Monday, February 08, 2010

Potty Broken

Last week was my first week back to full time work, and it went about as you'd expect- I'm now much more caught up at work and much less on top of things at home. Mornings and evenings are extra chaotic, as we try to find a new routine. My parents are here this month (staying in a rented house nearby, not with us), taking care of Petunia during the day. Therefore, we don't have to have the full new routines worked out. There is still only one child to get ready for day care, and there is someone here when I get home to help with Pumpkin while I nurse Petunia and try to get dinner started.

It is a very good thing that we have some extra adult help this week, because we are full-on potty training. Pumpkin moved up to an older kids room at day care recently, and her teachers declared her ready to potty train. I can't argue with them- she certainly has the awareness and the skills. The problem is, she is not really that motivated to do it. She doesn't see the point. Her diapers are working well for her, so why change? I can't really argue with that, either. It does seem that the advantages are mostly for the grown ups around her, all of whom are frankly getting a little tired of changing stinky toddler diapers.

With the liberal use of M&Ms (one for sitting on the potty, more for actually doing something while there), we have mostly overcome the resistance to using the potty. She actually forgets to ask for her M&Ms most times now. When she is in underwear, she (mostly) remembers to tell us she needs to go potty, too, although we do help out with frequent reminders.

The problem is that she doesn't want to wear her underwear. She says they make her pee. I've tried to explain that "no, they make you notice when you've gone pee", but she doesn't quite get that. And despite our attempts to make accidents no big deal, she is clearly very bothered by them. So it is with impeccable logic that she resists our attempts to get her to wear her new Dora underwear. We have put them on a screaming, crying, struggling little girl more than once, but that just feels wrong to me. I'd back off the potty training, but she is doing absolutely great at day care- no accidents most days. She does great at home, too, once we get the underwear on her. On Sunday, I hit upon the idea of putting a matching pair of underwear on the rag doll her Mimi made her for Christmas (a cute little doll who was promptly given the unlikely name of "Grat"). That worked great, but only for a day.

So, does anyone out there have a good explanation for Pumpkin about why she should wear her underwear? She is not getting the "value proposition", as we used to say in my consulting days.


I've been posting comments on science blogs again... so there are no doubt some annoyed people who clicked through expecting to find a blog about life in biotech and instead found... potty training. What can I say? I can't really post about work. Biotech is too small of a world. However, I do have a relatively recent post about living with the job insecurity that comes with the territory in biotech.


  1. paola3:49 AM

    I'd say the reason she does NOT want to wear them is all to do with POWER, seeing she wears them at pre-school for her teachers, right? Maybe at this age something playful might work. I'd probably resort to Isabela's 'let's pretend' to get them on her. Maybe they could be a special 'belt' with magical powers. Perhaps get her to wear a 'new bathing suit' instead?

    Good luck. Bargaining with a near 3 year old is hard work.

    p.s bargaining with a 3 plus year old is a lot easier.

  2. Aubergine Kenobi7:47 AM

    Sorry, I have no useful suggestions, specially since she has no problems at daycare. But commiserate with you I will, my son C (27 months) is so not ready for the potty, and just got told by his caretakers that we should back down and wait a little bit longer. He will sit at the potty for all of 2 seconds and then get up saying "All done!". As you write, it's difficult to battle the impecable logic of "why change a system that works for me so good?" -Sigh!-

  3. Are the panties scratchy?

    Let her wear the underwear inside out so the seams don't chafe.

    Let her pick her own panties?

    Let her go panty-less under a dress?

  4. For the peeing/panty problem, I recommend nudity. Then the accident is much more evident and problematic, too. OR at least it was for my girl. Pee has not been her issue wrt to potty-training.

    You know, if I am responding to new blogs, I'm also sensitive to what I am posting. :)

  5. I think Paola is right, and it is a power thing, because, yeah- the day care teachers say she gives them absolutely no problem with wearing underwear, or going potty.

    My attempts at "let's pretend" having fallen flat. But getting silly worked this morning. She put her underwear on after I put another pair on her head. Yes, really. I wonder what I'll have to do tomorrow?

  6. Hi, Eva! Welcome. I did try the nudity approach once this weekend, telling her that she didn't have to put on her underwear, but that she couldn't have a pull up. But I chickened out and eventually resorted to forcing her underwear and pants on. She was sitting on our sofa, and I was afraid of a major accident.

    I need to get over that, I think.

    @Aubergine Kenobi- we went through a phase of utter disinterest in the potty, too. It was only relatively recently that she started sitting on the potty again. I bought her the book "Once Upon a Potty" for Christmas, which may have helped.

    @badmomgoodmom- I might try the inside out trick. I don't think they are scratchy, but she might think wearing them inside out is silly, and therefore be willing to do it....

  7. It worked for us to ask DS to try to keep McQueen (he had Cars underwear). Periodically throughout the day, we ask him if McQueen was still dry, and if yes (which was always), we did a little cheer and maybe a jelly bean. It helped us to move the focus from peeing in the potty, to staying nice and dry.

    Also, DS was still in a crib (wearing a diaper overnight) and was not allowed out without underwear on. The motivation of getting out of the crib worked for him to.

  8. Have you read "Diaper Free Before 3" by Jill M. Lekovic, MD? I know you don't have loads of time on your hands right now, but it's a very quick read, and highly recommended, especially the chapter on "The Myth of Readiness."

    I'm with @Paola - this is all about POWER, and (I hear) kids may get a bit easier to reason with at 3+. But you made a wise choice to start now- the sooner the better IMHO.

    Bear in mind that potty training is a process, and there will likely be some perceived setbacks and some great leaps, too. It doesn't need to be linear, or an either/or proposition - it can be both/and. She can spend some time each day in cotton underpants or going bare-bottomed, and she can sit on her little potty next to you on your toilet while you enjoy a favorite book that maybe you only read together while using the potty. Look at mom's & dad's cool underpants! Watch how they go potty. How fun it is to pour the contents of the potty chair into the big toilet and flush it! The nifty soaps they have these days for washing our hands after we go potty smell so nice...

    As for the value proposition, are diapers truly working well for any 2.5 year old? Sitting in one's own stinking excrement, even for a short time, is far more uncomfortable and rash-promoting than using the toilet. Also, underwear is just so cute these days, and the colors & characters on them are a whole lot more fun & expressive than diapers. Those of us who wear underpants and can go potty ourselves really are part of a club where we have the freedom and independence to do so very many cool things.

  9. We have just stepped up our potty training too (and I'm about to post on it)! Besides her starting to come out of the recent regression and seeming ready, our big catalyst was that her school wants her to start wearing underwear instead of pullups. We've known that she uses the potty regularly at school, though not at home. But now they want her in underpants, so I made a big deal of it and told her that she had to practice wearing them at home. I've got more, but I am going to post about it this week.

    @hush - When we would ask my daughter, "Don't you want a nice, clean diaper?" She would respond, "No! I want my pee pee in my diaper!" There is no reasoning with her at this age. :-)


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