Problems with potty training — Mommy Daze

Mandy Watts and family

My oldest son James will be turning 3 soon and for a couple months we have been doing what I like to call, “not potty training.”

It started with a small little potty just for him. We made it a big exciting thing, and I let him play and sit on it whenever he wanted for a couple days. Eventually he sat on it without his diaper and low and behold, “some pee pee is coming out!” he excitedly proclaimed. And so began my anxiety-inducing, perfection-seeking obsession of attempting to not potty train him. Let me explain.

I am a big advocate of not pushing my fiery, prone to outbursts of hysteria, redheaded toddler into ANYthing. It’s awful for everyone involved. Potty training would be no exception, or so I thought.

But something happened in my immature mommy mind that first time he used a potty. There was suddenly a light at the end of the $45.88-a-box-of-Pampers tunnel. I oh so slowly started incorporating the potty into our daily routine. At first I was pretty chill about it, not keeping track or making charts, just exuberant praise and a little treat for each time he used it. The diaper was always on, no timed potty breaks, just relaxed happy time on the potty.

It was going great, until that fateful day he finally pooped on the little potty. It must’ve snuck up on him because he was just chillaxing as usual on his little toddler throne, perusing his Elmo Potty book, when I heard a grunt and then saw his face turn white. He jumped up, looked in the potty and began to freak out. I quickly disposed of its contents and showed the usual praise and support, but nothing would ease his little mind about what had just exited his body. I would later find out that a lot of kids get frightened the first time No. 2 happens, but at this point I realized just how dedicated to this not potty training thing I had become.

I scoured the Internet, Pinterest and all my mommy friends who had already been through potty training, to find the solution to his newfound fear of pooping. In the meantime, James began holding his poops, refusing to even step foot into a bathroom or go in his diaper. I’m learning that is not really an unusual reaction for my spirited child. A bump in the road for most toddlers usually ends up being a mountain that requires expert climbing equipment for my son.

So somehow, I went from a relaxed state of not potty training, to frantically trying to push him into it for the sake of his impacted bowels. After day four of no poop, lots of crying, rolling around on the floor holding his tummy, various forms of prune-products, an attempt at sneaking Pedialax into his smoothie, and my futile pleas for him to “just poop, I don’t care where, just poop,” he finally agreed to sit on the “big potty,” as he was convinced the little potty was the most evil thing in existence. As I sat there with him, letting him sob into my arms while he painfully did his business, I wondered where exactly I went wrong with this whole not potty training thing.

Through all this, I’ve learned a couple valuable lessons. Nothing is as easy as you think it will be. Never underestimate the power of self-persuasion, and when the going gets tough, the tough put diapers back on the grocery list and push potty training off for a couple more months.

Instead we are enjoying fall festivals without having to run to the nearest bathroom with a soggy pants kid.

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 2-year-old James and almost 1-year-old Luke.