The next big milestone on my parenting horizon isn’t really something that’s fun to talk about, let alone figure out how to handle. It’s not a dinner-table conversation topic, but it certainly is a necessity — potty training.
Reese will soon be 2, and that — so I’m told — is usually when moms and dads should begin dedicating some serious time and effort to getting their little ones comfortable with new bathroom routines. Like anything parenting-related, there seems to be an endless amount of information on potty training available in the form of books, articles, columns, blogs and even videos.
Although I’ve done my fair share of research, I’m still not sure how I want to proceed. Everyone swears by a different method — the incentives (bribery) system, using charts and a timer to make regularly scheduled visits to the restroom, positive reinforcement (think: potty cheerleader), and the suggestion that leaves me most apprehensive — the cold-turkey approach to doing away with diapers. Instead of phasing them out, one is supposed to simply do away with diapers all at once. Those who support this method say that walking around in uncomfortable wet pants a few times is all it takes for a child to decide she would rather head for the bathroom. Many people swear by using a combination of more than one approach.
And then there are the personal anecdotes that make their way around parenting circles — the friend of a friend whose son potty-trained himself at 17 months. The co-worker’s cousin who was still changing her 4-year-old’s diapers because nothing she tried worked. I may not know yet exactly how I want to go about this, but I can say with absolute certainty that I don’t want to be shopping for Pampers when my daughter turns 4, or even 3
for that matter. Plus, diapers aren’t exactly cheap, and I can think of other ways to spend $50 a month!
For now, we’re slowly introducing Reese to the idea of potty training. My husband and I encourage her to sit on her potty regularly, although nothing too exciting has happened yet. She seems to find it an enjoyable place to sit and look at books. We’ve had a few false alarms, during which Reese swears she’s ready to test out the potty but instead jumps up and runs away — sans clothes — the second I blink. The trouble with that is, I never can tell if it’s another false alarm or her first legitimate bathroom request, so I err on the side of caution and drop everything to escort Reese to the restroom when she asks. I do think this routine is beginning to amuse
My daughter’s favorite television character is Elmo, so I picked up an Elmo potty-training video and a coloring book, thinking it certainly couldn’t hurt. She’s mildly interested in both. I, on the other hand, have enjoyed a renewed interest in coloring since that book and a fresh package of Crayola crayons hit our kitchen table.
Perhaps that “incentive approach” is a good idea after all. If I can get this potty-training show on the road sooner rather than later, I can use all that extra money that would have gone to diapers for a few more coloring books and maybe even a set of markers — the washable kind, of course. Because they would be for Reese. Not for me.