potty ambivalence? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 3 Old 01-22-2015, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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potty ambivalence?

I am trying to gently teach my oldest son (3) to learn to use the potty, but I'm afraid I've made potty-using a loaded issue.

He was doing really well with "underwear time" and still likes to do it, but he seems to have developed an aversion to actually sitting on the potty. He doesn't want to have any potty breaks (will deny having to go) and will pinch his penis and run around like a madman wailing before he breaks down sobbing and I sit him on the pot. He doesn't want to be in diapers, even if I suggest it. He actually tantrumed the other day, yelling that if I put a diaper on him, he would "rip it off and throw it in the garbage!"

That is, until today! He had held his bm for almost 48 hours, then begged for a diaper, which I supplied, then he told me he wanted to be in diapers for "a long long time" and didn't want to go to school (preschool, which he has been looking forward to starting).

I feel like I'm torturing him when we do underwear time and he holds it all in. It's really hard to communicate with him about what he fears about the potty or why he holds it all in (he was wailing today, "It's not fair to pee!" while he trotted around unhappily).

I don't want to force him to do underwear time all the time, but I don't want to put him back in diapers full-time and make him feel like he is set back. He associates underwear with being a big boy and I think he doesn't want to lose that.

How do I make this more enjoyable for him, or at least less painful? Maybe underwear time until he requests a diaper? I don't know.
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#2 of 3 Old 01-22-2015, 11:38 PM
 
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I have a few suggestions, hopefully something will be helpful.

- instead of "underwear time" try letting him be naked when you're home. Maybe that will be different enough to bypass whatever is upsetting him in the undies vs diapers situation. Alternatively, or for when you're out, try using training undies for him. That way it's less of a mess when he does have an accident, but it looks and feels like underwear. We like the training unders from Hanna Andersson.

- make visiting the bathroom part of your regular routine. Rather than waiting until he announces a need to go (or runs around crying), just take him at regular times. Transition times are great for this, then you aren't interrupting his play. For instance we take DS to the potty before & after naps, meals and outings in addition to checking in with him often about his potty needs. Try going potty together, if you're open to that.

- make potty time fun! Read books, sing songs, play "this little piggy", or whatever works for you to keep it relaxed and lighthearted. We keep a basket of books next to my son's little potty for this purpose. We also sing a potty song when it's time to go, or have a race to the bathroom. While you're in there you can talk about why we use the potty and how much better it feels after your bladder is empty. It's possible that he doesn't quite connect the discomfort of needing to go, with the act of using the potty.

- don't stress about the accidents. If you get upset about cleaning up the mess, even if you don't say anything to your son about it, he could be internalizing those negative feelings. If you are scolding or punishing him for accidents, please stop. It won't help and it really can hurt.

- try different potties. Not every potty, or toilet insert, works for every kid. It may be uncomfortable for him to sit on and he may not be able to articulate that. We like the little potties and toilet insert from Baby Bjorn, but we have an ikea potty that works well too.

- rule out health problems. I would make sure that he's not presenting symptoms of a UTI or other health related issue. My DD wasn't potty trained until 4 and still has accidents at 10, she used to howl in terror while pooping on the potty or wet herself without noticing. I found out just a couple years ago that she has some sensory processing issues that made potty learning very difficult for her.

- let it be his choice whether he is in a diaper, but don't make a big deal about it and take him to the potty periodically either way. For instance, maybe after nap you visit the potty together and then you ask which he wants to wear for play time (or lunch or whatever) diaper or undies. Put the requested article on him and then take him to visit the potty again after a while, after he's finished his play or his food.

Honestly, if he's that upset about it I would be concerned that there's something more going on than just potty reluctance. My instinct would be to totally back off on any "training" and just help him feel better about his natural body processes. I hope one or more of these ideas is helpful for you.

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#3 of 3 Old 02-04-2015, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just as an update for anyone who is curious . . .

It turned out that the poor guy was worried it would hurt when he peed because of a rash he had a few days prior after going to the swimming pool. I had to just endure and stay close through the crisis before peeing, then say "See, it's not hurting when you pee. Isn't that great!" A few times and it stuck so I could remind him when he looked like he might need to go that it wouldn't hurt.

I also followed the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on potty training resistance. I backed off a lot and stopped reminding or manipulating him into taking scheduled pottty breaks. I would just say, very infrequently "It's your body so you get to decide when to go potty. If you want me to come with you, you can tell me." This worked.

I also set a limit with the pooping ordeal and I told him that he could choose to poop in the potty or a diaper and he could again, let me know when he needed to poop because it is his body. I reminded him that he could pee in the potty but still poop in a diaper, and that he didn't need to figure it all out right now, that preschool was still going to happen and we didn't need to hurry up and learn to poop on the potty.

This has helped so much, so I have to just write it again: "It's your body, so you can decide." This is what I believed all along, but I think in my effort to "help" him self-manage (by instituting potty breaks), I undermined him and he felt bossed around or like he couldn't do it himself, which he totally can. He still gets upset about peeing accidents and I just hug him and say "Every kid learning to use the potty has accidents. Let's get you in some new undies and pants."
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