Potty Training, sigh.
I wrote once that, supposedly, easy-going children do exist, children that are relaxed and easily pleased and only want to please you (the parent). I also wrote that my daughter is absolutely not one of these fabled children. My daughter, Ariana, grows more beautiful and adorable with each passing day. She also grows more stubborn, hard-headed, and unyielding. To further complicate things, she isn’t stubborn about normal toddler things. She doesn’t really care what clothes she wears. She eats a wide variety of foods. She doesn’t cling to a specific color. She doesn’t have a favorite cup or plate and her favorite stuffed animal does not have to travel everywhere with us.
So what is she stubborn about? It varies. Right now she refuses to walk near elevators and will not consider changing the line-up of stuffed animals in her bed. Twelve months ago it was potty training. Twelve months ago I started training her. She did remarkably well. After two weeks, she was using the potty wonderfully, accepting her rewards proudly. She successfully did numbers one and two and even started going to the potty without prompting followed by success. Then, she decided she wanted control and the stalemate began.
I tried everything. It didn’t matter. I read everything and tried again. It didn’t matter. I bribed. I pleaded. I hunkered down. I lightened up. I worried. I didn’t worry. It didn’t matter.
Then, about three months ago, things started to progress again. It came about slowly. We would have a really good week with lots of successes followed by a week with no successes. This continued for a while and soon it petered out again.
I don’t know what possessed me at that point, but I got tough. I sat my stubborn daughter down and told her calmly and firmly that she needed to act like a big girl. Then, I sat myself down and stopped making excuses and letting myself let her slide.
Here is the formula that worked for us:
1. Find the kind of diaper/training pant that your child likes the least and use it.
I use Gerber cotton training pants at home (with waterproof PUL sewn to the outside to make them less messy). Ariana absolutely hates peeing in them because they get completely saturated. They are the only option at home during the day. Period.
I use cloth diapers made with natural fibers (cotton and bamboo) when we are out of the house. Natural fibers allow the child to feel wet. I also use these diapers at naptime.
2. I only use disposable diapers at night (and only then because my child is such a heavy wetter and a light sleeper). I only use disposable training pants when we travel.
3. I give half of one miniature cookie as a reward for peeing in the potty. Cookies are Ariana’s favorite thing in the world. She does not get them for any other reason (unless she is at Grandma’s house.)
4. I put Ariana on the potty at appropriate times. She is very predictable. Putting her on the potty when she really doesn’t need to go just frustrates her.
5. I keep a second potty in the back of my car. It is less scary than a big, public toilet.
6. I stay consistent and wait.
About a month ago, Ariana suddenly decided trying to potty train was worth her time. The first week she had a few successes. The second week she had two successes a day, every day. The third week she had no accidents (during waking hours). Last week, she still had no accidents and she successfully used the potty outside the house. She has not done “number two” in the potty since this most recent chain of success started, but I know that she will when she is ready.
Now that I can comfortably say she is training, I am slowly progressing forward. I have moved the potty into the bathroom (instead of keeping it in whatever room she is in). I’m letting her wear cloth training pants out of the house instead of diapers. Eventually we will tackle using the “big potty” and maybe wearing underwear. As long as she continues to consistently use her little potty, I’m not going to push the issue. I know I’m just a stubborn moment away from the whole thing stalling again. I have to stay positive. I have to stay consistent. No excuses.