Wednesday, 22 January 2014

On Potty training.

As parents, I think we have done a pretty good job with our boys. They are engaged and interested, respectful and have good manners. They set the table and play nicely and can sit still if taped to the couch, but there is one area where, as parents, we have some learning to do.

It is not uncommon for our boys to not feel like peeing in the toilet. We'll be sitting at dinner, and that aroma starts to rise, and I know right away that someone is enjoying their meal more than they'd enjoy a trip to the loo (my darlin'). What is more mystifying is that between the two boys, the older one is the most likely to make an appearance with a circle of shame in his crotch. The younger one is more likely to yell "HAFTA PEEEEEE!!!!!!!!" as he goes charging down the hall. I can't figure out where we've gone wrong with the potty training.

I would expect that most people's five year olds would struggle with counting backwards, but have mastered going to the bathroom. At our house it is the inverse. We've got smart kids who just don't care about pee(r) pressure.

We have tried nearly everything on this front. Rewards, hugs, treats, privileges, negative reinforcement, shaming, etc. and we just can't get that breakthrough to our kids that this actually matters. Especially in the privacy of our own home where they are comfortable and unjudged. If you want to see wet pants, come watch TV with us for half an hour.

What has been successful was the most ridiculous reward of all. Points.

At some point, when Cuppa was on the toilet, I gave him a high five for peeing and shouted out "Ten Points for Cuppa!!" He beamed from ear to ear, jumped down and ran to tell Buddy that he had ten points. After that, the kids would come to me soliciting and negotiating how many points their pee or poo was worth. I don't know what the points are supposed to add up to. I don't think the boys know either. As long as they go pee in the toilet, I don't care. We negotiate a point value, have a high five, and everyone is happy.

At bedtime, whoever has had dry pants all day gets to snuggle in Dad's bed for a book and a treat. Most nights one boy snuggles with me. We are still working through the Halloween candy we collected back in October. It makes good treats. Advent and Christmas undermined this tradition since there were Christmas specials and stories and treats galore all through December, but I think things are starting to get back on track.

We've been reading Captain Underpants for our bedtime stories lately, and since they are chapter books (with much silliness) the boys are hooked on finding out what happens next every night. I think that missing a chapter is an issue to them. Last night Buddy said, "I better have dry pants tomorrow!" after a particularly suspenseful end to a chapter. I guess they know what's supposed to happen, but its just not clicking.

Night training is a complete and utter loss right now. the other night poor cuppa soaked his 'bedtime underpants" (pull-ups) and his sheets and comforter. I heard him whimpering in the night, and when I reached his room , he was shivering away on a corner of his bed, curled up in a ball, trying to stay warm. We changed him and his bed, Momma snuggled him for a while, and in the morning he oblivious to the whole thing. So much for the school of hard knocks.

I have no idea how to get into night training when we can't get decent traction through the day. We've tried sleep-pees and timers. We've tried with and without pull-ups. They just sleep right through the event(s) every night.

This is frustrating to me. When Chuck was toilet trained, she was 3. We sent her to Grandma's house for the weekend, and she came home wearing big girl panties and proudly peeing in the toilet. In a weekend, dammit! No night time issues, nothing. The only time she wet herself after that was on camping trips when she couldn't get out of her sleeping bag. And she was embarrassed and woeful then, not ambivalent - even proud, like the boys. Maybe I suck as a parent. Grandma tells me she just told Chuck to pee in the toilet and that was that.

I worry for the boys. Cuppa is starting to show signs of skin problems like rashes and eczema, and sleeping in urine can't help that. Buddy is hiding wet underwear and finding ways to sneak away when he pees himself, both at home and school, and I don't want sneaky kids. Momma is up to 5 baskets of laundry a week. The 2 boys make up 4 of those baskets.

So I'm looking for input. After 2 years of trying, how do you move your kids to a fresh start, or get them to understand the need for decent bathroom habits? What worked for you and what were your challenges? What strategies are there to get kid with a chronic bedwetting problem to move into the world of the dry? Please share - I'm getting desperate!


  1. I do not have kids so this may or may not work. Let the boys sleep together and when one of them has an accident the other will then wake him up and alert him of the problem. And visa versa. And just think of the fact of one set of sheets to wash. They would be helping each other rather than competing with each other for the evening book reading and treat.

    1. That's an interesting idea - Today they share a room, but not a bed, and sometimes things get interesting as-is. (Buddy woke up covered in Vicks Vapo-rub last night...) Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I have been fighting the night time fight for years. I wonder if it has a bit to do with genetics, because Bug still pees the bed. She's 9 remember. And she potty trained herself, at 26 months. We just use underjams, which she often soaks through, pee pads on the beds, and change lots and lots of sheets. I've seen 10 loads of laundry in a week just from this problem. And I've tried all the other things you did too.
    I have found that since I push more water through the day, and insist on certain amounts of it, it seems to be helping. I don't understand it, but better hydration seems to lead to drier nights for Bug.

    As for the daytime thing, Bean was a NIGHTMARE
    One of the only good things I learned from watching crazy Kate and her 8 kids is that when pottying is an issue, you insist a pee goes in the pot before you sit at the table. I never really thought to do that until then, and when I started saying no dinner til you pee, well, it worked. She also had to report to her Papa if she stayed dry all day at school when she started because she wet so much she was in danger of being kicked out until "properly" trained.
    I too felt at that age that my kids had some form of disconnect from the lower wasting systems, but I've never completely figured it out.
    Sharing a bed did not work for my kids, the other would just wake up soaked in pee too, in a night she may not have we herself.

    Might be worth a try for the boys. It's all rather mysterious to me, and I should know what to do, I'm supposed to be an "expert" but each kid is different, and it can be so frustrating. ~J

    1. Thanks ~J - at least theres some encouragement in all this. They'll get there when they're good and ready I guess.


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