Saturday, May 19, 2007

Potty Training at the Pinkstons

I have four children. A daughter and three sons. Three are potty trained, and the youngest is still in diapers. He will be for some time to come.

Let me explain.

When my daughter came along, I tried training her at two. That's a nice, respectable age, right? Well, she just couldn't understand it, so I backed off and waited. Two and a half? No dice. Three? A little closer, but it wasn't until she was three and a half and I was armed with a huge bag of bribes from the dollar store that we finally accomplished the task.

Son #1. This child would not potty train no matter what I did. I had myself very well trained to march him into the bathroom every half hour, but if I was even five minutes late, he'd have an accident. I was losing my mind. My health was suffering because of the intense emotional struggles I was having with him. Finally my doctor said to me, "What are you doing right now that is causing you so much stress?"

"Potty training," I said.

"You go home and put that child in a diaper and don't even think about it for a year," he told me. "Your health is going downhill fast."

I went home, put the child in a diaper, and didn't think about it for a year. Well, we had some interesting conversations with well-meaning relatives who couldn't believe that he was three and in a diaper, but they couldn't know what a relief it was for me to delay the argument. My severe headaches went away the minute that diaper went on him. (You have to understand, this is my most strong-willed child and if he doesn't want to do something, he will not do it. Period.)

Later on, when the time was right, we tried again. It was still hard, but nothing like the try before.

Son #2. I decided that with this child, I was going to wait until he was good and ready. I left him in a diaper until he was three and a half. Then I went to the store and got a potty chair, handed it to him, and said, "This is yours." He played with it for about an hour, looked at the box, saw the child on the box sitting on the chair, pulled down his pants, went, and has been dry ever since.

Now I have a two and a half year old. I know that other children in his peer group are starting to train, and that's marvelous for them. But my kids seem to need more time, for whatever reason. It's not worth it to me to spend every minute of every day watching the clock, fearing that we'll have a puddle. If it means enduring comments from relatives, that's what I'll do. I'm waiting until he's ready, and I won't train him a minute before. It's not worth the agony. It's just not.


Michele Holmes said...

Your blog brought back some BAD memories. My daughters all caught on in a matter of hours and right at age two. But my son . . . Health problems indeed. I about lost my mind.

Call me in a few years when your strong willed one hits his teens. I'll have plenty of empathy then, too.

Lynne said...

When I was struggling with potty training, our pediatrician asked me "Have you ever seen a kid in school still in diapers?" I just let go of the struggle and they basically trained themselves when they were ready.

Annette Lyon said...

2 1/2? A boy? No need to say more. Had I known what a mental and emotional battle the potty training time could be, I would have never entered the fray with #1. It wasn't worth the wounds either of us came out of it with. That said, I'm SOOOOO glad I'm out of that stage now . . .

Tristi Pinkston said...


I don't want to even think about that child going into his teens! That's the stuff nightmares are made of! :)

Lynne and Annette,

Yep, they will certainly do it when they're ready and not a minute before. I just wish there wasn't this whole social pressure thing to get it done. I mentioned the well-meaning relatives, but sometimes there even seems to be a contest amongst moms to see who gets theirs trained earliest. It's crazy!

Josi said...

My first child--I tried...and tried...and gave up until she asked for panties. She was 4 1/2
Second--sortof at 2, if you count that she'd hold it as long as she could and then scream at the top of her lungs, at which point I would run to her and hope I got her to the toilet in time, if not she would cry until she threw up because she was so convinced it was 'dirty' to wet her pants.
third--5 during the day 7 at night
Fourth--I waited until she begged to wear panties.

I don't know why we think we have any power at all.

Karlene said...

My first child was very motivated by the pretty panties with lace on them. She was trained by two.

My second turned it into a struggle. When I caught him in the bathroom looking at the toilet and saying, "I'll never, ever, ever, ever go poop in the potty," I decided to back off. A wise friend said, "I guarantee he'll be potty trained by the time he leaves on his mission." She ended up training him for me while I was gone to Girls Camp by throwing Cheerios in the toilet for him to sink.

Number three was a breeze.

Number four just had better things to do. And I was experienced enough to let her do it at her own pace. Every few months I'd ask her if she was interested and she'd always say no. She went to kindergarten in Pull-Ups. Three days of peer pressure and she was trained.

Framed said...

I will never, ever judge a four-year old in diapers again. I work with a lady who had her kids trained at 18-months and I consider that cruel. Both mine were around 2 and a half. Thank heavens for a diligent babysitter.

Marsha Ward said...

When my fifth child resisted potty training, I left him to his own devices. We sometimes joked that he'd go to kindergarten with diapers on, but he trained himself before then. Best thing I ever did was leave him alone.

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