Toilet Learning for my son...
was a major growth experience for me. I did not even know that there was a term such as toilet learning and I had no idea that the Goddess was working with me in this experience.
I am learning that when we are called forth to do something that we have little to no experience with, it is usually an opportunity for us to bring forth the Goddess qualities that are latent within us. These are Goddess qualities that we came here to express and use as gifts to the world.
Helping my son learn how to use the potty was one of those growth opportunities for me.
Below is an article that I wrote in 2004 because I never wanted to forget the transformation required within me to help my son with toilet learning. I did not know the Goddess consciously at the time but I had to dig deeply to find the trust, patience and unconditional love that I now know as supreme Goddess qualities.
The other piece to this for me is that I am one who advocates for children because I feel so often that they have no voice and need others to speak for them.
My point to including this article is for you to see the evolution that I went through as a result of our toilet learning experience and to promote compassion for children on their path to accomplishing this huge task.
I give thanks to the Goddess for my voice....And now my story called:
How I Helped My Son Learn How to Use the Potty- Part I
Potty training. That is an aspect of parenting that I knew I would have to face one day but I was not ready for the difficulty and amount of work it would take to get my son, now 3 years old, from wearing diapers to using the toilet full-time.
I really did not know how to begin the process. I had so many questions:
"At what age do I begin?"
"What signs indicate that he is ready to learn how to use the toilet?"
"Should I use disposable training pants?"
I had been told that children were potty trained early when I was a child. "Children were potty trained by the time they were one," I once heard an elder say. "Wow!" I thought as my son turned one and had no interest in learning how to use the toilet.
I wondered, "How did parents get their children to use the potty at such an early age way back then?" Considering that I work to use empathy as a parent, toilet learning had to be baby friendly. Punishments and forced pottying would not work for my son and me.
So, it was not until he was two that I decided that it was time. Really, I began to feel the pressure to get him potty trained because it was around that time that people began to ask, "Is he potty trained yet?" I greatly disliked answering, "No" and I always felt embarrassed when someone whose child was younger than mine was already so advanced that he was wearing "big boy" underwear.
Well, I pulled out my handy copy of The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears and read the section on what they term "toilet learning". It all made sense: a child must be able to recognize the need to go to the bathroom, to hold his bladder, to communicate the need to his parents, to pull his underwear and pants down and sit down on the potty chair or toilet.
After understanding what it took, I realized that this was no easy task for children and I had an understanding of what I was working toward.
However, I still was not clear on exactly how we were to accomplish this goal.
How was I to get my son to full-time pottying? I really wanted him potty trained and I wanted it now!
After a bit of trial and error I figured some things out.
First, I realized that there is a toilet learning continuum on which one end is diapers and on the other end is 100% toileting. My goal was to help my son move across the continuum until he was using the toilet on his own. This revelation lead me to the major turning point in this process.
I was in favor of waiting for my son to give me signs that he was ready; however, I realized that I was handicapping him. By leaving him in the disposable training pants, which are diapers, I was sending him mixed signals. On one hand I was telling him that he was now to use his potty chair and on the other I was still putting a diaper on him.
Additionally, I learned that if the diaper was not removed, the child has no incentive to not pee and poop in his diaper and that it is easier for the child to get in touch with his bodily processes while wearing underwear.
In order to end this dilemma I realized that we had to discontinue using diapers. This was the scariest and most difficult step; however, it put us firmly on the path to our success. It was at that point that I came to realize that the diaper was my crutch. It kept me from having to clean up spills and change wet and soiled clothes.
The bottom line is that no diapers meant more work for me.
So, one day I decided that I wanted my son to use the potty so badly that I was willing to deal with any accidents that may happen and the cloth training pants forced me to tune into his elimination process. I put him on a schedule taking him every hour to ensure that we did not have an accident. It did not matter if he used the bathroom or not, I simply wanted him to get into the habit of going to the bathroom.
I put him in cloth training pants that had a cover to minimize the amount of leakage if he urinated on himself. The other major turning point occurred when my son showed great resistance to the schedule. I decided then that it was now time for me to turn the responsibility of using the potty over to him.
It was clear to me at that point that he understood the process of using the potty but was not coordinated enough at two and a half years old to pull his underwear and pants down in time to use the potty. So I decided that he would be bottomless while we were at home.
One day I explained that he was responsible for getting to the potty. I told him where his potty was located because it moved from room to room depending on where we were and explained that he could not pee or poop on the floor.
Fortunately, he never had an accident. My son had moved up the toilet learning continuum and was now closer to full toilet learning than not. "Yippee!" I thought to myself.
I cannot lie, I still used the disposable training pants at night which was the last hurdle we had to cross. A few weeks after giving birth to my second son, I spoke with one of my beloved elder mothers, Ms Regina, who told me that I was still sending mix signals.
She told me to take my son out of the covered training pants and the nighttime disposable training pants altogether and that I was to do it cold turkey. She explained that doing so would let my son know that I trusted him with regard to using the potty. She helped me understand that switching to underwear was not an option but a necessity in completing this process.
So about 2 months shy of my son's 3rd birthday, he began wearing "big boy" underwear and we have never looked back.
The journey to learning how to use the toilet was long and bumpy at times. I realized that a lot of the problems incurred had everything to do with me. Over time I understood that an infinite amount of trust, patience, understanding and love is needed in helping children learn how to do such a big task.
I respect my son so much for this accomplishment although now I take it for granted. My hope now is that other parents can benefit from what I have learned to help their children's transition to full-time pottying be a pleasant one.
This experience has put me on an entirely different path with my second born son. It is called elimination communication and is part two to this story.