Someone linked this article on my FB wall and it gave me the idea for this post.
I haven’t really talked a lot about my kids yet. After all, this is supposed to be a blog about being a mom, a doctor and living in a big city. So, I decided why not start with the topic that all parents discuss at some point or another – the bathroom habits of their children.
My daughter, N, is 3.5 years old. When I found out I was pregnant with her sibling, (she was 2.5 years old), I fantasized about what it would be like to have only one child in diapers. Was she ready for full-on potty training? We had introduced “the potty” to her about 6-8 months previously, which she sat on before her bath every night but never did anything. That summer, she would play in the backyard naked, and occasionally would pee in the outdoor potty we had set up for her. Occasionally she’d squat on the grass and have a poop. We don’t have a dog, yet I found myself picking up poop into little baggies that summer. Funny, right?
By this time, we had also introduced N to preschool 3 mornings a week, but she wasn’t required to be potty trained. Perhaps seeing other children going to the bathroom might make her want to do it. Um, not so much. So we decided not to push it. She would decide when she was ready. When her little brother, J, was born, we started telling her she was the “big” sister and the “big” girl in the hopes it would encourage her to become independent with her potty-going. Well, cue the natural regression of her behaviour, “Mommmmy, change my diaper, I’m a baaaaaaby.” Sigh, I was destined to have two children in diapers for the foreseeable future.
Then, about 2 months ago, we found out that N was the one of two children in her preschool class that still wore diapers. “That’s it!”, I thought. So, over the course of one weekend, we took away the daytime diapers and told N she was going to start peeing on the potty like a big girl. The first day, no accidents. She would announce, “Oh, gotta go pee pee” and she’d go to the bathroom and insist on sitting on the “big” potty. By Sunday, she was a superstar and was independently going to pee pee on the potty. Since then, she’s had a few accidents, usually when she’s distracted and playing, she would not quite make it to the bathroom. Still, we were so proud of her!!!
Next was the poop. For the following month, she would insist on having a diaper to poop. Our paediatrician recommended that we give her the diaper when she asked for it. That way, she wouldn’t have to hold it and since she already had some issues with constipation in the past, we could make it worse if we didn’t listen to her. So, whenever she would announce she wanted a diaper, we gave it to her, but we also reminded her that she could also go on the potty if she wanted (for a treat, of course!). The bribe didn’t work.
Fast-forward to last week. I get a phone call while I’m at work, on my cell phone. I’m in the middle of a patient encounter and my phone starts vibrating. I see the caller is “HOME”, and I excuse myself, apologizing saying it’s home, and answer it while I leave the room. “Hello?” I say. Pause. Then, “Hi, Mommy! I poo pooed on the potty!!”. Oh my goodness, cue the huge mommy proud moment. “Wow! Honey, that’s so wonderful!!! Good for you!!! Now please put Daddy on the phone.” “Hi,” he says, “Bye,” he says. I went back to my patient, just beaming. Thankfully, she was also a mom, so I told her what happened, and she then told me the story of her son making the potty breakthrough, then we got back to the business at hand of her appointment.
When I got home that night, N was still beaming from her achievement. She was a big girl now. “A growned-up.”
Potty-training, I’ve since learned, is not about the convenience for the parent, or proudly saying that you trained your child using the “blah blah” potty training method (whether you thought they were ready or not). It’s about waiting for the physiological and psychological development of your child in learning how, when and why to use the potty. Dr. Hodges’ article reinforces this. Every parent should read it.