Posted in Mom, personal
August 12, 2010

Confessions of the Parental kind

This post is for parents and those who plan to have kids. For my childless friends, or those who come for the food and pictures.. don’t bother reading.

I’m going to be talking about potty training.

I should say upfront that I am a lazy mother. I do not schedule our days, in and out. We play at home, they watch some TV or movies while I write, and run errands together. I make their lunches, TheBoy does the laundry- and it all works out. I dub this lazy because know women who do all that, schedule days, make their children’s clothes and… well, probably clean the house.

My oldest is well, my oldest. I had no experience with potty training, and didn’t remember how my mom did it with my sister and I. I read the books, and when D started to say enough that he could tell me he needed to use the potty, we pulled out the potty chair and started him on it. Then I had our youngest. Then we moved.

What little progress I’d made (mostly in getting him to sit on it and not freak out about not wearing a diaper) came to a dead stop. He wanted to be a baby. He refused to try. Not being in daycare anymore, we didn’t have peer pressure to help us, so it came to a stop. Every month or so I’d ask, but no. He wouldn’t sit on the potty.

A year passed. Last year, when TheBoy and I went to Vegas, my mother in law started him back on the potty training. And by the time we came back, he was wearing underwear and peeing in the toilet (not the potty chair). But he refused to poop in the toilet. We tried anything we could think of. Candy was just a bad idea, so we tried to bribe him with paper stars on the wall (that’s what worked with getting him to use the toilet). We tried to bribe him with toy cars. Even that failed.

So I had to think of something. Something that he would want badly enough that he would make himself go.

Then I found it. My sons were obsessed with The Polar Express. We watched it several times a day, everyday. They would built elaborate tracks and fight over the two engines that they had decided looked like the Polar Express. We didn’t have enough train cars or cabooses, and everything ended in tears.

Googling, I found a Polar Express set that works with all wooden railway systems (note: the magnets are reversed, so while they work with Thomas & his friends, they’ll go backwards when coupled to the Polar Express). It had the train, a coal car, two passenger cars, and a slew of small bridges, a suspension bridge and buildings. I bought two.

We printed out a picture of the box set, and told him that if he wanted any of that, he’d have to poop in the toilet. That day, he sat on the toilet and cried because he’d already pooped in a diaper and there wasn’t any more- his words. The next day, two days before we were to receive the sets in the mail, he told my mother in law that he was going to poop so that he could get the train… and he did. I actually had to go to Toys R Us to pick up a cheap something as a reward. But from then on, each time he used the toilet, he got a little something- one bridge, one house, one bit of decoration. Then, it was once a day. Then, once every few days. (In the interest of fairness and peace and quiet, his little brother got the same item as well.)

Suddenly, something happened. Even though he still wanted the rest of the set, he just went into the bathroom and pooped. He asked for help wiping and came out, and didn’t mention a prize at all. He still insisted on wearing a diaper out in public, just in case. But even then, one day as I was dressing them to go on errands, he asked if he could wear his underwear. From then on, he’s simply worn underwear.

There is a point to all of this. All kids develop at different rates. Some kids don’t have problems pooping, but my son did. I’m still not sure what it was, but as stubborn as he was, the key was to find a bribe that really made him focus on the prize instead of his phobia. For my son it was a train set. For your child it could be anything else.

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