The Wilde Olive Blog: The potty struggle | What I've learned.


The potty struggle | What I've learned.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This is not a how-to or a what we did right potty post. This is an honest look at what potty training has been like for us this summer and what we've learned from our little boy.  I started with a kind-of 3 day method and it first. Now, read if you like but consider yourself warned that this post contains mentions of poop. 

Jonah has technically been potty trained for a few months now. We went cold turkey and I stayed home with him for a Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday to work on going to the potty. He did GREAT. That Sunday we took him to spend a week with MeMe and Poppie and continued to do great there. He barely had any accidents and most of them were just not being able to get to the restroom quick enough. I was so proud of him. We didn't even use pull ups at night and he woke up dry most mornings. (We used disposable pads under his sheet for a while.)

 Then last month it all seemed to start falling apart. Summer was just too much I guess. Hot long days filled with playing and going here and there. He was overly tired and skipping naps on some days so we let the accidents slide, but it didn't get better. It got worse. He was telling us he needed to go and even going some on his own, but then he started having number two accidents more than he was going number two in the potty. This was never an issue in the beginning (and I was really surprised because he used to go 3-4 or more times a day when he wore a diaper) then all of a sudden he would hide it here and there or he would wait too long to tell us and couldn't make it to the bathroom. Then, there are these times when he knowingly does it and it just gets me. I get SO frustrated with him and myself because I would have JUST asked him if he needed to go and was told "no". I tried not asking him and just saying lets go try to go potty before this or that activity, etc. and he practically implodes claiming "I NOT NEED TO GO POTTY". I have tried changing my tactic and saying "tell me when you need to go potty" which is exactly what I did in the beginning. No dice. Yes he tells me often, but he practically jumps off the potty before I hear the stream stop.


So, two weeks ago at the height of my frustration, I just decided to stop and let it go. We needed a fresh start. He didn't want to go back to diapers because believe me I threatened to put a diaper on him. So, I just started from square one. We will reward poops on the potty. This time I'm raising the stakes though. No asking him a million times "why did you just do that?" or exclaiming "Jonah, I JUST asked you if you had to go!" and no time outs for deceiving me on purpose because I don't really feel like he's fully able to comprehend lying yet - even though it sometimes seems he really does. We are simply rewarding him with what he likes most. Paw Patrol, toy cars, and Super Heros. If a real life digger were in the budget - he'd be re-landscaping the backyard.

Last week, I went back to square one with padded underwear if he had a poop accident. He has to prove to me he can poop in the potty before he wears his beloved Super Hero undies. When he does poop on the potty - he can pick his undies! He also gets to pick one of the 88 cents cars I bought as rewards and a whole day with no accidents led to a Paw Patrol Paint set. I went BIG to make an impact. When he had an accident he had to turn back in the last prize he had gotten. This has happened once so far and he lost a car and he had to earn it back by pooping on the potty.

I felt like I'd gotten to a point where he was getting all this negative attention from the accidents and we'd let the positive attention fade because we thought he had this pottying thing down. Somehow in raising my own child I forgot what I used to tell parents over and over again when children are having behavioral problems "remember to praise them five times as many times as you correct them". It's not like Jonah doesn't get praised enough, he certainly does, but in the recent weeks/month there has been A LOT going on and a lot of stress - so focusing our attention on the good things can be easily pushed to the side.

So, here is just one thing I've learned from my toddler this summer: being a toddler is hard. Deciphering the good, the bad, the right, the wrong, and learning your own emotions as well as the emotions of others - wow what a heavy load to carry. Especially when you are experiencing things for the very first time. I have never forced a new phase on Jonah and have typically just read his cues when it comes to him growing up or moving to a new phase or starting something new. That's where we started this time, but somehow forgot to do that along the way. I forgot to go at his pace and not mine. I forgot that pooping on himself was his norm - even though I think it's pretty gross. It takes time to learn something new and it takes support and encouragement from those who love you! So, that's where we are. Learning once again that we will probably never have this parenting thing figured out and that's okay. They learn a little and so do we. Every step of the way.


  1. This is a great post Stephanie. We are in the throws of potty training too.

    1. It's not an easy milestone to conquer that's for sure!

  2. #2 on the potty was SO frustrating with Braden. I trained him at 2 yrs 3 months right at the beginning of spring/summer and he would have tiny little accidents because he got too busy. Honestly it took a year for Braden to fully be poop trained without any accidents at all (even just a smear). I'm actually considering training Ethan right away here....definitely when he turns 2, I just want to be done with diapers!

    1. The hardest part for me is just knowing that he CAN do it and them seemingly chooses not to for days at a time. I know it takes time though - I just have to keep working on my patience! Good Luck with E. I hope he does well! I get to start all over again with diapers in less than 8 weeks! I don't mind the itty baby poops though!

  3. My son has been potty trained for a few months except for the pooping! Makes me crazy! Maybe I need to try something different!

  4. Paw patrol toys seem to do the trick around here too!


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