Friday, June 17, 2005

It's Potty Time!

by Anne Zelenka
My youngest has been accepted into preschool after a grueling interview where she had to move some wooden blocks around then carry them back to their shelf.

Yay! On October 16th, 2005, all my children will be in school! This is a milestone I have been dreaming of for years. I want my kids out of the house as soon as institutionally possible.

The catch: two-year-old Laura must be potty-trained. So next Monday we begin. She's already started taking her diaper off at random intervals and sitting on her Blue's Clues tiny toilet seat that fits on top of the big toilet. On Monday she'll be wearing training pants and making little puddles all around the house. The rental house. Now there's a benefit to being out of the housing market.

By "training pants" I don't mean Pull-Ups or other Huggies/Pampers/Safeway generic imposter. Pull-Ups don't keep the wetness right against the skin. The training pants I have are thick cotton with a liner in the middle. They keep the pee-pee right where it needs to be. Sort of. A lot of it comes out onto the floor. It's a real mess, but it's the fastest way I know to jumpstart toilet training.

For more delightful potty training reading, here are Julia and Suzanne. They have boys, and in my vast experience of training one boy and one girl to go to the potty, boys resist it more. I hate it when moms of one boy and one girl use their experience to pronounce on gender differences: "boys and girls really are different! My Dakota is so verbal and docile while Texas runs all over the place making everything into guns!" So don't take my word for it. I'm sure there are plenty of boys out there who potty-trained at two without requiring a $50 Thomas the Tank Engine roundhouse to do so. I'm sure there are girls who at age five were still rushing home from preschool to put on a Pull-Up and have their daily bowel movement. I've never heard of them though.

In two weeks I'll probably be singing a different tune, like "get me a Costco-sized bag of M&Ms and a Summertime Barbie, stat!" After authentic training pants, what's the key to potty training? In a word: bribes.

[Edited 6/19 to remove my reference to Marjorie's decision to homeschool.]

8 Comments:

Blogger Suzanne said...

If only my son were susceptible to bribery! Good luck with your daughter -- she'll probably be diaper free before Sean is.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I don't think that the characterization that I want my children home until they are 18 is necessarily accurate of my current plan to homeschool kindergarten. Also, it doesn't mean I don't understand a parent who chooses to send their kids to preschool and beyond. It can be hurtful to be told what one does and does not understand.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

Marjorie, I was trying to be funny by characterizing our positions in an extreme manner. I also wanted to frame my post for readers by indicating that you disagree with my approach to schooling. I should have done it in a more thoughtful manner.

I can see how it was hurtful. I apologize. - Anne

10:56 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Thanks, Anne. I was being overly sensitive because I felt misunderstood. This placed a big barrier on my sense of humor :-)

I admit that the first reason I delayed sending my eldest to preschool was because I didn't want to feel pressured to potty train. She never did go to preschool and she potty-trained late (at 3 yrs 2 mos). Its looking like my younger dd will also be a late trainer as she is 2 ys. 9 mos and not showing any progress.

I take a hands-off approach to potty-training so I don't have any tips for making the deadline. Though I can't help but think if they admitted her, you'll be able to work out some sort of understanding even if she isn't fully trained when school starts.

11:59 AM  
Blogger dgm said...

anne, do you think there are no innate differences in the cognitive and physical development of boys and girls, generally speaking (by which i mean, a few boys may exhibit traits generally attributed to girls' development and vice versa)? or do you think it is all "nurture"? there've been some fascinating studies recently on the brain differences (not size, but structure and strengths in certain parts of the brains of babies in utero and newborns) which suggest, for example, that females process memories differently.

on a slightly different topic (and more related to the substance of your post), i'm one of the they'll-do-it-on-their-own-time people. i believe in closely watching the cues that show readiness to training, and in setting them up to progress. however, i think once they sense you want them to do something they ultimately have the sole power to control (like eating or sleeping), they have a new opportunity to exercise their power and they won't go down without a fight. some kids, of course, are much easier than others.

for my husband and i, diapers have never been the most burdensome part of parenting a baby/toddler, anyway, so we don't feel like we're in a rush with our 2 y.o.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

Suzanne - bribery doesn't seem to work as well as it should. M&Ms were not powerful enough for Henry so we resorted to train engines and the aforementioned roundhouse. It eventually worked but perhaps Henry would have gotten there on the same time frame or faster without the pressure.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

Donna - I'm not familiar with the research you mention, but that sounds very interesting.

I'm no expert, but I think that while there probably are innate differences in behavior and learning styles between boys and girls, those differences don't always line up with our stereotypes and there is considerable overlap. I think it's a mistake to judge population-wide differences on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Also, we start treating boys and girls differently from the moment we know what sex organs they have, so it's difficult to tease out what's nature and what's nurture.

The do-it-on-your-own-time approach is appealing to me too. Still, I wonder what's going on when my mom tells me that my older sister was potty-trained at 18 months and I hear that Indian kids are out of diapers by age two (not sure where I got that, it's just sticking in my mind... maybe someone's blog post). I think it's probably related to our advanced diaper technology that keeps wetness away from the skin so a kid hardly needs to know what's going on with her body.

10:36 AM  
Blogger dgm said...

i think you are right about advanced diaper technology. my mom claims we were all potty trained early. i suspect she had a great incentive to stop washing cloth diapers with three kids 15 months apart! my daughter had no problem staying wet and in a soiled diaper; my 2 y.o. hates it and asks us to change him every time.

as for the nature/nurture debate, i think you are right that it is hard to tease out the source of differences, and certainly stereotypical differences do not hold for all children for all ages (that's why they are merely stereotypes and not descriptive of everyone). at the same time, i've been surprised at how frequently the behavior of my kids as babies as well as that of other babies around us, line up by type. not exactly, but near 'bout. i'm not sure how much nurture, for example, plays into the fact that statistically, girls develop language earlier than boys (again, not all girls, not all boys).

scientific american had a fascinating study a few months back on cognitive differences, some traced all the way back to in utero. and i think andrew sullivan recently linked to a similar study.

5:03 PM  

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