24 February 2011

Potty Training My Daughter

Some people get very stressed out about potty training their child. There are children who seem to transition from diapers to underwear almost entirely by their own initiative and there are those who are extremely reluctant. I’ve had successes and failures along the way. It is one of those child rearing experiences which you can get really focused on and there is so much information out there to “help you” it is easy to get overwhelmed, confused or even obsessed. I liken this to “sleep training”, that’s a whole other story.

For us the trick was waiting until the kids were really ready. Trying before they are ready whilst perhaps possible seems a very time consuming and potentially upsetting experience for both parent and child.

My daughter was just 14 months old when I first enthusiastically bought her a pretty pink potty I thought she wouldn’t be able to resist. Fast forward to a year and a half later and she was finally interested in using it for its intended purpose.

We started off with the potty in our living area so she would not have to toddle far to use it. She quickly got used to peeing in her little pink potty and I was able to move it to the bathroom within days where she happily visited it whenever she felt the urge. It seemed like it was going to be very easy and we’d be out and about using public restrooms in no time. Then I noticed that first couple of days she had been wearing big girl underwear she had not pooped once. She seemed quite uncomfortable and I could see she wanted to go but was reluctant. I tried sitting her on the potty and stroking her back, I tried singing self-composed pooping songs to her, I tried coaching her on how to relax, nothing worked.

My daughter and I were in the living room playing with her big nylon crawling tunnel and I was struck by what may seem like a ridiculous idea for a game. I explained to her that she was the poo and the tunnel was a bottom and she had to try and get out of the tunnel and into the toilet. Well, little kids, as I have learnt so well since, just love to talk about poop, sing about poop, tell jokes about poop, be involved in just about anything that involves poop, so the game was a great success. Then I had another “stroke of genius”. Not only did my daughter evidently love playing poop-themed games, she also loved anything to do with babies. Her own baby brother was about 8 months old at the time. She was still very uncomfortable and hadn’t yet used the potty for anything put pee. So I told her a story only a 2 year old could appreciate about a mommy and a daddy poo who were just around the bend of the toilet and how they were waiting for their baby poo to come and join them. I explained to her that the baby poo was in her bottom and that it desperately wanted to be reunited with it’s parents. She’s a very compassionate little girl and this really struck a chord with her. She sat on the padded seat perched on top of the big potty and finally sent the baby poo home to it’s mother and father. My hero.

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