When my son was two years old, we were involved in an epic battle to potty-train him. My daughter, being an over-achiever, had been potty-trained at 18 months, and it took her 10 days to figure the whole thing out. Based on her track record, and my understanding that boys took longer to achieve this milestone, I judiciously allotted him two weeks to master the task.
Feel free to roll your eyes now.
Being an academic, I read potty books, and systematically tried (and failed) the following strategies:
- The Diaper Ceremony. (Toddler throws away all diapers in house to make that body/mind connection that babyhood is now over.)
- Positive reinforcement a/k/a Bribery. (I’ll give you a race car if you use the toilet…)
- M&M’s. (One m&m for pee-pee and two for number 2)
- Negative reinforcement (Come on…you don’t want to be a baby do you?)
- Begging (Please use the potty! Just this once!)
- Reverse psychology: (Fine. Don’t use the potty, then.)
But nothing worked and here’s why: neither of us really wanted it to work. My son heavily identified himself with being the baby, and had no interest in giving up a good thing. And, to be honest, I knew he would be my last child, and I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of him growing up. Neither of us was willing to put in the consistent effort required, so we were both left to deal with dirty diapers, which is ultimately what we deserved.Likewise, I talk to people every day who “want” to be in shape, but not really. Anyone can be healthy when life is perfect, but what do you do when your car is broken down and you can’t get to the gym? What do you do when you don’t have time to prep your food for the week? What do you do when all your friends are drinking cocktails at a party and your meal plan doesn’t allow alcohol? What you do depends how bad you really want to be fit.
- If you really want to be in shape, you’ll do planks in the hallway if it’s ab day and your car is in the shop.
- If you really want to be in shape, you’ll make time to prep your food; You’ll get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, or ask a friend to help you cook,
- If you really want to be in shape, you’ll say no when you need to.
My son and I played our little “why can’t he do this?” (wink, wink) game for eleven months. But as I was staring down his third birthday I realized I wasn’t doing my job as a mom by keeping him a baby. I had to help him grow up, even if he didn’t want to at first.
“Henry,” I said, “it’s time for you to be a big boy now. I want you to succeed, but I don’t know when your body needs to go; only you do. But I won’t let you fail, so I’m going to take you to the potty every 13 1/2 minutes so you don’t have an accident.”
My son gave me a look like I was crazy. He started to play blocks. “It’s been 13 1/2 minutes! Time for the potty!” He groaned. His finger paints would be all set up, ready for him to begin painting. “It’s been 13 1/2 minutes! Time for the potty!” He stomped his foot in annoyance. He would watch his favorite show on TV. “It’s been 13 1/2 minutes! Time for the potty!” I let the TV run so he missed the ending. He grew furious to the point of tears.
“Honey, only you know when you need to go, so until you can prove to me that you can do it on your own, I’m going to have to keep interrupting you, because I really want you to succeed.”
Well guess who suddenly wanted to go to the bathroom by himself? It took eleven months and 1 day of really, really wanting it.
How about you and your fitness goals? Do you (wink, wink) “want” it, or do you really want it?
Sheslosingit.net (c) 2013 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.