My Battle with Potty Training

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When I became pregnant with my daughter, I began to think of all the milestones she would go through, all the trials and tribulations my husband and I would experience, all the sweat, tears, and skinned knees.  I thought about her eating solids, learning to say “mama”, learning how to crawl, walk, and run, but potty training never really crossed my mind.  Perhaps it was the fact my mother had always said how easy I was to train (18 months and no accidents at night by 2) that I thought that of all the stuff she would need to learn, potty training would be a breeze.  I thought wrong!

This momma's fail at potty training

Around 18 months, I began looking online for tips and tidbits, when to start, what signs to look for, so on and so forth.  My daughter didn’t really show any signs except needing to be in the washroom with me when I went.  I allowed it, thinking to myself, “It’ll start this way and soon enough I’ll be diaper free!”  From the things I read online, I was to allow her to pick out her own potty, underwear, toilet insert and stool.  I started off with the potty.  Princess pink and brand new, I thought she would love it.  I put it in the bathroom and held her hand as I showed her.  She stared blankly and looked up at me for some kind of direction.  I explained that she was getting too big for diapers and soon she would go potty.  She was having none of it.  She picked up the potty, looked it over and then much to my chargin,  placed it on her head and danced around the living room.  Let’s put it this way, that was the most use that potty ever saw.  I tried sitting her on it, and the wails and screams that came out of her would rival those of the shrieks from the damned damsel in distress in horror films.  She was not ready.  So I went to the book store and picked up potty books for girls and a potty book for me.  I was realizing quickly that I was in over my head.

By age two, I was no closer to potty training my daughter than I was to winning the Pulitzer or an Oscar.  I took her to buy her own underwear which she loved, but whenever I put them on her, she would use them the same as her diapers, go in them and demand I clean her.  I was discouraged but I still thought 2 was still young enough to be wearing diapers and I was sure that she would get it soon.  I was still looking for these supposed clues to her readiness and there were none.  I gave potty training a break for a little while, hoping that my daughter would come to it on her own in her own time.  I read online that pushing it can set you back and I was definitely not up for that.  By 30 months I consulted her doctor.  He laughed and said these words to me; “Potty training is like a fine wine, you can’t rush it.”  Well thanks doc,  I don’t even like wine.  Shortly after that, we took our daughter once more on a shopping trip to pick out a toilet insert and stool.  She refused the potty with gusto so maybe the toilet would work better.  She sat on it but still would not go.  Eventually she only wanted the stool, using the insert as a frisbee. 

When her third birthday rolled around, I had enough of diapers.  I was beginning to think I would be sending her off to university in diapers.  I made the decision that I was purchasing Pull Ups.  I was told by many people the pro’s and con’s of pull ups; the look and feel like underwear, but still diaper-like.  Cheaper than diapers, but children would get confused.  Regardless, they seemed to work.  I explained that these were not diapers but the next step.  Her daycare even agreed to let her wear them if she wore underwear on top.  It seemed like it was going to finally work when we hit a streak of my daughter’s sheer stubborness.  She flat out refused to use the potty to the point where she would hold it almost to the point of doctor visits.  I even created a potty chart but that lost its appeal when we gave stickers instead of some toy or treat.   I spoke with a friend of mine to share my frustrations, who also works as a psychologist.  She told me the importance of what potty training means to children.  To adults, its just a function we all do, to children, it is the first thing they can give their parents, and a struggle for independance.  She suggested I tell my daughter that her poo was flower food and that it would nourish the flowers.  It seemed to work.  She still struggled with number 2, but she would occassionally go pee.  I bought a toy potty for her dolls and that only turned out to be a waste of money.

Now of all the books, underwear, potties, etc that I have spent my hard earned money on to get her to go to the bathroom didn’t help me get any closer to my diaper free goal, so I picked up Hello Kitty antibacterial handwash at the store for her to use.  I told her that she gets to use it after she uses the potty.   Needless to say, that $2.67 bottle of commercialized, run of the mill, soap in a flashy bottle was enough to change my daughter’s mind.  Since I bought it, she’s only had 2 accidents.  We are starting underwear only next week at daycare and she continues to wear pull ups at night, but it looks as though she will be potty trained, hopefully, finger’s crossed by the summer.  I have to say I have learned my lesson about making assumptions about parenting, because potty training has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

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7 responses »

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  2. Thank you for this post! The moral of the story: Find out what works for your child! I’m in the middle of this confusion. My son will be two and a half soon and I’ve been putting him on the potty since he was 18 months old. I know I’m not doing something right. I’ve tried stickers, jelly beans and I have a nice new package of cars sitting on the bathroom counter as a reward if he poos. Eventually, I will figure out something that works!

  3. I am in the midst of my own potty training misadventure. My first son was easy-breezy. Trained himself basically. One poop accident through the entire process. A slight issue with wetting the bed first thing in the morning if I didn’t wake him and take him to the potty, but that only lasted a little while.
    My younger son is an altogether different story. Every morning this child wakes up with a dry diaper. Every day his diaper remains dry for hours and hours and hours, until he drops like 5 gallons of pee into it at once causing his pants to sag around his ankles. This kid has man-poops at this point that no diaper will contain. I am confident that he is perfectly capable of using the potty. He just doesn’t want to. He screams, he protests, he flat out refuses. He ripped our lovely sticker chart off of the wall and shredded it. When I start telling him that “big boys” like his big brother use the potty, he insists that he is a baby.
    I’m glad you found something that worked for your daughter. Maybe I should go to Target and look for some Spiderman soap. Sigh.
    Thanks for your post! I needed it today!

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