Our pediatrician has been trying to get us to potty train Elijah since he was 18 months old – always an awkward conversation at his well child check ups. I agree it would have been nice to save on all those months of diapers, but all I kept thinking about was giving up the little bit of freedom I had earned after a year of nursing. I know I’m not an expert or anything, but no one I knew potty trained their son at 18 months. As my mom said when I told her, “Oh Christine, YOU’LL be the potty trained one, not Elijah!”
Needless to say, when we told the pediatrician we were pregnant with Noah she strongly encouraged us to begin potty training before the baby was born, or of course “[Elijah] will never be potty trained.” While I doubted Elijah would still be in diapers at say 10 years old, I also agreed it would be nice to have this very big milestone behind us before we added even more chaos to our lives.
I read up online as much as I could about what to do and how to start. Mike and I planned to use his winter break as our two week potty training camp. The potty chair had been purchased and out since our pediatrician began needling us about starting – so Elijah was fairly used to having that around to cart his toys throughout the house. In addition, we purchased a potty seat (for the grown up toilet) and step stool and put up a potty chart in the bathroom explaining to Elijah that would get a sticker every time he went potty and when he went seven times (completing an entire row of stickers) he’d get a hotwheel car.
Elijah liked the idea of the stickers, and he certainly liked the idea of the hotwheel cars, but he wasn’t a big fan of the potty seat or the chart. One morning I actually found one of his spoons stuck behind the corner of the chart as if he had been trying to pull the whole thing down while we weren’t looking (as if he could avoid toilet training by doing that). When we suggested he try using the potty, he was resistant. If he was interested, once he was on the pot, he melted into tears and begged to get off. We had not even started potty training camp, and we were all discouraged. I started thinking about all the Christmas celebrations we were to be part of, and began wondering if all the stress was worth it, just so the pediatrician would stop asking us if Elijah could pee and poop in the toilet. Before it even started, potty training camp was put on hold indefinitely.
At the same time, I was reading the book “Making Children Mind without Losing Yours” by Kevin Leman, and I came across a brief section of the book about potty training. His philosophy was to set a potty chair near the toilet. Period. Don’t badger the child, don’t coax, don’t beg. In his opinion, when the child is ready to use the potty, they will inevitably try to use the potty. He felt this showed the child respect for their own developmental pace in life, and took a lot of stress off of mom and dad in the process.
I decided that we were going to take the chill approach to potty training despite my pediatricians warnings. Yes it would be wonderful for Elijah to be trained before Noah arrived. Yes we would be saving money and the earth all at the same time. But being as pregnant as I am, I did not need the extra stress and was thankful to have a pass at the whole thing until, in my mind, at least the middle of summer. So I took the potty seat and put it in a corner of the basement. We left Elijah’s potty training chart up on the bathroom door, and occasionally would ask him if he wanted to try using the toilet, but we never pushed anything.
Much to my surprise, it worked! Elijah and I were in the basement earlier this week and he had a wet diaper. For whatever reason he decided to sit on the potty. I asked him if he wanted to try going. He did. So I stripped him to his bare bottom and we sat and read books . . . for a very long time . . . with no result, but I figured we had reached a point of success. He’d never wanted to go near the potty before, much less sit on it bare bottom. This was progress.
We did this two days in a row after nap time. Finally in the midst of snow-maggedon (my personal favorite name for the recent blizzard) Mike suggested we try underwear and see what would happen. Of course we had two accidents in a row (both very messy and one of which was all over me) and I wasn’t in the mood, so we went back to diapers for the rest of the day.
What happened the following day amazed me . . . [more to come].