Monday, July 20, 2009

Potty Chart Update

Professionally, I do a decent amount of project management. I've studied project management as part of my MBA courses, I've been mentored by some very successful project managers, and I've spent the past decade applying everything I've learned on actual projects. I understand how important it is to set clearly defined and attainable goals. I understand the importance of tracking performance to meaningful metrics. I'm well acquainted with the risks and benefits that go along with using incentives to achieve a desired result. I develop complex performance measures and track them on a weekly basis using sophisticated computing systems.

Surely this means I'm qualified to develop a potty training chart for my three-year-old, right?

It's a simple chart made with construction paper and a crayon. It has eight blocks. I explained to Michael that he gets one sticker for pee, two for poop. Once all the blocks are filled, I'll take him to the toy store and he can pick out a toy. How could that go wrong?

Michael has been using the potty before bed almost every night for several weeks, so it should be a given that in eight days he'll get his reward, or so I thought. He used the potty for two nights and I made a big deal out of placing the stickers on the chart. I expected him to get excited and was hoping that he would ask to use the potty this weekend to get extra stickers. I really thought that we would be making a trip to the toy store yesterday.

The chart did not encourage Michael to ask to use the potty, so I occasionally asked him if he wanted to use the potty. "NO". I reminded him that he would get a sticker. "NO". I dropped it so as not to push his contrary buttons too hard.

On Saturday he asked me if we could go to Toys R Us. I explained that we would go when his potty chart was filled. He accepted the explanation happily and we went on with our day. In the afternoon, he talked about needing to fill the potty chart before he could go to Toys R Us. He demonstrated a clear understanding of how the chart works. I was really impressed until bedtime rolled around and Michael refused to use the potty. I reminded him that he would get a sticker. "NO". I didn't make a big deal out of it; I just casually changed his diaper.

Yesterday afternoon I asked him if he wanted to use the potty. He broke down in tears and fell into my arms sobbing and saying he doesn't want to use the potty. His response was so strong you would have thought I had asked him to give up Shirt, not simply said, "Would you like to use the potty". I held him and reassured him that he didn't have to use the potty if he didn't want to.

At bedtime last night I risked mentioning the potty again. He flat out refused. In a matter of days from starting the potty chart Michael went from peeing on the potty once a day to crying and refusing to use the potty at all.

So much for that idea. As we headed upstairs to brush Michael's teeth I contemplated what to do. Do I keep up with the chart and hope we can get it filled in so we could head to Toys R Us and Michael can actually see the reward? Do I take down the chart and pretend that none of this ever happened? Do I leave the chart up and only mention it if he actually goes potty again? How did such a simple thing become so difficult? I just wanted to scream.

When Andy was finished helping Michael brush his teeth, Michael turned to him and told Andy that he wanted to go downstairs to use the potty. Never underestimate the power of the bedtime stall tactics. Instead of letting Michael run back downstairs, we offered him TWO, yes TWO stickers if he would use the potty insert that we gave up on a few months ago. Bingo! In mere minutes he went from refusing the potty to asking to use it and using the insert that he has always refused.

I'm going to keep the chart up for now. He only has three more boxes to fill and I'm hoping we can do that without further breakdowns. If not, I just keep in mind that it's unlikely that I'll be sending him off to college in diapers. ANd, if he is still in diapers by then, at least I won't have to change them anymore.


Beth said...

I'm saving my potty training story for my blog, but suffice it to say that our experience has been VERY similar to yours! While I'm bummed for you that it wasn't as easy as it could have been, I'm secretly glad that someone else is experiencing something similar. Misery loves company! LOL!

LauraC said...

Our potty training charts were up for 6+ months. I'm telling you, one day a light bulb turns on and they are just ready. For us with both boys, it was when they stayed dry at school all morning. Once they had bladder control, it was really easy to incent them to use the potty.

The other thing we do is we NEVER ask if they need to use potty bc they always say no. We let them be in charge and say "remember to tell us when you need to go." And once we put up the chart, we switched to underwear only with no going back. They need to have accidents to learn how to control.

With Nate, he had one morning accident and that was it. Never another accident until the toilet got clogged at school. With Alex, for the first day of booty camp, he would squirt out a tiny bit and yell I NEED TO PEE! then run to the potty. After a day of that, no more accidents.

Also Alex is SUPER incented by jelly beans so we offered him stickers and jelly beans. Nate is SUPER incented by computer time so that was his reward.

Stacey said...

You might have tried this, but Cole was trained overnight when he decided it was time to be potty trained. Of course, we helped him decide, but he thought it was on his terms. We started saying, "You know, we don't mind if you want to keep wearing diapers. Just let us know when you are ready." We were almost out of diapers so I started saying, "Hmm... these are almost gone. Maybe you'll want to be potty trained when they are all gone?" And he decided he did. Heck, it worked for his haircut too.

Beth said...

I tried to NEVER ask William if he needs to go, but then he peed in his pants 3 times in a row. And one time, he didn't even tell me. He really doesn't care if he wets his pants (at home, anyway). So I've been "making" him go, even though he protests. I know he'll get it eventually. But every kid is different, and you have to follow your instincts. Charts mean nothing to William. Delayed gratification is not his thing. And even though he loves the jelly beans that I reward him with, if he really doesn't want to do something, no amount of jelly beans will entice him. He's doing great at school, though, so I know he can do it. He's just being ornery and testing me. (And obviously I'm failing! LOL) Anyway, this weekend, William said both mornings that he did NOT want to wear underwear, he wanted to wear his diaper. But when I then said, "Which underwear do you want to wear? Cars or Superman?" he then immediately chose Superman. So have you let him pick out his own underwear? I bet there are dinosaur underwear out there somewhere!

DesiDVM said...

It's interesting how all kids are so different. The potty chart was kind of a failure in our house, because J started insisting on a sticker anytime he peed, whether it was in the potty or in his pants or in his Pull-up at night. He also got sneaky and would go in the bathroom and tell me he had to go potty "by myself," and then he would actually stand behind the door and PRETEND to potty so he could get a sticker.

He's also still in the stage where we have to ask/remind him to go potty. If I rely on him remembering he'll wait until pee starts to run down his leg. However when I ask, if he says no, I ask him if he's sure and if he stills says no I leave it alone. If he's obviously crossing his legs and holding himself and says no, I tell him to "help Mommy go potty" and act like I have to go, and he usually will suddenly realize he has to go. Whatever works. We're still having accidents at least a couple of times a week.

Kaycee said...

Oh goodness! I agree with Laura, it's like a light bulb went off with Cami. When she was ready, she was ready!
Good luck! It sounds like he is getting there. The sticker chart was what worked for us too.

Amanda said...

I agree with those who said that when they are ready, they are ready! We started trying to potty train last summer. We weren't in a big rush to get her potty trained, but then I got pregnant. New goal:potty train before baby arrived! We tried and tried but Zoey wasn't having any of it. After what seemed like an eternity, she woke up one day, had to go pee on the potty and has been going ever since!

Good luck! The day will finally come I promise!

Mama Mia said...

GOod luck! What got B trained was getting to wear boxer shorts..serioulsy do you know how hard it is to find boxers in 2T! I spent a fortune at JCREW kids...keep us posted

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