Sunday, November 30, 2008

One step toward the potty, two steps back

The kids and I had to leave church early today. Why? Because Chickie hadn't pooped since Thanksgiving, and she was writhing on the floor in the nursery, crying. No amount of cajoling could get her to go.

As I got her in the car, I was crying too. I had no idea how emotional potty training could be, and I don't think a parent who hasn't had a resistant child can understand that. Part of what has been so hard for me through this process is that Chickie's "issues" are somewhat uncommon--a fear of, and resistance toward, pooping, not combined with actual constipation. Folks, if it was as easy as purchasing an expensive laxative, I would gladly do it. Dealing with these issues that are purely in her head is confusing and immensely frustrating. I've found myself wondering if I need to bring her to a child psychologist.

When I "let it go" and don't push her, I feel more at peace. And I thought that was working, in combination with lots of positive reinforcement (the potty chart and accompanying rewards) and plenty of Placebo. Then for some reason Friday and Saturday nights, she sat on the potty for long periods of time, with lots of crying and no solid results. By today she was so sore that it warranted getting her home to deal with it here.

Within an hour of being home, she did her business, in disposable training pants, not the potty.

I know this will work out eventually. I know the chances that she will always fear pooping are very low, since she is maturing emotionally, and most more mature kids are not terrified of pooping, especially if they don't have constipation issues. But in the middle of the mess (or lack of mess at times), it is surprisingly tiring and nearly all-consuming.

I really apologize for all the poop talk. Honestly, it's just hard to sit down and blog about something else when this is such a big deal today and has been such a big deal so much of the time lately. Seeing my daughter in self-induced misery and not being able to fix it--that's truly awful. Not to mention the pure frustration of knowing there are many parents blessed with kids who potty trained fairly quickly, without emotional issues. I know it's wrong, but I'm dealing with bitter, jealous feelings, wishing my child was like that. And I know I shouldn't care what others think, but I wonder if those parents who had it easy look at me and think I must just be doing it all wrong.

So there you go--musings of a not-so-happy mommy. The stinky truth.


cw2smom said...

Relax Mom! How many kids do you know that are still pooping in training pants when they're in kindergarten? I soooo understand what you are going through as my youngest used to hold it for days and days, until she'd just leak fluids because she didn't want to actually do the pushing on the toilet. It was pretty frustrating and I too tried everything. I gave her a special ring to wear...when she was sitting on the potty..which gave her "strength!" It belonged to my late grandma, and I made a very big deal about how special the ring was and told her stories as she wore it while she pottied! Eventually, the ring gave her "strength" to go. I guess it eventually worked as she's nearly 17 and has been using the toilet for years now without my cheering her on! LOL! I am sorry to make light of it, but seriously...this too shall pass! Pun intended! Blessings, Lisa

Anonymous said...

I would not worry. She's doing great! Every kid is entirely different. My oldest dd was super easy while my middle ds was terrified of pooping on the potty. Gunny, he just doesn't give a darn. He'll pay anywhere in the house! She will eventually catch on and all you can do is patiently wait and reward.

C. Beth said...

cw2smom--The ring is a great idea (sorta like our placebo which seems to at least help her a little bit.) I know this will probably be a non-issue in time; I think part of what's hard is not knowing how long that will take. It's kind of like natural childbirth--part of the difficulty of hard contractions is not knowing if they're going to last another hour or another day!

Sandi--How long did it take your middle ds to get over his poopy potty fear? Was he terrified of pooping in general or just on the potty? Thanks. :)

Eternal Lizdom said...

I am so sorry you are struggling with this. I wish I could say I understood, that I've been there, that I have some magic answer that worked for us. But of my 2, 1 is potty trained and she was easy and my mom did most of it (daughter had diarrhea, grandma came to stay with her and used the diarrhea as a chance to potty train). BUT you must HEAR THIS. You are an awesome mama (from what I've read on here, anyway). You are doing nothing wrong. You are doing everything right, to the best of your ability. You are giving it all that you have. You are doing it right, you are doing it well.

One thing that has helped me tremendously when we've faced struggles (and parenting is all about struggles, right?) is to step back and separate myself from it. Realize that my child is part of me but also separate from me. She makes her own choices and those are not always a direct reflection of choices I've made. A child's choices don't always mean bad parenting or good parenting.

And speaking of choices... that is huge language in our house. We spend all day talking about decisions, chooses, choosing, deciding, picking. Would she respond to that sort of language? You get to separate from it all and put it on her and she gets control over it. Maybe? "Chickie, you can choose to hold your poop. You have control over your body. Choosing to hold your poop is choosing to have owies later. Or you can decide to put the poop in the potty and you are picking no owies (and maybe a reward or whatever)."

Dr Sears wrote a great kids book about going potty... you can find it on Amazon, I know. I think it is called "You Can Go To The Potty." What I liked about it was the talk about feeling the poopoo or peepee coming, explains things very basically and in a friendly, calm way.

Another thing I do when I feel out of control in a parenting situation is come up with a course of action. A game plan. It usually starts with blogging, goes on to researching stuff online with tried and true resources (like Dr Sears and some others), hearing from parents who've been there, posting to a variety of message boards I belong to, and then formulating a plan that I think will work with my kid. Even if the plan fails, I feel better because I feel more in control.

Hang in there mama. It will get better. It will!! Just remember that you are awesome, this isn't about you, you are doing the best you can in a difficult situation, etc.


Eternal Lizdom said...

And to make you smile, I hope... a haiku seems in order...

Chickie doesn't poop
She won't go on the potty
Mom needs extra hugs

beckiwithani said...

I know I have almost no basis from which to make any recommendations, because I haven't gone through this as a mom yet. However, I did have a girl when I nannied that went through it, and it was very frustrating. And I was there for a little bit of stepdaughter Niamh going through it. She didn't end up potty-training till she was well on her way to 4.

In both cases, everything was tried ... and the only thing that worked was to just give up! Both girls potty-trained when they were ready.

I know you really want Ana to get there ... and with the systems you've set up, you don't want to regress. But would you be willing to just do the pull-ups for the foreseeable future, and let her decide when she's ready? She will eventually get there, really! I can't help but think that it might be freeing for Ana to hear you to say, "Okay, sweetie. We're not going to worry about pooping on the potty. We won't talk about it anymore. Whenever you want to, let me know." Congratulate her for the progress she's made, give her the darn Wall-E DVD (she won't be permanently scarred by the change-in-message there), and just give up. I know it will still take some work to get her past the afraid-to-poop stage. But taking the pressure off (even if it's positive-reinforcement based pressure) can't hurt at this point...

She won't be a non-potty-trained 4-year-old. Really. Just keep reminding yourself, they ALL decide to be trained eventually, unless there's a disability. And there's no disability here.

I hope you don't resent me giving my $.02. I repeat: I don't have enough experience to really give it. But there it is, anyway. I'm so sorry you're going through this. :( :( :(

C. Beth said...

Liz--what a very, very sweet comment--thank you!! We do use the "choices" language a lot too. My control-freak side has trouble leaving it up to her but I'm working on that. I love what you said about her being separate from me, and her choices not necessarily reflecting me as a mom. That is freeing and so wise. We actually went to the doctor a few weeks ago and got a "plan of action" from her and when I have stuck to it, it actually seems to be working, slowly but surely. Then I get impatient and start putting on the pressure again. Maybe I need to step back and stick with our very trustworthy doctor's orders again. I read SO much online; the doctor was helpful because she gave me ONE plan instead of me trying 75 different things I'd read online! :) Great haiku too--all in all, you really helped me a lot and it seems you knew just what to say, so thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

Becki--Thank you for sharing your experiences, which are real even if they weren't your biological kids! I will consider just taking that step back. I think at this point I'm not ready to just use Pull-Ups all the time but I think I can definitely let Ana call more of the shots, and if it seems what SHE wants is to "regress" then that's probably the right thing to do. Today she pooped in a Pull-Up and while I was disappointed it wasn't the potty, it was also a relief just that she pooped at all. Right now she really does seem to take pride in pooping on the potty, and she enjoys the rewards. But I'm going to try to really let go of trying to control her decisions.

Hedgie said...

Pardon me while I interrupt the pottyfest, but I'm not sure how else to get in touch with you, C. Beth. I just wanted to send you some suggestions for "One Minute Write" topics if you're interested.

a) Achievement -- What one thing (however unrealistic) would you like to achieve in your lifetime?

b) Rant -- What one person would you like to give a piece of your mind and why ?

c) Urban -- Which city that you've never visited would you most like to visit and why?

d) Landscape -- What's your favorite type of terrain (mountains, beach, desert, alfalfa fields, etc.) and why?

e) Yuck! -- What's your least favorite food and why?

Thank you again for "The One Minute Writer"; I personally find it very useful as I tend to be too lazy to write most days, and it gets me started.

And now we return you to the potty seminar. Thank you for your attention.

Momza said...

HI Beth!
Okay so my number 7 aka The Caboose had this issue last was two things: ONE: she wasn't drinking enough water because she started all day first grade, so I wasnt' there to remind her to drink as usual. And TWO: there was some stress in our home due to my husband's unemployment. Not contention but still, stress. And little kids, at least My kids, pick up on the emotional tone of the I had to help the Caboose get over this...and you're gonna laugh when I tell you what I did: I stood at the bathroom door while she was on the potty, and I SANG. Yes, sang. I sang ALOT of nursery songs, and church songs, but her NUMBER one Fav song was "The Ants Go Marching"...true story! I can't make this stuff up! It distracted her while on the potty, relaxing her, and she had my full attention in a positive way. When she needed to go, she would find me and say quietly, "I need you." That was my cue to go with her to the bathroom and start singing. lol
How long did I have to serenade my lil one while she pottied? About 3 weeks. I also added juice bags, and herbal tea to her diet before and after school, and laid down by her at night to read stories. I don't know what the magic cure was, but looking back, it holds only a fun silly memory for us both.
Carry on Momma!

Angie said...

Beth- I'm having the same issues. Paige has had pooping issues in the past. We do have to use Miralax everyday. It keeps her at a level where things aren't too solid. She's afraid to poop on the potty. She's afraid it will hurt. Sometimes it does because she holds it so long. There have been lots of screaming fits on her end, and crying on mine. I'm hoping we all make it through without too much trauma for any of us. It's hard. I do envy the parents who have kids who trained early & easy. Paige just isn't one of those. As much as I wish she was, she isn't. I'm looking for the answer as well. I know she'll eventually do it. I just wish it could happen without all the screaming & crying. Watching her put herself in misery is just awful.

DiPaola Momma said...

I can only offer my support. This too shall pass. I can't imagine how trying it must be for you. We are potty training #4 but it is NO WHERE near what you are going through. Never appoligize for sharing with the blogosphere. That is what it's all about. Put it out there and the support will come, hopefully with some ideas and help as well.

Hope said...

Hurrah for moms and grandmothers and blogs! Have patience, it does work out in the end (no pun intended). People here have given some good advice - I can just remind you that we all got there somehow (well, those of us who aren't wearing Depends, I guess).

Love your One-Minute Blog, and have been keeping my assignments for a couple of weeks now.

forever folding laundry said...

Oh, have I been there. My middle guy Colin had the same fear and refused to go in the toilet for the longest time. I decided I'd take his pull-ups away and give him no other option besides the toilet, and he held it for days on end and was in pain like your girlie. It was horrible. Finally, when he was almost three, it just clicked and he started going in the toilet. Probably the happiest day of my life! =) I wish you good luck - she will get it one of these days - and until then you have my sympathy and empathy!!!

C. Beth said...

Hedgie--thank you for the prompt ideas! You can always feel free to e-mail me directly at cbethblog(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm so glad you're enjoying TOMW--thank you for all your fabulous one-minute writings!

Momza--I can totally imagine you doing that even though I've never met you in person! Funny! :-D And a great idea!

Angie--I'm so sorry you're dealing with this crap (or lack of crap) too. :(

DiPaola--You are amazing, with four. Days like today make me think two is plenty, thank you very much! :)

Sailing--Thank you for commenting! You're right, we all did get trained somehow. I'm glad you're enjoying TOMW!

FFL--I can't wait until that "it just clicked" moment!! :)

mullensfam said...

I was wondering why you left early today. I am so sorry to hear you have had a frustrating day! I wouldn't worry...Chickie is a smart cookie and she will catch on. You are doing a good job! Maybe potty training will be your Christmas gift from her :)

Our Scoop said...

Sorry this is SO super hard! I will be praying for you and Chickie!

Heard by God said...

Beth, it's Danna from BBC. I have to completely & totally echo your sister. There are two ways a child who feels controlled will react: in his/her eating & his/her pottying. Those are the only two things they are ABLE to control, especially when they are feeling totally out of control. I have been perplexed along with you on Chickie's whole issue until I had the eye-opening realization from this latest post that she just wants a pull-up . . . & you do not. Did you catch that, m'dear? That's the missing link there . . . & if you just let it go, your largest headache/heartache will gradually work itself out. Alllllll the way to the inevitably potty-trained child. I don't know why this one thing bugs ya, but if it makes you feel any better, my own Jan '06 baby isn't ready yet either. I've tried three concentrated times with him, three different approaches, & then I called my sister-in-law. She's a mom to four boys & one girl. She's the one who set me straight on the above (newly acquired) conclusion, & so there ya have it. They'll do it when they're ready, & if you insist beforehand, you'll only cost yourself.

Mary said...

I had the same issue with my #1 son. He did not want to go on the potty. He'd wait until I put his pull up on at night before he'd do his business. I had to have him fully potty trained before he started preschool this year. Know what worked? He had an accident at a friends house. It was embarrassing for him, but he was more willing to do his business at home. I also got rid of the pull ups at night. That meant more work for me to get him up each night so that he wouldn't wet the bed. But it only took about a week and he went all night dry and he was fully trained by the start of preschool.

My personal feelings on this was that I would rather my son do his business in a pull up rather than be constipated. But I truly know how you feel with the frustrations. Now my 2 1/2year old is the one giving me fits!

Megan Fletcher said...

Beth, my heart goes out to you. I agree with all the above comments that you're doing a good job as a mom and shouldn't measure your worth by the lack of poop in the pot. Chickie is happy and healthy.

I agree with "Heard by God" about the two things toddlers control--food and peeing/pooping. So true! We've conquered the peeing/pooping for the most part with our oldest, but the food is a big issue. And, I have to agree with her about giving up.

I'm probably a mom you are mad at right now b/c the twins are trained for the most part, but I will tell you it was not without MUCH of what you're describing above--EXCEPT that Asa pooped multiple times a day in his UNDERWEAR! Out at the store, in the mall, at a friend's house, at home, everywhere! Never on the potty (after the first 3 times in a row, which is why I started training him to start with!). After 3 weeks of nastiness (yep, absolutely gross!), I realized one day "he's pooping on the pot and I haven't had a mess in several days". He was done.

Jenna is in the midst. She holds it. But, then she'll just go in her undies. Yuck! Today when she yelled to tell us she was going on the potty, I realized she hasn't had an accident in about a week, too. maybe we're there. We'll see.

Ry wouldn't go on the pot, so we just put a diaper on her at night and would play hide-and-seek right before bed...made her go every night b/c she was relaxed and playing and in a diaper. we'd change the diaper and then put her to bed. Eventually she started going on the potty and then one day we just got rid of the nighttime diapers too (probably around 3 1/2 y/o).

So, I echo the sentiments above...relax and let her go in her diaper or a pull-up. If she will regularly go in a pull-up, just schedule it as her time and eventually she'll decide the diaper is gross and will go on the pot. Once she's regularly pooping each day or two days, maybe she won't be so afraid of letting it go on the pot (and she can still be peeing and wearing undies the rest of the time).

*Note, we didn't do diapers at all with Asa once we went to undies. Hence the pooping in undies. But, after 3 weeks he was done. Jenna only gets diapers at night, hence her sometimes pooping in undies.

okay, hope that makes sense.

EliandMe said...

We've not got to the potty training stage yet so I am afraid I have no gems of wisdom to offer.
But what I can give you is my sympathy and understanding - we have struggled with issues (mainly sleep/bedtime related), and it is so frustrating when it seems like every other child in the world is sailing through them. You are a fantastic mummy, you will get there in the end, and 'this too will pass'.

C. Beth said...

Regarding Pull-Ups: If switching entirely to Pull-Ups for pooping worked, we could do that. But we did, for two or three weeks, and she was still terrified of pooping, fought it big-time (sometimes resulting in Pull-Ups being on almost all day while she periodically fought the urge,) hated pooping and getting cleaned up, and started peeing in the Pull-Ups too. Sometimes she still goes in Pull-Ups, and I let her make that decision. If she goes in a Pull-Up I tell her afterward it's good that she let it out. But at least when she goes on the potty she feels some "big girl" pride in it afterward, once she gets over the freak-out (that happens no matter where she poops.) Last night she didn't flip out when I cleaned her up, which was a big step in the right direction!

In other words, I'd be more open to encouraging "regression" if that worked, but it hasn't. So if she insists on it, I'll go with it, but since pooping in general is frightening to her right now, if she's willing to be frightened on the potty rather than in a Pull-Up I'm going to keep encouraging that.

C. Beth said...

As an example of what I said above--her writhing and crying on the floor at church yesterday was with her in a Pull-Up. If she needs to poop and wants to put on a Pull-Up, I let her put one on.

Sandra said...

Beth -- Your struggles with this make my heart beat faster because it reminds me of all my parenting fears when mine were little.

I tended to second guess myself about how I was handling whatever was the latest crisis. And, I tended to make it all about my "shortcomings" as a mom, and what I must be doing wrong.

Because I wasn't able to step back from things, I think I made things harder for me AND the child.

So, I am praying for you that God will give you wisdom to handle Chickie's potty training, because I certainly am not one who can say how it should be done. And, since I have no specific advice to help you, I am so happy that so many of the other commenters have given you what sounds like thoughtful, wise advice.

I'm helping in the only way I know how -- with thoughts and prayers.

snakeriverwalton said...

I spent the better part of church yesterday in the bathroom with my trainer b/c I was determined not to leave until she'd done some business! two hours later we were both really cranky, with no poop to show for it. I need to take your advice and back off a little too. Thanks for the commiseration.

Lyndsay said...

It is wrong that I'm just happy that I'm not the only mom crying in the car?

Oh, it is wrong?

On second thought - ummmm, yeah, well, chin up!


Is it wrong that I can now laugh about it since it's been at least 24 hours?

Anonymous said...

Beth, it seriously took our son a couple of months before he was comfortable enough not to dread the #2. He would sit there and screaming, "It's coming out!!!" when he was finally in the process (which was rather funny at the time!). We just kept reassuring him and making sure he got lots of fiber since he'd try to hold it in.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion for you: get on Amazon or wherever and get "Toilet Training in 24 Hours." I used this for both my children (son and daughter). I was boggled by the whole issue, but this is a very simple program and I can say, my kids took to it in one more diapers, pull-ups. Went right to big-kid regular pants in one day. For real. I'm still amazed.

It may be that she's just a little too young. I started with my son only when he turned 3, my daughter at 21/2. Key is to focus a whole day on this, with one parent and only one child--- a quiet house. Giving regular sips and snacks, regular toilet visits and regular stars/stickers/rewards for every visit and effort.

Twenty plus years later, I'm still amazed at this success!

It's worth whatever you have to pay to get copy!