Thursday, June 5, 2014

Inspired Potty Training

There's a mean joke that's played on you when you have multiple children.  You think you have it all figured out.  You know how to sleep train - Been there done that!  You know how to discipline - You've already climbed that mountain!  You know how to potty train - Bring on the undies!  And yet, with each child, you learn just how much you don't know.

My oldest was potty trained (during the daytime) by age two.  He wore undies to his second birthday party and I wasn't even worried about an accident.  Two days in underwear and he was trained.  Done and done.  So, naturally, I bought a six pack of Mickey Mouse undies for my second son and put them on right after his birthday.  Guess what?  He peed through them.  All six of them, in fact, in a few short hours.  What did I do?  I bought more undies.

I washed and dried countless pairs of shorts and underwear each day.  I made charts with stickers.  I downloaded apps that celebrated success.  I offered mini marshmallows and M&M's for each success.  Nothing really worked.  He would cry every time I asked him if he had to go potty.  "Me want to play!!  No Mama!  No potty!" he would plead.  You would think that I would have seen the forest through the trees or, at the very least, had a little sympathy for my guy.  But I was determined.

My husband gently said to me, "Do you think that maybe he's just not ready?"  "Oh he's ready," I said. But when I was in the NICU with our daughter, my husband took matters into his own hands.  When I got home, my son was in diapers.  "Let's just give him a break," he said wisely.  "We'll try again in a bit."  At that point, I was so sore and exhausted that I didn't put up a fight.  Less laundry?  Less crying?  Yes, please.

Fast forward three months.  We invited our wonderful friends over for dinner and they have a son who is a few months younger than ours.  He is in the process of potty training and I noticed my son watching him.  The next day, he announced to us that he would like to try undies again.

I would love to say that it's been perfect since then but it hasn't.  I'm still washing undies and giving marshmallows.  But he's not crying anymore.  And he's proud of himself.  And every day he gets a little bit better at it.  Every little bit of progress builds his confidence and reminds me once again that this isn't my rodeo.  

It can be so difficult to know when to push and when to step back.  Each child is so very different.  Each circumstance is so very different.  I guess, in the end, we just have to listen to them.  Really listen to them.  Are they trying to tell us they aren't ready or are they simply being obstinant?  Is it important that they master something in a certain timeline or have we made it important?  Somehow I think our (my!) made up deadlines can actually hinder their progress.  Next time, I'm going to listen.  At least I'll try.  And I'll tell you if I mess up again.

Do you have deadlines for your kids in your mind (They have to read by 4!  They have to sleep through the night by 8 months! etc.)?  How can you ease back the throttle and let them progress at their own pace?

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