Back into Diapers Again

Toilet learning is something that so many parents struggle with, yet somehow I thought I’d make it through unscathed. Julia has been using the potty occasionally since she was just a couple of months old. You can read about our early Elimination Communication journey here.

But this week I realized that I’ve been rushing her and so I’ve decided to back way off and try again when she’s more interested and ready.

She’s a pro at knowing when she has to poop and has done that consistently on the potty since she was about six months old! Hooray! However, peeing is another story.

I’ve been “catching” her pee for her whole life, but unless she’s nude, she doesn’t seem to understand that she’s about to go. It’s fascinating to me that all summer long, we’d just leave her pants off and she would always run to the potty when she needed to go. But as soon as we put a pair of training underwear on, she seems to lose the ability to anticipate going and she definitely doesn’t have any interest in running over to the potty. She’d much rather pee in her underwear.

We’ve done all sorts of things to encourage her like playing games, racing to see who can pee first, showing her doll how to go on the potty, reading books about the potty etc. I’ve even started to ask her to pull down the wet undies herself (which is hard!) and take them to her diaper bin.

But the truth is, she just doesn’t seem to mind running around in wet underwear and she kind of enjoys any new task I offer that invites her to take more responsibility for herself and her things. So, rather than being a motivator for change, taking care of her wet underwear is just another fun new task that she can accomplish with pride.

Since I do my best not to bribe her, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to motivate her to keep her underwear dry. I mean really, what’s in it for her?

Last week was the worst. She seemed to clue in to the fact that all the adults in her life would like her to keep her underwear dry and since she’s two and a half, the lure of defiance and subsequent feelings of power were just too strong to resist. She started to hold it while sitting on the potty and then go in her pants ten minutes later. Needless to say, I was frustrated with the backsliding.

But since she has NEVER yet told me, “Mama, I have to pee,” I’ve decided that she’s just not ready yet, and we’re going back into diapers for a time. I just need to let go of my hope that she would have learned to go on the potty by now and relax into the knowledge that she’ll learn it when she’s ready and motivated to learn.

“If you want to pee in your pants, that’s fine, that’s what diapers are for, so we’ll just go back to diapers and when you’re ready, we’ll try underwear again.” She is fine with it. In fact, I think she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to run to the potty every hour. She’s busy learning and growing in so many other ways, and she’s just not interested in potty learning right now.

She did mention that the diapers are more bulky and uncomfortable than the underwear is. Maybe that will help to motivate her when she’s more ready.  And when it’s warm again, we can let her run around in the buff, which somehow makes it easier for her to tell she’s about to pee.

I know a lot of preschools in my area require children to be “potty trained” before admittance (at around 3 years old) which can be quite stressful if you’d like to enroll your child, but he’s not yet using the toilet reliably. Luckily, we’re homeschooling for the time being, so no worries there.

I’m curious, how did you handle toilet learning? Did you resort to bribes? Do you think that’s OK? Or did you just wait until your child showed a genuine interest? What seemed to motivate them to learn to use the toilet? And at what age did it happen?

I guess I’ll run over to the library and check out “The No-Cry Potty Training Solution” Oh, and by the way, if you’re struggling to figure out whether your child is ready or not, I like this quiz for “potty training” readiness from Elizabeth Pantley.

Have a great week! Warmly, Shelly

12 comments
julievalie
julievalie

We did elimination communication (day ands night) ,  with Marianne (1st child) we did use diapers on outtings and sometimes at home, sometimes she didn't like to be wet.  With Evalie (2nd child), we didn't use diapers,she never likes it when she's wet.

Both of them did exactly like Julia around that age, Evalie is still in it .  The way I see it, it is a way of controlling something about their life.  And yes, the more we want to control, the less it works because they want to be able to control at least that one thing about their life. So just let it be, let go.

Another hypothesis, when people say they are not ready, ready for what, for the step between babyhood and little kid.  Diapers in OUR society is associated to babies.  My girls play pretend being babies and change their imaginary diapers.  So pushing to not wear diaper would mean that they can't be a baby anymore.  Maybe, too many changes occured, changes that are related to the switch from babyhood to little kid?

Hope this help.

 

MicheleBerner
MicheleBerner

I am amazed at how different this can be for each individual child.  My son was 3 almost 4 before he was potty trained and he still would wear pull-ups at night for at least another year or maybe even longer.  It was very difficult for him to remember to go and he was never very good at holding it for long periods.  When I was a student I used to wake him up at midnight every night that I was up late studying and this really helped him stay dry through the nights.  He has just in the past  year been really taking care of getting up himself if he needs to go and staying dry all of the time at night and he is 9.  My daughter on the other hand when she decided she was ready at age 2 she was able to even stay dry all night and has only had a hand full of accidents in her life at age 6.  She had a period of time when she was doing really well and really got it, but then decided that she didn't really want to be potty trained.  That is when I put her back into the diapers as well, since it was too messy for her to wear underwear.  I also bought her a beautiful ballerina dress up outfit that she had been wanting and we just hung it in her closet and told her that we would save it for her when she was potty trained.  She had to stay dry for 2 weeks to earn it.  She went about a week and then didn't want it anymore, so stopped.  We just left it alone and didn't even bring it up anymore, but she would always see the dress up outfit in her closet.  A couple of weeks went by and she decided that she wanted to do it.  She counted every day.  I just gave her praise and encouragement every day she got closer and she did it.  I was amazed that she never had to wear diapers at night, she was potty trained all the way around after those 2 weeks.  I don't think that this is necessarily right for every kid, but it worked for this one.  I am confident that you will find what works for your child.  Hang in there.

Kristinmh
Kristinmh

My son is the opposite. He is 44 months (4 in April) and in a preschool. He does GREAT with going pee but poops in his underwear consistently. I am about to go crazy from all of the poopy underwear. I'm nervous that if I move him back to diapers, that he will backslide. Maybe I should do pull-ups instead. He won't graduate with poopy underwear, right?

deamainegirl
deamainegirl

I kept my daughter in diapers and at 2 she somehow just decided to no longer need them.  It could be they were cloth and super bulky- I added extra pads, etc.  She suddenly started using the potty when I started watching my niece who was 3 months at the time.  I think she saw me changing diapers on the baby and even though my daughter still continued to nurse - she went cold turkey no diapers from 2 on.  I did not even used them or trainers at night.  Reflecting back the only thing I can think is that she had an older brother who used the potty and a much younger cousin who was very much in diapers and some how saw herself too big for them. 

My son on the other hand would wear unders and even at 3 1/2 would pee his pants all over the floor at Fred Meyer immediately trying to use the potty.  Eventually they both really liked using public /or other peoples' toliets and even now at 4 1/2 and 7 whenever we go into a store they immediately have to go.  I think that the habit of that- no matter how gross that sounds, made them realize that the bigger community - everyone goes in the toliet and I think it somehow made them feel more independent.  Plus kids are curious and love to check things out.  One good thing- they pretty much know in Bend ever place we go- 1.) if the place has a public restroom and 2.) where it is. 

So I guess I would just go back to the diapers and sounds like she might determine when it might be time.  It could be cool too to go through the things she knows how to do, like -

 

You can play blocks, you can pour water, you can draw, you can eat with a fork, and every time she does another new thing add it to the list.  She may start to think- what are some other things I might like to do, and perhaps then you can give her examples; such as, sleep through the night, put your plate away, use the potty everytime...

phmichelle
phmichelle

You're telling my story!! I'm glad we're not the only one's. We too started with elimination communication from birth. I think that makes me even more expectant that he should (also 2.5) be potty trained by now. I did resort to potty treats ( small toys) even though I too am against that and sometimes it worked but we're still not there. As long as we're naked and at home, he goes without me even mentioning it but, just like you said, the second I put undies on he goes in them. I guess the only thing to do is wait. All things come to an end eventually. . .

BrookeMarch
BrookeMarch

ah yes....this has been our last 2 weeks also. It has brought up so much for me. Thoughts that Im messing it up, I'm failing him in some way, he SHOULD be ready etc... we were diaper free for the first year and as soon as he started walking he lost all interest in the potty, needless to say it's all MY stuff to work through and I have been digging deep with my listening partners these last 2 weeks which is the only thing that has helped keep me sort of light about it. I've been bringing lots of giggles and laughter to it and the last 2 days have given him full choice of if he wants to be in diapers or underwear and doing some role reversal. I jump around and do the pee pee dance and he gets to decide where I have to go pee, which gets him to laugh and laugh and releases tension. we have made alot of progress in the last 2 weeks, he has woken up dry for 11 days now in underwear and we pee on the potty before bed and first thing in the am, the rest...we just wing it. so I have gotten to the place of just taking it day to day. I'm embarassed to say that I tried the 3 day potty method which included rewards- for the first time ever- its a sham. He didn't buy it for a second and it didn't work. I was shocked and laughing at myself each time I offered him something. I knew it wouldn't but she made it so compelling and i thought oh, 3 days wont scar him for life:) and it didn't, it just didn't work. onwards! here is a great article that helped us also.

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/161/64/Potty-Training-experience---Playlistening

deemarie
deemarie

Quinn hated being wet, he can't stand it even if he gets a drip in his shorts. We used stickers when he went, we let him pick whatever color of smiley faces after he went, he liked to take 2 or 3 each time. Maybe I need to resort to them to get him to pick up his toys now :/

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @deamainegirl We're in bulky cloth diapers too and she has mentioned that the underwear is more comfortable, so hopefully that will motivate her at some point. I like what you said about reminding them that everyone has to go. She does seem to do well using public restrooms...Yes, we'll wait until she's able to know ahead of time that she needs to go. Somehow that message hasn't gotten though yet. But she's so capable and learning SO MUCH other stuff, that I'm not worried. I'm sure she'll figure it out eventually :)I like your suggestions about things she can do, but right now she has so many other interests that I think potty learning is just not at the top of her list. She's fascinated with numbers and counting and cooking and doing almost everything herself. Somehow going to the bathroom by herself hasn't been a priority yet, but I'm guessing it will become more and more interesting over the next six months or so. Thanks so much for sharing your story and for your encouragement. Hugs!

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @phmichelle Yeah, I think I fell into the trap of thinking, "hey, she's gone on the potty plenty of times, she must know when she needs to go" but obviously she's not there yet. Isn't that funny about the naked time? Maybe I should just turn up the heat and let her be naked all winter ;) Thanks for sharing!

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @BrookeMarch I LOVE playlistening! Thanks for the link :) And thank you for sharing your story. It's so good to know I'm not alone. Good luck!

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 @deemarie Huh, he's great at picking up at school! I just have to remind him that he may not get anything new out until he puts away his other work. But hey, if the stickers work for you to get over the hump, I say go for it. Also, he seems to really enjoy other cleaning tasks like dusting, dust mopping etc. so maybe you can do an exchange, "I'll pick up your trucks for you if you'll dust the table for me" Just a thought!