Something I’ve learned in the past three years is that parenting is tough. Just when you get the hang of one thing, the kid moves on to a new and more challenging stage of development. It never feels like I really know what I’m doing and it seems like we’re constantly winging it.
A perfect example of this was toilet training. Right from the start, this is something that perplexed me. I knew that, eventually, we all learn to use a toilet, but how on earth was I going to get my kid to do it??
Some people had told us about getting their toddler toilet trained in two-three days using the “stay home and be naked” method. We considered trying that, but with our schedules, it just didn’t sound right for us.
Starting at around the age of two, Littleman started showing a bit of interest in the toilet. There were a couple of older kids in his daycare class who were starting to be toilet trained and I think he was intrigued. We rushed out and purchased a potty, a stool and seat insert for the big toilet. He sat on the toilet a couple of times, but never for more than a second or two. He flat-out refused to ever sit on the potty. At that point we decided he just wasn’t ready.
Over the next several months, we often asked him if he wanted to try the toilet, but to no avail. Then, last summer, at around 2 1/2 years of age, there was one small breakthrough: Littleman started telling us that he had to poo. He wouldn’t go on the toilet – no way – but he would to stand in the same spot in our living room and tell us to go away. Then he’d do his business. We figured the fact that he could identify when he had to go was a good first step!
As we headed into the fall, he started showing a little more interest in peeing. Some days his daycare teachers would tell us that he’d used the toilet at school. He liked to tell us which kids wore underwear and which ones were still in diapers. We bought some pull ups and told him he could use them if he started trying to use the toilet. Around that time, we started to notice that, all of a sudden, he would pee every time we put him in the bathtub for his bath. So, we started asking him to pee on the toilet before his bath. We let him wear pull ups (he especially loved the Cars-themed ones), and it helped that he could pull them down himself. We asked him regularly if he had to go and – although he usually said “no” – we would make him try every couple of hours. Most of the time, he would pee when we asked him to. We did go the “reward” route and let him have a little treat each time he peed. Usually it was one little fruit snack, which he thought was “candy!”
Finally, after a few weeks of this, his daycare teacher said that she thought he was ready to start wearing underwear to school! He was peeing on the toilet there and was staying dry in between. In fact, he was usually even dry after his naps. So, we bought a bunch of undies (so cute!) and we took the leap.
At that point, he still flat-out refused to poo on the toilet, but he would tell us that he had to go and would ask for a “regular diaper”. In fact, often he would take off his pants and underwear and grab a diaper from the diaper bag himself. The daycare teacher told us that it was pretty normal for a kid to have to master one (i.e. peeing or pooing) before getting the hang of both. We continued to ask him to try the toilet each time he said he had to poo, but usually he turned down the offer. Even the offer of a treat wasn’t enough to get him to try. By mid-December, he started saying “I’ll try on Christmas.” Good bargaining, buddy.
On Christmas morning, after opening most of the presents, Littleman announced that he had to poo and, as usual, asked for a diaper. I reminded him that it was Christmas and that he had said he would try the toilet. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “it not Christmas today. Christmas is tomorrow!” Ha! Nice try. I pointed out that Santa had a come and we had just opened presents. It was, most definitely, Christmas today. His response? “OK.”
We took him into the bathroom and helped him up onto the toilet. He promptly asked us to leave him alone. We stood outside the door, where we could still peek in and hear him grunting. Finally he was done and announced “I pooed!”
Woohooo! The kid actually did it! Merry Christmas to us!!
It has now been more than two weeks and he has been using the toilet consistently. We still diaper him at night and he wakes up wet, but (knock on wood) there have been no accidents during the day. I’m so proud of him! And, so pleased for D and myself, who are currently enjoying a couple of diaper-free months before Baby Bo arrives!
I think the main lesson I learned through this experience is that toilet training is a lot easier when the child is ready. I’m sure he could have done it earlier if we had wanted to push it and try some of the other fancy techniques out there, but it wasn’t really worth the tears and fighting for us. He did what he needed to do when he was ready to do it. And there wasn’t really any reason to force it before then.
I still can’t really believe my little boy is almost three and that he’s doing so many big kid things! I know there will be many more parenting challenges to come as he continues to grow up but I’m pretty happy about how this transition went for us.