In the midst of my terrible, terrible time, Amos forgot how to use the potty. People had warned me that regression was a real possibility when a new baby enters the picture. However, when Felix was born in February and we went months without an issue, I just figured Amos was old enough it wouldn’t be a problem.
Then, two things happened. First, we got really lazy about taking his pull-up off in the morning (a mistake we had also made with Griffin because we are clearly slow learners) and he started peeing in them while awake. THEN, we went to the beach where kids spend a lot of time peeing in the ocean (or - let’s be honest - in the pool).
The combination of the two WITH the new baby meant I had a four-year-old pooping in his pants on the REGULAR.
It was awful and frustrating and gross.
The only thing worse was how I handled it.
I believe in positive parenting. I believe praising kids works better than scolding. I believe kids do the best they can and deserve to be respected as human beings. I believe harsh discipline rarely ever works.
So, what did I do to Amos as he struggled with the potty?
The exact opposite. I yelled. I screamed. I took away toys. I spanked him. God help me, I even shamed him.
It was awful and it went on for weeks. I was tired and overwhelmed and I knew he COULD do it so I didn’t know why he WASN’T. He kept telling me he forgot how. I felt like he was lying to me, even when he told my friend Carrie, who cuts his hair and who he LOVES, the exact. same. thing.
I am so, so ashamed of how I handled it. I am so, so ashamed of the fact that I didn’t believe my sweet boy when he was telling me the best he could that he was having trouble.
Finally, I took a deep breath and looked up potty training regression on the internet, even thoughI knew deep down what it was going to say.
Negative reinforcement makes it worse and attention for the mistakes - even negative attention - is no the way to handle it. Positive reinforcement - like you used to train them in the beginning - works the best.
So, we sat down at the computer. He picked out a Superhero Potty Chart on Pinterest and a Mario backpack on Amazon. We printed both out and taped them next to the potty. He got a gold star every time he peed or pooped in the potty and when the chart was filled up, he go the backpack.
It took about two weeks, during which he had maybe two or three accidents. It was that simple.
Since he’s got his backpack, we’ve had only a handful of accidents, usually attributable to something else like napping or lack of access.
I can’t believe it was this simple all along. Actually, maybe I can. The most successful parenting techniques usually are simple - they’re just difficult. Not because of our kids but because our own hangups or lack of energy.
In other words, parenting fails are usually about us and not our kids.
That’s the hardest lesson of all.