Friday, November 07, 2008

Another Potty Post

Pop quiz: what is more fun than being first-trimester nauseous?

Answer: feeling queasy while suffering a stomach bug passed on from your daughter. So much for that compulsive hand-washing.

Speaking of feeling queasy, I finally called Ada's pediatrician's office for advice on potty training. For those who have not heard me complaining about this before, Ada (at not quite 3.5) has rebuffed all of our efforts to get her to use the potty. Or to even ever sit on the potty, for the most part.  We've tried cold turkey no-more-diapers, progressive rewards, outright bribes, peer pressure and pretty much everything else we could think of.  Most recently I put all the potty related materials, including all her underwear, on a shelf and told her that when she was ready, everything was here for her.

Nothing has moved her. Lately one of her teachers has taken matters into her own hands. Although this has gotten Ada to sit on the potty (no peeing involved), it has also led to Ada's repeated declarations that she does not want to go to school.

So after hearing my "we've tried everything and I am going to have twins" tale of woe, the peds nurse suggested a few things.

  1. Back off.  Don't mention the potty too much, or push her to sit on or pee in it. When other kids are around, let her watch them use the potty. 
  2. Switch to cloth diapers, which will allow her to feel the cold wetness. 
  3. Try a no-pants day. Hole up in a room without carpeting and have her not wear any pants. Don't leave the room. When she needs to pee, she'll pee. Not necessarily in the potty, but peeing on the floor may be enough of a shock to help convince her. 
As I've mentioned, I am desperate. Here's my response to the nurse's advice:
  1.  We've been doing this, although I have probably mentioned the potty more than the nurse suggests is okay. Ada is always interested in other kids potty use, and already sees her friends use the potty on a regular basis. We can keep trying it, but I am not sure what this is going to do on its own. 
  2. For her first two years, Ada was in cloth diapers. The summer she was two she decided to be no pants girl. When it was time to put diapers on, the difference between no diaper and cloth was pretty great. Ada declared she didn't like the cloth, so we decided to switch over.  Foolishly, we thought with all this no-pants time, how much longer will she be wearing diapers anyway? I am willing to go back to cloth, even though I know (a) Ada will HATE them and no doubt pitch an enormous fit about the switch, and (b) I am going to have to buy a bunch of T5 pants to accomodate her huge cloth diaper.  It could be a long winter of sweats and screaming. 
  3. I am not entirely sure how this is different from the "no more diapers" thing we did (to no success) at the end of the summer. I am willing to try it, but only on a day when Chris is around. If we hole up in the kitchen (the only room in the house with no rugs), how am I going to pee? This definitely sounds like a tag-team event. In any case, I don't put much stock in its ability to move Ada along, so I think we'll try cloth before trying this. 
 The whole conversation with the nurse took place in my local Walgreens, because of course she chose that moment to call me back. Thank goodness for cell phones, and for stores where people don't notice a tearful woman wandering the aisles finger the merchandise and talking about her potty.


  1. Ugh. You have my empathy. My daughter avoided the potty like the plague until she was about 3 and a half, too. It made me insane. Nothing I did had any effect; like you, I just stopped asking about it. It was especially challenging in the company of other children her age who had been potty trained for, like, a year already.

    And what happened? She began using the damn potty when she wanted to -- all my efforts had been for naught; she apparently had her own agenda and schedule.

    I know that's of little comfort or help to you right now, but I hope that it happens for you, too, and soon!

  2. I'm happy to help if I can. Milo and I are home Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus MW afternoons, and we can come over and help with the tag-team effort. And the cleanup.

  3. Oh geez, that does sound desperate. I wouldn't know what to do either. I know that for us it took our daughter quite a while to get the hang of it (like a month or more), but she was much younger and didn't have the rebellious streak yet. Maybe banish the diapers forever and hope she figures it out before the twins come? If you can stomach it, that is.

  4. it does suck.

    however, i'd rather change dipes than wet clothes.

    3.5 isn't too old.

    do whatever you want.

  5. It'll happen. It will.

    And if you hole yourself up in the kitchen, you can leave briefly to pee. And Stephanie is a rockin' friend to offer to help.

  6. This is not advice, because I think it could be narcissistic Jewish/Chinese mother guilt manipulation--but it is what I imagined myself doing if I were in your situation.

    I think that I would end up talking to my daughter about how her refusing to use the potty was making me feel. I would apologize for any mistakes I'd made that were a result of the anger/fear/frustration I was feeling. And then I'd ask her to tell me why she was being so resistant and see if we could come up with a plan together. Letting her know that in the end, she was going to eventually be potty trained and it would bring happiness all around.

    I didn't do this with potty training, but did have this sort of discussion around struggles over going to elementary school, learning to drive, and graduating from high school.

  7. My daughter only uses the potty as a stall tactic so she doesn't have to go to bed, otherwise she refuses to let go of the diapers. If she is naked, she either asks for the diaper (to poop) or pees on the floor/in her underwear. Being wet doesn't bother her one bit. It is sooo frustrating and I understand your pain. Not to mention that diapers are not cheap and a strain on the environment. Someone mentioned the book "Pottywise" to me today, but it doesn't have the best reviews. I'm not sure that this post helps, but at least you are not alone. Good luck!

  8. Another mom of a diapered 3.5 year old here. Holla.

  9. Potty training. That's more than a year away, I hope, though I have to confess that we were very lucky with dudelet. He's still very much in nappies when he sleeps, though.

  10. re #2 - maybe if the choice she is offered is cloth diaper (hate!) or potty (hate!) she will choose potty? or if she is at all vain, she will not want to wear sweats all winter?

    I know *nothing* about 3.5 year olds though. What I know of 2.5 year olds leads me to believe that normal human logic does not kick in until much later.

    I hope things get better.

  11. I just found your blog and am in the same boat. I have twin girls the exact same age as Ada. One showed interest in the potty almost a year ago and has been trained approx. 9 mos or so. The other WILL NOT use the potty or wear "big girl" underwear. I am at my wits end. Just about everyone else in preschool uses the potty... only her and a couple of straggler boys who are younger are in diapers. If you come up with any great ideas, please blog them!

  12. ugh. I have this to look forward to, eh? I have a feeling that Monkey will be difficult to potty train when the time comes (she's 18 mo. now). We picked up a little potty for her, just to sort of introduce her to the idea. She will sit on the toilet and go "psssss" with her mouth and then laugh like it's the funniest thing ever. And then she'll get up and go over into the corner and pee on the floor. (shaking head)

    If I was you and Ada was so resistant I would just completely back off. She will do it when she's ready and I know it's a pain in the ass but....what else can you do, really?

    Maybe it can be integrated into the whole 'big sister' thing, once the twins come she'll be the "big girl" and big girls don't need diapers. Maybe?