Boys are notoriously harder to potty train than girls but no matter what their gender, as a parent this is a very frustrating phase to endure. My three year old son just recently started to use the potty without having to be forced into it. His father and I were convinced that he was destined to be wearing diapers until he was a teenager! Everything always seems worse than it really is, don’t you think?
My daughter practically potty trained herself and was completely out of diapers by her second birthday. My oldest son held out until his third birthday before being completely potty trained. My third child, at almost 3 1/2 years old, wanted nothing to do with the potty and told us outright that he wanted to wear his diapers.
First we tried the reward strategy. We told him that every time he went pee on the potty he could have a jelly bean. Now, mind you, this was after all introduction to the potty was done and over with. We bought the little potty just for him and let him get used to it being in the bathroom. Then we encouraged him sit on it with his clothes on so he could see it wasn’t going to bite him or suck him into it and swallow him whole. Then we explained that when he needed to go pee he could use his potty instead of going in his diaper.
He started off by telling us he had to pee immediately after he already wet in his diaper. Then, of course, when he sat down to go he didn’t have to. Did he still ask for the jelly bean? You betcha! But we didn’t give in with the reward until he actually made pee in the potty. He got wise to the reward and started to go pee every fifteen minutes, just a dribble, to get the jelly beans. It wasn’t long before he was not interested in the jelly beans and went back to peeing in the diapers.
Second, I had the bright idea that if he felt wet he wouldn’t like it and he would start using the potty on his own. Off to the store I went to buy his first set of padded training underwear. I figured after two or three times of pee dribbling down his legs, into his socks and having saturated underpants and shorts he would see that our pee-on-the-potty-way was a much better alternative. After cleaning up one too many puddles on the carpet I decided that his I-want-to-wear-my-diaper-way was a much better alternative.
Third, I started setting the timer on the stove for every 45 minutes. By this time his dad had aborted this potty training mission and I was on my own. When the timer went off I would march him to the bathroom and plop him down on his potty. Sometimes he went, most times he already went in his diaper and too many times he threw such a fit that I forgot what was supposed to be so great about the potty. Ugh!
Meanwhile I thought longingly of those underpants, clean and neatly stacked in his dresser, as I forked over another $20 for a box of diapers, promising myself this would be the last time I would need to shop for diapers. Having to spend $20 on what I now thought was a complete waste of money gave me a renewed sense of urgency to get this potty training thing in the past.
My son however, had more important things on his mind. Like, “Where can I go to hide and poop my pants so mommy and daddy won’t find me until I’m done?”, and “Why should I pee in the potty when it takes less time to just go in my diaper and I don’t have to stop playing with my toys?”.
Then I started giving him a time out on his bed when he went pee in his pants. This served as a three minute energy recharge and didn’t bother him a bit. I begged, pleaded and even baked a cake, lit candles and sang a potty song to celebrate when he went poop on the potty, probably by accident, for the first time ever. Oh boy this is it, I thought, no more diapers!
The next day it was business as usual. He found some privacy in a nice quiet corner and pooped in his pull up…again. I had to admit defeat and joined his father in abandoning this potty training mission. How big do they make diapers anyway I wondered?
About two weeks later he went into the bathroom all by himself, peed and pooped on the potty, then came out and told his dad so he could take care of the cleanup. That was about 5 days ago and he hasn’t had an accident since then.
Just like so many things in life, when you let go of the problem it takes care of itself, let go and let God as they say. All my strategies had no effect on when he decided to use the potty and only caused more stress for me. I’m not saying that kids will potty train themselves. They need to be taught the basics and encouraged to use the potty, but in the end, they will go when they are ready not when you are.