You often hear about how we need to stop devaluing girls, to start telling them how intelligent they are rather than how pretty they are, and to teach them that they’re equal to boys in every way. While I’m [mostly] all for that, I find it appalling that we don’t hear about how we need to stop treating boys like they’re stupid or “behind” girls while they are growing up. I am completely aware that developmentally boys have a tendency to be behind girls. You can’t change things that may or may not happen physically on a certain time frame and I get that.
What I’m specifically talking about today is potty training. (call it what you will, potty learning WHATEVER – we’re talking about the same freaking thing. I just call it potty training because that’s what I’m used to and that’s what sounds best to me. Training/learning. Same diff.) The Nerd didn’t potty train until he was 3 years, 1 month old and that was completely my fault. I tried when he was 18 months and it was WAY too early. He thought the royal potty chair (funny take on “the Throne”, Fisher Price), was a toy he could push around and make sing by sticking his hand in the bowl. I gave up in frustration after an extremely feeble attempt at potty training. Once I finally resolved to stop buying diapers, we went cold-turkey underwear and he was literally potty trained right then and there. I can count on one hand the number of accidents he has ever had.
In general, I think Pull-Ups or trainers are a big, fat waste of money. It’s a diaper. That pulls up. Your kid isn’t as stupid as you think s/he is and s/he knows that it’s a diaper. You can change the name of it all you want, it’s a diaper. I do think they have their time and place in potty training and I will address that in a minute.
I just get so sick of people saying, “OH, George isn’t potty trained yet, even though he’s 3 years old.” then someone else replying, “That’s OK! He’s a boy! Boys train later than girls.”
I call bull honkey.
Why are we devaluing our little boys?
I got tired of washing cloth diapers for two children the week The Muffin turned 2, so I sought out a potty training system that would have it done and over with in a short period of time. I came upon 3 Day Potty Training and fell in love/hate with the idea. It’s really a 3 day intensive Elimination Communication Boot Camp. You and your child throw all of the diapers away then switch directly to underwear, even for nap and bed time. There is mess involved. Lots and lots of mess. But the idea is that you watch your child like a hawk for 3 days and run them to the toilet every time they begin to pee or poop so that they can finish up on the potty. This gives them the power to make that brain/body connection on their own and eventually take themselves to the potty when they feel the urge. You aren’t supposed to ask them if they have to go because that takes the power away from them. Instead, you ask them if they are dry every half an hour or so, then remind them to tell you if they have to go to the bathroom.
The Muffin was a raging beeyoch about potty training, just like she is about many things. She would hold her pee until I sat down to nurse The Stinky, then stand right in front of me and pee like a racehorse with a big ole’ smile on her face. She had been waking up dry for months so I knew that night time would be fine and it was. We take her to go potty before we go to bed and she only ever has accidents when we fail to follow through on that nightly routine. On the morning of Day 4, she peed her pants as we were going out for a few hours. I made her stay home with The Workaholic and that was it. Homegirl was potty trained likethat.
I knew that I wanted to potty train The Stinky around the same time I had potty trained The Muffin but I had my serious doubts. Society has taught us to be OK with thinking that our boys aren’t as smart as our girls are, and that they are more difficult to potty train, or that they aren’t capable of potty training as young as two. I’ve even heard people say that you shouldn’t force them because if they aren’t showing interest, then they aren’t ready.
TO ME? that’s like saying “don’t force your kids to go to bed because they’ll show interest when they’re ready.” I don’t know how your kids are, but mine would be up all day long for the rest of their lives if I waited for them to show interest. And while very few children go to Kindergarten in diapers, I wanted my kids out of them ASAP.
That idea went completely out the window because he was extremely interested in this new thing we had in the house. He peed on it that day when he woke up from his nap. I was shocked. The very next day, The Muffin, The Stinky, The Nerd, and I all came down with yet another winter virus. I gave up before I had really started. I knew that I couldn’t give The Stinky the attention that he would need for 3 day potty training and I didn’t really want to drag it out over weeks of mess and frustration.
The week he turned 2 I was having serious doubts that he was ready. The Stinky had a vocabulary of about 5 very simple words and he could not communicate many of his wants or needs without crying or whining – no actual words. He still woke up wet in the morning. VERY wet. This is where boys might be behind girls in the physical development department and that’s OK.
I resigned myself to give it an honest shot. No changing the program, just doing it. We went and bought another Package of Underwear
that he got to pick out by himself. Cars undies!
We went home and got to work. It just so happened that he ran to the potty to pee by himself the first time he went. He had a few accidents but because I was watching him like a hawk, I would run him to the toilet as soon as I noticed he was peeing and he would finish there. As long as he went in the toilet, he got one marshmallow.
At the end of the first day, The Stinky was taking himself to the toilet to pee ALL BY HIMSELF. He wouldn’t poop to save his life, but he did pee. I made the executive decision to put him in pull-ups over night because of his inability to wake up even remotely dry right now. THIS is where I think pull-ups are OK. Perhaps he could go overnight without wetting the bed if I just trained him to do so, but he refuses to move out of the safety of his crib and into his toddler bed, and would therefore likely not make it to the restroom anyways. It’s night time, he is still a very young little boy, and wearing a diaper to bed is still acceptable, as long as he is in underwear the rest of the day – even for nap.
As day 3 came to a close, he had still not pooped in 3 days, which is not at all like him. This child usually poops 3 times each and every day without fail. I knew that when it finally happened, it wouldn’t be pretty.
As Murphy’s Law would have it, he pooped in his underwear the next day. An enormous horse turd of a poop. SO frustrating. Luckily, I was accustomed to cloth diapering so it wasn’t much different than changing a poopy diaper – just in undies.
About ten days went by and we went on this daily poop in the undies/poop on the floor routine. He was completely #1 potty trained, but he would NOT sit on the toilet to have a bowel movement to save his life.
Then one day, The Workaholic took himself to the bathroom for a #2. I knew The Stinky needed to go, so I asked The Workaholic to please take him to the restroom with him and show him how it’s done. The Stinky sat down and POOPED! he proceeded to stand up in the process of eliminating, but he SAT DOWN! ON THE POTTY! We were so excited that we had a bathroom dance party and went to get ice cream (chocolate of course) to celebrate. The next day he pooped in his underwear once then once on the potty after I reminded him where and how we poop.
That has honestly been it. He wasn’t completely potty trained in 3 days like The Muffin was. He was #1 trained within hours but #2 trained after about two weeks.
I’d be lying if I said he didn’t have the occasional accident, but they are always when he is on the way to the restroom and having a little trouble getting his pants down, and they don’t happen every day.
He only ever wears a pull-up at night. When we are out in public, he tells me that he has to pee or poop and will go there when I take him. He won’t sit on a big potty, but he will let me hold him up and dangle his penis in the air over the toilet to pee. If he has to poop, we leave the scene immediately and flee home. At home he rarely tells me that he has to use the restroom anymore, he just takes himself.
The Stinky turned 2 on March 7, 2013. He has been 2 for just over a month at this point and has been fully potty trained for over 2 weeks, #1 potty trained for a month. His vocabulary has EXPLODED since we started training him.
The inability to communicate with words is not an indicator of whether or not your child is ready to be trained. Showing an interest in the potty is not an indicator of whether or not they are ready to be trained. Being content to sit in a dirty diaper is not an indicator of whether or not they are ready to be trained (The Stinky was perfectly content to sit in a poopy diaper).
Don’t make excuses for your unwillingness to potty train. Don’t be content to say “I have a boy and they train late.” It’s simply not true.
Our little boys are just as smart and willing to please as our little girls are.
Don’t devalue your little boy. Know that he is smart and able. Give him the opportunity to prove his smarts to you.
And if you choose not to potty train as early as I did, that’s A-OK, I’m not judging. I’m simply saying don’t blame your perfectly smart and able son, because he IS capable. And he CAN.