Thursday, August 19, 2010

Transition from little potty to toilet

I’m really glad we tried the early potty training. I think both Mark and I appreciate not having much contact with feces after the first year to 18 months.

However, one challenge we’ve faced recently is that River is so attached to the little potty he’s used since six months of age that he rejected toilet seats outright. It didn’t matter if it was a mini toilet at the gym childcare, a toilet with an insert on it, or just a normal toilet – they were all big, abnormal, and scary.

A few months ago, I started to tell River that he needed to use a big potty like the big kids do when he goes to “school.” He desperately wants to go to school and looks with wonder and envy at the passing school buses and the children in the school playgrounds.

At first, he was resistant to the idea that he had to be like them in his pottying habits, insisting that he was “pequeno.” But then, the desire to join them seemed to win out and he’d say, yes, he would use the potty like they do when he goes to school.

Yet, getting him to actually do it wasn’t easy. My mom bribed him, telling him she’d give him ice cream for trying. So he sat there, didn’t do anything, and enjoyed his ice cream. The result was that he saved it for the diaper while he was sleeping.

We gave it up for a while, but with “school” starting in just a few weeks, we felt the need to make it happen. The program doesn’t require him to be potty trained. But we aren’t going to put him back in diapers nine months after removing them. And it seemed 4-5 hours could be too long to hold it.

We debated hiding the little potty, or “forgetting” to bring it along when River and Mark visited family for over a week. We considered an incentive system – with a treat for trying and a Hot Wheels for success. But Mark wasn’t up for the cold turkey and neither of us got around to buying the Hot Wheels.

I convinced River to sit there a few times, promising either a cookie or stories. But nothing came out. I put the little potty out of sight when I left town, but Mark called almost immediately looking for it. He said the result of not using it was poopy pants at night, which we haven’t dealt with in so long that we are ill prepared to handle it well. It didn’t help that Mark forgot the cloth diapers at home and had to buy disposable, which we find really encourage elimination in a way the cloth ones don’t.

I thought it was a lost cause and we’d have to figure something out when we got home and back to our routine.

So I was pleasantly surprised to talk to Mark today and to hear that River did his first poo in the big toilet. He said River puts on the seat himself. I asked how Mark managed it. He said he bribed him with goldfish several times to get him to stay on the toilet. And that he made him try the toilet during the day, but let him use the little potty at night, to try to avoid the messy nighttime diapers. After a while, River no longer needed the goldfish incentive.

I asked if he got a prize for his accomplishment today and Mark said no, but he called in grandma and they jointly praised him.

It sounds like River may already be used to the toilet during the daytime, with the little potty at night. That compromise is perfectly sufficient for our “school” purposes. I don’t have a problem with him continuing to use the little pot in the evenings and enjoying his pre-bed program, as he usually does.

I’m proud of River, for making the first step in a scary-to-him transition. Hopefully the first time is the hardest and from this point on, it will be easier. And I’m impressed with Mark for sticking with it and managing this difficult change.

I think my little guy may be ready for school.

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