Whether you have a tiny warrior or a little princess, potty training can be a challenge to a new mom. My experience was chaotic, to say the least.
When we first started to potty train our son, Jace, I had no clue how to teach a boy how to pee standing up. My lady parts just don’t function that way! Do little boys learn sitting down and graduate to standing up? Do they instinctively know how to stand? So many questions whirled in my head and I didn’t feel smarter than a fifth grader, or a 2-year-old, for that matter. So, I did what any clueless person would do, I asked for help. My husband and I polled co-workers, family members, and friends who were parents.
Initially, we were very intrigued by the reward system. We sat Jace down on his pint-sized toilet and every time he went, we rewarded him with a few fruit snacks and tons of positive reinforcement. More often than not, I was more excited about his feats than he was.
Once he caught on that he could have Treats that were normally off limits, he started telling us that he needed to use the bathroom. We were overjoyed that he was progressing along so well. The reward system was a success.
But then, we suffered a relapse. Jace started telling us he needed to use the bathroom after he’d already gone. It kept happening, and I was crushed. Call me a drama queen, but I felt like a failure as a mother. He was doing so well; we were doing so well. I didn’t know what had changed. Why was he moving backwards on the potty train express?
After checking in with the previously aforementioned friends and family, I realized that I wasn’t a failure at all. Jace was moving along perfectly fine, at his own pace. The potty training process was just that – a process – not an express at all. As much as you want to hurry that train along, it Goes at its own speed. It’s important to remember that no child’s pace is any better than another’s. As a parent, you give a little nudge here, a lot of encouragement there. Just know that as long as you are there to help your child along the way, you’re doing the right thing.
As the early drama wore off, I removed my hat of self-pity and put on my supermommy hat with matching cape. While this ensemble looked absolutely adorable, I cannot take the credit for potty training Jace all on my own. We had a lot of help.
Because grandparents take care of our little guy while we work, they were instrumental in Jace’s successes. We maintained open communication to reinforce the methods we were using at home. In potty training, consistency is critical.
Further in the journey, the real fun began. While out for dinner, at the grocery store or The mall, Jace wanted to know what every bathroom looked like. He’d entered into what I like to call the discovery phase of potty training. He wanted to explore every bathroom in every public place we went.
My advice is this: Invest in travel-sized sanitizing wipes and adopt the mantra, “Don’t touch anything.” Children are curious, and as a mild germaphobe, this was a nightmare for me. Compared to some of the public restrooms we discovered, whatever he had going on in his diapers and pull-ups started to seem downright sterile.
Luckily, the notion of going back to diapers to evade public toilets was fleeting. (It was the thought of changing teenage diapers that reeled me back into focus.) You figure it out along the way, you learn the tricks of how to sanitize and squat and hover and maneuver, and you make it work.
Those were the days of being out of diapers and in pull-ups, but next he took the leap into full-blown underwear.
With girls, I’m told much of potty training can be quite simple and neat. I can’t say the same for my floors, my walls, my toilet seat covers, toilet paper holders, and everything else in the general vicinity of the potty. For little boys, aim is not a natural inclination. To make matters worse, to my 2-year-old boy anyway, spraying pee-pee everywhere was just the funniest thing in the world.
Well, on top of learning how to wash his hands instead of the walls, Jace began to take notice of the differences in how Mommy went potty versus his and Daddy’s strategy. Initially, I think that children tend to mimic what they see. So he’d stand up when he was with Daddy, and sit down when he was with me. In time, he transitioned on his own to the Daddy way, full time.
And then one night after his bath, we chose underwear instead of a pull-up. There was no bed-wetting and less than two months before his third birthday, our son was potty trained. Whether you’re training your little boy or your little girl, each experience comes with its challenges or setbacks. But that stuff is nothing compared to the fun you have along the way.