A few months ago, my husband bought some potty training books (this one for us, and this one for Henry) and decided to start potty training. Henry loved his potty book (“I can be just like Michael!”), but struggled with the potty itself. His major problem seemed to be that he didn’t know how to make himself go pee. We put him in pull-ups and would ask him to sit on the potty every now and then, and nothing would happen. (Ever. Invariably, he would sit on it for 15 minutes, get bored and get up, and pee on the floor one second later.) He would try at school – everyone is his room was working on potty training – and we’d ask him if he wanted to sit on it at home. He always said no.
One day after school, I asked Henry if he wanted to sit on the potty.
“No,” he said. “Because I’m not very good at going potty.” Pause. “I twy and I twy and I just can’t do it.”
You guys. This kid had never expressed such a complex emotion before and it slayed me. And then he said, “I’m sad that I’m not potty twained.”
I don’t know who told him he wasn’t potty trained – I’m sure it happened at school, but it’s hard to know the context (I mean, he WASN’T potty trained, so I don’t fault someone for saying that to him, I just felt bad that he felt bad) or why he was having a hard time with it. Anyway, I decided that this method was not working and it was time to try something different. I had heard about the 3 day potty training method, so I googled it and bought the e-book.
Essentially, the 3 day potty training method means you put your kid in underwear, throw away the diapers forever, and whenever they start to go, run them to the potty to finish. And give lots of positive reinforcement. There’s more there, and I think it’s worth reading the full thing, but this is essentially the method. My husband and I had President’s Day weekend off, so we (read: I) decided we would do it then. In the meantime, I asked daycare to stop putting him on the potty unless he asked to go. (Part of the program is a 30 day waiting period to “de-program” your kid from any negative potty associations they had.)
So. We waited. And dreaded President’s Day weekend. And then it came, and it was the most exhausting weekend ever. If I never say, “Henry, is your underwear dry? YAY!!!!” or “Henry, tell mommy if you have to go potty, OK!” again in my life, it will be too soon.
The first day, we had six accidents and no successes. Four in the morning and two in the afternoon. He insisted on wearing pants, so I was never able to get him to the potty and get his pants down mid-pee. (In hindsight, I should have nixed the pants and only had him in underwear.) I also put a pull-up on him during his nap (which is not allowed by the 3 day potty training book) and he peed and pooped then. It was with great relief that I put a pull-up on him at 7:30 for bedtime in a pull-up (also not allowed).
The second day, we had two accidents in the morning, one in the afternoon, and no successes. I kept his underwear on during his nap and stayed in the room with him, and he stayed dry. So he was able to learn to hold it a really long time, but he still didn’t know how to pee.
The third day, we had an accident and then I didn’t put any underpants or pants on him, just left him bottomless. Frankly, I was exhausted, couldn’t be bothered, and he didn’t seem to care. Then he started to pee again, I saw it starting to dribble out, and I managed to get him on the toilet mid-pee. That was all it took for him to learn how to push the pee out! He was so excited and so proud of himself for going in the potty. He had a success right after that, another accident an hour later, and then successes all afternoon (including staying dry during his nap).
That was Monday and today is Friday. The rest of the week has gone remarkably well. Other than pooping in his nighttime pull-up, there have been no issues. He wears underwear and goes in the potty at school. I’m really glad that we did this method.
However, it was a hard three days. Part of the problem was that my husband was not really on board with trying this. He went along with it, but there were a lot of eyerolls about all the accidents. He would say stuff like, “Henry. Tell mommy or daddy BEFORE you have to go potty.” After a couple of times of that I was like, “Dude. Sell stock BEFORE it goes down. Oh wait, you don’t know when that will happen? NEITHER DOES HE.”
The other problem was Violet. She is a Stage 5 Clinger with her mommy and it’s really hard to properly stare nonstop at your older kid’s crotch when your younger toddler is screeching at you constantly. I kept trying to get my husband to leave the house with her to get both of my potty training distractions out of the house. When they left, it was a lot easier.
Anyway, hopefully I didn’t jinx Henry’s successes by writing all of this down. On a related note, we are travelling this weekend, and I am terrified. He’s never used a public bathroom before, he’s probably going to pee all over the airplane, etc. Wish me luck!