Monday, September 27, 2010

Potty Panic--finally!

This child is growing up way too fast...
From Cincinnati weekend Sept 2010
From Cincinnati weekend Sept 2010
From Cincinnati weekend Sept 2010
Even though his gene pool is deep, it's bound to put him in braces and glasses early on. Good thing we've determined he looks good in Daddy's specs. First he's in diapers, and then he's walking around in big boy underwear! Or not...

I've spent the last two years having relatively sure footing with my parenting decisions. I've seen a lot of my choices as sort of non-negotiables and not felt supreme pressure or concern that I am "doing it wrong." Lack of militant sleep training, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, delayed introduction of solids, clothing choices, behavior management…after pouring over tons of literature, I still feel relatively confident in Eric and my parenting choices. This doesn’t mean I don’t have waves of anxiety, concern or worry, but I try to recognize that our family has established preferences and is slowly figuring out what works for us. And, the truth is, what works for one child does not always work for another. And what works for your family, may not work for ours.

But, there is one area of parenting that sends me into a sheer panic. A potty panic.

I don’t know what it is about potty training that gets my own panties in a bunch. (Ugh, I hate the word panties). It’s not that I am afraid Miles will never be continent, but I feel this overwhelming shroud of judgment blanket my shoulders when I acknowledge that my almost 2.5 year old isn’t out of diapers.

First, let’s establish that I hate the word “potty;” not nearly as much as “panty,” but it is on my list of least favorite parent words. "Toilet training,” even though alliterative, doesn’t have the same punch as “potty training.” Plus, it’s just the dialect these days. Potty chair, potty pants, potty mouth…potty PRESSURE.

And to be honest, I am not inundated with an extraordinary amount of external potty pressure. My pediatrician is not pushing us to get Miles on the pot any time soon. The childcare is not concerned. My friends aren’t disgusted Miles roams with a soiled diaper. But I think I have adopted anticipatory pressure—like I am 2 breaths away from having my parenting license revoked because Miles is still in diapers. What did I do wrong? What kind of parenting failure did I commit? It really ignited a few months back around Miles's 2nd birthday when I read somewhere in my Google blogosphere that a particular persons’ son, a few months younger than Miles, was doomed if he was not trained by 2.5—according to her pediatrician.

And that is when the panic was born.

Please, don’t let me be one of those nervous Moms who either sends her son to potty boot camp, or puts so much pressure on him he gets stool holding disease! (That is actually a problem. The name just escapes me. Keep reading though, it’ll emerge.)

Food and genitals. Those are two areas I don’t want to create “issues” about. It’s never too early to create a positive and healthy environment about eating behavior—even for boys. Our society has become so confused and pathological about food, I am scared for today's children. And I don’t want to be that family who pretends like certain body parts don’t exist, or if they do, they need to use code names for discussion. (Did you go tinkle? Did you wipe your wee wee? *Shudder* The W family who I babysat growing up used to speak in “wee wees,” “pee pees,” and “boom booms.”) I’m not registering anyone in our family for nude camp or anything, but I think our society struggles with accepting anatomy while at the same time exploiting sexuality. Discussion point to be saved for another day. But we teach Miles all of the body parts. And make no attempt to distinguish some as "naughty" or "secretive" right now. He's just too little to make the distinction. Currently he loves the fact that he has "Two ni-hulls." We count them every night.
From Potty time...excellent

Although, in full disclosure,  I have an allergy to the word/letters "BM." I know I've talked about this here before. I don't know what it is about it, it just bothers me. So I stick with "poop."

Related tangent: Miles, who is talking up a storm these days (my favorite two phrase we hear multiple times a day, "Daddy pulp kids run today" and him saying "Mino Yighnis Heintz". Pulp is "help" I guess.), is at the age where he thinks it is funny when he makes blunders. He'll put puzzle pieces in the wrong area and smirk and say "GNOME!!!" (That's "no" in his language.) Well, it extends to the misalignment of genitals. He thinks it is hilarious to say "Daddy gine gine!!!!" and "Mommy pee peen!!!!" At first, Eric and I would laugh...and then we realized it would become a dangerous game. So, now we work extra hard to correct him without our own smirks emerging. It's totally Kindergarten Cop over here. "Miles, boys have a penis and girls have a vagina." And I give him a free pass for using approximations of the words because that's just how he talks. But Eric and I consistently use the correct terminology--although, we do talk about urine looking like yellow water, which is now what he calls it consistently. Ooops.

Miles is just not ready to be fully potty trained.

Which means, I am not ready to be trained, because I think a lot of premature training is parent training, not potty training.

No, I am not lazy. I rotate my child’s clothing in his closet so each item gets equal “wearing…” you think I wouldn’t have a system up and running for potty training?

Why isn’t he ready you ask??? Here we go:

1. Remember Mr Never Nude? A few months back, Miles loved scampering around in his diaper, but held his footing when we asked to take his diaper off and sit on our Bjorn potty. We've only had a month or two of bare bottomed potty riding.

2. Miles does not tell us when his diaper is wet, and usually lies to us when we ask if his diaper has poop in it. Especially if he is playing something fun. We do get occasional notification of poop...and he does ask to look at his poop, and always says "poop goes in potty," but I guess not his poop.

3. He’s a boy.

From Potty time...excellent
Those are my top reasons, supported by none other than my personal baby advice line nurse, RL: a highly coveted PNP and doctoral candidate in the Baltimore area (and just happens to be a great friend from Grad school). She’s on speed dial at my house. I was given a lifetime pass of child health questions when Eric was diagnosed with cancer (along with an enormous package of amazing gifts like a play doctor’s kit, a potty book, Livestrong paraphernalia…). A while back, she sent me the most reassuring and informative e-mail. I'll give you the abridged's too informative not to share.

  • Boys train later than girls. It is fine to wait until 2.5 before you even consider training.
  • The child needs to be verbal saying things like “I need to pee” or that his diaper is wet/dirty. If he is not doing this, he is NOT ready. Miles will give us the occasional poop warning, but never the pee.

  • Parents who are stressed about training have the worst time with their children, and children can end up with encopresis (stool holding). That’s the word! Stay chill and relax. Toddlers can only control so much. Don’t let it become a power struggle. Here is where I need to do some more work.
And some techniques:

Between 18 months and 2 yrs introduce the potty chair. Done! We’ve had one for quite some time. 

BABYBJĂ–RN Potty Chair, BlueBetween 2-2.5 yrs, bring Miles to the bathroom with us and let him watch us. Start introducing potty themed stuff- casually introduce- do NOT push them on him. Well, that whole no door on our bathroom works like a charm for this technique. That, and anyone with children under the age of 2 knows you never go alone, unless they are asleep. I think I always have Miles AND Felix in the room with me now. And Miles has a few potty books, and one he asks to read over and over (just happens to be the one from RL!)

If at any point during this he sits on the toilet. MAKE A HUGE DEAL. First time he sat without his diaper, I think we did the truffle shuffle.

If he pee's on toilet make an EVEN BIGGER DEAL. First time he did it about a month ago, we didn’t know what to do. We had just been sitting naked on the potty chair for so long, I guess I didn’t think someday he might just actually use it. But he did. And we had nothing to celebrate with. Except Eric’s gummy candy. And that’s when Miles had his first real candy. And he gagged. And I secretly was happy because who wants to eat something again that makes you gag? And then he said, “More please!” We quickly moved to sticker rewards. Urine= 1 sticker, Poop = 2 stickers.
From Potty time...excellent
Remember that whole healthy environment around food? I am not sure I like the idea of eating on the toilet. As you can see, we've had a few good sessions!

If he stools on the toilet- THROW A PARTY!!! ;-) And by party, do you mean taking a picture with Eric’s camera phone and sending it to the grand parental units? How about my husband then showing it to the childcare director who I think assumed the picture would be of miles on the potty—not what was IN the potty. That was our first poop...and currently our last.

 If at any point he starts resisting, give it up for 3 weeks and start at the beginning again. It should not be a battle- parents biggest mistake. Luckily, he loves sitting on the potty before bath.

And some other words of wisdom:

Never sit him on the toilet for more than 5 minutes at a time. Miles voluntarily chooses to sit for more than 5 minutes, but any time he gets up and says he is done, we let him get up.

Make sure you and daycare are on the same page. Potty training rules and rewards should be consistent or else the child get confused. We are consistent. We are consistently of the same opinion that it is a little too early to crack the potty whip.

Never punish failures, only reward success! I feel very strongly about this. I will try not to cast judgment on others who choose to relinquish rights/privileges for kids or punish when they have accidents, but...wait, I am going to cast judgment. I really do think it's wrong. Accidents happen. 

Night time training is not realistic in boys until after 3. Oh joy.

It is a process, but it should never be a battle. Allow the child some control over the situation and you will have a much more successful time.

Phew. I feel a lot better. And I may just go back to my own post to remind myself of these facts.

Closer to 3 we will ramp it up and perhaps try a bare bottom weekend. We might have to graduate to more refined stickers, too.

giggle Better Basics Striped Toddler Training Pants (Organic Cotton) - Pink/OrangeAnd I am 90% confident we are not going to go the Pull-Ups route. I think we’ll go to straight to some cute training underwear. I kind of think Pull-Ups might be confusing...kind of a glorified diaper…and that whole landfill thing. Yeah, so I might be doing more laundry than usual…but that’s okay.

Until then, we are going to keep rocking the potty chair at night. And I am going to keep reminding myself that being out of diapers at 2.5 is not always a sign of genius, or a mark of good parenting.  We'll just keep working on things over here at the Team Heintz household...including Mommy's attempt at releasing the self-induced pressure. Maybe I should try to relish these last few months of diapers, when we aren't running to public restrooms with urine soacked 2T khakis...oh wait, there's still Felix.
From Potty time...excellent

RL--The proverbial check is in the mail...


  1. Miles is definitely too young for you to be feeling pressure to potty train. The only reason we even attempted with Ella was that she was showing all signs of readiness... and after a week and a half, she only occasionally pees on the potty, and when she does, it's just a few drops. We had to go to pull ups for daycare, and I agree that they delay potty training. We just set her on the potty throughout the day and if she goes, it's great. She'll get the hang of it eventually, and if she doesn't by the time she's 3, we'll get more serious. My friends with boys didn't get them out of diapers until 3 or soon after.

    If you're interested, there are free potty training sticker charts online (we went with Dora, because Ella loves her for some reason... we don't even watch it but she picked up the love from a book at daycare). I also just bought her this book called "Potty" which is really cute and simple, and seems to have encouraged her. (It is far less obnoxious than the Abby potty book that has buttons she pushes to make noise. Ugh).

    I love the glasses pictures! Miles looks like such a big boy. It seems like these little 2 year olds become kids once in a while. And, I love the repeating of our phrases, even if it's not so great sometimes... when I get home each day, Ella now asks me, "How was your day, hon?".

    I hope your trip wasn't too heartbreaking and that you had a great weekend with those scrumptious boys of yours!

  2. Great post, Ali! Thanks for sharing.

    Tilden can identify his penis. It drives Jon nuts, but I feel strongly, as you do, about that one.

    Great potty traning info! Thanks for sharing. :) We are a looonnnggg way off and actually I decided at the sale not to get a potty seat and wait to pick one up next time. He will be over two then, but no worries here.

  3. Okay. You've heard from me before. I draw upon my experience as the mother of two boys and you, my daughter, all of whom were toilet trained (rolls off the tongue best) in due time and are all now fine upstanding individuals. The fact that I don't remember your training means that I had learned not to push it by child #3, and it just happened! I also draw upon 24 years of teaching preschoolers, a number of whom in recent years were not at all trained by 3 1/2!
    I heartily endorse all the pointers that RL provides for you. I've experienced children with encopresis, and it is not pretty! One poor child could not enjoy school at all because he spent his mornings frowning and uncomfortable. He even missed school some days when it was particularly bad. He was a child whose life was rigidly controlled in a lot of areas, not just toilet training, and it was painful to witness.
    If a child is not night time trained by 3 (which is common), it's no big deal. Eventually it happens, but a night time diaper beats changing the sheets every night.
    I agree about pull ups delaying training. In fact, if you really wait to train a child until he/she is ready, they shouldn't be necessary. That being said, there are occasions on which they can be helpful, long car rides, no potty available, etc.
    It is a travesty that parents are made to think that early toilet training is a sign of superior intelligence or stellar parenting.
    Please, don't be so hard on yourself - relax and take it as it comes. It will be healthier for everyone. That advice applies equally to most parenting issues...

  4. I changed a 4 year old's poopy underwear everyday for several months. Before weeks of epic battles and 20min. bathroom sessions during lunch. Don't know what he's up to know, but some 5-6 years later, I am sure he figured it out!

    P.S. your boys are going to love these shots in 10 years or so!