“Potty training” was a cinch with our first, our daughter, but we’ve had a lot of issues with our second, our first son. When I was pregnant with our third and he was about 2 1/2 he started using the toilet and not needing diapers and it seemed like it was going to be just as easy again. We didn’t push it but highly encouraged and he was happy and we were happy and it was wonderful to not have to worry about that before the baby came.
But the story didn’t end so happily ever after. Shortly after the baby, our second son, was born he (now a three-year-old) started wetting his pants again at night (which he had also stopped for the most part) and during the day. At first it wasn’t all that often and we figured it was just because of the new adjustment time with the baby and he’d stop soon enough.
Yet, here we are, almost three years later and he’s had to go back to wearing ”night-time pants” and rarely goes a whole day with totally dry pants and has to change his pants often. (which means more laundry for me) It’s usually not enough to leak through since his undies are thick like training-pants but there have been a few times where it has (usually when he’s playing outside or away from home for a while).
There is nothing “wrong” with my son, which sometimes makes this “problem” more frustrating. We’ve tried all the tricks and approaches in just about every book, his doctor isn’t concerned and I know there is “medicine” for this but we aren’t convinced that would help as it seems like more of a psychological issue than a physical one. One doctor I talked to about it swears it is an allergy issue but I’m not convinced that is THE issue either since other kids his age that eat “junk” don’t seem to have any problems and he knows he has to go bathroom but just chooses to wait and wait until….oops too late…and then he just keeps playing. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all to go around in icky wet pants. (no, it’s not because we didn’t use cloth diapers with him because we did up until he started using the toilet).
So he knows how to go to the bathroom and he knows he should go there, his biggest problem is deciding to stop what he is doing and go to the bathroom right away instead of holding it and playing just a little longer. We’ve talked and talked and pleaded and yelled and screamed (shamefully) about this with him over and over and over and over….and he just doesn’t get it. I’ve even tried explaining to him how holding it like that for too long can make him sick (think UTI’s, chronic constipation, etc) but still…nothing. We’ve threatened, we’ve bribed, we’ve coaxed, we’ve tried to be patient….I even thought of trying some sort of shock therapy…just kidding…kind of…
Words cannot fully express how incredibly frustrating this has been for all of us, not to mention slightly embarrassing (so please don’t mention this in front of him if you see us).
So a few months back, while brainstorming solutions, I thought…”hmmm, if only there was a way to remind him every so often to go to the bathroom..maybe then he’d get used to going right away on his own.”
So I looked online for “potty alarms” and found all sorts of bedwetting alarm systems and potty alarm watches so knew I was onto something. However the prices for some of these seemed absurd and overly complicated. So I went out to Kohl’s and got a very inexpensive stopwatch, similar to this one with 5 programmable alarms.
He really loves his watch and for the most part, when his alarm goes off he drops everything and runs to the bathroom. Of course this doesn’t work as well when we are at other people’s homes or at a store or in the car (or if he forgets to put it on) but it has helped even if it hasn’t been as magical as I was hoping. I wish there were more alarms on it so I might look into another watch with more than 5 alarms.
While it has helped in some ways it’s also given him another excuse to wait when he really needs to go since he sometimes just waits for his watch to beep before thinking of going. So the underlying problem still exists: him not going when he needs to go right away instead of waiting for the watch or me to tell him to go. And it’s between those times without a reminder (from the watch or me) that he still has issues. I was hoping he’d have this taken care of by the end of his preschool year. But no. His teacher never mentioned anything (again b/c it’s usually not noticeable unless you are looking/smelling for it). Now I’m using kindergarten as a goal but as of today I have very little faith we’ll reach this goal either but here’s to hoping anyway.
I’ve hesitated to blog about this or really talk about it at all because if there’s one thing parents and “experts” love to talk about it’s ”potty training”. Everyone else and all the books seem to have the perfect solution or method for success with this. (That’s the way it is for all things parenting though isn’t it?) I’ve stopped reading or listening to these “experts” because they either make me feel incredibly guilty or inadequate and lead me to blame myself and feel like a total failure (If only I did that or didn’t do this…then maybe) or they make me feel even more hopeless and miserable with the whole situation. So I’m not saying I don’t want you to leave suggestions/encouragement in the comments (because maybe I do), but I am saying I’d rather not hear anything like ”if you do this or that, the problem will go way over night!” (not that I’d believe you anyway). I look forward to the day this will seem like such a small issue (which it is and isn’t). I can’t say no to prayers though – prayers for more grace, patience and humility for us all as we deal with this for who knows how much longer (and how many other kids longer). I’ve already approached this whole thing differently with our third; I have no expectations that he will be “potty trained” by the time this fourth baby comes, in fact I have no time limits/deadlines at all this time. I’m only introducing the idea to him and teaching him how to do as much as he can on his own. I’m sure someone will suggest “EC” to me with this next one but while I’m happy this method/lifestyle has “worked” for many, I know it is not for us for various reasons I will not bother you, or myself, with.
I pray that none of you will ever have these many issues with your kids and “potty training”. If you are a first-time mom please don’t let this post scare you because it probably will not be this way for you as long as you…