She Says… The Great Motivator

Dudes. You were so right.

Even though I thought we had another year until we would start potty training, and it really kind of caught me off guard that Owen was ready to try… he was. He is.

I read all of your comments  on my last pee-related post hungry for tips and stories. I have absolutely no experience with this topic and really haven’t done my research like I usually do because I thought it was far off in our future.

So here’s how we started. On Friday after daycare, Owen’s diaper was dry. It had been awhile since his last diaper change, so as soon as we walked in the door, I asked him if he wanted to use the potty. “Nah”. “Are you sure? Let’s just try”. “No. DON’T WANT TO”. “Oh, um, ok”. And that was that. He went in the potty before bed like normal, but really didn’t want to go any other time. I mentioned that maybe tomorrow he would try in the potty right when he woke up.

The next morning he was dry when he woke up. It was a perfect opportunity to use the potty, but I knew it had to be as soon as possible. I asked him if he wanted to go and got the same answer as the day before. Not a chance, Mom. He was set on his normal routine — vitamin, milk, a few minutes of tv. I rolled with it and suggested that if he could hold his pee pee until after his tv time and then do it in the potty, maybe he’d get a special treat. To be honest I really hadn’t thought through what special treat he’d get, but I realized that while he was totally ready to start trying this, he needed a little incentive to get his butt sitting on the potty.

Lo and behold, he was still dry after tv time and he practically RAN into the bathroom saying, “I want to pee pee on the potty!”. He peed as much as a grown man while I clapped and praised. Then he demanded that I pay up. ” ‘pecial treat?”. I knew I needed something small and replicable, and I had heard others mention M&Ms. Owen didn’t even know what M&Ms were before that moment (he even asked for “edamame”, thinking that was it… and though he does like edamame, I’m not sure I could get away with giving him that as a treat for very long!), but I can guarantee you he knows now.

The kid learned the system after 1 M&M. And damn, he’s good.

He only wore 2 diapers yesterday. And won himself a lot of M&Ms in between. He completely understands the concept of what earns him one and what doesn’t (a “good, long pee pee” or any poop gets one, just drips and just trying do not). We’re not going crazy like introducing underwear or doing bootcamp… I’m still very realistic about what he is capable of (and what I can handle right now!). While I prompted him to go to the potty several times, most of the time he would pop up and say, “I wanna go pee pee in the potty now, Mommy!”. He never ceases to amaze me.

We actually went out to dinner last night and I figured that’s where our potty training would at least be put on hold. I wasn’t going to push the issue on a weird potty with just one day under our belts. But about halfway through dinner he started getting really antsy and whiny, and then said “I wanna go pee pee in the potty”. In retrospect it may have been a stalling/distraction technique since he was getting bored at the table, but I took it at face value and took him to the bathroom. I sat him on the potty (one of those split seats… an important detail I noticed but had no idea what it really meant at the time) and tried to keep it all very nonchalant. Like it was no big deal that my kid was about to go pee pee in a public potty for the first time.

He started peeing. The lack of full toilet seat + angle/force of his pee = mayjuh spray directly on the floor instead of in the potty. I didn’t want to scold or freak out or stop him from peeing (since what he was doing was kind of monumental), so I just moved my leg out of the line of fire and kept right on praising while he splattered all over the floor. Ahem. After checking to make sure no one else was using the stall next to us, of course.

I literally had no idea what to do. He started crying when he looked at the floor and said, “I don’t wannit on da floor!”. I stifled my laughter (and guilt) while I told him it was totally ok and we would clean it up. I did a quick wipe of the floor but felt incredibly embarrassed rushing him out of the bathroom knowing that we just left pee on the floor. GROSS.

Anyway, I learned many, many lessons this weekend. Most important being that Owen is, apparently, far more ready for potty training than I gave him credit for, and I am doing my best to catch up/follow his lead. Next most important being that M&Ms are miraculous motivators. And lastly that I literally have no idea how little boys are supposed to pee in split seat potties without spraying all over the floor. After 2 days potty training is still a huge mystery and we’re slowly but surely figuring out a system that works for us on the fly. Don’t worry, I’m not delusional enough to think this is a done deal, but I’m pretty impressed with the first steps.

Mamas of boys, any tips and tricks for me as I navigate these new waters (um, quite literally)? How in the world do they potty in a regular potty on the go without peeing all over the floor?

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14 responses to “She Says… The Great Motivator

  1. I know this isn’t a popular school of thought, but we NEVER let our son sit on a public potty. To me, just gross (Even with a seat protector, ick) so we either let him stand (he was a very large 2 year old when we were training and was tall enough, plus, that is what daddy did, so he liked it) If he couldn’t reach we held him up to pee the same way. He actually started peeing that way at home too, pretty much immediately (and at school) and we haven’t looked back since.

  2. We bought a folding potty ring for public restrooms. My little guy is afraid of falling in and that takes care of it for him. He carries it in a backpack when we’re away from home, along with a change of clothes, just in case. I always sat my girls on sideways, sometimes there are bars to hold on that way too, which is a plus. Some little guys will sit on the toilet ‘backwards,’ kind of like they would if they were standing.

  3. RhodeyGirlTests

    My friend brings a little potty seat with her when she is out and puts that on top of the seat.

    Do you use the normal toilet at home? If not what kind of seat do you have? one that goes on top of the reg toilet or one of those mini training toilets you have to clean the pee out of?

  4. Even with our girls, we always just sat them on the seat on the sides so they weren’t right behind that split in the front of seat.

  5. We have never had that issue in the public restroom.. maybe try sitting him back just a little further? I know that when we use a public toilet, I do a lot of supporting him under each arm so he doesn’t fall back. It’s a great arm workout!

    Also, if he is doing that well, I would totally try underwear. They are a great motivator in and of themselves. We let our son (2) pick them out and he HATES to get them wet or dirty, so rarely has accidents. Plus he likes pulling them up and down like a big boy (I guess pull ups would accomplish that as well, but I just didn’t want to go there, so we went straight to underwear).

    Best of luck!

  6. I learned very quickly with my boys (5 and 3) that you have to teach them to aim down into the bowl (usually this means using their hand to help aim). The split seat makes it harder, but the same thing happens with the regular seats too (and if they’re there to poop they might not be expecting pee so would need a reminder). However, once he’s tall enough to pee standing up it gets a lot easier. I am still constantly cleaning up pee in their bathroom, but they are getting better at aiming. For some reason, before I had kids, it never even occurred to me that I would have to teach someone how to aim their pee correctly!

    Way to go Owen for catching on so quickly!

  7. re: public potty – either try standing up (if he’ll go standing up), or put him on it backwards (facing the tank) – works like a charm!

  8. We did our first “public outing” pee last week at a bookstore. I guess the toilet was lower than usual so he could do his standing up pee which we’ve been perfecting at home. I would say, like the other commenters, that the standing up pee would be the way to go. A friend of mine says that her son did much better with peeing once he started doing it standing up with her. I watched her do it with him and with higher toilet seats she just holds him up to do the deed. I find it a lot easier to do the standing up pee with E because he wants to do it that way. For boys, I think it’s just more natural or something. I should clarify that I do have to help him with his aim though!

    Kate, I wouldn’t feel badly about the pee on the floor! Whatever. People understand and if they don’t they are morons. I don’t care what others think/say anymore. The ones that give you the “look” are usually not parents and have no clue what you’re dealing with.

  9. Maybe we are strange? but I just push down a little on his pee pee we he starts going to help it stay in the toilet. He has started to do that on his own now. Also, with the split seats, I put him up there and then make sure his pants are all the way down and pull his legs as wide as they go. If i do that, usually it keeps him on the seat.

    One other tip – by a potty at Ikea and keep it in the car. It’s maybe $5, all one piece for easy cleaning, and has a rise at the front to keep tinkle in. Worth its weight in gold!

  10. Yay Owen!! Jeez are they going to leave ANY sign that they used to be babies for us?! ;-)

  11. I forgot to add that when my boys learned to stand up but were still too short to use a public toilet, I would have them stand on top of my feet for a couple extra inches of height (depending on what shoes I was wearing! Cute sandals, no. Old sneakers, yes.). Lifting them is hard, especially if they are heavy, you are pregnant, you are holding a bag, baby, or any other stuff in your arms, etc. (obviously these things don’t apply at all times). My boys had a hard time peeing if they were dangling in the air.

    On a more hilarious note, this is especially fitting.
    http://crappypictures.com/2011/11/public-toilets-vs-girls-and-boys.html

  12. @katie, Interesting. They are gross! I personally wouldn’t want to add another layer of stress/pressure to going to the bathroom for my kid, but I hear where you are coming from.

    @Kristy, Ah! Genius! Definitely one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments. A folding potty seat OR sitting on sideways are both easy outs to this issue. Thank you! Off to Google for a potty seat now…

    @RhodeyGirl, We have a little baby potty at the house, but he actually just uses the regular adult toilet. Our seats go all the way around (rather than the split seat at the public restroom) and our toilets must be thinner or something, because when he sits back on the seat and leans forward, he’s rarely in danger of spraying out of the toilet. Not sure why it was so different in the public restroom.

    @Christina, WHY didn’t I think of that?! Great idea.

    @Casey, In retrospect, I’m not sure why it didn’t work either, since that’s exactly what we do at home and we’ve never had an issue. I definitely could have pulled him back further and supported him with my arms, though. Next time. Thanks for the tips about underwear too!

    @Julie, I never thought about it either! I have so much to learn :)

    @Janelle, I have no idea why we never had him try standing up before. I thought aiming would be harder than just sitting, and although he’s very tall for his age, he has a long torso and short legs, so his penis is still below toilet level. Maybe I need to travel with a little step stool!

    @Meredith, Thank you! I totally agree. Now if I ever saw a mom in a similar setting I would NOT judge :)

    @hilary, Not strange! I’ve heard of other people doing that too. I had been teaching him not to touch when the pee pee came out (so his hands didn’t get all dirty), but perhaps I should be more focused on pee going in the potty.

    @Angie, I know, right?! He is SUCH a little kid now.

  13. @Julie, HAHAHAHAHA that is amazing. I’m sending it to everyone I know.

  14. Just had a quick minute to catch up on your posts and had to respond to this one. With my little man, I do this trick when we’re in a public restroom where I stand him on the seat and then “aim” for him so that it all gets in the pot. I discovered this technique when we were flying soon after he went through potty training boot camp, and had to do it that way with the airplane bathroom. Anyway, sounds like Owen is doing great! Keep up the awesome work. I’m procrastinating boot camp with our daughter, but may go for it during Thanksgiving week. :)

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