Christine Park

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Extreme Potty Training

Just finished watching Good Morning America's piece on extreme potty training. In it, a 4-month-old baby, who cannot yet sit up on his own, is shown peeing in the toilet. Once I picked my jaw off the ground, I logged on here to... discuss.

What the heck is Elimination Communication?
In the Elimination Communication method, infants as young as just two months are helped to use toilets. Parents go off non-verbal cues, timing and just plain intuition. Proponents say going without diapers saves time and cuts down on environmental waste. The average American family with babies in the household spends an average of $75 a month on disposable diapers, or almost $1,000 a year.

This apparently is not unusual in other more traditional cultures in other parts of the world... but was anyone else disturbed by the video of the 4-month-0ld with a digitized wee wee being held over a toilet? Can't babies just be babies?

Preschool Pressure
An Arlington, Va. mother – Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso – says she was shocked when the principal of her daughter, Zoe's, preschool said the 3-year-old had violated the school's potty training policy and needed to stay home from school for a month, owing to one too many accidents. This launched a firestorm of debate from moms all over the country. Are we pushing our kids to potty train too early? Why punish a toddler for wetting her pants?

Potty training was a condition of my daughter's preschool enrollment as well. She was 2 years old and 9 months when we took her to school. Her potty training was shaky, at best. Add to that, the arrival of her baby brother and a birth defect that affects her bowel/bladdar nerve control, and let's just say everything went out the window when she started school. Her teachers were so patient, and there was a loooooong period when we just had to resort back to pull ups. We tried everything... praise, sticker charts, and positive reinforcement... threats, bribery, commando (have you ever tried to clean diarrhea on carpet?). It was a VERY emotionally stressful situation for everyone, especially my daughter. I can honestly say, in my adult life, potty training was the HARDEST thing I have ever done. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery not even close. Covering mass murders, piece of cake. We even pulled her out of school... feeling like failures... but then it was like we were punishing her for something she was not physically and emotionally ready for.

She is 4 now, and after YEARS of trial and error, and a surgery on her spinal cord, she is technically potty trained. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have accidents. She exceeded her accident "quota" long ago... but the school never kicked her out.

Potty Boot Camp
At one point in my desperation, a friend of mine gave me the 3-Day Foolproof Guide to Potty Training. It's an extreme, no holds barred method that requires the parent to pump their kids full of liquids to get them to pee frequently, hopefully on the toilet. I've also seen a 24-hour Fast Track version of this same method. What's the rush? This potty training, boot camp style, is for the convenience of the parent. One child psychiatrist in the GMA piece compared it to child abuse. I wouldn't go that far, but I can say that it backfired on us. My daughter started refusing to go, the harder we pushed.

Now my son is approaching 24 months. And I am DREADING potty training all over again. Granted, he doesn't have the birth defect, which should technically make it a little easier. But many moms have told me boys are harder to train. I have no idea what approach to take, and when to start, but I do know we need to start sending him to preschool pretty soon. Looks like I'll be searching for one that I can maybe pay, to do the potty training for me! How's that for the easy way out? Does that make me a bad mother... not if I want to maintain my sanity.

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