Okay, I know potty training posts are only interesting to a very select group of people. If you are a parent or caregiver who is currently, or will soon be, potty-training a child, you might want to read and commiserate. If you are a parent or caregiver who has at any time in the past successfully potty-trained a child, then PLEASE read and give advice. If you aren't in either of these groups and/or don't want to read the terms "pee" and "poop" approximately 4,512 times, please go read something else today. For example, this or this or this.
Okay. The truth is, I need to write this post. I feel like we are getting nowhere with the process of potty training Gwen, and if I am honest? She is not the problem. We are. Chris and I cannot agree on how to proceed, and that means we are inconsistent and not leading her towards success.
Right off the bat, I have some questions I want to ask those of you who have been through, or are currently in, this process:
1. Do you know of a training pant or similar product on the market that will feel wet instantly against Gwen's skin, and yet not leak through to whatever furniture or carpet she happens to be sitting on?
2. Do you think it is possible to successfully potty train a child without using either naked time, or time in a theoretical "I know when I'm wet" training pant?
3. Do you believe that a parent who is NOT A STAY AT HOME PARENT can actually have any real control over when and how a child is potty-trained?
Now I'll tell you where we're at. Mid- to late August saw a huge jump in Gwen's potty readiness (and willingness). On one particular day, she didn't have a single wet or dirty diaper (except during naptime). On September 3rd, I wrote, "My original idea was to lock Gwen and I in a room for three solid days and Make It Happen. Because that is my personality and that is the way I understand things. Instead, Gwen picked a time when there is literally NO free time for us to do this - the month of August, when we were either travelling or having company every single weekend - and decided that she was Ready." We didn't know how to respond to it, and this means that a full month later, we haven't really moved forward. I'm going to play the Mama Card here and tell you that I think I know my daughter better than anyone else in the world (partially because she is a LOT like me), and I'm going to give you my best guess for what is going on in her head.
Gwen is perfectly happy to pee and poop on the potty, if she has nothing better to do. She gets dedicated attention while she's there; she gets to do grown-up things like flush the toilet; and she gets candy afterwards. We have successfully taught her that peeing and pooping on the potty are Good Things. However. If Gwen is playing, or colouring, or outside, or away from home, none of those things apply. Peeing or pooping in her diaper is convenient, it's easy, it's fast, and it doesn't interrupt what she's doing. Sure, she doesn't get a candy, but whatever. She'll just pee again later and get one then.
I think we have successfully taught Gwen that pee and poop can go in either place, depending on your mood. That is NOT good.
Chris and I recently agreed that instead of rewarding for an action - using the potty - we would reward for an inaction - keeping her Pull-Up clean and dry. This is a hell of a lot harder to do and doesn't seem to hold Gwen's interest very well. Plus, it's awfully vague. How long does she need to stay dry to earn a candy? Truth be told, I wish we'd never started with the damn candies anyway. When we did, I envisioned the Potty Boot Camp that would have us through this awful stage in a matter of two weeks, max. Gwen does not get candy as a rule. But thanks to this phase dragging on, she's getting several candies a day - sometimes, as previously mentioned, right before she's supposed to go to sleep. This does NOT work out well!
The main reason I'm finding this stage to be such a grind, in addition to my general Get-To-The-Goal way of looking at life, is that pottying is definitely interfering with her sleep. Even when candy is not involved. Every parent knows that children like to postpone bedtimes and naptimes, right? There are all kinds of ploys they will pull: "one more story", "one more snuggle", "one more song", etc. What if the ploy is: "I need to go potty"? What if you've already sat her on the potty three times in the past hour, and you're absolutely confident that there's nothing in her bladder? How do you respond: by invalidating her desire to sit on the potty? Or by rewarding her nap-delay tactics with positive attention? THIS MAKES ME CRAZY.
Thanks to recommendations and a kind gift from a friend, we are going to spend the weekend reading this and seeing if there is anything we can put into practice here before I tear my hair out. In the meantime, though, I'm very interested in other perspectives and in particular, your answers to the questions above.