Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Potty Training - A 7 Month Saga Ends in Success

I hesitated to even write a post about potty training because we really had a difficult time with it in our house. Marino is extremely stubborn when he's passionate about something. Giving up the bottle, sleeping through the night and in his own bed, pooping on the potty - these things were all a CHALLENGE to say the least.

We started potty training when Marino turned 3 in August. Peeing was fairly easy. He likes standing up to pee and he never really objected to our suggestions to go. Going on his own, that was more of a challenge. In his defense, we had a lot going on in the first few months - his brother was here for a couple weeks, he changed preschools twice - these are big things in a 3 year old's life and daily routine. We didn't really push him too hard early on.

Once he started attending his current preschool, one of his teachers (mom of a 4 year old) figured out the only way he would remember to go pee on the potty was to have him go without diapers AND underwear during the day. However, Marino's school is VERY Montessori, and as such, they don't like to push the kids to do things they object to. This meant the PM care teachers weren't willing (initially) to leave him without diapers, so he would just pee in his diapers during the afternoon (as well as in the potty, when he was asked). We realized that, if given the option, he was always going to choose to pee in a diaper. And by December, we still hadn't had any success getting him to poop in the potty. On the weekends, we would leave off his diaper/pull-ups all day until overnight. And, of course, he would wait until then to poop.

I learned fairly quickly that rewards were not going to work with him. He would use the potty, claim his reward, and go right back to peeing his pants. He also would manipulate his time on the potty to avoid going to bed, get extra attention, etc. I can't tell you how many hours Evan and I spent in the bathroom with him...he would insist he needed to go but 45 minutes would go by and he would just be playing around sitting on the potty. Anytime he actually needed to go (and this is true even now that he's fully potty trained), he would immediately use the potty. If he asks me to read him a story on the potty now, I know he's just trying to avoid going to bed.

In late December, we decided to forgo diapers and pull-ups all together, even for naps and overnight. We had 2 weeks without preschool around Christmas, so even though we were traveling, we wanted to put the extra time into potty training. He was still resistant to pooping in the potty. He would hold it to the point of being in pain - he'd be jumping up down and making these horrible faces. Clearly, he was uncomfortable. When we did get him to sit on the potty, he would panic and cry until this hard, bloody mess came out. He was holding it up to 7 days at a time - this is a kid who was previously going twice a day.

Peeing was fairly simple. We got some waterproof pads for his bed, to avoid a mess, but within 2 nights, he stopped having accidents, except for very occassionally. As I mentioned, he has never wanted to pee sitting down, so luckily we didn't have to teach him to stand.

The first thing we did was use suppositories to clean him out. You know your kid is in pain when they are thankful for the suppository. Next, we started giving him Benefiber tablets. It took a few days for these to kick in, but when they did, he quickly figured out there was no more holding it. We both learned that the hard way, but it didn't take long for him to start requesting the potty. After a couple of painless potty trips (with him telling us, in a surprised voice "It doesn't hurt!"), the whole seven month ordeal was over. We stopped the Benefiber and he's not had a poop accident since he's been potty trained (end of January). Pee accidents happen on occassion (once a week, maybe), usually overnight. But he's at the point where he goes completely on his own, however, flushing, hand washing and wiping require some reminders from us.

Honestly, I had moments where it seemed completely impossible, but now it's easy to forget that it was ever a struggle, since it seems like second nature. For anyone currently dealing with this frustration, don't give up! Once you know your child is ready, be consistent and stand your ground. Whether our kids like it or not, using the potty is a necessity for adulthood.


  1. We're in month 8 of potty training and boy am I worn out. I'm starting to wonder if J is even ready and we're just stressing ourselves out for nothing. But J sounds a lot like Marino so it may be time to try something new as you did.

  2. G - even our doctor was telling us not to push the issue, but given our experience with Marino and other unpleasant changes (giving up the bottle, etc), we knew he wasn't going to make this change easily. I knew he was ready, but he just didn't want to do it. Today, its all a non-issue. Don't give up!