Adventures in Potty Training a Willful Child
(Part two of a three part series. You can read Part one HERE)
By now our beautiful and willful baby girl had turned two years old, and with this had come a tremendous number of accomplishments for someone so young. Evalyn now had a 325-word vocabulary in American Sign Language and we were clearly seeing the benefits this was having with many areas of her development, in particular with her verbal and cognitive skills. These skills proved to be very helpful when it came to any potty time discussions we would have with Evalyn.
For example, we were now able to reason with Evalyn, and discuss logical consequences such as cause and effect and she would understand what we were explaining. We would sign words such as wet, dry, potty, pee, poo, all done, wash hands, soap, water, etc. We could make statements or ask questions such as “Evalyn’s pee and poo need to go in the potty”, “Evalyn’s diaper is wet, should we get a dry diaper, yes or no?”, and “When Evalyn goes pee in her diaper, it feels cold, it feels wet”.
Evalyn was now also starting to exhibit many of the physical signs of being ready for potty training. She would come to us when she was wet, and occasionally tell us if or when she had done anything in her diaper. She was willing to sit on the potty long enough for us to read her a story, and she was also staying dry for much longer periods of time – in many cases anywhere from 2 to 4 hours at a time. This was the big sign of readiness! We had backed off quite a bit because of all the fear and anxiety Evalyn was having, but we felt with all these new signs of readiness that it was time to officially try again.
Our first hurdle we wanted to try and tackle was getting the timing right. By this I mean getting Evalyn to the potty before she had already gone in her diaper. This is no easy feat for a Mom who works from home running two businesses, one of which is a daycare, all while also taking care of her own children full-time. So timing was our biggest hurdle. It almost always seemed to work against us as I tried getting her to go on a schedule.
It seemed to be that I would always just miss the opportunity to take her. She would go on her own (in her diaper) right before or right after I would take her. This of course would often result in much more time in the bathroom due to having to change three times the number of diapers…ugg! Despite all the missed opportunities for success on the potty, I looked at this as small steps in the right direction because occasionally when we would get the timing right, there would be success on the potty! These moments were few and far between still, but they were very significant. The pride and praise that Evalyn experienced after each of her successes helped bring us that much closer to our ultimate goal….NO MORE DIAPERS!!!
These little successes convinced me that it was time to really take it up a notch by moving strictly to pull-ups during the day and only diapers for overnight! We started by talking about how big girls get to wear pull-ups and how fun and exciting it would be to wear them. So, I enlisted the help of my 6 year old daughter and my husband and we went to work on our potty training plan.
Step 1 was to fill in the time gaps. As I mentioned earlier, it was difficult for me to always be in the right place at the right time with all of my other responsibilities. So, we would tag team Evalyn by always having someone ready to take her to the potty either when she signaled to us that she needed to go or by having her go with one of us during our potty time routines. My 6 year old Elizabeth was especially helpful by always offering to read potty books, give stickers and praise, and help with the rest of the potty time routine (wiping, flushing, and washing hands).
Step 2 was to talk up the many positive aspects of being a big girl, like how big girls wear pull-ups/underwear, and how fun they are to wear, and how many fun colors, patterns and characters are on them. We would talk about how the characters on the underwear (like Cinderella or Dora) do not like to get wet, so we needed to try and keep them dry by putting all our pees and BM’s (bowel movements) in the potty. This strategy seemed to be working really well. So well in fact, that we had made the decision to move to pull-ups overnight and big girl underwear during the day.
Well, it was a Friday when my husband and I made that decision, and wouldn’t you know it, come Saturday morning, Evalyn had come to a decision of her own as well. She had decided that she would no longer use the potty whenever we would ask her to. She would refuse to go during our “scheduled” potty breaks, and no amount of bribery, praise or coaxing would change her mind!!! Once again, my daughter’s willfulness would stop our potty training progress in its tracks. All that progress, and just like that, it was all wiped away (no pun intended), and we were practically back to square one.
We felt so deflated. What were we going to do now? What could we do that we hadn’t already tried? Do we take another break? Do we back off completely? Or do we push through regardless of Evalyn’s new-found attitude towards our potty time routines? All these questions will be answered and more in the next and final installment of my “Adventures in Potty Training a Willful Child” series!