A family's story

Potty-training PTSD

I have begun the potty-training in earnest with Cole. I brought down the size 3T underwear with Elmo, Diego, Thomas, and Lightening McQueen. I stocked up on wipes, bath wash for the several baths that will be required, and toilet paper. I bought M&M’s for rewards. I’m putting him on the potty every 40 minutes. I’m reading him books in there, hoping he’ll poop while on the potty, so as to get the sensation.

As I sat on the floor reading Richard Scarry’s Big Word Book today, I flashed back to our other potty-training journeys.  Jake told us the week he turned three that he was going to wear big-boy underwear. Within 5 days he was trained to pee in the potty. Within 2 months, Jake was fully trained with the fairly rare accident. By age 4 Jake was night-trained. Jake made it look easy. We got smug…oh, we can DO THIS.

With Tate’s developmental delays and SPD, we waited a bit longer to see if he’d show any interest. I was hesitant to push potty training right as he turned three. We waited and waited for him to show interest. There was none. I got some notes from his O.T., who said it was very common for kids like Tate to be delayed with toileting. We practiced all of the steps. We did a visual schedule of going on the potty. We had him watch Jake in action. Nothing…nothing at all. He was quite happy with those size 6 diapers, thankyouverymuch.

As we approached the second half of his third year, we asked the therapists and teachers. They thought he could do it..we just needed to dedicate some time. During the 2 week winter break, we jumped in. We let him roam the house in a t-shirt and underwear. I did a lot of laundry those 2 weeks. By the time school was starting again, Tate was sent in underwear. The first month, he just withheld until he was on the bus, and then he’d urinate all over. He wasn’t much better at home, either. Apparently, splashing in your own pee is a terrific sensory-seeking activity.  The second month, we were more able to get him to go pee on the potty, but he still had several, several accidents. Our water bill skyrocketed between my excessive laundry and Tate’s  impulsivity with flushing toilets.

I know it was hard for him to recognize the sensation, especially when he was so overwhelmed with so many outside stimuli every day. After about 3 months, he really was getting ok with peeing on the potty. One great thing about echolalia was that he would chant over and over, “The peeps go in the POT-TY.” I think that he finally processed that info, because by the end of the school year, he was consistently urinating into the toilet. Plus, when he was done, he got to watch the toilet flush, and that motion of water was incredibly rewarding to him.

I had planned to get Tate fully trained over the summer between 3 and 4 year old preschool. At age 4, he was more interested, and he really liked the idea of underwear.  Then, well, my mom got sick. I did what I had to do to survive. We had Tate in underwear around the house, but any time we had to visit my mom or go care for her, he went into a pull-up. Of course, that was when my little man would decide to poop. I didn’t have the energy to fight it. We still tried when at home, but admittedly, there were so many times that my mind was elsewhere that I didn’t take note of his signs…

Once school was about a week away, I really worked with Tate on the pooping. It seemed that he altered his elimination habits, and he’d usually go right when he woke up in the morning…while his pull-up was still on. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. We got by with that routine until about October. Then we worked on the elimination into the potty. He was mostly on track, with a few mis-steps along the way. By the time he was 5, Tate was using the toilet appropriately, with sporadic accidents of either kind. He wasn’t fully night-trained, but that came by a month or two into his kindergarten year. By his 6th birthday, he was handling all of the clean-up duty of himself in there…including washing up afterwards.

I get the feeling that this go-round with potty-training will end up somewhere in the middle of our other two’s experiences. I am fairly sure that I can get him trained–mostly–by preschool, which starts after Labor Day. I’m going to earn those hours of me-time…as this potty-training thing is stressful. I just may need to break into Cole’s M&M’s to survive. Reinforcements may be necessary.

Editor’s Note: I am highly disturbed by the “recommended” photos that WordPress gave me while writing this potty-training post. Thongs, public urination, and male underwear models do NOT go with my post. Thanks.


Comments on: "Potty-training PTSD" (1)

  1. Let’s face it. Potty training is tough. I cannot even begin to count how many pair of soiled undies I threw out rather than try to clean (gross!) Interesting to see the differences between the boys. Tate is such a big boy to be doing all that by himself! Toots is not quite that independent and he still “holds” rather than going and must be prompted. (sigh) I guess they will do it in their own time and we must just be their “supporting cast and crew” until that time comes. I have a really good feeling for you and Cole. And this is the end of the line, sista! You’re almost there- hooray! – And, on that note alone, I think you should celebrate with just a couple of m&ms. I mean, you know, just to be sure they haven’t gone bad or anything. 😉

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