She Says… Potty Progress

I’ll give you a full rundown of the Hansel & Gretel puppet show tomorrow, but today I have something more pressing to write about.

Potty Progress.

Remember a few months ago when we sort of pseudo-tried potty training because Owen was really interested in it and I didn’t want to miss the boat? Yeah, that didn’t really stick so much. Long story short, he wouldn’t pee at school (even though he went without much encouragement at home, at restaurants, etc.), so after an awesome weekend of “getting” the process, we decided it wasn’t really the right time. He was so young that I didn’t want to push it, so we just said, “Ok, no big deal, we’ll try again later.”

Well, later happened on Sunday afternoon. We were at Target and happened to stroll past the underwear section. We’ve been talking off and on about “whenever you are ready to go in the potty all the time, you can pick out awesome underwear! Like Spiderman or trains or cars!”. He doesn’t even know who Spiderman is, but he has a Spiderman t-shirt and knows that he is SO COOL, whoever he is, so for some reason that was a huge motivator. So Owen caught sight of some Spiderman underwear and nearly lost his shit.

“SPIDERMAN UNNNNDERWEARRRRR! I WANT THEM! I WANT TO WEAR THEM NOW!”. I reminded him that wearing underwear means you have to go peepee and poop in the potty all the time, and was he ready for that? Really? He insisted that he was, and who am I to say no to a kid begging to be potty trained? So… we got the underwear (except once we got in the checkout line he had a change of heart and “didn’t like the spider on the Spiderman underwear and really REALLY wanted Thomas”, so we went back and switched them out for a pack of Thomas the Train undies).


I die. Little boy underwear are just about the cutest darn thing on the face of the planet.

Before I had even put away the Target haul, Owen was pulling his pants off, so anxious to put his new underwear on. A few minutes after putting them on he had one little accident, but he stopped himself from peeing as soon as he realized, and finished in the potty. After that, he wore underwear for the rest of the night and all day Monday without a single accident. We even went to music class and to the dentist, which is a 30 minute drive away!

He did AWESOME. Far beyond my expectations. Heck, I had no expectations. I really thought we were not going to touch potty training for real until closer to 3! He is SO PROUD of himself and has been showing his underwear off to everyone. He even pooped in the potty with very little cajoling on my part (he asked for a diaper a few times, but I gently reminded him that once he chooses underwear we have to stick with underwear, and he ended up pooping in a little training potty since he felt more comfortable than on the big potty).

Since peeing at school had been our barrier last time, I started talking up how exciting it was going to be to go peepee at school and show his teachers his new underwear. He acted all cool, like it was no big deal. When I dropped him off this morning we talked a lot with his teacher about what we do, and I offered to help him go pee at school the first time so he could see it was just like going at home. He said no, and I thought, “Wow, well, I guess he’s just going to do it on his own!”.

Ummm, maybe not. I just got a call from school an hour ago. His teacher said he was screaming and crying and wouldn’t go potty anywhere. Not in his underwear. Not on the potty. But he clearly had to go. Oh boy.

I am working from home today (thankfully!), so I ran out the door to see if I could help get him over the hump. My whole potty training approach has been “no stress, no tears”. If he’s ready, he’s ready. If he’s not, he’s not. This shouldn’t be a battle. But I almost cried looking into his tearful eyes when he said, “I don’t feel good, Mommy. I want to go home with you. I don’t HAVE to go peepee.”

I was so proud of him for not going in his underwear. He wasn’t even asking for a diaper; he just wanted to go HOME to pee. I closed the bathroom door so it was just the two of us, talked him off the ledge, and after a minute he let me put him on the potty. As soon as he sat down he peed a TON. I think part of the issue was the different potty seat at school (he goes on the regular potty at home, but at school they had a padded seat on top of the big potty seat), and part of it was definitely that I wasn’t there to keep him calm.

I don’t know if going to school to save him was the right thing to do, but I don’t care. This is a huge transition and we’re figuring it out as go. I’m hoping that now that he has gone once at school that he will not have trouble going again. I showed his teacher how he likes to sit on the potty and told him that they can help him just like Mommy and Daddy.

So, now my question is to all of you. I know this withholding is normal, but I don’t want it to turn into a big “thing”. Did your kid ever refuse to go potty at school (or grandma’s house, or somewhere he/she needed to go a lot)? What did you do? Any tips from teachers or other caretakers who have been through this process before?

Side note: We’re sticking to diapers for naps and bedtime since I don’t want him to be stressed about sleeping, and because he’s still in a crib (like I said, I didn’t know this transition was going to happen so soon!). It hasn’t been a big deal so far to use diapers for those times and then put underwear on as soon as he wakes up. I’m totally ok with him using his naptime diaper as a crutch at school until he gets over the hump of learning how to pee there. He gets M&Ms as an incentive at home when he goes in the potty, and a sticker chart at school (they don’t allow candy, which I love). The underwear itself has been the biggest motivator by far. I’d rather not venture into pull-ups, since I think the mental shift to underwear is the main part of this development. Does this make sense? Anything I’m missing that could make this school peeing smoother? It seems to be the only big bump in our potty training road so far.


13 responses to “She Says… Potty Progress

  1. I’m really surprised that daycare called you instead of just letting him have an accident. He must have been really upset. Poop is a different story, but pee will eventually come out. Accidents are powerful learning tools, as I’m sure you are aware. As long as shame isn’t involved and Owen knows accidents are part of the learning process, if he refuses to go next time, just let him have that control. He will soon learn what happens if you don’t go on the potty.

    I wish you lots of luck. We have been training my daughter since April. It’s a long road for some, me included. Others pick it up so fast!

  2. That kiddo is amazing. He is doing GREAT! I don’t have any advice for you (we’re still in the “if you want to go, cool, if not, cool” sort of pre-potty training stage). But I think you did the exact right thing by going to school to help him. You obviously won’t be able to do that every time but helping him through it the first time there should make it easier for him in the future. Totally going to start talking up underwear to Ryan…

  3. therapeuticbaking

    I’ve found that potty learning or training whatever you want to call it is actually more about the child learning a new routine. It sounds like Owen has the routine at home but when he’s at school he just needs to figure put how it works there. E. has been out of diapers now since September. We’ve pretty much got peeing down and we are FINALLY going poop on the potty. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve learned a lot from this process so hopefully with my second born it will be easier for him and US! First and foremost, I’ve realized they need to be mentally and physically ready. E. was physically ready a long time ago (staying dry overnight and through naps) but mentally we are just starting to get there. He is starting to really get it and it’s neat to see the wheels beginning to turn…

    Yes, E. does at times refuse to use the potty. I let it go because he has started to tell me when he has to go pee. Learning to sense that their bladder is full is an important part of learning.

    I don’t feel candy/gifts/underwear really work to encourage them long term. It’s consistency and doing the same thing over and over that gets the message across to them. I was wondering, would the daycare let Owen bring his own potty seat there? That way he would have his familiar seat and it would remind him of his routine at home?

  4. While I wouldn’t say that Eli is fully potty trained, he is off of diapers. We haven’t put him in a regular diaper while he is awake for a few weeks now. Here’s the thing, though. He doesn’t tell us when he has to go. He just holds his penis and continues playing. When we say, “Bud, it’s time to go potty,” he has no issues with dropping what he’s doing to go, though every once in a while he’ll say, “No, I’ll just hold it.” Silly guy. I was against using Pull-ups as well, BUT… his preschool doesn’t allow them to wear underwear until they can ask to go potty. I feel like with Eli, this will be never. Apparently I never asked either… not until I was like 5. So, we got Pull-ups for school. I was worried about this, but Eli totally gets that underwear > Pull-ups > diapers. If you try to put a diaper on him anytime other than bedtime, he would freak the freakity freak out. If you put a Pull-up on him any time other than nap or school, he would freak out slightly. He is always happy to pick out undies, though!

    Another thing… since he won’t ask at school… his teachers take him when one of the other boys has to potty. Also, they stand up at school… they have the boys lean with their hands against the back of the seat. The first day he was potty training at school, he was a little nervous, but did great once he saw that his buddy Bryson was peeing in the potty and it was no big deal. Maybe some peer guidance might help Owen?

  5. @Liz M., He was really upset. He was screaming and crying. By the time I got there he was playing but still had tears in his eyes. I can’t believe he didn’t just have an accident! That seems a lot easier than all of that drama. But apparently he was committed to not peeing in his underwear, which is actually pretty awesome. Now we just need to figure out what the issue is at school.

    @Meg, Thanks. He IS doing great! I’m so impressed! I always rolled my eyes at people who said, “My kid potty trained himself!”, but, umm, I kind of think Owen has done that. Well, kind of. Except at school 🙂 I am so glad I was able to go and help him, but unfortunately I called back 2 hours later and he still wasn’t going on the potty, so we decided to remove this stress and put diapers back on. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t work through it in a positive way, but this process shouldn’t involve him crying and begging to come home from school! So I’m going to let him lead and see where this goes.

    @therapeuticbaking, You are totally right about learning a new routine. And there wasn’t much of a chance to develop a routine at school at drop-off this morning. I’m sure it will happen someday, but perhaps today was not the day.

    Bringing his own little potty is a great idea. He pees on the big potty at home (and in restaurants, and at the dentist, and everywhere except school…), so I didn’t think it was the potty once I took the seat off at school. However, he’s only gone poop in the little toddler potty, so maybe that comfort is what he needs at school. I will ask!

    @Casey, I’m so happy to hear about how easily Eli switches between diapers and pull-ups and underwear! I’ve been trying to figure out if underwear-at-home and diapers-at-school will work for us, and I was kind of thrown off by all of the blog posts and articles that say “Once you go underwear, you never go back!”. So far a lot of what I’ve read isn’t what Owen has responded to (for instance, he gets so annoyed when I keep asking him if he has to pee, but will always just get up and go on his own, so the “put them on the potty every 15 minutes” would totally backfire for us), so it’s becoming clear to me that this is an area where every kid is different and we need to figure it out FOR US. I love your flexible approach. Maybe we can do something similar and I shouldn’t be so down on pull-ups 🙂

  6. Joke Vermanen

    This is so huge for him, bravo Owen!
    I think I would have reacted the same like you did. My daughter was fully potty trained at the age of 2 so about the same progress as Owen shows.
    We went straight from diapers to underwear because of the same arguments you said.

    We took some bars out her crib so she could come out of bed on her own but still had the safety feeling of the crib and not a big bed.
    Maybe that’s an idea for him?

  7. Honestly, I would have done all of the things you did, no question (although I don’t have the option to show up so I hope that doesn’t become necessary for us). This is a transition period and he was feeling anxious and you responded and it obviously eased his angst. Showing up this time doesn’t mean that he will always expect you to show up, but at least he it eased his little worries on his first day of trying. There isn’t a mother in the world who wouldn’t have let their toddler wear underwear and try potty training when they are outright begging to do it! That’s kind of like a mother’s ideal scenario to get the ball rolling!

    Way to go Owen! That kid is such a special little boy 🙂

  8. Potty training was wildly successful for me, fortunately. I’d heard my daughter say she didn’t like diapers a few times, and then she pooped in her diaper. It was horrible, it smelled, and the diapers could not contain the mess well enough. So, we made the transition to “big girl undies” (that “big girl!” “big boy!” part is evidently really important) immediately. The main thing is not to be afraid of accidents because they do happen and to not disparage the child because of it if they do pee or poop in the undies/floor/bath/etc. When Olivia pooped in the floor after she false-started my husband too many times (saying she had to poop and then did nothing, she held it for quite a while) I said, “Mommy doesn’t like cleaning poop from the floor, it’s yucky, huh? Big girls go poop in the potty EVERY TIME, so we can flush it away. Bye, bye, poop!” I thought it was better than saying she was bad, etc., because she really did try. Since then I haven’t had a diaper on her except for nights (and we’re going to transition her to padded underwear with a mattress cover this weekend). It’s been amazing. I don’t think I could handle two in diapers–that would be a lot of laundry!
    I just read that the teachers put him back in diapers at school…in my opinion that kind of sabotages your efforts. It needs to be agreed by all parties that potty training WILL happen, no matter what. I know you don’t want him to be stressed about this whole thing and it is a huge transition (for mom and kid, they aren’t “babies” anymore if they’re out of diapers!) but it really seems to me like he’s ready. If he grasps what to do on the potty more than once, then he can do it every time. Just pack a few extra pairs of pants, socks, and undies for him at school and then every time you go out. If you go on a long drive, line his car seat with a garbage bag or PUL fabric. Pay attention to him every time he says he needs to go–it became a game with Olivia and I had to distinguish eventually when she was serious (now she doesn’t play with me like that, thankfully) but initially they need to regulate the “urge” feeling.
    Good luck! I know he’ll do wonderfully!

  9. Hooray for Owen! Glad he’s doing so well and I love the fact that you’re letting him take the lead. We’re pretty much in the same situation with Elle, although without the success so far. She’s pooped in the potty once but basically holds her pee or poo, whether it be at home or at daycare. I think once she goes in the potty a few times she’ll realize that it’s not a bad thing, but getting over that hump is the issue right now. We’re just trying to be consistent and encouraging. Elle is still in the crib, too, so we’re still doing diapers at night and during her naps at home (transitioning to a big girl bed will be the next big change!), but at daycare she sleeps on a mat with her diaper and sometimes wets during nap, sometimes after nap. We’re not using Pull Ups, either. I love that you were called and able to go to daycare to help Owen today, too – I’m sure that meant the world to him!

  10. Wow, I am so impressed with Owen! Good for him!!! Our 2 1/2 year old has zero interest whatsoever. Whenever I ask if she wants to go on the potty (sometimes after she tells me that she is peeing), she says, “No thanks, Mommy.” Oh well.
    I would have done EXACTLY what you did. No question. You are a great mommy – Owen is so lucky to have you!

  11. @Joke, Great idea about the bed. I’m not quite ready to go there yet and I’m ok with diapers at night so we can all take this one step at a time. So many new things coming up in the next few months!

    @Angie, Thank you 🙂 It’s always so hard to know if that gut reaction is the right one, but this time, I think it was too.

    @Sarah, Thank you for the tips and for sharing what worked for your daughter! I agree that this is definitely not an issue of what he is capable of. He can hold his pee for a very long time and completely understands peeing in the potty and the importance of keeping his underwear dry. This seems to be a more personal, emotional issue for Owen and I haven’t quite figured out how to respond yet. At least for us at this point, forcing the underwear issue doesn’t seem like the right course since I KNOW he CAN do it. I want to make sure he WANTS to do it.

    @Kristin, I think being consistent and encouraging are the two most important things you can do in this process (you know, ’cause I’m such an expert…)! It sounds like Elle is doing awesome as well. And you’re right, it just takes time and practice from here.

    @Megan, Thank you so much. You know, Owen was EXACTLY the same until this past weekend (with the whole “no thank you”) thing. You never know when it’s going to click in their heads 🙂

  12. I know I’m late to this, but I just want to add: Miss A is 4 and her classmates are all 4 and 5. A *lot* of them try to refuse to go potty at school. There are tears and even tantrums about it. All the time. I have no idea what it is, but I would definitely say that this refusing at school thing is normal.

    Unfortunately, I have no tips. With the potty training itself, we did just what you’re doing. We made it available; she showed a lot of initial interest. Then about 5 months of completely not interested (with the no thank yous and so on) and then suddenly decided it was interesting. Once she was re-interested we held out the promise of a “big girl bed” which she became totally obsessed with; but really by then it was a done deal because it all came from here.

  13. boy like cool ok

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s