Thursday, July 23, 2009

Potty Problems

I have a bone to pick. With Pampers.

Tuesday, I spent hours scrubbing poop, off every surface of my almost 3-year- old’s bedroom. She had pooped in her underwear and used it as finger paint. It was disgusting and reminded me how frustrated I am with training my daughter. And my beef with pampers.

When my daughter was a baby I found my self disgusted at the 4 and 5 year olds I saw wearing diapers at play grounds. I said to myself, “My child will never be in diapers that long.” I researched how to go about potty training and found that “children’s bladders don’t mature enough until around age 2.” I decided that Sierra’s second birthday would be a perfect time to begin potty training, since she would be physically mature enough. Since then it has been a nightmare, with lots of struggles.

Talking with my mom and mother-in-law I learned that what everyone believes about potty training is just bogus. My sister-in-law was trained at 10 months, my husband at 14. My mom says she never diapered a 2 year-old. Since the development of the potty up until the 1960’s, 90 percent of children were fully trained by 18 months. So I guess that means that suddenly in 1960, bladder control in humans regressed so much that they were unable to be potty trained before 2 years. Not likely.

Instead what happened is Pampers began promoting the child-centered approach to potty training along with their super convenient disposable diapers. That enabled parents to be more lax when it comes to training and the potty training average age slumped along, getting later and later. This isn’t too much of a problem, except for 2 things.

Problem number one: cost. Each year a toddler is not trained costs approximately 1,200 dollars. That’s a lot of money. That doesn't include the costs for wipes, diaper rash cream, etc. So if my child is not trained by the time they are 3, I have wasted 1200 dollars, by 4 is 2400 dollars, etc. I personally don’t have that problem because I cloth diaper, but you can see what Pampers motivation was behind child-centered potty training, and I am sure it was not their concern for what’s best for children.

Problem number two: toddler drawbacks. There are reasons why you definitely don’t want to wait until your child is 2 to begin potty training. I borrowed this list from a website, but I am struggling with all of these issues with my toddler, issues that aren’t present when training a baby.

Increased Oppositional Behavior Late potty training is more likely to result in a “battle of wills” between child and parent due to the rise in oppositional behavior after age 2. These are battles parents can’t win because children cannot be made to poop or pee on command. As the AAP warns,“This resistance can create more frustration and even anger on the part of the parents, whose increasingly negative responses lead to more resistance and outright rebellion in an ever-escalating cycle.” (AAP Guide to Toilet Training, 2003, p. 71)
A Well-Ingrained Habit The longer a habit has been in place, the harder it is to break. In the case of potty training, 3- and 4-year-olds have been going in their diapers all their lives— that’s all they know. It’s hardly surprising that there’s a reluctance to change something so fundamental.
The Rise of Shame and Embarrassment Starting about age 2, children develop the ability to feel embarrassment. Eliminating into a diaper, as they are used to doing, is a very private matter. In contrast, using the potty is not only novel, but much more public. Feelings of shame are particularly common in regards to bowel movements, with high proportions of late trained children these days resorting to hiding when they need to go or withholding bowel movements to the point of serious constipation.
Development of Vivid Imaginations The ability to imagine things in their minds also increases dramatically after age 2, a new skill that, unfortunately, enables children to imagine scary things as well as positive things. That’s why we typically see an increase in common childhood fears among 2-, 3-, and 4-yearolds— including toilet-related fears. Children who are afraid of things like the “toilet monster” or the flushing sound are, understandably, harder to persuade.
Emotional Consequences of Late-Training Late potty training can also result in long-term negative feelings. Intense power struggles, for example, can color how parents view their child in the future, thereby endangering the parent-child relationship. In addition, children who stay in diapers too long can develop feelings of shame and low self-esteem as a result of negative messages from desperate parents and mocking peers (e.g., “only babies wear diapers,” not “big kids”). They are also much more likely than younger children to be embarrassed by accidents.

Something I have noticed personally is business. Toddlers are more easily absorbed in what they are doing because they have a longer attention span than a baby. That means that if they are focused on watching TV or playing, they won’t want to stop what they are doing or realize that they really need to go and tend to have an accident.

So I am angry. I am angry that I was fooled by the popular opinions held by parents and doctors today. I am angry that I have to clean poop off everything in my house because I waited to train my daughter. I will not make this mistake with my son.

Now I understand there are people who had success with training at a later age. My sister trained my niece in a week because she waited until she was 3. I believe parents who say early training can’t be done are parents who never tried. Maybe they were duped too. My daughter walked at 9 months. If I had trained her then and it took even six months for her to be fully trained, she would have been diaper free at 15 months and would have saved me over 1800 dollars in diaper costs and lots of heartache.

If my mom could do it as well as all the other moms for hundreds of years, why can’t I? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Until then, I will keep my rubber gloves handy. Yuck.


Kathie said...

I'd ask your mom (and others that trained kiddos before they were two) if the child could actually go by themselves. Cause it's my hunch that the reason they had such success prior to 2 years old is because they were training the kiddo to TELL them when they needed to go. I'm guessing the kids still couldn't go on their own, completely.

Or the parents were being trained to notice the signs of an impending accident and rush the kid to the potty. Cause if I'd trained my oldest (who is 4 now) at 2, no WAY he would have been ready. I would have been training myself to take him to the potty every hour. And that isn't any better imo, than diapers.