DS was potty trained in July. He's really awesome- I can count on one hand the number of accidents he's had since that first week. He was never punished or shamed for an accident. We just clean things up matter-of-fact and have some loves and go on with our day.
I know that I can't make him pee. So our rule is that he has to "sit gentle" on the potty when mommy or daddy says it's time to go. He won't volunteer himself to go potty, ever, so we just send him along every couple of hours. Most of the time he happily goes whenever we say its time. We also tie it in with events "First we go pee, then we can XXX" and its worked out well.
But.... every two weeks or so, he freaks out about going potty. Just refuses to go. Screams NO NO NO. Tantrums. The whole bit. I'm 99.9% sure that there's no medical condition behind it- he's just asserting his will.
Today was one of those days. We were running errands and had picked up from lunch and it had been a couple of hours, so I told him we were going to go potty, then have lunch. He sat without an issue, but very briefly and was protesting the whole time. So I asked him if he wanted to wait until after lunch to go pee, and he said yes. Fine, no problem, very typical.
So lunch comes and goes, and I had turned on a Thomas video, so it was probably over an hour later when I remembered and said, "Ok, time to go potty!"
And HOLY HELL. Total meltdown. Went into the bathroom willingly, but pitched an absolute fit and refused to pull down his pants, refused to sit on the potty, refused to stand. Defcon 5 nuclear meltdown.
The thing is, by this time it had probably been close to four hours since he'd gone pee. We were coming up on naptime. He had to go now. So I drew a line in the sand, and there we were. I stood in the doorway of the bathroom, refusing to let him leave. And he stood there and had a tantrum. Whenever he asked for anything, my answer was "Sure! Just as soon as you sit gentle on the potty." Occasionally I would crouch down and ask him "What do you need to be able to sit on the potty." And when he asked for his blanket, or his robot, I would say, "Sure! Yu sit on the potty and I will go get your (whatever) for you." And that would start the next round of crying and NO NO NO NO NO.
We were there for 45 minutes before he finally sat on the potty. Little booger still didn't actually pee, but at least he sat.
So here's my question for you fine mamas: On the one hand, I figure that because I signed up for this power struggle, there was NO WAY that I could lose. I had to wait him out and out-stubborn him. If I had given in, that would have taught DS a horrible lesson about what kinds of behaviors get him the results he's looking for.
OTOH, it sure didn't feel very gentle. I mean, sure, I didn't hit, I didn't yell, I didn't shame him. When it was over I rocked him before nap and cuddled and acknowledged how rotten we both felt and told him how proud I was for sitting on the potty. But for those 45 minutes we stood in the bathroom- UGH. Most of the time he kept crying and asking in a pathetic tone, "Mama, carry me!" And I just kept repeating, "Sit gentle on the potty and I will carry you." A lot of times I didn't look at him or interact- I just looked out the window over his head. I even had to turn my back to him at one point because I was getting so frustrated. It felt very cold.
I also kept thinking of that saying "A child needs the most love when they are acting the most unlovable." And time-ins, rather than time-outs. But I didn't want to reward his negative behavior, you know??
What do you mamas think? I'm not really looking for ways I could have avoided the power struggle altogether.... I'm more looking for feedback about how I should have / could have acted once I was in it. What is the GD way out????
Thanks for reading my novel (and for being gentle with me, if possible.) I really do have good intentions and just want to be a good mom.
Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.
I guess the only thing to do once you are in the power struggle and feeling that cold icky feeling is to decide what is really the most important thing right now. In that scenario, you could decide that the rhythm of him "sitting gentle" on the potty when you say so is the most important thing, and stick it out the way you did, OR you could decide that keeping drama out of the potty is the most important thing and you could just give up. Ultimately, he will pee, and holding it for long hours won't really be a health issue if it's just occasional as you describe. As far as not wanting to "reward negative behavior" I think I would just reframe it - he was acting out his new found independence and bodily control, not acting negatively. Throwing the potty full of pee around - that'd be something you don't want to reward. But, successfully potty training and then exerting the control that you've actually put in his hands through that process - normal 3 year old stuff.
Full disclosure - we did elimination communication, so I'm firmly in the camp of those who take the position that toilet struggles are almost never worth it, and a child who owns their body (even when it's inconvenient for me) has a healthy start in their relationship with themselves. He sounds like a super kid, and strong willed too. I like that.
Mom of one child (2008), wife of one husband, tender of dogs, cats and chickens. Household interests: ocean life (kid), bitcoins (husband), simplifying (me).
I'd say...there are two things that stand out for me...
It was almost naptime. He'd had lunch, watched a Thomas, was probably worn out.
And...he's only barely 3. He's probably still not sure when he has to pee at all, and having you tell him all the time might be a bit of a challenge. Maybe you just ask him does he want diapers back, see if he is really upset by accidents, etc. It's messy, but two or three days of no "reminders" from Mommy might make the problem go away. (Of course, it might not, but if he's got no internal alarm yet, then he's not so much potty-trained as he is being reminded by his parents).
Adding his age to this struggle makes it triply difficult. Everyone talks about the "terrible twos" but for me, 3 was *tough.* Good luck, Mama.
Bookworm Mama to 6 wonderkids and stepmama to one more: 21, 20, 18, 12, 9, 7 and our Z born 4/13. . Partner to my
DD just turned three and has been totally potty-trained for awhile. However, she's STILL sometimes very resistant to suggestions that she use the potty right before bedtime. Which is usually when I realize that it's been like five hours since she last sat on the potty.
We have almost the same situation. "Just sit on the potty," I say, "and then we'll go to bed." Of course, she's screaming "No, I won't sit on the potty. I want to go to bed right now. I don't need to go to the potty."
For me, it's not worth the fight. I cannot MAKE DD pee in the potty. I thought about what we've been trying to teach DD about listening to her body, how great she's been with pottying (like your own little one), and I just had to shrug my shoulders. If I want DD to learn to pay attention to her body and what her body needs, I guess I have to let go of that control a little bit. Do I think it's an awesome idea for DD to go 13 hours without peeing? Not really. Do I think there's a chance she'll have an accident if she does this often? Yep. I guess, for me, I realized that what I was getting (potentially, maybe, some pee in the potty after 30 minutes of screaming) wasn't really worth what I was giving up (peace & harmony, DD's control over her body, DD's ability to know and communicate when she needs to potty, etc). Maybe that balance breaks down a bit differently for you. Who knows. But maybe that's the question to ask.
I thought Spruce's points were good. We ONLY have these breakdowns with DD when she's exhausted--it's like a switch flips for her when she's tired, and she becomes absolutely resistant to suggestion. So part of my decision has been to be a little bit more attentive to where we are in the evening and get the potty suggestion in while she's still pliable. :p
I just want to say that, he may not actually need to go as often as you think. I think you said at one point he finally sat on the potty but didn't pee. When ds was first potty trained, he wouldn't go when I asked him to and so I just left it (I had a newborn at the time and didn't have the energy or patience for anything else). Well, I figured, he'll either have a few accidents, that will help him realise that when mummy reminds him to go it's to avoid accidents or that he'd realise himself he needed to go. So he'd go for HOURS without using the potty (and still does actually). If you're concerned about naps put a diaper on him at naptime. He might want to take control of this himself. My ds totally took the lead with his toilet training - he told me when he wanted to stop wearing diapers at night, and he started using the toilet before I told him to. Maybe try taking a bit of a backseat, remind him but don't force him. You'll feel a lot calmer and what's the worst that can happen? Cleaning up pee is all in a day's work!
Oh and BTW! I know what you mean about feeling you don't want to back down in a power struggle and give the wrong message but I don't think one incident is going to affect a child so much especially if you talk your way through it. 'Oh you really don't need to go now, I thought you did, well don't forget to tell me when you do'. I think that would also have reinforced a more positive message about admitting you'd made a mistake and being willing to back down and to see the other's viewpoint
Thanks for all of your feedback, mamas. It's a lot to think about. DS's been off his game for about a week now- he's had a few more potty struggles (although nothing as bad as that first day) and more accidents both here and at school in the past week than in the past three months. Plus he's been tantruming about other things as well- throwing toys and not picking them up, ignoring simple instructions, getting into things (empty food packages) and making messes when he's never done it before AND after I tell him no. etc. I've heard NO from him more this week than I've heard his whole life, it seems.
Something else is going on, though. He was sent home from school last Wed for a rash on his face that the dr says is just an irritation, but its spreading. Then he was sent home Thursday because he had a poop blowout as soon as he got to school. They called it diarrea, but I think it was just a lot of poop that had gotten built up and smooshed around. Sorry for being gross. DH stayed home with him on Friday because we knew something was not right.
Then Saturday is when the power struggles started, and today he developed a horrible cough. His voice is so rough! Tonight he started a fever.
So, basically, the entire past week has pretty much been a disaster on every front. DS has seen the doctor twice, and she's not worried. "Something is just going around." UGH.
Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.
He sounds a lot like my daughter!! We have the potty struggles every few days, along with the other tantrums. I definitely agree with the others that being tired affects things. Stress will also do it - after she's been to her dad's on the weekend, and all off her schedule, the first few days back are a non-stop struggle.
I take the potty struggle on a case-by-case basis. I don't push it too much during the day, and she still wears pull-ups for nap. I do try to encourage her to at least sit on the potty, but it's not worth a knock down drag out. I do insist that she goes before bed though, especially considering it's usually been several hours of holding it by that point. I try to stay as gentle as possible, but I look at it like this - we all have to do things in life that we don't want to do. I don't want to be harsh with her, but going potty is part of the bedtime routine, just like brushing her teeth and putting on her PJ's. Sometimes, she just has to listen to Mommy. She knows I will stand my ground, so the "power struggle" usually takes less than 10 min now. Then she gets lots of praise and high fives, and we continue with the rest of the routine like nothing major happened.
Single Mama to Miss Priss (3 y/o)