I’m happily welcoming back Ashley today. Her words give hope to this mama of a not-quite-completely potty trained boy, and I’ve a feeling I’m not alone. ~Kelly
Several weeks ago, I really thought I’d never see this day.
My strong-willed son pooped in the potty for the fifth time this week, AND stayed dry through his nap.
Yes, I feel like such a mom for celebrating that achievement and slightly abashed to be using the word poop on a blog post. But as my four year old daughter Abby told me last night,
“You shouldn’t talk about poop, Mommy. And speaking of poop, I just tooted. And I laughed so hard I might throw up!”
So, there you go. I shouldn’t talk about poop, but speaking of poop, FIVE times!
But back to Benjamin. We’d tried everything for potty training. Everything. And I was losing hope faster than a toilet flushes (or doesn’t flush in our case). We’d already successfully potty-trained one child, albeit a girl, so I knew the ropes and I knew we were doing what we should be doing, yet without any success. The root of the issue was that Benjamin is a strong-willed child and he did not care to apply that strong will towards using the potty. We had tried coaxing, encouraging, threatening, and scolding and all we found was that you can lead a child to the potty, but you can’t make him. . . well, you know.
So, I prayed. I walked and I prayed and I poured out my heart to God about Benjamin. He was wearing me down with his will. This conversation with God went on for several days. And God began to do the thing he does so well: impart wisdom. He showed me it wasn’t just about the potty; it was Ben’s obedience as a whole. On the surface, it looked like several issues, but underneath it was one common root: obedience. That was my starting place.
Then I starting reading Dr. Dobson’s The New Strong Willed Child. Here, I found my beloved son in the pages, and hope began to bloom again in my heart. He’s not alone; I’m not alone. There are many parents out there who have felt like I’ve felt and many strong-willed children who grew into mature, solid adults.
Hope is where it’s at. Hope is the heartbeat of the soul, like blood to the body. When the heart begins to despair, everything withers.
With Benjamin, I began to crack down on obedience. Obedience had always been a high priority for us, but we discovered, along with all parents of strong-willed children, you can’t fight every battle or your entire day will be a battle. It’s a balance to choose your battles without letting the child “rule the roost” as they say. So, I began to shift that balance.
The effects were immediate and fierce. Ben rebelled against the changes. He spent several mornings and afternoons in time-out, hands in lap, facing the wall. He had to visit the potty every hour and sit there after lunch and dinner. He hated it and he fought back. I knew consistency was my best ally, but still it was hard. I was exhausted every evening. I kept Ecclesiastes 7:8 on a note card by my desk:
The end of a matter is better than it’s beginning, and patience is better than pride.
And then, a turning point. The first bowel movement success, rewarded with a cherished Spiderman toy. (We had discovered that unlike our sweet-loving daughter, Benjamin was not motivated by food rewards.) And then another success, rewarded with a dollar-store bow and arrow set ($2). And then another. In between all these little potty successes, another change was happening. Benjamin began to relinquish his fierce resistance. He began to show a sweet side he’d been hiding for awhile. He would voluntarily hug me fiercely and tell me he loved me. For the first time, he submitted to the new potty schedule, even reading books on the potty on his own.
Dr. Dobson says that there are certain children who must test their authority very thoroughly before they will submit to their leadership. I’m sure there are many more battles to come, but sometimes it seems like just when you think a phase is going to kill you, it passes. And for this little season, it seems we’ve been tried, tested and approved.
If you are a potty-training parent of a strong-willed child, take heart. There is hope. And after the storm, the calm is well-worth the effort
A believer and a dreamer. A pastor’s wife and a mama to three. A little creative and a little messy. Imperfection guaranteed. By the grace of God, I am who I am and His grace to me has not been without effect. Ashley blogs over at Little Pieces of Ordinary. A place where she shares how God reveals His grace to her through the everyday occurrences of life.
If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.