I am embarrassed to admit, but two children in and I still have difficulty talking about certain bodily functions. I do it, because it’s necessary, but inside I cringe.
We bought the Little Fox two different potty seats: one travel seat with handles for his father’s toilet, and a fixed child/adult seat that lifts and, which he adores. Combine this with a Squatty Potty and he has a place to rest his feet, while the rest of us have better bathroom health. We’ve had them for several months now, but he still only occasionally sits on them to pee.
When growing up, my family didn’t talk about bathroom behaviors in a direct manner. The subject was almost taboo. We didn’t use words like “poo” or “poop” or “number two.” Someone “soiled” their clothes, another person had “the runs,” we needed to have a “long thought.” Or we would become especially clinical and use terms such as “elimination” and “defecation” and “faeces.” The word “shit” was used often as an epithet or exclamation, but rarely in reference to the act or the product.
One thing absolutely verboten: I was not allowed to laugh at potty humor. It was too low brow. Despite the first joke ever recorded was a flatulence joke — I still have trouble saying or even typing “fart” — any jokes heard on the schoolyard or on TV that dealt with human waste was not deserving of a laugh.
Because I didn’t want to raise my children with these same hang ups, because I wanted them to laugh freely about the silliness of the human condition, I have worked hard to mellow out about discussing bathroom behavior. It never bothered me to clean a dirty diaper, because I attack it in a clinical manner, but talking about it? Woah boy.
I can now giggle with my son and talk about his “steen-ky dia-per” or refer to his poop with him. But now we’ve come to a point I got to skip over with my daughter. A time where we’re actively discussing the step-by-step process of using the toilet on a regular basis.
I checked out a theme-based box* of library materials assembled by KCLS on going potty, so we could discuss it. It came with a pair of anatomically correct (sort of) dolls, with removable cloth diapers and potty seats, six chidlren’s books, one parenting book, a parental guide binder, three DVDs, and a music CD.
Playing with the dolls proved easy enough, but sitting him down and reading Everybody Poops and Uh oh! Gotta go! showed me just how far I still have to go with my own discomfort on the subject. Though I read it to him with a cheery voice, I felt squeamish and uncomfortable. I also realized I have no idea what I’m doing.
My daughter weaned herself around two and a half years old, and within about six weeks, decided it was time to use the toilet, and practically trained herself over a week. She still occasionally had accidents, but all of a sudden, she switched from diapers to underwear (even at night) with almost no input from me.
The Little Fox, however, still nurses three times a day and only pees in the toilet five or six times a week. He won’t even discuss using the toilet for anything more, though he’s certainly aware of his bowel movements and urination. Now, I’ve heard from anecdotal many sources boys tend to take longer to develop in a variety of ways compared to their sisters, so this isn’t a huge surprise. My reaction to it all, though, is a surprise.
I’m working quite hard on the “fake it until you make it” premise for success in this area, and I’m grateful for the assistance our excellent library system has provided us. At least it gives us a clear, concise path to helping him learn about his body and gently encourages him to move toward a more independent life little by little.
The KCLS box we checked out contains the following:
- Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
- Uh Oh! Gotta Go! Potty Tales from Toddlers by Bob McGrath
- What to Expect When You Use the Potty by Heidi Murkoff
- Going to the Potty by Fred Rogers (from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS)
- You Can Go to the Potty by Dr. William Sears
- Time to Pee! by Mo Willems
MUSIC & VIDEO
- Peek-A-Boo and Other Songs For Young Children by Hap Palmer
- Potty Power for Boys and Girls
- Once Upon a Potty for Her / Once Upon a Potty for Him (these DVDs feature the dolls provided with the kit)
- Two dolls with potty seats and underwear
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training by Mark L. Wolraich
- “KCLS Books to Grow On: Potty” parental guide binder, which includes nursery rhymes and modified children’s songs, as well as an article titled “From Diapers to Underpants” by Clair Bainer and Liisa Hale, featured in Young Children, July 2000
*If you’re within the boundaries of the King County Library System, these theme-based boxes are called Books to Grow On, and there are dozens of them! Put them on hold like any other material and keep them for a few weeks at a time to help teach your babies and toddlers about everything from animals to science to, well, pottying. We love them, and have had a lot of fun playing with the materials provided. They even come with parent guides to help parents teach the materials in an organized way.