Oh yeah, I was going to write about the potty.
So, over the holidays my mother in law successfully got Audrey to use the potty a couple times. Can I just say that Grandmothers are powerful in the ways of persuasion. We have had a potty in the house for a couple months, knowing that Audrey was probably too young to start (she is 21 months) but wanting to get her used to the idea. The dayhome she goes to has a number of older kids there that are either fully or partially potty trained, so she had started asking about it. She had sat on the potty before, here and there, but never really done anything. Until Grandma suggested. And then it seemed like a brilliant idea.
And then! She realized that using the potty = happy and excited family cheering for her. Which motivated her for approximately 5 days.
You see, praise is just not what gets Audrey out of bed in the morning. I mean, she likes some good positive recognition as much as the next kid, but she doesn’t crave it. And, as we discovered, it only motivate her for so long.
Because she discovered an other way to get attention via this whole potty thing.
What is the number 1 most effective way for a kid of potty training age to get the attention of their parent? Ask to go to the potty.
We react. With lightening speed.
“You want to go to the potty? Okay, lets drop everything, including that request I just made for you to put on your shoes and run upstairs to the potty. Yeah Potty!” *Internal dialogue*”… please please please let my kid use this potty so this diaper stage might some day end“
I am guess my toddler isn’t the only one who realized that she now had a very very powerful tool for parental control. She is wielding it with abandon.
Yesterday morning I spent about 15 minutes waiting for her to use the potty. About every 3 minutes she would say she was done. Close the potty. Walk to her bedroom and as soon as I ask her to come over so I can help her get dressed…. “I pee potty” and off she would run to the bathroom. She has not actually ‘used’ the potty in a good couple weeks now.. so its not like this is a productive exercise.
Power. She is sick with it.
I get, 100%, that it is a toddlers job to try and test boundaries and assert themselves. What they really want and need is to know that there are boundaries and limitations, because this structure makes them feel safe. I get that she isn’t doing this to try and drive me crazy or just to be a pain. This is her doing her job as a toddler. Testing the limits.
And it’s not just testing limits- she does want to learn about the potty. She gets that adults and older kids do it and she wants to be big. But it also takes time and practice to learn those skills of self awareness and control.
That being said, I kinda feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I have two choices (if I have more then these two choices, please please let me know!!).
1. Let her yield the control and ‘use’ the potty as much as she would like. I mean this is an area where she does and should have 100% control. It is her body and she is the only one that can learn to use the potty. The implication is though that our time-lines or requests will also be controlled by her, as she is able to manipulate the plan by yielding the potty power.
2. Encourage her to use the potty, but also set loose time limits so she doesn’t use it to, for example, delay bedtime, getting ready in the morning, picking up her toys or anything else she doesn’t want to do. (I don’t mean delay bedtime my 3-5 minutes.. whatever. I am talking major 20 minute plus delays.) My hesitation with this is that I don’t want to have a battle with her over the potty. I want using the potty to be a good thing, a positive environment.
I don’t know. Maybe I am over thinking this. I get 100% that potty training is a long term process. I don’t expect her to be potty trained by her 2nd birthday. I know lots of people talk about “potty training” in one, two or three days. Which may work for an older toddler who has already had time to develop and practice the self awareness and control skills necessary. We, however, are just getting started and I think she needs lots more time and I am happy to support her to learn in her own time. But I also want to find a way to encourage it without her using it to manipulate. I strongly believe that despite their behaviour, toddlers crave boundaries. I’m just not sure in this case, where those boundaries should be.
Has your toddler wielded potty power? How did you balance boundaries and encouraging potty learning?