Pee Pee, also: HALP (could also be titled “therapy session notes” if you were a counselor)

We bought Soren a Bjorn potty chair a few months ago. It’s red, awesome, and Soren pretty much loves it. We also bought him the book Potty by Leslie Patricelli, who writes the most precious and adorable of all children’s board books. Love them. Soren would sit and sit and sit on the potty all the live long day without any production. Would immediately wet his diaper afterwards. One day, I let him know that he would get a chocolate chip if he peed, and he immediately complied. This is where we were with potty training for the past couple of months. Just casually getting comfortable with it.

About a month ago, he told us that he needed to poop and then proceeded to do so in the potty (the big potty, no less). Yes, I am writing a blog about my child’s elimination. I have two master’s degrees, so I get to litter the internet with mindlessly boring therapy sessions about being a mama. You don’t actually need any degrees to do that, so never mind. Sorry. I have an interesting internal life! Really!

Ahem. Soren loves undies. The last page in Potty is just the word “Undies!” surrounded by pictures of various interesting floating underpants. We had a few pairs of undies from his Christmas stocking at Papa and Grammy’s, and I recently bought a few pairs of the thicker, looser (easier for him to pull up and down himself) Gerber training pants as well as a pack of Lego Batman undies, mostly for Louis’ benefit (unfortunately, the 2T-3T size does not fit him at this time).

In the past few weeks, I’ve started kicking off the day with undies and then taking Soren to the potty every 15-30 minutes. In the morning he’ll be a total champ, and he’s even been pooping in the potty in the mornings the past couple of days. After nap though (and he’s usually dry after his nap if I take him fast enough), it goes downhill fast. Sometimes he’ll refuse to wear undies or he’ll sit on the potty indefinitely without anything happening (despite generous encouragement!) and then he’ll wet his pants within five minutes. Almost every single afternoon, he’ll wet his pants at least 4-5 times (just between 3 and 7). He also tends to just go a tiny bit at a time, which is totally maddening. Yesterday, I only needed to take him every 30 minutes and he rocked it. We went for a bike ride and hike on Saturday, and he kept himself dry the whole time (and peed in the woods when prompted). Then today, I was in a horrible mood, Soren behaved like a wee deaf child all day, and a girl at our gym (which will go unnamed) childcare told me to just put him in Pull Ups next time (he had one accident, was wearing plastic pants over his undies, and I fail to see how changing a diaper once is much different than swapping out a pair of undies one time- he didn’t even get his pants wet). He wet his pants so much at dinner that it ran off his booster and puddled dramatically all over the dining room. I then left him with Daddy and went to the store for some quiet time.

Last Wednesday, I declared that I had been too ambitious, that this was more about competition than responding to Soren’s readiness cues, that I would rather keep him in diapers. I washed the handful of BumGeniuses that had accumulated in the bin over the past few days, and slapped a diaper on him. Didn’t even ask him to go pee on the potty between changes. I said we were done at least until we got back from the THREE (One, Two, Three!) trips we are taking in the next month’s time. I took the readiness quizzes in two potty training books I had picked up, fully expecting to see “step away from the potty training book and no one gets hurt.” NOPE. Well within the bounds of “why didn’t you start this sooner, you loser?” on both of them. Oh well, I figured my try again in a month plan was the best plan of all of the plans.

The next morning, naturally, Soren refused to let me put on a diaper and begged for undies. And had the best day yet! Of course, I let him pick out a bag of Skittles (the most brightly colored bag in the checkout line, not that he had any idea what they were) and hot damn, he was motivated to keep his undies dry (1 skittle!), go pee in the potty (1 skittle!), and Poop in the potty (2 skittles!). He figured out the currency system and drooled rainbow all over his t-shirts for a few consecutive days. Such a champ. Such a champ, in fact, that I backed the reinforcement off this morning: 1 skittle for a combined dry diaper and pee in the potty, and 1 more for a poop in the potty. And today was a total train wreck.

Ok, that’s not completely true. He did pretty well this morning. He used the potties at a coffee shop, the library, and the gym and stayed dry on a long walk until we stopped at the park afterwards. He had what felt like a million accidents, but in hindsight was really closer to 5. A couple were pretty big ones, though. And come to think about it, he drank a lot more than he usually does.

So, I was planning to ask for advice, and maybe I still am? Should I give it a rest? Louis suggested taking the candy out of it completely to see if he’s really ready to potty train or if he’s just performing for candy. He gets excited about his success, but he rarely initiates. Maybe he likes the game of it, but he’s not quite to the holding it when he realizes he has to go? I’ve left him in the wet undies a few times just to make sure he really gets why it’s not good to wet his pants, we tried to encourage him to not get Batman wet, and he has decreased his frequency and increased his quantity, as a rule. However, if he says, “No no pee pee in undies!” I know it’s too late, and that’s really as close as he gets to initiating unless it’s with poop (when I usually have a minute or two to get him to the potty chair after he tells me it’s a no no to poop in undies). Is it normal for him to not be interested in initiation of potty time? We’ve been reading him children’s potty books like they’re going out of style and talking up how grown ups and big kids all use the potty and not diapers. We’ve been demonstrating ourselves for months and months (going to the bathroom by myself is a treat these days). I packed all the BumGeniuses away in his closet with hopes that I can strip them and stick them into the storage room soon. Thinking that maybe the lack of visual cue of diapers would do the trick?

Somebody say something. While I’m overwhelmingly ready to just slap a BumGenius (adorable, waterproof, easy BumGenius!) back on him tomorrow, I’m also afraid of waffling constantly between potty training and not. Isn’t that more confusing than anything? Aren’t I supposed to be an expert on child behavior? Holy cow, applying the parenting techniques and research with which I am intimately acquainted is not so much the easy part. Mama needs a time out, let’s just put it that way. Another way: I am finally ok with summer ending and work starting up again (at my awesome, amazing, challenging job that I adore). Six whole weeks until regularly scheduled days to talk about grown up things (ok, other people’s children and their learning needs, but still)? Too many days.

Quick, someone tell me I’m not ruining my child!

About lindswing

Once upon a time, I was born, grew up a little bit, did some stuff, and now I have a blog. I deeply respect the Oxford comma.
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7 Responses to Pee Pee, also: HALP (could also be titled “therapy session notes” if you were a counselor)

  1. Corie Anastasia says:

    Awwww buddy of course you’re not ruining your child! Are you serious? You and Louis are basically the best parents EVER.

    I mean, I don’t have a kid myself so I can’t really give you advice by way of like, here DO THIS it worked for MY child. But it seems like maybe you should give yourself a break. Like, first of all you’re not ruining him or his life, and second of all you seem like you’re doing a really good job. Potty training is difficult for some kids and super easy for other kids. Like my brother Will basically potty trained himself one day. To each his own. Basically at some point Soren is gonna figure it out. Like it’s gonna click and he’s gonna be all BATMAN UNDIES ARE CLEAN AND DRY AND I GO PEE PEE IN THE TOILET and it will be just fine. So just maybe relax a little bit. His days of peeing everywhere all over himself will end at some point. Maybe he just needs a few more months of getting it down and yeah it’s stressful but he’s not gonna be a 40 year old in a diaper!

    Also, I am so into bribing children. I think it works. If nothing else it does teach them about incentives. When I did teach toddlers I bribed them with stickers ALL THE TIME and it was their favorite thing ever. They just loved stickers. They loved getting them. They loved wearing them and they felt like failures when they didn’t get them. Bribing children is awesome. Bring on the skittles. Bring on the awesome undies. Bring on the encouragement and just relax. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready.


  2. Hmmm. Well, I’ll say something because you asked. But it won’t be helpful. Josiah is 2 and 7? months and I haven’t attempted to potty train. That’s mostly because we’ve been in major life transition for, well, a long time. For probably the past year he’s been occasionally peeing on the potty. He’s been able to pee on command for a long time and is generally excited about the potty. But I am not at all interested in dragging out potty training. Maybe I’m just lazy… but it seems to me that so many kids don’t actually fully (or easily) potty train until they’re closer to 3. I’m not interested in potty training myself, so I’m just gonna wait a bit longer until I think it can just get done. Period. Except I realize night time will take longer. Actually, his night time diapers are so full that I don’t see any hope of him not wearing a diaper at night until he’s probably 10. All that to say… Papa just went to the States and is bringing back little undies. And I do want to have him out of diapers before this other one arrives in January. So I’ll do it soon. But you should keep blogging about Soren so that I don’t have to actually read any potty training books. Because I’ve already decided I’m not going to. Also, I think little boys just, um, dribble, a lot. Frustrating. Also also, I would have made this comment look better with some spaces, but I wasn’t sure if I hit enter if it would make a space or post the comment, thus a large paragraph of ramblings. Happy skittle giving!

  3. lindswing says:

    Thanks both of you. I feel better about my life. Chocolate chips have re-entered the game, with much success. I didn’t yell at Soren ONCE today, not even one time! Yay! He wore a diaper half the day, and stayed dry for the other half. I didn’t stress out about it. I should write about things I’m bothered about more often, like the olden days.

  4. Gayla says:

    Lindsey, YOU ARE NOT RUINING YOUR CHILD. That I know for sure. I remember feeling like I muddled thru potty training, all three times, and I don’t remember much else–except for one thing. I think it was my wonderful pediatrician (herself a mom of 4) telling me that my child would not go to college wearing diapers. It was comforting and, sure enough, she was right, in spite of my muddlesome ways, confusion and discouragement. Hang in there. I repeat: YOU ARE NOT RUINING YOUR CHILD.

  5. Morielle says:

    Hey Lindsey,

    I don’t know if you have been reading my blog and therefore my posts about potty training Solomon but we have been and it is going pretty well. I’ll just outline (sort of) what I have done and maybe it will help? IDK, every kid is so different. Anyhow, Solomon has been in undies for about 2 weeks now. On average, he has one accident a day but this really means that some days he has no accidents and other days he might have 2. Usually, they happen in Joanne’s fabrics (I tend to frequent that place a lot and for some reason he just HAS to go in there! Probably bc I get distracted…. :P ).

    So, accidents. They still happen. At home they don’t though. I think underwear confuse Solomon because he doesn’t really know how to get them off, especially not when it involves time at a very crucial moment. He is aware enough of his body to know he has to pee about 2 seconds before he can’t stop himself…which, when he has a naked bum, is just enough time to run over to the potty and sit down. So I do leave him naked most of the time when we are home because it is so much more effective. After just two days of nakedness he totally figured out how to at least control one part of his bladder–releasing on command–which is what I bank on when we go in public. Depending on how much liquid he has been consuming, I will put him on the potty anywhere from 15-30 minutes when we are out and about. If he can eliminate regularly, there is never a need for an accident. I just carry the smallest babybjorn potty chair around with me (in the trunk, in a bag, in the stroller). I feel kind of silly doing that but its what my mom did and she has 7 potty trained kids ;)

    I think the important thing to realize is that if you are potty training “young”, meaning before they are old enough to hold their bladder perfectly and communicate perfectly etc. (the 3 or 4 years some people wait to potty train!) it takes a lot more effort and responsibility on the parent’s side than modern potty training advice assumes. I am 100% in favor of early potty training though, you just have to go about it with a different approach/attitude.

    Also, we bribed with candy too…but after the first week he just forgot about it. That was nice. :)

  6. Alyssa says:

    Oh my dearest, I know these heart aches you speak of.
    It seems one day is totally different than the next.
    And I hope that because our boys are the same age (um, like exactly) that you don’t think of us at competition.
    We still have many “uh-oh” moments (that are reduced to little tiny wet spots ) and a few “OH DANG” moments.
    For instance.
    Monday, while saying goodbye to those Portland people, he was “driving” our car and was, uhm, distracted.
    long story short, we had to dump poop right there in the middle of the street.
    Anyway, I want to encourage you….its wishy washing for a very long time until one day you have to stop and say “Huh, when did you get so good at this?”.
    As for the chocolate/candy…we started with that too. Then he just stopped caring about it…once the potty thing wasn’t as big a deal to him as it was a first. He stopped asking….he started not wanting it….he just didn’t care about it. Of course we still praise him, but we grew out of the candy thing pretty quickly.
    Currently we are working on “Holding it down!”…..yeah.
    So, no, you are not messing up your child, it takes time (few steps forward, many steps back) and i know your not rushing Soren, you wouldn’t do that. Best of luck!

  7. Gaby says:

    It seems like you’ve made peace with this topic, but I wanted to leave sage words from my favorite professor of child counseling (and harried mother of twins) for the next time nagging doubt wells up: “You will never, ever be perfect parents. And, really, there’s no such thing. You just have to be good enough parents.”

    You and Louis are plenty good enough!

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