for diapers suuuuuucks. Trying to find a container that  doesn’t emit  the smell of the stinky diapers into the baby’s room is nearly impossible. I get it. You want your baby to be potty trained yesterday. And you’ve been working on it, and he’s not getting it. She had 17 accidents yesterday and you didn’t even know it was possible to go to the bathroom 17 times in one day! You are Facebooking like mad asking all your fellow mommy friends what their potty training secrets are. You’re desperate to be DONE. WITH. DIAPERS. I get it. But really, if it’s not happening easily, please just give up. I promise you, potty training should not be a battle. It shouldn’t make you or your child miserable. How do I know? Well, I’ve had a little experience.

I have a three year old (and a 6 year old and an 17 month old). A few months ago, my Facebook feed and many of the threads on “Mom Groups” I am in were taken over by moms who were overwhelmed with potty training. I read these exasperated, desperate comments and thought, “Huh. It wasn’t hard for us.” But that was when I’d only potty trained one kiddo, and so, I was able to convince myself that the ease with which he trained (literally, in a day) was a fluke. We were just one of the “lucky ones.”

But, all this potty talk made me realize that my second born little guy was approaching the age his older brother was when he was trained (2 years, 8 months) and so, I decided to give it a go. A few things you should know: My oldest is a typical oldest. He, for the most part aims to please, he follows rules well (most of the time...), and he never met a challenge that he wasn’t going to take on full force. So, the fact that he potty trained easily was no surprise to me, really.

My second little guy is very different from his brother. He is sweet and lovable but cares very little about what others think of him. He’s not out to impress anyone. Back in the fall, when we were doing back to school shopping for his big brother, Ryan, I grabbed a pack of underwear and tossed it in the cart. Realizing they had BOTH Minion underwear and Paw Patrol underwear (two of Zach’s FAVORITES) I looked at Zachary and said, “Zachary, don’t you want to wear underwear like a big boy? Look! You could choose any pack you want!” Zach looked at me defiantly, and said, “No, Mama! I not wear underwear. I wear diapers.” When I would ask him if he wanted to learn to go on the potty he’d say, “Ummmm, maybe. But…not yet,” as he squinted his eyes, tilted his head to the side a bit, and shook his head in an adamant “no”. To say I had low expectations for his potty training success was an understatement.

But, HE DID IT! He did it in a day. In the first three weeks of training he had a total of three accidents, all within the first few days. He even stayed dry during naps and even all through the night practically right from the start. He not only exceeded my expectations but he blew them out of the water.

So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is, if potty training is hard, it’s not time. You’re trying too soon. Just stop.  

This is not me being judgmental. This is me trying to make your life easier. So, follow the advice below for an easier, simpler, less anxiety producing potty training process: 

                        If it’s hard, just stop.

If he isn’t telling you when he has to go, just stop. You reminding him to go every 15 minutes or making him sit on the potty for 30 minutes at a time until a few drops dribble out does not mean your child is potty trained.  It means you are.

If she’s fighting you on it, just stop.

If you’re miserable, just stop.

If your kid is miserable, just stop.

If you’re petrified to leave the house because your child might have an accident, just stop.

If you’re arguing with your spouse about how this is supposed to work, just stop.

If you feel like your kid is going to go to college in Pull-ups, just stop.

If you have to stay by your kid’s side every second of every day in order to notice the most subtle of subtle cues that she has to go, then, please, just STOP. 

So, now what? You’ve taken my advice, you’ve stopped the potty training that is clearly not going well, what now? You can’t leave your kid in diapers forever. (Or could you? Sometimes diapers are just so convenient). But seriously, most schools require a child to be potty trained so the “Diapers forever!!” approach isn’t going to work. 

I suggest just pretending like the whole potty training thing never happened. Come back to it in a few months once your kid is a bit older, and you’ve had a chance to develop a strategy that works for you and your child. I’m not going to suggest that my strategy is the absolute best. I’m sure there are many approaches that have worked for many kids. But, having potty trained two very different kids, both in less than a day, I know it does not have to be a long, drawn-out, miserable, makes you want to pull all your hair out, process. 

When the kid is ready, and the technique effective, it should be easy and quick. I’ve talked to a lot of other moms and they agree that all kids get to a point when they are “ready.” That time is different for every kid. And yes, if you push it before they’re really ready, you will eventually be successful, but will it be worth it? Will it have been worth the tears and frustration? It should not be an agonizing process. It should be a process that ends in lots of high fives for your little one (perhaps a few too many M&Ms) and the glorious realization that you now have a little extra money in the bank every month! And no, your kid isn’t potty trained if that extra money is being spent on Febreeze, pull-ups, and laundry detergent. Nope, you should be able to take that extra cash and enjoy a few extra lattes. You’ve earned it. 

P.S. I am fully aware that because I wrote this and put it out in the world that my 3rd kid is going to be a nightmare to potty train. Either way, you can be sure I'll write about it. 

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