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I am pretty ambivalent about blogging about potty training Simon. In part, this mirrors my ambivalence about potty training in general, and in part it represents my feelings that Simon deserves a bit of privacy in matters concerning his privates.

About that ambivalence: We’ve more or less followed the T. Berry Brazelton approach to parenting. You could call his approach child-centered, for he generally advocates following your child’s cues and responding to (and respecting)  their unique needs and temperament rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. In his books, he comes across as gentle and wise. And he clearly loves children—all of them.

Meanwhile, if I had to pick two adjectives I’d want to describe my own parenting, “gentle” and “wise” would be them. While I don’t know if I’d go so far to say that I love all children, I’ve certainly developed a soft spot for them and I passionately love Simon. So when Simon threw some tantrums, I took the T. Berry approach. And when he hit a negative and persistent spell, I did the same. And it has paid off every time. I know kids that have reached milestones faster than Simon, who have fewer issues with change than Simon, and who are more regimented and tightly disciplined than Simon. But I like our family the way it is, as do Matt and Simon, and so I’m not about to change my approach.

Except for potty training. Brazelton thinks kids will let you know when they are ready to train, and that we adults put far too much pressure on them to train at our pace. It’s a lot to ask of them, Brazelton states, and every child will get there in his or her own time. If a kid doesn’t train until 4,  so be it. They will train, and there is no point in developing lasting problems or getting into miserable power struggles to force an artificial schedule. I have to admit that this sounds eminently reasonable to  me.

So child lead we did/have done. And Simon, my extremely change-resistant child, is just not interested. Or rather, he’s intellectually interested (“Big boy underwear, M&Ms, a flashlight when he’s finished!”), but it’s not translating to action. He’ll be 3 1/2 in two weeks, and Matt and I both sense that this is the time. We can’t wait until he’s 4 unless we pull him out of school next fall. And in the grand scheme of things, I think pulling him out of school would do more harm than pushing potty training. Meanwhile, Dr. Newstadt suggested that he’d want to see progress by late spring or early summer himself.

With this week being spring beak and Matt having the time off, all signs seemed to point to this being THE TIME.

We’re using the cold turkey approach: No more diapers. We put Simon in underwear yesterday morning, plied him with drinks, and decided to let nature take its course. And it did: ten times. The tally, if you are curious, is once on the potty, and nine times down his leg, on the floor, and in his (rubber) shoes.

Today, following some advice given by a teacher at KIP, we put him on the potty every 30 minutes. The tally? Potty: Zero. Accident: Nine. That’s right, we set the blasted oven timer a gazillion times and had a 0% success rate. So that was demoralizing.

What I don’t know is whether Simon is intentionally doing this as part of a power struggle or if he’s sincerely missing his body’s cues. He’s not protesting sitting on the potty, he likes his big-boy underwear, and he’s learned to pull up and down his underwear on his own. On the other hand, we’re 1 for 18 where it counts. (Almost like Kentucky’s outside shooting in the regional final against West Virginia now that I think about it.)

Panicked at lunch, I did what I always do: I surveyed the literature. Well, fat lot of good THAT did. Depending on who/what you read, we either need to strip him bare and let it rip, continue the 30-minute intervals and hope for some synchronicity tomorrow, discontinue because he’s obviously not ready, persevere because he’s got to be ready, or abandon hope because we’ve waited too long. In case that isn’t unhelpful enough, almost everything you read comes with the authorial caveat that “You know your child best.” In other words, “Heck if we know. You figure it out.”

I’m inclined to try again tomorrow but not do the 30-minute thing. Just let Simon decide on his own to try or not to try, to enlist him in clean-up help (he’s been willing so far), and put him more “in charge.” Actually, that’s a lie. What I’m really inclined to do is to either make this Matt’s job, give up, or find someone who has some Valium lying around.

2 Responses to “The Potty Training Chronicles”

  1. bethnbobinnc says:

    I think I’ve told you before that pottytraining was the thing that scared me more than anything about parenting. It feels like a mine field for potential issues. What I can tell you after semi-successfully potty training 2 boys (both of them still occasionally have accidents) is, no one really knows what works. It’s all a crap shoot (pardon the pun). Simon will figure it out. You will survive. Hopefully, your furniture and floors will survive. Good Luck! :)

  2. tlalbaugh says:

    So fun, I know! I think the key to potty training is naked butt. If you’re at home, you have naked butt. No underwear at first, and no trainers. There will be pee on the floor, but not that much. After a couple weeks of naked butt, do underwear around the house. Then do underwear and pants out of the house. Kira doesn’t wear diapers at all outside the house now; I have extra undies and pants in the car, but haven’t had to use them. She tells me when she needs to pee, and goes on big potties in stores and whatnot no problem (though she likes me to wait ’til she’s out of the stall before I flush the loud industrial toilets). A potty upstairs and down and lots of naked butt seem have done the trick (we praise, but haven’t resorted to bribery yet–we’re saving that, haha). I have a girl, which is supposedly easier, and she does still refuse to poop in anything but a diaper–“I have to poop, Mom. Please put me in a diaper”–but I’ll wait a month or two before pushing that. Hopefully she’ll be completely done by her third birthday in June, but if not, whatever.

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