Code brown: Adventures in potty training

Little girl potty training her teddy bear

Cropped image. Manish Bansal, Flickr. CC license.

Take 1

At 18 months old, my daughter, we’ll call her C, started to show an interest in the toilet. I thought it was too early, but my mom insisted on getting her a potty. “She’s ready, honey,” Mom would say.

What do you know? On the first day we had the potty, she pooped in it. I squealed with delight. High-fives were flying. I was jumping up and down, yelling to my husband to come and see. All while my inner monologue was running wild: “Could it be?! C is diaper free at a year-and-a-half?! Do I have one of those mythical children who potty train themselves at a super young age?! This. Is. Amazing.”

This enthusiasm, however, was apparently quite terrifying because C wouldn’t even look at the potty, let alone sit on it, for weeks afterwards.

Take 2

We stopped being potty pushers and decided to take a more relaxed approach — we would let C tell us when she’s ready to start. However, around the two-year mark, a group of kids in her daycare class began potty training and we needed to jump on the bandwagon.

“But she’s not ready. Real underwear? She’s too little for that. Can’t we wait a little longer?” I begged her teacher. Nope. We had to reinforce at home what was being taught at daycare. Fine, way to be totally logical. We’ll try again.

Take 3 and 4 and 5…

At daycare, potty training progressed nicely. In the beginning, she often had accidents when they were outside playing (she didn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom) or during naptime. Lately, it’s been very infrequent, maybe once a week if that. Go daycare!

At home, it’s a different story. Rarely will C use the toilet and we never leave the house without a diaper or training pants on. I don’t get it. We’ve tried everything: sticker charts, chocolate chip bribes, positive reinforcement, commando weekends. I don’t know if I can read another “How to Potty Train Your Toddler in Three Days” article.

We’re constantly taking her into the bathroom and sitting her on the toilet with no results. On several occasions just moments after we leaving the bathroom, she had an accident (once hilariously on my husband while they watched TV; it was an especially juicy bowel movement).

Another favorite: going poop in the bathtub. I guess it is relaxing. But seriously C, a “code brown” is never a good way to kick off the bedtime routine.

So here we are nearly year after her toilet interest piqued and still changing diapers. Friends and family say not to worry. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says, “It’s best to avoid assuming that your child will begin training by a certain age.”

Most of my brain agrees – she’s only two and half. I get it; she has plenty of time. However, a small part of me is confused — why is potty training going so well at daycare and not at home? What’s their secret? Is C is just trying to fit in with the cool kids and go to the bathroom on the toilet? (I guess there’s worse forms of peer pressure.) But seriously, do I need a parade of toddlers to come through my house every hour and use the bathroom so C will too?

Oh, potty training. One of these days, we’ll figure you out. In the meantime, let’s commiserate. Share your potty training adventures in the comments below.

– Anne Hein is a volunteer with the Beaumont Parenting Program and mom of a strong-willed toddler. 

There are Puddles in My House and It’s Not Even Raining

Little girl potty training her teddy bear

Cropped image. Manish Bansal, Flickr. CC License.

I’m very grateful for our hardwood floors. It’s much easier to mop up pee than to clean it out of a rug.

We started potty training our boy/girl twins in November. It’s now January and we can’t claim victory. I’m not going to lie. It’s disheartening.

When we started out on this adventure, I would’ve told you that one kid was ready and one wasn’t. That same kid was going to be a breeze to potty train. Good thing I’m not a betting person because I would’ve lost. Big time.

We read up on potty training toddlers. We took the kids to the store to pick out their own undies. We got a jar of M&Ms for rewarding going on the potty. We have a little stool and potty seat to make everything as little-tushy friendly as possible. We thought we were set.

One kid did really well. In fact, within about a week, we were accident free. Hooray! Granted, this kid still expects an M&M sometimes after a bathroom trip, but it’s a small price to pay.

However, the other kid just isn’t having it. There are good days (really good days), but then there are days where we’re changing wet pants minutes—sometimes seconds—after reading books for 10 minutes in the bathroom. We’ve learned that the kid must wear pants with the undies every day. Just undies alone won’t work. The pants absorb more and we have to clean up less. Gross, right?

So frustrating. But when I think about it, if I’m frustrated, the kid must be insanely frustrated. I know this is about control, but I just don’t know what to do about it. Any ideas?

I’m just holding out the hope that by the time the kids are in junior high, we’ll be able to put this in the “success” category.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples