Toddler Revelations – Potty Time Freedom

In the last three months, Benjamin has announced himself as a full-fledged two-year-old with words like, “No!” and whining and crying spectaculars. I knew this would happen but still marvel at what has happened to our little boy’s easy-going personality. His outbursts show up almost exclusively when he is extremely tired or when we’re asking him to do something he doesn’t want to do (which usually involves stopping doing what he loves to do–playing with trains or cars.)

For example, he has never resisted going potty before about 2 months ago. Potty trained during the day since 18 months, he has enjoyed potty breaks–the books, the toys, the release. But suddenly, if we told it was time to go potty before lunch or dinner, he melted down.

So what could we do?

We tried a few things like giving a choice between obeying and going to the potty or getting a time-out; reminding him that we do this every day before lunch and dinner; encouraging him to take the opportunity just to try; putting up with the tears until he was on the potty and then, of course, never wanted to get off.

These things worked some times. I really believed in establishing habits and that by taking him to the potty even if he didn’t absolutely have to go, we were teaching him to create a rhythm and not just run to the potty at the last minute or after his undies were already a little wet.

But then last week, I realized I had found the solution and had even been using it intermittently for a few days when he had already gone potty an hour or so before a meal. So this is what we started to do.

At any previously scheduled potty break, we said and did the following:

1) “Benjamin, we will be eating lunch in 3 minutes, so if you need to go potty, now would be a good time to go. You don’t have to go potty, but if you need to, you can.”

2) Waited patiently while Benjamin, at first, immediately said, “No, no, no,” until he realized we’re giving him the option to not go to the potty at all. (joy of joys!)

3) Watched as Benjamin either walked straight to the table for his meal or listened as he said, “I need to go potty,” and marched himself there.

No more melt-downs surrounding the potty. Hurrah!

This wouldn’t have worked 6 or even 3 months ago. I don’t think he was ready. He was still sometimes waiting too long to tell us he needed to go. This happened infrequently but still, we didn’t trust him to consistently pay attention to his body’s signals. In other words, we were afraid (of all the messes). For the past two months though, he has been able to pull down his own pants and undies and climb onto the seat by himself.

So when he started resisting, that was his very indirect way of telling us he was ready to make these decisions on his own. And I’m so glad we listened!

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