Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oh no! One of those potty posts!

As a mother of young children, my thoughts often revolve around feeding, sleeping and pooping. But don't worry, this is not a post about how to potty train, but it is an account about how my sons' personalities (and mine too) played into the task of potty training.

For starters, potty training seemed so scary to me. How was I supposed to potty train a BOY? To complicate things, we lived in an apartment with 95% nearly white carpeted floors. Cleaning up the inevitable accident was a thought I greatly dreaded. And my personality also played into it, as I am easily distracted by many things and have to make a concerted effort to stay consistent with routine tasks.

My firstborn is also easily distracted and is overconfident at times. He takes initiative and isn't bothered by making mistakes. He would often get too distracted to go to the bathroom when he needed to. This tied in with his confidence that he could control his bladder beyond its actual capacity, and he was never bothered by wetting himself (well, the first time he had this horrified look on his face, but he got over that really quickly). Thankfully, his problem was confined to his bladder control, and he rarely wet himself when we went out. I had read that if you keep telling your child to go to the bathroom, that the child won't learn to go on his own. Well, given I get easily distracted, when I didn't remind him, guess what would happen??? So the gentle reminding (i.e. nagging) was quite necessary. There's only so much time I can devote to laundry.

My second child is much more focused and task oriented. Being interested in keeping up with his brother, he started using the potty on his own pretty early. The problem was that I couldn't get him to sit on the toilet for his bowel movements. He was very aware of his bodily functions and would go hide in a corner (sometimes in a closet) and relieve himself. This would usually happen while I was nursing my daughter or when I was obviously busy with something else. Needless to say, I wasn't willing to let him roam free without a diaper, even in our new home that is hardwood floors throughout. I think I can count on one hand the times he actually told me he had to go to the potty. When we'd catch him in time, he'd reluctantly accompany us to the bathroom. No matter how much of a party we'd make, he still didn't take his own initiative. He'd even tell his big brother "mommy and daddy are so proud of you!" when big brother customarily used the bathroom. Then one fine day he told me he needed to go to the bathroom and has been going on his own ever since. Recently, I've noticed he is the type of kid that is reluctant to do something if he isn't sure he can get it right. One examples that comes to mind is that he tells me he can't put his socks on, although he has before. The problem is, he often can't get them on right the first time and is really bothered by it. I'm starting to think that's why he didn't want to go to the bathroom. He had the safety of his diaper and no matter if we complained about it, he wasn't going to do something he wasn't sure he could carry out to the end.

Often times I think we get so caught up with this or that particular parenting technique that our children actually become secondary. If we learn to listen to what our kids are saying, then we can raise them accordingly. I sometimes wonder if I disappoint other moms when I can't give them a particular allegiance to a parenting philosophy. Oh, and you don't know how many times I beat myself over the head when I didn't remind them and "you know what" would happen. There is plenty of opportunities to feel inadequate in motherhood.

I am far from "reading" my kids really well. But I am glad to be discovering these things about them. I also glad to be discovering more about myself too.

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