Sunday, January 10, 2010

Potty Training Stinks

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Here is an excerpt from my book, Totally Desperate Mom: Keepin' it Real in the Motherhood. This is from Chapter 7 entitled "Terribly Terrific Threes: Who's the Boss?"
The reason I am sharing the excerpt today is not just because I am a sharing person (because I am) or because I want to suck you in to preorder the book (because I do), but because I need some help or advice or pills (kidding) or just plain encouragement! Read this excerpt that was written months ago and the follow up and you'll see why . . .
(Sorry for all the funky fonts and spacing. It's what happens in blogger when you cut and paste from a word doc.)

Potty Training Stinks

Another reality show that I think would be a cash cow could be called Terrorists in Training. Here’s the concept: Drop off a handful of potty training, know-it-all, incessant questioners into an interrogation room with terrorists. I know, I know, you are worried about safety. Me, too—those terrorists would definitely be in harm’s way. Within hours of their captivity the bad guys would give up all their intel if only to be set free from the potty training madness. Potty training mastery would go unaccomplished, but at least world peace would be a few steps closer.

Yesterday Lydia’s potty training antics led me to email my husband at work with the subject line “I quit.”

This is my official letter of resignation. You can thank Lydia. We lasted at the park for about fifteen minutes. She totally (and by totally I mean overflowing out the sides) pooped her pull up. I am at my wit's end (whatever that means). I feel so angry, sad and frustrated. I am rinsing her off and then putting her to bed . . . for the rest of her life.

Guess it goes without saying that resignation letter was not accepted by my childrearing partner. I currently still hold the title of “Mom.”

Keep in mind, Lydia started potty training on her own initiative. Some days she does just fine. And by “just fine” I mean me asking her if she has to go and her whining, “I don’t have to go. I don’t want to go.” Then me putting her on the toilet and she goes. Or I set “the potty timer” and when it goes off she has to go sit on the potty. This sometimes is met with no resistance. A fine day just means “no accidents.” Which by the way, are not really “accidents” they are “laxidents.” Meaning they are careless and negligent. She just doesn’t care. Everyone says, “Wait until they’re ready.” Three months ago she declared, “I want underwear. I don’t want to wear diapers anymore. I want to pee and poop on the potty like a big girl.” Call me a desperate mom, but I thought that meant she was ready.

Today I finally gave up the fight. I told her she could be a baby and wear a diaper. Fine with me. I told her she could do her business in her Pull-Up all day long, but I would have to treat her like a baby. No shows. No treats. She was fine with that. In fact, she embraced it. “Since I’m a baby I get my blankie.” She had her blankie while she was potty training so I’m not really sure why she said that, but suffice it to say she is embracing her newfound babyhood.

I confirmed with her the security of her blankie as well as a potential upgrade: “Yes, Lydia. And when you are a big girl I will get you a new blankie. And you will also get the new princess sing along DVD if you simply stay dry for one full day.” I was tempted to throw in, “And you can have a cell phone with unlimited texting when you’re nine. And that tattoo you’re gonna want when you’re fourteen. And a brand new sports car when you are sixteen.”

She didn’t give a rip. Did I mention she is supposed to start preschool in three days? Preschool that she watched her brother go to last year and begged to stay at every time I dropped him off? Preschool that requires a potty-trained kid?

“Lydia if you aren’t potty trained, you can’t go to preschool.”

“I don’t want to go to preschool.”

“Don’t you want to go play with the trains in Mrs. H’s class?”

“I don’t like her.” Riiiiiight.

Today we went to a pool party. She enjoyed her Pull-Up. When all the kids lined up for ice cream I told her she couldn’t have any. It was just for big kids. I know, I know —go ahead and throw eggs at me if you want. And tell me I’m taking the completely wrong approach. But honestly, I think I have exhausted the various “approaches” to potty training so I am willing to try anything at this point.

Lydia just watched the other kids (very closely) pile on their sprinkles. She was coveting, but not enough to enter the big girl world. She didn’t cry. She didn’t throw a fit. She didn’t hold up a white flag. But my flag is swaying in the breeze, that’s for sure.

Update (not in the book):

We have been at this for 7 months now. Lydia is 3 years, 8 months old. I did send her to preschool. She had a few accidents there, but as long as I make her go potty right when she gets there, she does fine. However, she has "accidents" at home a lot and I have to make her go potty every time. She rarely goes on her own initiative except for when she deuces it up. She usually (but not always) just goes and does her business on the toilet for that action. To make a long story short though, I think I have tried everything: consequences, not making a big deal out of it, sticker chart to earn a prize, potty timer, etc. I even called the pediatrician to see if it might be a physical problem. She said no.

After 2 pee accidents yesterday and a major poop incident (while my sister-in-law was babysitting) Saturday night we have decided to put her back in pull-ups. And we are thinking about withdrawing her from preschool. I told her she could wear underwear after she stayed dry for a week. I didn't make it like a punishment, but that she just wasn't ready yet. I told her it was not that she was a baby (because she likes that title) but that she was a big girl, but not quite ready to act like one in the bathroom. I put away all her underwear today. She witnessed it. Didn't cry although she got upset (for 20 seconds) when I first told her that she could no longer wear underwear. I told her that Shiloh and I are about taking her out of preschool and maybe swim lessons. Didn't seem to phase her. So today she wore a pull up and only peed on the potty once. She did all her other business in her pull up and probably enjoyed it.

I am so frustrated, discouraged and bodily fluids. Is there any love, advice, ideas, or boarding schools out there?

This is the face of the strong-willed drama girl I deal with everyday. (She is a ton of fun and cuteness too.)

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MarcusGun said...

When I read blogs like this, I think, "It's a shame she doesn't drink wine." :) Hang in there, my friend!

Totally Desperate Mom said...

Classic! But does wine potty train for you or clean up poop or make the problem go away... permanently!

mel @ the larson lingo said...

oh Wendy....I don't even know what to say! Lydia sure is cute, but man, she is STUBBORN! I have no ideas for you right now...I think you are doing everything right & I like the approach you are trying now. Good luck & I will be praying for you!! Especially for patience!!!
p.s. love the chapter, can't wait for the book!

Anonymous said...

Oh Wendy! She is so strong willed.I really think it is a battle of wills. She will come around though. My nephew did. My brother had his son use the restroom every morning and night, regardless. When going out, he had to go try. That is all you can do. And yes, hang in there.

Bill & Jenn said...

Wendy, this makes my heart so sad for you! How frustrating!
I don't have any personal advice for you , but a friend of mine shared this little tidbit with me a few years back (may not be applicable until she's back in underwear): her son had the lazy accidents too-- too busy to stop playing and go potty-- so every time he had an accident, she would make him practice stopping what he was doing and run to the bathroom. The whole routine-- dropping whatever toy, running to bathroom, taking off pants, sitting on the pot, etc.-- TEN TIMES. He got REALLY tired of practicing and eventually stopped having accidents.
Worth a shot, I guess.
I'll be praying for you!

Totally Desperate Mom said...

Jenn, Been there done that. And time outs (so she sees that it is worse not to take a quick break to potty). In fact yesterday, I gave her a 15 minute time out for her first incident (I had warned her that was the consequence). And warned her that it would be 30 minutes the next time. Not an hour later I was playing Zingo with her and she peed her pants. No more Zingo. 30 minutes in her room. She didn't care.

Stouts said...

I feel your pain Wendy! I had to train Kylia so she could go to preschool as well, and I felt like she was still having accidents forever! She has a very laid back attitude and didn't see the big deal about accidents, etc. and it drove me crazy. I already told Wes he is in charge of Solomon's training. The thing that did help me a lot is Some people think it is too militant but for the drama queens, stubborn, or laid back ones it can help. You have to actually follow it to the letter but it worked for us- although the accidents continued but not at school too much. Good luck! It was my least favorite part of the kid thing.

Anonymous said...

Okay my vote after having a strong willed child is "make it less of a big deal". Strong willed kids thrive on the fight. The more "matter of fact" you can be, the less she can be reactive. You can't fight over something if the person you are talking to won't fight with you....Take a step back and only do the potty training when you are ready to be calm and matter of fact. Once you get that down, you do it more and more. It won't be an overnight fix, but it will work. I also used to give one skittle for each "good deed." I would have gladly paid for someone to potty train my kids.

Invited In said...

Oh girl, I feel your pain. I have a little boy that is 3 years and 5 months.....still not potty trained. I have tried everything as well, even using REALLY small diapers on know make him uncomfortable and know that he is too big for diapers too big to go pee and poo in his pants. Sounds stupid but I am desperate. Just so you doesn't work. He totally does not care. One day he came into the room and I noticed something weird around his leg. "What is in your pant leg Graham?" Yeah, it was his size 2 diaper....around his ankle. Potty training sucks. My other too were super easy...this one...not so much. Let me know if you find something that works for your little one.

Terpstra East said...

Oh, Wendy, Wendy.... so sorry. Not fun, and I feel your pain as none of my kiddos have been easy potty trainers. I still have 4am bed sheet changes... my favorite. Waiting with my 3rd. He shows absoluetly NO interest, so I'm putting it off.

Here's my encouragement: I know it's frustrating, but she WILL do it. She won't be 12 years old and still wearing a diaper. Maybe 11, but not 12. The social stigma would be too much to handle. :)Hang in there. You're in good company :)

CAP17 said...

Oh honey, I so feel for you. It IS a shame you don't drink wine, because that was going to be my first suggestion ;)
We did the 3 day - naked bottoms with a long t-shirt - don't leave the house - weekend. She peed on the floor a bunch (thank goodness for hard wood floors) and on a couple of chairs. But she eventually got it. I'm not sure how to deal with the strong willed. Olivia (3) also does the 'I don't care' routine when I execute any consequences. Do you have any advice for ME on being nicer to her 17 month little sister?? I, too, am at my wit's end...and the wine only helps a wee bit ;)

Totally Desperate Mom said...

Melissa, I have done the "matter of fact" for months now. Not working.It's like alcoholism. She has to be the one to decide (again) to stop... peeing her pants. I just spoke to her preschool teacher to give her a heads up that I will be bringing Lydia by to class tomorrow to say goodbye. Hopefully, it will be a wake up call to her. She just needs to stay dry for 7 days and then she's back to undies and preschool... UGH!

Becky said...

As the strong willed child, I would weigh the consequences and when I finally figured out that I would ALWAYS get caught and it was NEVER worth it, I gave up and followed the rules. By the age of four I turned into a pretty obedient kid.
So my advice would be to stay consistent with the consequences. Is going to her room the time out? Maybe time out could be sitting there with her hands folded the whole time staring at the wall. And try not to be emotional or upset, just dish out the consequence. Then it's not about you, just about her.
p.s.- I'm totally delaying the potty training for V because I dread it.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry girl. We'll always make Lydia look good in the potty-training department, at least until she's 7.5 yrs old. Not encouraging huh?

Wendy said...

Becky, I have tried different methods for months at a time, like timeouts. She just doesn't seem to give a rip - whether it's rewards or consequences. I think if I duct taped her to chair and put her princess dresses through a shredder before her very eyes she would shrug her shoulders and say, "I didn't really like those anyway." Pulled her out of preschool last week. She lived it up in her pull up the first two days. Then two dry days (with me encouraging some bathroom usage). Today- not good. Pee and poo in the pull up. She says she wants to go back to preschool ...

Mama Llama said...

so sorry you are going through this. I use a great potty training method (it is a one day intensive training day), but it really is aimed at 20m-2 1/2y. I do not think it would be effective with her... it needs to be used with first time training.

I am working with my son (almost 3) on night training. My Daughter got it SO quickly.

Barbie said...

Hi there, total random stranger here who stopped by from the Murphy's blog. I've popped over before (you're super entertaining :) ), but I couldn't resist commenting on this post. Oh how I feel your pain!!! My girl is 3 1/2 and this is our 3rd attempt at potty training. In previous attempts she held her pee for nearly 30 hrs. and she currently hasn't pooped in a week (don't worry I stay in touch with the Dr. ;) ) My girl is also strong willed and she does things on her own terms. Really, I just think there is nothing you can do except PRAY A LOT! :) She'll get it...eventually! :)

DeAnn said...

Wow, I am going thru some of your posts, and this is where I am with my 3 year and 5 months old strong willed daughter (only child). My mother said I was potty trained late so maybe this is payback. She asked the pediatrician, who told her, "Don't worry, you don't see kindergarteners in diapers." I may buy stock in pull ups. The things make her itchy and bumpy, but what else can I do? I keep saying, "I'll do potty boot camp after the next vacation..." and have been training her, for, oh about a year now!
Also, thanks for speaking to our MOPs group, I bought your book! (Fremont).

Michelle said...

I know this was a year ago for you, but it's right now for me and I'm going nuts....I asked him the other day if he needed a spanking. YES. a spanking.

I'm so over this. WHY WHY WHY wont he pee on teh potty????