The best tool in our potty training arsenal…

12 Jun

For years (a little over 4 of them) we struggled with potty training the little guy. Yes, he has some other issues (on top of the drama that is a 4 year old boy at times) which threw a little extra zest into the challenge, but as we had never potty trained another kid this was our normal…

We did, however, amass quite the arsenal of potty paraphernalia during out journey…Most of it addressed specific issues boyo and I were having during the process, but none of them were a perfect solution.

Here were our main issues:

1. boy is blessed with my proportions. He has a long torso and short legs.

2. boy is bigger from front to back than most potties and potty seats

3. boy is fiercely independent when it comes to learning new things. he is also secretive. he will practice something, in private, until he gets it perfect to show us. We think this may be genetic, as we are big on the “do your best” thing rather than the “you have to do my version of your best and I am completely delusional and this will scar you for life” dealio. Anyway, example: he didn’t walk until 22 months (for many reasons) but when he did he just walked. He never stumbled or fell down. He just walked like he had been doing it for a year.

4. With my physical issues (arthritis and early on in his potty training history, projectile vomiting whenever I would move, and a giant tumor, pulsing with hormones, in my neck) emptying and cleaning the little floor potty was necessary, but frustrating and frequently painful and exhausting.

Eventually, we discovered that boy was still dropping a dook in his shorts and telling us, proudly, that he had crapped or wet his pants. Odd. Well, as it turns out, we were encouraging him to, in basic terms, do his business in a container and then we were dumping the goods in the big, flushing toilet and then scrubbing the “container”, he figured he would up our efficiency and just crap directly in his underpants which could then be thrown into the washing machine with some stain treating and rinsing. He decided that this system was much easier and more efficient and he didn’t have to break up his playtime as quickly to get to the “container” to drop the kids off in a timely fashion.

It was at this point that I realized we had taught him that you poop and pee in one place and then you transfer them to, basically, a garbage (that flushes)…

Boyo is very literal. I can see clearly, how our struggle went on for so long… Hindsight is 20/20

So we moved onto the Baby Bjorn potty seat, which was the only seat around that would accommodate all of the necessary little dude gear without him shifting around (and possibly wiggling the seat a bit and scaring the…well, you know… at least he was in the appropriate place for having the poo scared out of him)….

Of course, this meant that every time he had to use the potty he had to locate me, communicate with me regarding his needs (or just do a dramatic pee-pee dance and then flat out deny that he had to pee while a puddle formed around his feet) , and then we both had to venture to the bathroom, where I would lift him (remember the arthritis? Not a good match for lifting my 36lb wiggly kid)… He would then do his business and wash his hands and move on.

I did notice that he was doing better with the potty thing when he started school, but of course everyone had been chanting before he started “when he sees the other kids being big boys and big girls and using the potty he will want to as well”… So I just wrote it off as peer pressure…

One day, my genius child got the stepstool out (we rarely used it as he still couldn’t reach much even with it) and attempted to climb up onto the regular toilet by himself (I just watched and didn’t intervene as he is a “practicer” with everything). Well, a stepstool (made for kids) has a few critical flaws: the one we have (which we love for other uses) has 2 steps…If boy is on step 1 he doesn’t have enough turn-around space and does not have the leg length to just park his butt on the toilet seat… If he is on step 2 he is very high and the drop down to the toilet seat is terrifying… It definitely doesn’t help that the regular kid stepstools do not have a handrail or grip bar of some sort.. Poor kid was so scared at the top of the stool that he just stood there crying softly and shaking a bit… Pants around his ankles and he couldn’t move because his balance, at that time, was still not the greatest… Note: to this day he takes his pants completely off when he has to pee, even in public restrooms… I have a feeling it was this particular incident with the stepstool that triggered that quirk…

Anyway, I toyed with the idea of installing handicap restroom railings in his bathroom. But still the wooden, very cute, and personalized stool wasn’t the right proportion for this purpose…

Then one day… EUREKA!

When I had my spine surgery I found that even just boosting myself a little bit, to get my butt onto the bed, was torture (occasionally, I blacked out and fell over from the pain doing this)… So one of the nurses hooked me up with a metal step stool- with a higher handle on one side and a grippy surface to step on. It was a life saver for me (and later on, at home, my underused reebok step (with risers) replaced it as I had enough strength to step down without the handle)…

So I ordered one for boyo. I got mine off ebay… If you click the image above it will take you to Amazon.com and a stool similar to the one we bought (ours is apparently unavailable on Amazon at this time, it was by “Drive”, the one linked is readily available and looks to be the same or very similar). By the way, if you have a kid(or kids) or are ever planning on interacting with the pee-wee set, you might want to subscribe to parenthacks… Truly awesome stuff…

Anyway- within a week of it’s arrival we made a huge amount of progress- boy was potty trained. Most of all, it taught me, as a parent, that the key to my little guy’s success is letting him take ownership of his tasks. Helping him get to and from the potty solved some of the mess issues, but it was killing my back, and teaching him that he doesn’t have to be responsible for his bodily functions and the state of his underpants. The step stool has given him the freedom and responsibility to handle those things, and to manage his time better as it is up to him to get his butt up on that toilet before it is “too late”…

Some tips if you do get a stool like this for your kids:

Do not let little kids use the adult toilet, unsupervised… (kids can drown in 1-2” of water…) Perhaps in the beginning of using such a stool it would be wise to park it a few feet away from toilet while it is not being actively used… The legs are wide (like a bulldog) apart and rubbergripped and the stool is fairly solid…It is not easy for someone under 3.5 feet tall to move..Use your judgment, of course, you know your kid best.

Do not attempt to wipe down the grippy surface with a disposable cleaning wipe(ie clorox wipe). Cleaning wipe dingle berries will accumulate rapidly. A spritz of spray cleaner and a wipe with a microfiber cleaning cloth works wonders… If the crevices are getting dusty, try a utility/scrub brush after spraying…

And after your dear child finishes potty training and his/her legs grow long and strong enough to not need this very valuable tool, do not dispose (donate or sell) of this… This stepstool is also steady and useful in the kitchen and, as I mentioned previously, after surgery…

I hope this helps at least one parent and one kiddo….

Hugs all around…

B

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One Response to “The best tool in our potty training arsenal…”

  1. bulldog puppy lover August 15, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    hehe. this is so true. Pretty much explains everything.

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