Want to know what I learned yesterday? Something that all of you who have attempted potty training already know. It is an intensely personal process (for the parents and the kids). Everyone responds differently to the various techniques that exist (the parents and the kids). It is such a huge, new step that we’re all just figuring it out as we go (the parents and the kids).
Your comments and emails yesterday really helped me see that every kid takes a different road to being potty trained. Owen is very advanced in the process in a lot of ways (especially for a boy) and giving him space to make this decision on his own seems to be the right option for him right now (not a 3-day “underwear or bust” method, not putting him on the potty when he doesn’t have to go just to “try”, not forcing him to have accidents at school so he learns his lesson).
Although I told Owen on Monday “once you choose underwear, you have to stick with underwear”, the signs he gave me yesterday at school were pretty darn clear that he wasn’t quite ready to “choose underwear” at school, even if he can do it brilliantly at home. And although my gut reaction was something along the lines of, “Well, he’ll have to figure it out at some point. Maybe if he just works through this he will get it. I think I should stand behind my words that he has to stay in underwear”, I quickly changed my tune after his teachers and I spoke for the third and fourth time yesterday and Owen still wouldn’t pee on the potty at school.
It just didn’t feel right.
It was Owen’s decision to start this process (earlier than I expected!), and it just didn’t feel right for me to be forcing it on him at school if he just didn’t want to. I’m so glad we tried it, because otherwise we wouldn’t have known… but his teachers and I decided (as a team) that it was best to put him back in diapers and work on using the potty at school without the unnecessary stress and pressure that underwear seemed to bring. I know some people said it sounded like the school “sabotaged” my efforts, or that they were “sorry my daycare didn’t support potty training”. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel that Owen’s teachers supported him 100% throughout this big transition and listened carefully to his response. They could see, just as I could see, that pushing the underwear issue was causing him real stress, and maybe the time just wasn’t quite right.
So, our new plan is to keep the underwear momentum going at home. It’s working wonderfully and Owen’s confidence and excitement about wearing underwear like a big boy is growing by the day (even yesterday when he came home from school after the underwear snafoo, he was so excited to put on his underwear and pee in the potty before bed). And we’re going to keep diapers at school. His teachers will continue to ask him if he would like to use the potty, and they even have him playing some “potty games” like tossing goldfish in and flushing them down, to get him more comfortable around the potty at school. I know this “blended” approach goes against a lot of what I read on the internet (three day methods, saying “goodbye” to diapers and never looking back, etc.), but this just feel right for us for right now. We’ll see how it goes! I’m certain that the more Owen uses the potty in different places and with different people, and the more his friends start using the potty, the more he’ll be ok with it at school. I’m more worried about adding unneeded pressure and stress than I am that he will never learn to pee at school. I know he will learn to pee at school. In time.
And while I truly used to think those all-or-nothing approaches made total sense, I guess you don’t really know until you try it with your own kid!