She Says… New Plan

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!

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12 responses to “She Says… New Plan

  1. A collaborative team approach is how it HAS to be with day care and the great part about that, is that they have the experience side of what has worked with various personalities in the past and the Mom has the more honed-in feeling about what their child specifically needs. I completely agree with all of this. Great plan!

  2. Kudos to you. I think you are very wise to take into consideration all of the different elements to this tricky potty stuff. Great plan. Great approach. Great Mommy.

  3. Makes total sense to me. You don’t want him so stressed about it at school that he starts to slide backwards on his progress at home. He’s doing great – better than you had even hoped he’d be doing at this age! I think the “all or nothing” approaches make sense with some kids, and an approach like this makes sense for others. I appreciate you posting about this so much – it’s given me a lot to think about and consider before we enter this stage.

  4. That makes complete sense to me too! It’s unbelievable how different kids are and what works for one might not work for another for sure.
    Your plan sounds absolutely perfect! Great job!

  5. I heard you should hit them with a rolled up newspaper and rub their noses in it. It’s the best way to housebreak a toddler.

  6. Sounds like a good plan to me, every kid is so different, as you well know. If he is that into it with you guys at home and out and about, I would bet he’ll be doing it at school in no time. Oh, and as you may have learned already, automatic flushing toilets are a potty training toddler’s (and parents’) worst nightmare. Holding your hand (or I’ve heard keeping post it notes in your purse) to cover the sensor helps.
    Although maybe Kara could be on to something… 😉

  7. I didn’t mean to be anonymous, whoops.

  8. Whoa, I didn’t mean to seem like I was bashing your daycare by saying they weren’t readily on board with the potty training. You’re right, taking Owen’s feelings into consideration is of the utmost importance. I have the luxury of staying home with my kids and I have no idea how stressful it could be if my daughter had to potty train with other people.
    I guess I didn’t think about that part well enough before I posted the “immersion method” comment. “Undies or bust” is all I’ve ever seen with successful potty training online–I assumed (wrongly?) it would be confusing.
    Obviously, do what you feel is best for you child.
    Good luck to you.

  9. You are so right! That’s the biggest lesson I have learned so far (I have a ten month old). All kiddos are different and parents too. What works great for one family just doesn’t work for another family. Nice job keeping an open mind and being flexible!! I’m not excited for potty training 🙂

  10. Potty training is hard and you’re right — what works for one will not necessarily work for another. I asked lots of people for advice when we started the potty training process, and we took bits and pieces of what we thought would work for Ethan. We took it slowly, always with the idea that if it became too stressful, too emotional, too much for either him or us, then we’d just slow down, reassess and try again. His teachers were AMAZING and he actually potty trained at school faster than he did at home — I think a huge part of that was he was the only one in his class NOT potty trained yet (he was a late trainer, not fully trained until 3 months past age 3) so he didn’t want to be the only one in diapers at school. Of course, at the time he had a 6 month old baby brother at home and, just as our pediatrician predicted, Ethan regressed quite a bit during the first few months with the new baby, so I’m sure that did not help with our potty training. But you know what? It happened, just as it does with everyone else. And as long as you’re comfortable with your process, that’s all that matters. And FYI — we took many paths on the bribery road and the only that worked? Plastic animals. We got a huge bucket of plastic jungle animals at Target and he got to pick a new one every time he successfully went to the potty. By the time we were confidently packing away the diapers, he had amassed an entire zoo.

  11. Thank you, ladies! It’s so amazing to have a “village” to bounce these ideas off of.

    @Kara, Damn, why didn’t I think of that? SO MUCH EASIER.

    @Sarah, I completely understand! I didn’t mean to single you out, and you were definitely not the only person I heard that sentiment from. Prior to this experience, I likely would have responded exactly the same way. I pointed it out mostly for the benefit of other readers who are getting the same confusing information that I was from the internet — there are lots of options for this process!

    @Carly, I love this approach, and I think it’s definitely the way we’re approaching it with Owen. I can see if backfiring in the long run if he never “chooses” the next step, so I’m very happy to hear that it all turned out ok with Ethan 🙂

  12. Good for you for being a flexible Momma! Owen is doing awesome so far, and he’ll get it at school in his own time. 🙂

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