Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Silent Potty War

I may have mentioned once or twice or twenty times that Reagan is my stubborn kid. This kid commits. This kid will sit in time out (self-inflicted) for forty minutes to avoid picking up her toys. This kid needed to be restrained by two adults to take medicine. She is strong and strong willed. All awesome characteristics for an independent young woman confronted with peer pressure. All headbangingly frustrating characteristics for a toddler who would prefer a diet made up exclusively of milk and m&ms.

Anyway, Reagan is creeping toward her third birthday and is shedding the last of her "baby" persona as she moves into the end of toddler-hood. But one of the big milestones is potty training.

Madison was a pleaser. She wanted us to be proud of her. When it was time to potty train sticker charts and m&ms and rewards and calling her a big girl worked. She was just over two, and although we had the usual bumps in the road, she really wanted to be a big girl.

Reagan did not care. Didn't care that big girls went in the potty. Didn't care about stickers. Didn't care about rewards. Didn't care about m&ms.

Let me repeat that. My child who would make a meal out of these small chocolate candies did not care about them when they were tied to potty training. No violent refusals or tantrums, but a complete lack of interest.

We put the little potty back out almost a year ago and Reagan steadfastly ignored it. It was a silent potty war. I wanted her to use it. She didn't want to use it. No battles, no officially casualties, but she was slowly torturing me by her refusal to acknowledge the pot.

I had no idea how to train this kid. If Reagan has taught me anything, it's that kids are totally different and what worked with Madison will not work with her. I need new strategies - sometimes completely opposite strategies. And Reagan is so stubborn I knew that she would eye me for signs that I was invested in potty training. Because if it was something I wanted, she wasn't going to do it.

Some people might be thinking Game on, kiddo but all I was thinking was Game over. Have you ever battled wills with a toddler? Even if you win you lose.

So I tried a few months of reverse psychology (ineffective) and a few months of steadfastly praising Madison for something she's been doing for over two years (ineffective). I tried keeping the rewards in sight without really offering them (Oh, this bowl of m&ms? I keep them just in case any little girls use the potty). When she complained during diaper changes I casually remarked that when she was ready I wouldn't need to change her anymore (ineffective). I kept saying that I was going to wait until Reagan was ready. Really ready.

And then I started thinking that, to spite me, she would be the kid in diapers forever. She wouldn't get to go to preschool, or do any classes, or swim in the big pool over the summer. I would be trapped in the baby pool FOREVER!!!

So I started saying that, against all my better judgment, I was going to have to find a few days and just do the stupid boot camp method. I hate the idea of it, and with such a stubborn kid I figured it would be absolute hell on wheels. But I wasn't going to do it before her surgery and I wasn't going to do it over Christmas. Basically, I didn't want to do it, so I kept putting it off.

Then, last week, Reagan decided to potty train herself.

Seriously. She essentially left me out of the loop entirely. She started taking off her diaper, sitting on the potty, peeing, yelling that she did it and asking for m&ms. Then she wouldn't put a diaper back on, and she'd spend the rest of the day pantsless, but peeing in the pot. The next day she pulled a pair of underwear out of her drawer.

And that's been it.

Well, not it. Out of the house is still a crap shoot (no pun intended) because she's not the kind of kid who's going to tell me she needs a potty. She's going to use it if she knows where it is without any of that pesky telling Mom business. I'd love to keep her home until she's a little more confident, but that's not in the cards these days. And I'm not even attempting bedtime. She's been such an improved sleeper since her tonsillectomy that I want nothing to do with waking up to pee.

So goodbye diapers - barring any huge surprises, we are officially done with the diaper stage.

Moral of the story?

I have no idea. Except that acting totally disinterested really works for a stubborn kid, if you've got the patience to do it and eventually, they will do it on their own. I wonder if she knows that I almost caved...

No. Not putting that out into the universe. This was all Reagan. Do you hear me universe? I am claiming no credit. 

Oh, and she will never watch Nina Needs to Go. Duh.

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