Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ask not for whom the potty flushes...

If karma is a boomerang and reincarnation is fact...Then I must have done something awful to a toilet in a past life.

It never fails...the moment we get into a store one of my herd always has to use the bathroom. Usually on a day when it is 9 degrees outside, so that my kids are undoubtedly bundled up in enough outerwear to provide warmth to a small village. So into the restroom we go-all of us. Because the minute one has to go, they all have to. By the time everyone has finished, washed up and re-dressed, it is spring. They no longer need their outerwear, and I am stuck carrying it around the store.

I really can't complain. There was a time when I thought none of them would ever be potty trained. I had visions of myself following them to college or down the aisle carrying wipes and pull ups.

All of my children struggled with potty training. One of my boys however, had the hardest time. He was not fully potty trained until he was five and a half. It was at first a battle of epic proportions. I very much wanted him to do something that he had absolutely no interest in doing. To this day I still don't know whether it was a sensory issue, a control issue or a little of both for him. Regardless, he just did not get the point of pooping in the potty.

At first we tried everything and anything we could think of. Rewards, threats, books, candy, vacations, cash (I was desperate)...It got to a point that I would have done ANYTHING to get him to use the potty. Nothing worked. In fact, the more persistent I became-the more resistant he was. It became the single most important accomplishment to me-and that was the problem. I made this issue all about myself, totally disregarding my sons needs or wants. I needed to look at this from my sons point of view. Everything I had been doing, the bribes, the threats, etc. had only created anxiety for both of us. I needed to step back, to reevaluate, to come up with a new strategy. This was not about me, but rather, about him. How could I help him to understand that using the potty was an important accomplishment. That staying in diapers would only hinder him...especially when he started going on job interviews...

The sensation of sitting in a dirty diaper did not bother my son. I had to find a way to connect that sensation with something that would bother him. Something that would make the connection in his brain that said "being poopy is bothersome". As he is pretty regular, this step was not hard. I would simply make sure that he was engaged in a favorite activity when the time came. If it was a movie, I would turn it off , or I would remove the favorite toy he was playing with, all the while calmly saying he could have it back after he was changed. This was not always easy-tantrums did ensue. I did not give in. Instead, I would calmly suggest that using the potty would not take him away from his favorite things for so long .After a week or two of this, he was more compliant. The next step I took was having him change himself. This step is NOT for the weak of heart, as poop can be rather appealing in look and texture to some people.(as a side note and point of interest, poop can remove paint. It should also never, ever be in the vicinity of ceiling fans or any other type of fan. period) I LEARNED to always make sure he changed himself in the bathroom-dumping said poop into the potty. (another point of interest-once a child learns to flush-hide all small objects. On the positive side-my husband and myself have mastered home plumbing projects.) Gradually, over about eight months time, my boy made the connection that pooping in a diaper and changing himself took far too much time away from his favorite activities. On June 16th, 2006 at approximately 2:48 p.m. he used the potty successfully-and continues to do so.
So now when I find myself with a herd of kids in the supermarket bathroom, I find it hard to justify complaining too much. Although, if they could all just "go" before leaving the house...alas, I am not a miracle worker.

No comments: