Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Potty Shaming

I don't remember if it was just in the movies, or in real life that I have seen it go down, but we all know the shock and disgust I am referring to when a parent scolds their toddler (physically or verbally) for having an accident.

I have always wondered how a person could do that to an innocent child, seeing that little twinge of fear and self-loathing in the kid's confused eyes...and then I chalked it up to the fact that these parents were simply a different breed than anyone I know.  They were just some kind of monsters who I had the luck of never crossing paths with.

Now, I fear I am becoming one of them, and as much as I am trying to stay very unemotional during this gruesome potty training process, I go to bed almost every night worrying that I didn't say the right thing or that I have somehow scarred Niall's ego and stripped him of his confidence for life.

We tried the potty training thing back in September, about 2 months before he turned 3.  He was kind of on and off about it for a few weeks and then decided suddenly that he was NOT into it.  Even the doctor suggested shutting the whole operation down for a few months when I told him that it had morphed into sleeping issues, among other power struggles.

I had this ticking time bomb in the back of my mind, though.  Like if he turned 3 and wasn't potty trained, he would spontaneously combust or something (or maybe I would).  It's definitely the peer pressure that may or may not simply be in my own mind, but it's there none-the-less.

I took the doctor's advice, though, and waited until almost 2 months after he turned 3 (about 3 months from the end of our first potty training gig).  To my surprise and delight, after some initial hesitation, he was fully potty trained within 3 days, no problem-- telling me when he had to go instead of being reminded, waking up with an almost dry diaper every morning, learning to hold it while we were out and waiting until we got home.  It was like some kind of switch flipped and I realized that he was actually ready this time, whereas he may not have been before. 

Which is why the last 3 days have been so incredibly frustrating for me...

He has now been fully potty trained for 3 weeks and suddenly, out of nowhere, decided to turn back and quit.  He is "afraid" of the potty, he "doesn't like it," it's "mean," it's "yucky," you name it.  I very calmly addressed his concerns that first day and offered to sit with him, bring a toy in there, even went back to skittles as rewards.  But he wanted nothing to do with it.  He would hold himself and say "I have to go pee!", but when I would try take him to the bathroom, he insisted "I don't want to," pitch a fit, and then conveniently pee on the floor 30 seconds later.  The next 2 days were the same way, and involved #2, which made my blood boil even more. 

Now, in my mind, that is NOT an accident.  That is defiance.  I would never be mad at him if he suddenly realized that he hadn't made it to the bathroom in time or if we were out and he was distracted and it just happened-- or if he simply wasn't ready for this whole potty training thing.  But he is well past 3 now, and he has definitely proven that he is ready.  When he tells me he has to go and just decides he doesn't want to do it on the toilet and would rather go on the floor, I'm obviously going to be mad!

Well, of course, he happily exclaims "Oh, it was an accident!" right after he did it and went back to playing, knowing that it's "ok" if it's an accident.  I was fuming, but managed to calmly tell him that it was unacceptable, explained the difference between an accident and what he did, cleaned him up and then told him that I was not going to put another pair of pants on him because I needed to be able to get him onto the potty in time next time.

So as he's walking around the house half naked, with only a shirt on, begging for pants (he's not one of these kids who is happy to walk around naked), I am feeling just terrible.  I don't want to turn this into potty shaming and hurt his feelings, but he needs to learn that he is not allowed to "go" wherever he feels like it.  He is just way too far along in this process to be doing something like that. 

Every potty struggle since then, I have been less and less understanding and more and more visibly frustrated and annoyed, which I'm sure is not helping the situation in any way, shape or form.  I have heard of regression during the potty training process;  I went through it the first time we tried-- but I had no idea that a kid could be fully potty-trained and just abandon ship all of a sudden.

I am trying my best to stay neutral and matter-of-fact about everything, but I had no idea it would be this hard not to get so emotional about all of it.  I really hope the rest of the week turns around for us (and that the rest of my kid(s) have mercy on me when it comes to the potty in the years to come!)

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