Take one 3-year-old boy (the first grandchild on either side of the family).
Add a doting extended family.
Add stubborness and difficulty adapting to change.
Add parents desperate to potty train the boy.
And now you’ve gotten the situation we’re in right now.
Our potty training efforts actually started many months ago… many months before he turned three. Our H-man was extremely stubborn, and would not even SIT on the potty. There were so many screaming fits, we backed off.
We tried putting him in cloth training pants, but the fight continued. We tried to let him go naked. We tried to bribe him with cookies, candy, chips… still, the tantrums continued. We started using Pull-ups, which were just like glorified diapers to him.
And one day, we tried giving him a “potty prize.” If he peed on the potty, we would give him a Matchbox car.
And it worked! He would RUN to the potty and pee instantly! It was GREAT.
Until he started getting picky.
“I want two cars.”
“I don’t want that car.”
We started to resort to wrapping up the potty prizes. He liked the element of surprise, but he would still sometimes reject a potty prize because he wanted a smaller or larger one! (Not only is he stubborn, but he’s smart, too!)
And as he got better at this little manipulation of Mom and Dad, he also got Grandma and Grandpa hooked in too. Soon his collection of cars and trucks was huge.
And our wallets were getting rather thin. The kid was still having accidents in his Pull-ups, still refusing to poop in the potty, and now we were spending $150 to $200 a month to just get him to pee in the potty. And the H-man had figured out the system!
So we knew we were going to have to wean him off the potty prizes. I created a cute little potty training chart featuring Blue from Blues Clues in one corner and a present in the other. H-man would have to earn five “clues” (or pawprints made with a rubber stamp) to get a prize. To earn a pawprint, he would have to stay dry AND use the potty.
This worked beautifully! He had one day last week with only ONE accident and actually stopped playing at the Burger King play place and yelled “Mama, I need to get a pawprint!”
And then we had a rough day with lots of accidents. And then Grandma and Grandpa took him to town with them and bought him a present just for using the potty. They didn’t even attempt the Blues Clues system!!
And then the materialism returned! You see, that little move made the H-man feel entitled to potty prizes every time he went. For the next three days, we had to FIGHT to even change him, let alone get him to go to the bathroom.
It has been a slow path back to the pawprint system, and H-man is starting to get back on track. I’m also learning that rewards don’t have to be material things… they can be experiences like playing with a special toy, watching a video, or staying up a bit later.
I know he’ll catch on to this potty training thing eventually, but I must admit, the frustration is getting to me.
You see, I have two other boys in diapers, too. I need H-man to get out of diapers.
But what I’ve realized from all this is that being a parent means making some expensive mistakes… sometimes financially (by buying Pull-ups and an insane amount of potty prizes), and also emotionally, too. I realize that if we’re not careful, we will raise our son to be a materialistic kid who feels a misguided sense of entitlement.
I’m glad I’m learning from this experience. Hopefully the next two will be a piece of cake to potty train!