Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mollie writes:

The Zen of the Potty

This really won’t be a “How To” piece, since there really is no way one person can teach another person to potty, either numbers one nor two.  All a parent can really do is sit back and enjoy the process.  Note that the Molly here has only potty trained little boys.  Millie might have all sorts of observations about little girls.

Number One

We decided that Peter was ready to “do it like his daddy” when he’d follow John into the bathroom and watch him do it.  At some point, when the daddy has to go, all around it’s a good idea to take the little one along with you and see if they can “go” on their own.  Mostly, Peter would stand by the toilet, dangle his little self and wonder at the magic of it all.  But at some point he figured out what his dad was doing and imitated it.  Once he had that down, it was imperative that he have his own BVDs; plain like his daddy.  

When Roger started expressing interest in the toilet, John and Peter had no problem introducing him to the whole process.  We have a darling picture of Peter and Roger taking a whiz at the same time, looking all proud and grown up.  Roger is a much more styling kind of guy, so it was Batman BVDs.  But first came the expressed interest on the part of the child, the expressed interest of the anatomically same parent, and a mother who just thought it was all so cute.

We had no flushing issues with urine.  They liked the flushing - must have been the engineer in both of them.

This was a tough chore for a mommy of boys since I didn’t have the same tools.  I wasn’t sure they wanted to “potty with their mommy” since mommy was anatomically deprived.  And I really wasn’t ready to explain the physiological differences between a man and a woman, I was (and still am) too much of a prude.

Number Two

With both boys, number two was easier once they had their BVDs.  When I had my poops in the morning, I’d sit them down on their chair and read them a book while I did my duty.  Once it was done, we’d wave “bye-bye” to my poop as it circled the drain.  I’d heard that some children reacted very negatively to flushing their poops and I wanted to let them know that I was comfortable flushing mine.  

Neither boy wanted to mess his “big boy” shorts, so they quickly associated the urge with the action.  In no time at all, we were waving “bye-bye” to their poops as well.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than soiling your tidy whities.   I honestly don’t remember any anger, etc. associated with potty-training.  Just a crestfallen face or two.

Dry Nights

Going through the night dry wasn’t difficult, either.  Once they were established poopers and pee’ers, we’d simply stop beverages after dinner (Note: if the child’s sick and needs fluids, that comes first).  Once they were waking with dry diapers in the morning, we started letting them sleep in their underwear only at night, just like their dad, no little boy jammies.  They really liked “sleeping like a man” and we have some really cute pictures of tired little guys in their shorties.  At some point, they opted back to jammies (especially the ones with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but there was a critical time when they wanted to be just like their daddy.

All in all, both boys were potty-trained between 2 1/2 and 3 years old.  They really didn’t express much interest in it until well after their second birthdays, and once they initiated the decision to join their daddy in manliness, it was a done deed.  

My only advice is to let the child potty with the same sex parent as often as possible.  Once they figure out the “specialness” of themselves, just encourage their personal pride and self esteem.  If a child isn’t showing interest in the potty, move on to something else.  Keep your pediatrician in the loop, but don’t pressure your kid.  They grow up fast enough as it is.

This process was made easier since I was a stay-at-home mom and could keep things consistent and positive.  It was also easier since we didn’t worry about dates, times and milestones.  Just make sure that the child who is modeling themselves after you physiologically has ample opportunity to see YOU do it, keep the flushing positive, and make sure they know that they are no different than you in the bathroom.  Accidents are to be expected, but when they get really experienced at it, they will do just fine.


  1. Unfortunately for my family, dry nights seem to be biologically delayed. My brother and sister were both still wetting until they were nearly teens! There's a hormone released that stops the kidneys from producing urine at night that is simply not released in a timely manner. My six year old daughter and four year old son are still in pull ups :(



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