Saturday, March 24, 2012

Potty boot camp, day 1

(Yes, I know I've got a monthly report to write. I've got to get this out of the way first. Also, it is long.)

Chloë had been making great progress on the "incremental progress reward chart" plan. She filled up her row of "go in the bathroom with pants off," then "go in the bathroom with pants off while sitting on the potty." But when it came to "go in the bathroom with pants and diaper off while sitting on the potty"...we came to a standstill. She didn't want to use the potty. We tried putting underwear on her, and for a while she was pleased to wear underwear and then change into a diaper when she needed to go...but she wouldn't sit on the potty without the diaper. I offered to buy her a goldfish, which had her excited, but it didn't get any potty attempts out of her. And then she started rejecting the underwear, preferring to stay in a diaper all day.

So today, after a couple of days of warning her, we went for broke and told her no more diapers (except for sleep times). We got her in underwear, despite her information that she doesn't like underwear, and the first hour or two after waking was fine. Then she needed to pee. I told her then she needed to sit on the potty. "I want a diaper," she said.

"No more diapers," I said. "You need to be a big girl and go in the potty."

"But I like diapers!" And it went on from there. We had a full-pitched battle of sorts, me insisting that there would be no diapers, and she insisting that she needed them. She was screaming, begging for a diaper, saying, "I like diapers because diapers are nice! I don't like the potty!" or "Don't say no more diapers! Don't say that!" between halting sobs. I kept saying calmly, "You need to use the potty," holding her when she came to me for comfort, though I was the one making her unhappy, and felt horrible.

(I also wanted to laugh when she leveled a finger at me and commanded, "Never put underwear on me ever again!")

I offered to let her hold a diaper, if that would help, which was a mistake; she said yes, but then what she wanted was to hold it while it was on her. When I said no and set it down, she took it from me and spread it out on the floor and sat on it and said, hopefully, still crying, "I spread out the diaper for you to put on me!" It was so pathetic and sad.

At length Eric took over, and with him she settled down and declared she didn't need to pee. Neither of us believed this, but we let it go. Maia went down for her nap (Chloë has started taking her nap in the afternoon rather than the morning) and Chloë and I colored for a while, then decided to make cookies. In the middle of it, Chloë  said, "I need to pee."

"Let's go upstairs then," I said, dreading the screaming that would inevitably wake up Maia.

"I already peed," Chloë said, looking down.

"Now? --At least get on the floor," I said, whisking her down from the chair she was standing on. It was too late, but I wasn't attached to that chair anyway. Chloë finished releasing a veritable pond of pee. I peeled off her skirt and underwear, wiped her up, and cleaned up the floor.

There was another tantrum later when she wanted to poop, and I worried (as I'd already worried) about constipation, but that was solved when she woke up from her nap, in a diaper, and told me she was going to poop. Later in the afternoon, we went outside, me to transplant garlic, she to play with a football-with-a-tail that some neighbor had accidentally thrown in our yard. "I need to pee," she said, so we went inside. That standoff ended when she couldn't hold it anymore and peed on the bathroom floor. She'd removed her pants and underwear for that one, so the casualties were her socks, my socks, and a bathroom mat. Then, at bedtime, she was eager to get ready for bed because she knew she'd get a diaper. Eric insisted she needed to pee first. I was changing Maia when Chloë came to inform me she needed to pee. "The pee will be on the floor very soon," she said.

"Then at least go into the bathroom," I said, in a defeatist sort of way, and Chloë obediently went to the bathroom and peed onto the floor again.

She got into bed, without her usual bedtime story because I didn't have the temper for it, and after Maia was in bed as well Eric and I tried to figure out whether we're doing this okay or setting her up for major failure later. There's a ton of advice on potty-training, but almost all of it assumes that your child is at least willing to try and is merely trying to learn the necessary skills. Chloë has all the skills she needs to be potty-trained; she simply doesn't want to. She said so, in fact. We're trying to sort out why she doesn't want to sit on the potty--the Internet has some interesting suggestions--and decide whether the various ideas that come to mind are good ideas or are our frustrations in disguise. For example: taking away shows? Not letting her go on walks unless she pees in the potty first? Are those acceptable incentives, feeble shows of will that are merely going to increase her resistance, or secretly punitive measures because we're both so frustrated that she won't just sit down and use the potty already?

This is tough. My parents suggest we start potty-training Maia now. Maybe that will avoid this sort of issue with her.

(We're also considering using her as a peer pressure sort of thing, which the Internet also suggests but she doesn't have a peer group to provide. Maia loves playing with the potty anyway; maybe we'll try putting her on it. Maybe that will do nothing and we'll still be washing a load of urine-soaked towels every night by the time her birthday comes. If we all live that long.)

So, at the end of day one, it's Chloë 4, parents 0. Stay tuned!

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