It looks like I may have prematurely introduced my 2 1/2 year old to toilet training. I made a little potty available (and started reading him the book “A Potty for Me!” by Karen Katz) at about 18 months. He showed interest and went before bath time every night for about a month and then lost interest, so I let it go.
Now he recently showed signs of noticing when he peed in his diaper, so I said we would go to the store and buy some “big boy” underwear and start using the toilet. This is where I seem to have made it my agenda instead of waiting for him to ask. I guess my biggest fear was that — since he’s still pretty non-verbal — he wouldn’t tell me without me asking.
His body seems ready as he’ll go on cue when I tell him it’s time and ask him which toilet he would like to use (no BM in the toilet yet though), and he loves wearing his underwear, but he’s definitely not asking to go on his own.
Now, in the last day or two, he has started resisting using the toilet. I also make it a requirement to wash hands after using the toilet (which he can do on his own), and he has recently been refusing that as well, so I wonder if that has been playing into the situation at all. It’s like using the toilet is fine or washing his hands is fine, but having to do both is just too much work, and he’d rather have his diaper changed…
So is the gist at this point to stop asking him if he wants to wear a diaper or underwear and put him in diapers until he asks for underwear or the potty? He does ask for the underwear (“I want raaaaar!”, as they are pirate underwear), but he doesn’t want to do the process of using the toilet in order to use the underwear…after reading all of these posts I am still needing some clarity from your perspective if you wouldn’t mind…
All my best,
Yes, you are absolutely right about your boy resisting your agenda, which is a very healthy thing to do when you are two and a half — and this is why toilet learning can be such a delicate process. It sounds like he’s ready in every area except emotionally, the area we influence most.
When we have an agenda, especially when it’s about something our toddler controls (like his bodily functions), he can’t help but want to push back. So, our best solution is to let go of our plan whenever possible and, instead, patiently follow our child’s lead (while also giving the comfort of boundaries, like not allowing our child to urinate all over the house).
What happens when he needs a BM and isn’t wearing diapers? This can be problematic, because some children will “hold” and begin a vicious cycle of constipation. The constipation creates painful BMs, which then leads to more holding and more serious constipation.
I would keep your boy in diapers for now, but definitely make it clear that it is not for punitive reasons. The diapers are to help him feel secure while he is in this transition, and that’s what I would tell him.
“I hear you wanting to wear the underwear. I think you might be ready soon. When you are ready to wear the underwear, use the potty and wash hands, please tell me and we’ll make the switch together. In the meantime, I want you to be as comfortable as possible, so we’re going to use the diapers.” Then drop it completely.
You might also consider finding an easier way to wash his hands…a wet wash cloth, something that you could do to assist him. Better yet, give him a choice: “Do you want to wash your hands under the water or with the wash cloth? Would you like my help?” These choices give him more autonomy and also allow him to choose a little bit of the nurturing he receives during diaper changes.
The problem with “big boys” is that they don’t get as much hands-on care as “little boys” or “babies” do. Being a big boy or big girl — growing up — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (which I can certainly attest to after just celebrating a “very big girl” birthday). There are gains, but also losses. Not living up to being a “big boy” can be cause for shame, though I know you don’t mean it to be. I would avoid those terms altogether.
Since you are so aware and insightful, I’m sure this situation will resolve itself soon. Please give me an update…
I share more on toilet learning in 3 Reasons Kids Don’t Need Toilet Training (And What To Do Instead) and also recommend Toilet Learning Made Easy by Lisa Sunbury, Regarding Baby
(Photo by emerille on Flickr)