I’d forgotten, or maybe I just blocked out, the potty training years. As I watch my daughters muddle through this stage I am sure I blocked it out. There is no manual for potty training a child. You are on your own. Each child is different; therefore unique approaches are in order. Often it will become a battle of the wills. The parent wants it. The kid has no intention of doing it. Battle lines are drawn. Don’t despair! There are some options:
#1 Bribery is the most popular. A fancy “Potty Box” filled with presents will work for some children. It may not be as effective on spirited children. Three year-olds will lie to get presents. You will argue with them about what is actually in the potty. They will tell you with big truthful eyes, “I peed.” The potty is dry. You will drive yourself crazy wishing and hoping and thinking and praying that there is actually a drop of pee in there. Maybe it evaporated. The three year old will agree and then run to the potty box for a reward.
#2 (Ha-ha no pun intended) When they are turning bright red and grunting like a baby bull, they are not pooping. Stop asking. You smell nothing. They will walk around completely innocent. They will even go to the bathroom and pretend it happened on the potty, but somehow the poop got into their diaper. Again, the eyes will be bright and truthful. When you ask, “Are you sure you went on the potty?” they will challenge you. With eyebrows scrunched and a frown, “Yes! I went on the potty.” Tears may fill their eyes. Do not fall for this. (Remember this expression on their face. You will see it again in the teen years.)
When you ask, “How did it get back into your diaper?” They will say, “I don’t know. It just snuck in there when I wasn’t looking.” You can challenge that one all night long. They will stick to their story. It’s a mystery. There are no answers. One minute the poop was in the potty, next minute it was in their diaper. Naturally, the next question is “Now can I have a prize from the Potty Box?”
#3 Fun underpants really don’t make much difference if they aren’t ready. They’ll say things like:
“You wear them. I’m not going on the potty.” Do not spend too much time or money picking out super cute underwear yet.
“The little pony on the panties bites my hiney.” They’ll try to convince you the horse has real teeth. Be strong! Do not to look at those big eyes and quivering lip.
“I don’t like the princess. She has ugly pink hair and she’s mean. She smacks me with her magic wand. Take them back to the store.” They will actually look panicked when they tell you this. At which time they will begin grunting like that damn little bull. All that stress has brought on a poop attack. Nice job, Mommy!
#4 In a last desperate effort, some parents hope that a full, wet diaper will make them feel so disgusting, they will want to rip that diaper off and never see it again. It has to be uncomfortable. Hah! Silly parents! They know this is a ploy. They will walk around with their diaper full. I mean FULL. They look like lightning bugs with that big sack hanging, almost reaching their knees. They will do their best to ignore this so you don’t start that potty talk again. They will promise you that tomorrow will be the day. Tomorrow the diapers are going away. No more stinky, soggy old diapers. Your heart swells with relief. Don’t get too excited. They don’t mean it. They’re just testing you.
#5 At this point, it’s best to hide the potty chair. Put it in a closet. Cover it up so it’s completely out of sight. The very next day the child will go search for it and decide that it’s time to put his/her little bumm on the potty. They may decide the best place for a pooping station is right there in that closet. The battle is over. They think they’ve won. You’ve lost. They are in control. This is why three year-olds dance so much. They are joyful to be in charge!
Wouldn’t you be joyful if you knew you were in control? Now go buy yourself a pair of big girl, pony panties, an anti-anxiety pill and shake your booty. Some one just pooped behind your sofa.