Posted by: mindyourknitting | March 24, 2011

Oh, poop

While I ruminate on a much longer post, I wanted to dash off a quick one in an attempt to start posting more often.  Unfortunately for you, the topic that is occupying most of my brain space lately is poop.  Specifically, potty training and how much it sucks for me (but probably more so for Abigail).  We attempted this when Abigail had barely turned two, and quickly realized that she was miles away from being ready for it.  We left the potties (argh, I hate that word – mini-toilet?) hanging around, but a while ago I put everything potty-related away and asked people (specifically, family members) to stop talking to Abigail about it, with the idea that we would take the pressure completely off her for a while then make a fresh start when the time seemed right.

Erik had a few days off last week, so we pulled the potties out of storage and started potty-training in earnest a week ago last Saturday.  We’ve got a potty in every bathroom and one in the basement rec room in front of the TV, and Abigail has been spending a LOT of time with her little butt parked on them. We’ve been rewarding her with stickers for pee, and stickers plus chocolate for poop (how’s THAT for symbolism?).  We’ve tried to make it a positive, “big girl” experience so that she would be excited about it, which worked initially but is now clearly irritating her.  She’s “performed” at other people’s houses as well as ours, and has produced …emissions… of both types in the potty – I understand both of these things (going to the bathroom at someone else’s house and pooping in the toilet) are significant challenges for some kids while toilet training, so I take them to be good signs that perhaps she is ready. 

Abigail is super-excited about her little undies (the My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake graphics help), but less so about the sheer amount of time she’s spent parked in the bathroom.  We read to her, and she can watch TV on one of them, but she now has to be talked into it most of the time.  I don’t quite understand her reluctance, since if I could hide in the bathroom for several hours a day I probably would.  Unfortunately Erik put an end to that when he taught her how to open a door.  Anyway, she’s had good days and bad days, and I’ve been doing a fair amount of laundry.  For those of you in a rush to potty-train your kid, cleaning poop out of underwear is not the same as changing a diaper (it’s waaaay more gross), that’s all I’m saying.  I’m not entirely sure we’re making much progress, but she does have ‘dry days’ when we’re at home, so we’ll see, but we haven’t mastered the art of her telling us before she needs to go, so we are trying to pre-empt accidents by putting her on the potty after meals, upon waking, etc.  I have no idea if this is in fact “training” her or not. 

I recently read something by a psychotherapist, Alyson Schafer, in this book (don’t judge me, I never thought I’d be someone to read parenting books by psychotherapists, but sometimes the tantrums and demands require someone else to provide me with a sober second thought about how we are dealing with them and that her behaviour is totally normal…).  I don’t totally agree with everything Shafer says or advocates, but she equated potty-training with developmental milestones like walking and talking, and I thought it was a brilliant point to make, and one that should be obvious but isn’t really.  There are scads of books on potty-training, but probably none on “training” your children to walk, so perhaps we are wrong-headed in thinking we can “train” our kids to go on the toilet at our urging and that there is such a thing as “success” or “failure” while potty training.  It just happens when the kid is ready, and if it’s not working they are not ready.  Certainly guidance and instruction are required, but if the kid isn’t ready it probably just prolongs the amount of time it takes for the kid to be “trained.”  All this to say we’re working on it, but like everything I do the first time, I have no real clue about whether we’re doing it effectively or not.  Time will tell.  Suggestions accepted in the comments.  It’s amazing how your life gets narrowed down to the most basic functions (theirs) when looking after small children, especially when on maternity leave.  I have to go now, nature calls.

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