Dooty Diaries: When to Back Off the Potty Training?
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, thanks everyone for sharing their potty training suggestions. She’s backing off for now but, for those of you who may be in the same boat, she has summed up your comments below.
A month ago, in my first installment of Dooty Diaries, I posed the question: Can you miss the boat on potty training? The response was overwhelming. As near as I can tell, there’s no boat to be missed. Yet here I am with a kid who will turn 3 in July and shows absolutely no interest in using the potty. So what am I doing wrong? My best guess is that I want it too much. My daughter is pushing back against my desire for her to use the potty. The more I want her to go, the more she resists. It’s one of the few areas in her world where she is in complete control. I know I could probably force the issue but the idea of it just doesn’t sit right with me.
Many readers took the time to share their potty training experience and to offer suggestions. The vast majority of those who commented suggested that I simply back off and wait until my daughter is ready. Since I think our problem is a “simple” power struggle, I’ve decided to take that advice and see what happens. For those of you who are not locked in a power struggle with your toddler but who could use some help in the potty training area, I’ll do my best to sum up the many other great ideas left by fellow readers. Here they are:
Be a Role Model: According to a former preschool teacher, being a good role model for your child is a must. This of course means going to the bathroom in front of your child. I’m here to tell you I can go like a pro, and in front of little eyes too. My daughter has seen me peeing expertly for going on three years now. She is not impressed. Despite my best efforts, it would seem that I am a sh–ty potty model.
Log Potty Time: Quite a few readers swear that success flows from logging potty time. One reader recommends that I put my daughter on the toilet or potty seat for five minutes every 20 minutes, as well as every time I go. Using this method, her son was using the potty regularly by 16 months but wasn’t fully trained until 30 months.
Intriguing, but let’s break it down. If I plop my daughter on the potty for 5 minutes of every 20, she’ll be sitting there for 15 minutes every hour. That’s a full hour on the potty for each 4-hour period of time. Let’s assume the average toddler sleeps 12 hours a day. That leaves 12 hours available for potty training, three of which will be spent on the potty. Your average month has 30 days. Three hours a day multiplied by 30 days means my daughter would be spending 90 hours per month on the potty. Multiply that by the 14 months it took this mom’s son to become fully trained and you get 1260 hours of potty time, or 52½ days. Wow, this little boy logged some serious potty time.
Like every stay-at-home mother, I spend a butt load of time with my daughter. But to spend 52 days of the year on the potty? No thank you. Clearly I’m poking fun here but it seems to me to be a function of quality vs. quantity. Sorry, but I’m not about to invest this amount of time in the bathroom.
Watch Stupid Movies. Another mommy swears by what she bills as “the DUMBEST movie in the world.” Apparently it’s a bad movie from the late 80s or early 90s with “a bunch of completely annoying songs.” The songs got under this mom’s skin but somehow got her daughter on the potty within 2 or 3 days after she started watching it.
Okay, my daughter loves videos so this holds some promise for me. There’s only one problem. There are so many stupid movies that I can’t figure out which one she’s talking about. Molly, if you’re reading this please give me a little more to go on. You mentioned Potty Time but there must be 50 videos with Potty Time in the title. Do you mean the one with the song Super Duper Pooper? Because it looks like it could be the dumbest movie in the world.
Buy Big Kid Underpants. A number of readers suggested I take my daughter to the store and let her pick out special “big girl” underpants. Armed with underwear I should then repeatedly explain the importance of wearing them and of using the potty. This should be sufficient motivation for my daughter to trade in her diaper for underpants.
I wish. I tried this but even in the store she declared: “I don’t want underpants!” I bought them anyway. I took them home, washed them and made her try them on. It was not pleasant for either of us.
That was a few months ago and since then I’ve only forced them on her a time or two. Interestingly she’ll talk about her underpants. Sometimes she’ll get them out of the drawer and arrange them neatly on her bed. “Look at the beautiful underpants,” she’ll say. Beautiful though they may be, she does not want to wear them.
Make a Big Deal. Lots of readers said it helped when they made a huge deal any time their children went in the potty. Singing and dancing were also key motivators.
The first time our daughter tinkled in the potty my husband and I scared the crap out of her with our cheering and clapping. She bawled her head off and wouldn’t go anywhere near the potty. Our singing and dancing also flopped. What can I say? We can’t sing or dance to save our lives and our daughter knows it.
Offer Prizes & Rewards: A number of people recommended using small prizes such as dollar store items, stickers or candy as rewards for using the potty. One reader used this method with her two girls and both were trained within a few days.
I’m not knocking this as a legitimate and effective method of potty training but I just can’t do it, at least as far as the prizes go. I am fundamentally opposed to buying a bunch of junk to try to motivate my daughter. She isn’t wowed by stickers either, so regrettably, that’s out for us. I’m not wild about the idea of giving her candy but I’m willing to give M&Ms a try . . . just as soon as she shows some interest in going.
Ditch the Diaper. Another reader whose daughter was fully potty trained at age two, suggested setting a target date and switching to underpants when the day comes. With this, of course, you need to make a huge deal about every little drop that lands in the potty.
The obvious problem here, if you read my original blog, is that I’m not willing to deal with cleaning up messes throughout the day. If we didn’t have wall-to-wall carpeting throughout our house then maybe. In fact, we did give this method a chance one time about a year ago. That was before we moved into our current, and unfortunately carpeted, house. But regardless, I’m just not willing to run after my child cleaning up her messes.
Go Naked. According to many readers, I’m not too late. One mother didn’t try to train her daughter until she was nearly 2½. It took her all of 2 days. Her advice was to completely clear my schedule for a few days and let my daughter run around naked from the waist down, watching her like a hawk until she makes a mess. I should ask her repeatedly (every 10 to 15 minutes) if she has to use the potty. The second she starts to pee I should grab her and run like hell to the potty.
There is one scenario and one scenario only in which I can see this working for me, and that is if I cleared my schedule and went camping. However, I loathe camping. For all the reasons stated previously, this method is not for me. See above.
Peer Pressure. Another reader didn’t train her son until after his third birthday and says the biggest motivating factor was being around kids who were using the potty at school. She stopped pushing and let her son come around to the idea, while pointing out when his friends or older cousins would use the potty.
My daughter turns 3 in July and will start preschool in the fall. I sincerely hope she’s fully trained by then but if not, perhaps she’ll change her tune once she sees other kids using the potty at school. My daughter’s teacher said most kids who aren’t trained at the start of school are fully trained within the first couple of weeks. This could be us! Let’s hope.
Clean Your Own Mess. One reader actually suggested that if your child does a job in his or her pants it’s his or her job to clean up the mess. Here’s her comment:
I don’t think you missed the boat, but I think you have made things harder for yourself. Take the diapers off, put her in big girl underpants and pull the potty out. When she has accidents it is HER job to take her underpants off and clean up the mess. Mom and dad should be there to help, but it shouldn’t be your responsibility to clean her up. When she goes on the potty (actually pees or poops, not just sits on the potty) give her a reward. There shouldn’t be a choice at this point. You’re the parent and two and half is old enough to be potty trained… Good luck!
Let her clean up her own mess? Surely you jest. It shouldn’t be my responsibility to clean her up? Whose should it be? I barely trust my husband with the task let alone my 2½-year-old. She passes a wadded up wash cloth over her mouth, smearing peanut butter across her cheek and into her hair, and she thinks she has cleaned herself. Imagine if she did this with her poop. Ummm…No. Not happening.
I hate to be judgmental but there are no words to describe what I think of this idea. Oh wait, yes there are: plain crazy.
Exercise Parental Authority. Another reader thinks my problem is that I’m not being firm enough with my daughter. She suggests I try exercising some parental authority, pointing out that at age 2 children are perfectly capable of understanding how to pee and poop in the potty.
I agree that most 2-year-olds are capable of understanding how to pee and poop in the potty. I’m just not willing to force my daughter to sit on the potty against her will (and certainly not 52 days of the year). I exercise my parental authority all the live-long day but, as this reader points out, you can’t use your authority as the parent to force your child into being ready.
Back Off. One mother whose son was motivated by peer pressure, recommends that I back off. She rewarded her son with small prizes once she thought he was ready, but admits she didn’t think the incentives would have worked if he wasn’t ready. She said:
If she’s hiding it from you, I’d back off for a bit and try again in a month or two. Read books about potty training, point out that other kids are using the toilet, but let her tell you when she’s ready to start. Good luck!
Wait Until They’re Ready. The overwhelming majority of parents who read my blog and took the time to comment agreed with that mother and recommended that I simply wait until my daughter is ready. So now we are all sitting tight.
For my part I haven’t asked her if she wants to use the potty and I’ve taken away the potty seats. For her part she has quit screaming that she wants to wear her stinky, poopy diaper. She has started, once again, to tell me when she has pooped. In the last few days she has even asked me to change her dirty diaper. It’s progress, I think.
Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to comment. I very much appreciate the advice, even the advice I didn’t or don’t plan to take. Hopefully my daughter will come around soon. I’ll let you know when she does.Add a Comment
Tags: baby, child, diaper, dooty, mess, pee, pee pee, poop, poopy, potty, potty training, toddler, toilet, toilet train, train, training, underpants, underwear, young | Categories: Cynthia's Guest Blog, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips