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Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Non-Coercive "Potty Training" Story

The Short Version:

One day when Anders was a little over two-years-old, I noticed that he could take his pants down all by himself. So I asked him if he wanted to use the toilet instead of peeing and pooping in his diaper. He said, "No." I said, "Okay." (And I meant it.)

Three months later I noticed that he could take his pants down and pull them back up, so I asked again and this time he said, "Yes!" And I said, "Cool! Let's do it!"

The next day, I stopped putting diapers on him. He successfully climbed onto and pooped and peed into the (adult) toilet in the bathroom from that moment on. He had pee accidents maybe 3 to 5 times a day for the first three days. And that was it. Potty training was done.

It was surreal. I could not believe it was that easy.

The Long Version:

It was that easy for four months, and then Anders and I traveled to five different locations over the course of the three months before he turned three, and he had so many accidents while traveling that I put him back in diapers.

When he was three and life settled down again, I asked him if he wanted to use the toilet again, and again he said, "Yes!" and again there were only a few accidents for three days and then none. Still no poop accident ever. Again it was that easy.

But, as books about potty training will tell you, the "potty trained" child has a lot of accidents.

As a three-year-old Anders used the toilet most of the time, even while we were traveling he was able to maintain his skill of using the toilet well enough for me to leave him out of diapers and just always have a change of clothes with me. But I learned that there would be accidents at airports, on planes, on long car rides where he fell asleep, at very stimulating places like the mall, etc. Also, as a three-year-old, Anders always climbed onto and squatted on the toilet seat rather than sit on it. But he preferred to go to the bathroom outside--which makes perfect sense as it is a lot easier.

As a four-year-old Anders sits on the toilet, which saddens me a little--though the toilet seat is a lot cleaner now that his feet aren't always on it. But he still has accidents if he gets too engrossed in whatever he is doing to stop. He no longer needs diapers for long car rides or airport days.

He did end up having two poop accidents--those are The Worst. Pretty sure I cried both times. (And told him repeatedly that it wasn't his fault and accidents happen, but that I just really wasn't having an easy time.)

Before We "Potty Trained":

I talked to Anders about pee and poop from the time he was born, saying "You're peeing!" when he was peeing and and "You're pooping!" when he was pooping. I showed him dirty wipes and dirty diapers. I also put him in cloth diapers, so he would make the connection between what was happening in his body and feeling wet. (I used plastic diapers for traveling though.)

From the age of eighteen-months on, he had plenty of naked time outside. At first it was hard/weird for him to go pee or poop without having his diaper on. There was a week or so of pee all over his legs and poop just falling out of his butt while he learned to stop and squat, but he caught on pretty fast and soon enjoyed his naked time. This definitely contributed to how easy his "potty training" was. Wasn't I grossed out to let him poop in the back yard? Not really. Cleaning up toddler poop in the back yard with a little doggie bag is no different from cleaning up after a dog. Way better (to me) than dumping out and then cleaning those kid toilets.

I read two books about elimination communication with infants and decided it was not for me. Partly because I was not interested in baby-wearing, but mostly because I had no desire for Anders to pee and poop all over me until I learned his signals. And I didn't want to be with him every minute of the day. I did the RIE thing where we talk during diaper changes and he would raise his butt for me and straighten his legs to help me change his diaper--and I enjoyed our time together. He breastfed (and was uninterested in any food at all) until he was ten or eleven months old--so his poops were not smelly or even that gross.

I did play around with early potty training. I bought him an infant toilet and at around ten months he would crawl to his little toilet when he had to poop, and I would take his diaper off, and he would poop in his little toilet and I would clean it up. This went on for about about a month, then we went traveling for three months... and we were back to diapers--and I was much happier. It was more work for me to stop what I was doing, take off his diaper, wait while he got himself situated on the toilet, wait while he pooped, clean up his poopy butt, and then clean up his poopy toilet than it was for me to just change a poopy diaper. Cloth diaper poopy butts are a breeze, moist and easy to clean, not sticky like plastic-diaper poopy butts. So after that experience I got rid of the infant toilet and decided to wait to potty train until he was able to walk to the bathroom on his own and take his pants down and up on his own!

Here is a story from a reader about her experience--even more successful than mine!

"Eldon always wanted to be naked and we just didn't really care if he peed on the laminate or hardwood floors. He'll be two next week and hasn't had a wet diaper in weeks. We even flew for a long weekend and he had one wet diaper - he took his diaper off and peed onto it instead of peeing on the carpet haha. That also includes overnight - he's been dry overnight for at least 6 weeks and now happily sleeps naked. I actually was opposed to EC at first because I didn't want to "sit him" on the toilet because that was disrespectful of his body. But he chose nudity and we just always talked about peeing or pooping. I've cleaned up my share of messes, but with zero prodding or pushing my not-quite 2 year-old has (I can't even say this without cringing) "potty trained" himself."

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