Potty Training or how growing up can sometimes take place in minutes

Last week was a monumental week for our little family. We got to visit the school where our son will be spending the next twelve years (unless we move or whatever). Needless to say, twelve years is a long time, and we had been queueing for a spot for two years and didn’t think we’d get in. But, someone else didn’t take their spot and Sascha was offered a place. The English School in Gothenburg has an amazing reputation and is one of the only schools in town where English is the primary language. In our family we speak five languages on an average family reunion, and English is a must.

When we returned from our visit last Wednesday, we began to read through the information material and were shocked when we read this sentence in the material: “On August 8th, please bring the following items: [long list] potty trained”

Sascha loves his personal potty, his throne. He is the king of the bathroom...

Sascha loves his personal potty, his throne. He is the king of the bathroom… Photo: private

Potty Trained? Not sure if you’ve read my post last summer about potty training our son, and our complete failure. Sascha just wasn’t ready. This spring, our current pre-school began potty training during school hours, but Sascha refused. The potty I had bought last year turned out to be too small, and he hated the IKEA toilet adapter. He refused to use the toilet at home. Meanwhile, most girls his age (three) were potty trained and even some of the boys were out of diapers. Not Sascha. We were scared and worried that he may not be able to go to school this fall (and that we’d lost his spot at our current school).

Yes, we’d fully planned to start to potty train him earnestly once vacation begins (this coming weekend), but we also knew that we’d be traveling for most of the time. And traveling, by car, plane for long hours isn’t ideal for potty training. So our self-esteem was low, when we met our current school’s principal last Friday during the school’s open house. She mentioned, not for the first time, that she’d had great success with other kids with a singing potty, a potty that would play a song after every successful pee or poop. I had already suggested to my husband that we take Sascha shopping and that we invest in a new potty, one that our son would choose on his own.

We went to our local baby supply store but didn’t find anything. Yes, they had a pink potty our son liked, but I really wanted the singing potty. Apparently they sold them at Toy-R-Us, so we walked next door and lo and behold, Fisher-Price sells a singing potty. I bought it, not asking Sascha for approval. Back at the house we assembled it (1 minute) and set it up in the bathroom. It looks a little bit like a throne.

Potty-training is made simple. Our son even empties and cleans his own potty.

Potty-training is made simple. Sascha even empties and cleans his own potty. He insists on it. Photo: private

To show Sascha how it works, I poured some water from a glass into the bowl, and it played a song, ending on a hooray. Naturally, Sascha wanted to try, too. We explained to him that it would always play a song if he went potty, and we tried, right away. Frustratingly, nothing happened, but we decided to remove the diaper anyway, and put on some briefs and shorts. I believe we had three accidents that afternoon, and no success. We even had a big accident (not going into details…)

He went to bed Friday night and drank loads of water, and Saturday morning, it was my turn to get up with him, his diaper was well filled. I helped him out of the diaper and asked if he wanted to try the potty. He did, and you should’ve seen the pride on his face (not to mention the grin on mine) when the potty began to sing. A high five and Sascha had earned a few raisins as a reward. Believe it or not, that was it. From that moment on, we’ve only had two accidents, one on a walk (we’d noticed his telltale sign that he needed to go, an itch to his wee-wee) but standing up and peeing didn’t work for him, and three minutes later we watched the waterfall through his shorts. The second accident came after another short walk. I had noticed he needed to go, but nothing happened when we got home. Two minutes later he didn’t quite make it to the potty and half of it ended up on the floor. But apart from that, he notifies us when he has to run and then he runs, literally. Big or small!

This morning, he went to the potty before going to school, and for the first time, he left the house for a five minute walk to the jetty, a twenty minute boat ride and a ten minute car ride to his pre-school, wearing briefs, no diaper. As he arrived in school, he went to their toilet my husband tells me. Our baby is growing up, in big leaps or strides. I couldn’t be more proud.

So what happened? I think that there are a couple of important factors that contributed:

  • He’s linguistically able to process our instructions and explanations. He’s also able to respond. We weren’t there last year.
  • His buddies in school have already made the transition, and he’s very much aware of that.
  • Being a “big boy” is important to him.
  • Choice of potty (comfortable to sit) is critical. It’s going to be interesting to follow his progress, but given this morning’s pee in school, the singing potty isn’t “necessary”, but I think it was critical in helping him take that leap of faith, and to understand the connection between his own “feeling” of a full bladder or colon, and the sense of success. I think the tiny potty and the toilet adapter made things more difficult, mentally, because they were uncomfortable for him. Our stress didn’t help either.
The potty converts into a step, with a toilet adapter. Once the child grows bigger.

The potty converts into a step, with a toilet adapter. Once the child grows bigger. Potty training with a future! 🙂 Photo: private

Five days ago I was afraid we’d never be able to have Sascha join the English School this fall!. He still gets to wear a diaper at night, for a while longer. We want to make sure he doesn’t have nightly accidents, even though he already wakes up every now and then with an unused diaper. But there’s no rush, and the diapers will come in handy during long flights or car rides. For all else, a small plastic bottle will come in handy for trips.

Why write this post? Well, as a parent, this is one of the biggest moments in our life as a family. We’ve overcome one of the biggest obstacles so far. It’s taken us a year, but in all honesty, it was only a weekend, really. But I also hope that if you’re a parent, and you have a child in Sascha’s age (2-3 years), don’t fret. Don’t go buying books for lots of money. They’ll get there, eventually. As our principal said: there are no five year olds with diapers (at least none without intellectual or physical disabilities). When your child is ready, you’ll get there. But the best tip I can give you is to involve your child. Buy the potty together. Let them be a part of the decision. This is a big step, mentally, and emotionally, to learn to read and interpret the signals from their body, and you want that to be a positive experience, not something that is frustrating (it was for us, every time we failed, and I’m sure that showed and made Sascha self-conscious…)

This post is not sponsored by Fisher-Price, but I’m more than happy to endorse this product (as well as others we’ve bought). We’ll take this potty on our vacation and once Sascha no longer needs it, the seat he’s grown used to and the throne converts to a toilet adapter with step (see photo). Perfect. The potty sells on Amazon for $28, a bargain given how amazing this works!

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Have a wonderful week, from a “relieved” dad…

Hans

PS: Five days from now, my new book Shorts – Stories from Beneath the Rainbow, is released. Have a look. It’s 25% off on SmashWords right now. Use this code: SSW25

 

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