Posts Tagged ‘ potty ’

Dooty Diaries: When to Back Off the Potty Training?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

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.

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Dooty Diaries: Can You Miss the Boat on Potty Training?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, wonders if you can miss the boat on potty training. If you have suggestions, please share!


My mom always told me I talked early and was fully potty trained at a very young age. Like, by a year-and-a-half or something ridiculous. Apparently the potty part happened in all of one day and didn’t involve training of any kind. The day I realized that unleashing my bowels equaled immediate discomfort I dumped my diaper and never looked back.

Like me, my daughter also talked at a very young age. Naturally, I assumed that potty training would follow early too.

At 15-months-old she said “poop” or “poopy” every time I changed her dirty diaper. After bragging incessantly to the other moms at the playground, I ran out and bought her the cutest little froggy potty you’ve ever seen. She was enamored with it for sure, but graced it only with hugs and kisses, never her bottom. Elmo, on the other hand, spent quite a lot of time on it.

Over the months we tried various methods and enticements. We set her up with a pile of her favorite books. That held promise for, like, a day. We rewarded her with M&Ms. But, being the suckers that we are (and by we, I mean my husband), she polished off a few bags before we realized the only success we were going to have was weight gain.

We then got the brilliant idea to let her watch her favorite video—Mickey Mouse Clubhouse—while sitting on the potty. We thought if she sat there long enough, eventually she’d go. Fat chance. She once sat watching happily for two hours with nary a tinkle.

At some point we traded in the froggy for an Elmo seat on the big potty. Didn’t help. The bottom line is she has zero interest in using the potty.

Not long ago a friend suggested I forgo diapers and try putting her in cotton training pants. The theory, of course, is that soggy underpants are so uncomfortable they’re bound to produce instant potty training success.

Given that this is how I was trained it sounded perfectly plausible to me. I ran out and bought a mega-pack of training pants and wasted no time getting started.

My daughter peed within 10 minutes of wearing her new underpants. She didn’t tell us she had peed—the puddle on the kitchen floor tipped us off—and it sure didn’t seem to bother her. We stripped off pair Number 1, cleaned her up and put on pair Number 2.

Just about the time we finished cleaning up the kitchen floor she peed again. And pooped. But again, she didn’t bother to tell us. She just sat there doodling at the kitchen table until we sniffed her out.

I’m sorry but…what? How long are you supposed to let your kid wallow in dripping wet, poop-filled underpants to get the full benefit of this method?  Clearly I hadn’t thought this through. My kid had poop-stained pee running down her leg. Am I supposed to let her walk around the house like that? Because we don’t live in a barn. I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning up the kitchen floor but our rugs? Furniture? There’s no way.

This method is not for me. And unfortunately, the time I’m willing to let her stew in filth does not create sufficient discomfort for my kid to feel the need to run to the potty.

So here we are. She’s two-and-a-half years old (32 months actually) and I feel like I’ve missed the boat on potty training. What’s worse is that I have no clue what to do.

She used to tell us when she had to poop. Now she denies that she’s done it. Me: “Honey did you go poopy?” Her: “No, I didn’t!”

Sometimes she preemptively denies it. She’ll look up at me out of the blue and shout “I’m not going poopy!” when, clearly, she is mid-poop.

Now when I change her diaper she cries “Don’t change my diaper! I want that poopy diaper! I WANT TO WEAR THAT STINKY DIAPER!”

Help me.

My daughter cannot be motivated, pressured or persuaded by anything or anyone. The more I want something the more she resists. She’s incredibly strong willed.

We are getting nowhere so I’m laying off for a while. I’m hoping one day she’ll just decide she’s ready and it will be over and done with. I just can’t help wanting to speed up the process.

Did I miss the boat? What do I do? I’ll take any suggestions you have. Please, I’m begging!

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Fia Friday: Tomato Eyes

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I’m not sure where this came from, but when Fia sits on the potty, she is eye level with me (as I squat down in front). She always looks right in my eyes, and gets this ethereal look and voice and, says, “Momma, you have tomato eyes.”

At first I didn’t know where it came from, but I think her love of picking the tomatoes from our garden is the root of it. She points to the inner corner of my eye, where the tiny red ball is, and says, “Right there momma. Your tomato eyes.” So now I respond, “Yes, and who else has them?”

“Dada has tomato eyes, Wayne (cat) has tomato eyes, Emmett has tomato eyes. Everyone has tomato eyes.”

After we go through all that, I pray for the poop. But as strange (or gross) as it sounds, I kinda dig our little toilet time conversations. A lot of magical thinking comes from pushing out poop.

Oh, and note her new groovy “transformer” sunglasses. She insisted on that specific pair. We are an equal opportunity sunglass family.

Anyway, here are a few other random pictures I’ve been meaning to post.

Reading at School

I said she was more of an observer these days. She’s content though, so I’m no longer worried.

Ready for lunch! Victoria makes amazing organic meals. From scratch.

With her buddy Dylan at the LA Zoo

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Milestone Monday: First Poop

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Fia Looks At Her Poop

I took a picture of poop today. Now that’s a sentence I never imagined writing.

Cleo (my nanny) and I have been working on potty training Fia. Just very gradual and casual. We bought her Pull-Ups and we ask her to tell us before she goes. If she poops in the potty, she gets a cookie. So far she always tells us after the fact. And of course still wants the cookie. Thing is, you can tell when she’s about to go. She stands perfectly erect, lifts up her right heel, and gets this semi-blank look on her normally animated face. If you didn’t know better, you’d think she was doing a ballet move. What can I say? She’s a graceful pooper.

“Fia, do you have to poop?” I always ask when I see the stance.

“No!” she always exclaims. Strongly and with passion, I might add.

“But baby, if you poop in the potty, you get a cookie!”

“NO POO-POOS,” she shouts.

Then one of us grabs her and runs her to the potty, knowing it’s probably too late. And usually it is.

However, yesterday we were eating lunch outside together and she had “the look.” We brought out the potty, stripped off her pants and Pull-Ups, and let her run around naked. We kept reminding her the potty was there. Cleo says not to put pressure on her or make a big deal about it until after mission is accomplished. I follow her lead. As she likes to say with everything from tantrums to teething: “It’s the same movie. I watch it over and over and over again.” Bless her. She’s like the mother I never had. And an amazing teacher.

But back to the poop: Fia would run around the yard, come back and sit on the potty, then get up and run again. We didn’t say anything. Finally on about her 6th time, she sat longer and made pushing sounds. We still didn’t say anything, as we didn’t want to make her self-conscious (hmmm…what’s there to be self conscious about? Pooping in public? With an audience? I can’t imagine…).

She stood up and announced, “I POOPED.” Oh did she ever. Without getting too graphic (I really like this blogging job) it was like a horse or a cow’s poo. Wow.

Cleo ordered me to go get the camera and take a picture. Huh? Whhaaattt? But I do as I’m told. (BTW–do you guys take a pic of the first poop? I’ve never heard of such a thing). I then took another one of Fia looking at her poop. Which is the picture I did post.

We all celebrated. Fia and I danced in the yard and she got 2 cookies. This morning as I was breastfeeding Em, she got “the look.” I told her to pull down her pj’s and sit on the potty. I couldn’t help her, as my hands were full. Instead, she pooped in her Pull-Ups and yelled, “NO POO-POOS!” And so it goes….

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Moving Mid-Pregnancy: The Pacifier Gets to Stay! Yay Hooray!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Author’s Note: Join me every Tuesday or Wednesday for “Moving Mid Pregnancy,” to read about my ongoing search for a new “everything” (from nannies to mom friends to health providers) while pregnant and living in a new city.

Sleeping Angel


Okay, I know she’s two. And for many parents that means the pacifier (or Bagdee, as Fia calls it) should already have gone into outer space. My pediatrician in Brooklyn told me to get rid of it before 18 months. That’s when they get really attached. We didn’t do it. Then came the move to LA. With that whole sh-t show of a plane ride/barfing baby, moving across the country, etc, we needed Bagdee as much as Fia did.

But now we’re settled. Except that…in 6 weeks all hell is going to break loose with Baby #2. And once again, Fia will find big changes in her little world. So it was with great trepidation I brought up my dilemma with her new pediatrician during the 2-year check up.

I explained to Dr. Iyer that Fia only has it during nap times and bedtime. And usually it falls out once she falls asleep.

When she looked in Fia’s mouth, she said she couldn’t tell that Fi was a paci-user. Then she gave a FREE PASS!!

She said with all the changes about to happen, and the fact that Fia is already hooked on Bagdee, not to worry about it. Just let it be. I also still give her a bottle at night, but only before bedtime. Then we brush her teeth. I cringed, waiting for Dr. Iyer to say it’s time to give that up too. Nope. Said that as long as we brush her teeth after and the bottle isn’t going in the crib with her, it’s fine. The only thing she had us do is switch from whole milk to 2%.

She also explained that with the new baby, he’ll presumably have a bottle and pacifier. So to take away both of those things from Fia, only to then “give” them to the new baby could cause her to feel sad/jealous/insecure, etc. I buy it. Happily.

(Side note: I’m planning to breastfeed, but I also don’t buy the whole “nipple confusion” thing and plan to do both bottle and boob. BTW–that’s another piece of faulty info I had from some in the natural community during my pregnancy with Fia–that if you introduce a bottle they won’t take the boob. I call B.S. on that one!).

So both bottle and Bagdee are going to stick around a while longer. Which leads me to wonder–should at least potty train? Get one hurdle out of the way… Thoughts?

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