Potty Training my Strong Willed Child

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I always knew potty training a strong-willed child would be difficult. I had braced myself for unending battles of wills. I had figured it would be a lot of trying and seeing if he was up for it, and then quitting when he asserted that HE was not going along with this. He likes to assert himself…a lot…so I was braced for the idea that we would need to use all manner and method of persuasion before he would finally concede. Probably around the age of six. I was braced for that.
Imagine my surprise and delight when around the age of three, we start sticking him on the toilet…and after only a few minor skirmishes he concedes and starts peeing in a toilet. He stays dry at night! But while he no longer feels comfortable peeing in his diaper, he screams bloody murder when you put him on the toilet. Then he pees. It wasn’t perfect, but it was something. Not long after, a miracle happens. He poops in the toilet! Fairly consistently, with only a few messes in his diaper. I’m elated! But then something happens that I had never foreseen. Not in my wildest dreams. He has now taken to refusing to poop. Not in his diaper…and not in the toilet. He is so stubborn that he is trying to assert his will over Mother Nature itself. He refuses to heed the call of the wild and no mere bodily function will win over HIM. He first would go a couple days without pooping. We would stick him on the toilet and he would cry a bit, poop, and be in a much better mood. Then it was three days. Right now, I think it’s been about four days…maybe five and he’s sitting in there refusing to poop.
I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry, or be worried about his bowel health. He is literally full of you-know-what! We’ll see who wins…Mother Nature or King Toot. But my money is on King Toot.

What do you do all day? Part 2

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Wanna be up to speed? Here’s the introduction. This is the first part of my day. Basically, it takes up until about noon. Wanna know what I did the rest of the day? Hope so, since that is the illustrious topic of today’s post. Without further ado, I’ll pick up right after lunch.

12:15 – After lunch, the kids ran around the house a bit while I cleaned up their dishes.
12:20 – I then put King Toot in his room for “quiet rest time”. The rule…I don’t care what you do in there as long as it is quiet. They need some down time…and so do I! Some days this works and I get a bit of a break. But more often than not it is like today…where every 15 minutes I have to go in and remind him to be quiet. Then I discover that he has pooped and is happily playing in it. Now rethinking my decision to potty train just yet.
12:25 – I finally make my lunch…and consume it. I also play Candy Crush and then watch Dr. Who for a bit of a respite.
1:30 – I pick up the house, including the misc toys that have been distributed every where.
2:10 – I head out to run errands with Urpling. We go and check the mail, where I have to remind her three times that she’s not allowed to squish the bags of packing peanuts. We then go to deposit a check, during which time Urpling asks for money to play an arcade game. I refuse. We then head to Goodwill where I buy some new movies and toys (well, new to us) for our church preschool. Finally we brave Walmart to buy a few groceries. Urpling helps me scan things at the self check out. She has a blast…even if each item took about 4 tries. Did I mention we spent every moment in the car listening to “Let it Go” while Urpling belts the song out at the top of her lungs? Well, we did. It was simultaneously adorable, hilarious, and aggravating.
3:10 – We get home and I unload Urpling and the groceries.
3:20 – By this time I have put all the groceries away and I load Urpling and King Toot into the double stroller to go get Sasquatch and two of our neighbor kids.
3:30 – We make it to school just as the kids are being let out and I walk the two kids who live behind me to their home. Sasquatch tells me about her bad day where the other kids blamed her for bringing acorns into the class, even though she didn’t do it. I console and commiserate with her.
3:40 – I drop off the neighbors, and then King Toot cries because he can’t go to neighbors.
3:42 – King Toot goes onto time out because the massive disappointment of having to come home caused him to shriek in a pitch that only dogs can hear.
3:45 – I get all the kiddos settled and they have a snack…which is left over candy from Halloween. Mom win…or fail?
4:05 – I work with Sasquatch on her homework. So grateful her math homework does not require drawing pictures to demonstrate the problem…considering she is very artistic and must include great detail in each drawing. Math homework can take a really, really, really, really long time when that happens.
4:20 – Leaving Sasquatch to work on her own math problems, I go to take a shower.
4:45 – I emerge and start prepping dinner. At this time I also make all the kids lunches for tomorrow. As I cook, I watch Dr. Who. Because, well, it’s Dr. Who. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched Dr. Who. Mainly because cause I’ve lost track. Also, don’t tell me about the new season. I haven’t seen it and, “Spoilers!”. Bonus points go to you if you just read that quote in Dr. River Song’s voice…)
5:45 – Dinner and lunches for tomorrow are now ready. I get everything dished up and Sir Smiley proceeds to help me get everything on the table while we summon small ones to come eat.
5:55 – All the kids actually eat most of their food. King Toot does require a mixture of pleading, cheering, and a bit of force to get him to eat his. Sir Smiley and I thoroughly enjoyed it…as dinner turned out quite good.
6:15 – Our friend joins us and also enjoys the food I made, while I proceed to chase kids around. I manage to get shoes on all children’s feet, and both girls are wearing their vests for Awana. I do have to ask Urpling to put her shoes on 3 times before she responds and actually does it. In the meantime, Sasquatch is still somehow eating a miniature candy bar. How she can manage to turn a bite-sized snickers into 5 minutes of eating…I can’t quite figure out. It is, by definition, the size of one bite.
6:25 – I leave to drop all the kids off at church. I herd them each to their prospective room and then practically skip back out to the car. I drive home…alone…for the first time that day and enjoy the three minutes of solitude.
6:35 – I arrive home to help Sir Smiley lead our bible study. We go through a few chapters of the “Screwtape Letters” and have some deep discussion about virtues and how Satan tries to render them (and us) powerless to work for God. It was some good stuff.
8:05 – Sir Smiley graciously goes to pick up the kids for me so I can stay and talk to my friend. We hang out and chat until the chaos returns. Then she heads home.
8:30 – The kids come home. Sasquatch has said all her sections…plus some extra ones…and was very proud of herself. She had been struggling to actually focus enough during AWANA to say the verses she had practiced all week, so this was a big victory for her. King Toot at this point is past his expiration date, and he has turned sour.
8:45 – King Toot, having refused to actually nap today, proceeds to have a clear and epic meltdown. Not a tantrum…but an actual meltdown (there is a difference). I dressed him for bed, and then we wrapped ourselves up in a blanket and I rocked him and sang to him until he calmed down. Then off to bed he went. In the meantime the girls helped finish off the dessert from bible study.
8:50 – Put the girls to bed, and read to them. We’re now reading slowly through chapter books, and read picture books during the day. It keeps Sasquatch’s attention better…and mine.
9:07 – I reread a letter Sir Smiley wrote to double check it for him.
9:17 – The girls, refusing to sleep, start whining at each other because Urpling is singing too loudly and Sasquatch can’t rest when she’s being so loud. Urpling is upset because she’s singing to her animal and her animal can’t sleep if she doesn’t sing to it. I do a little negotiating and eventually convinced them both, begrudgingly, to quiet down.
9:20 – Sat down to watch the newest episode of Supernatural before calling it a night…only to discover there was no new episode this week. Oh the humanity! I now have to wait an entire week before watching the 200th episode. So I console myself with some…you guessed it…Dr. Who.
10:40 – I set the alarm for 6:15 am thinking I can get a few chores done before the kids wake up.

This should give you a general idea of my days. A few last minute notes:
– This is NOT all inclusive. I’m unable to jot down every single moment with great detail (and I don’t want to…it’s already long enough). It doesn’t include Sasquatch making a lego church, or Urpling pushing King Toot around in bike trailer. It doesn’t include Sir Smiley and I making kid sandwich hugs. It doesn’t include my kids running at daddy full speed and jumping on him…over and over and over again. Squealing and laughing every time.
– King Toot is a strong willed kid. No doubt about it. I talk about that in other posts. Feel free to read. But I want it on the record that while he screams a lot, he is not spoiled. I deal with him as fairly and consistently as is humanly possible. Also, while he is far from compliant…he is also my most snuggly child. Whenever I need a hug or some snuggles, he is always up for it. His favorite game is to say, “Iwuvoo” to me so that I’ll grab him and shower him with hugs and kisses. I wouldn’t change him for the world.
– Some days are easier. Some days I get a miraculous nap in. Or we sit all snuggled on the couch together watching a movie. Or I get to have some “me time”.
– some days are harder. I cry, or go to my room to scream and throw things so I don’t take my frustrations out on my kids. Or I’m so tired I’m just ready to be done with kids. Where I want to walk out the front door, not forever but for a day or so.
– All moms (and I suspect dads…although I feel I’m not qualified to speak for them) have these same daily struggles. The highs and lows will look a little different but we all have them. I like being honest about it. I love being a mom. There are moments I am trying to grab and hang on to with all my might before they slip away. Others I cheer like my team made the super bowl when they finally pass. But I love my life. This was a sample of it, to give you a glance in the window. Hope you found it enlightening..or at least entertaining.

Dinner with a Strong willed child

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Dare I say it? My child is….strong willed. Well, that’s putting it mildly. Any time I ask him to do ANYTHING, it is an epic battle of wills that feels like it may to the death….most likely his. He once was so angry that he wasn’t allowed to crawl under the pew and grab the feet of the people behind us in church that even though he was dragged out into an empty classroom with the door closed, my hubby could still hear him. My hubby was on stage with worship band playing the keyboard at the time…with an ear piece in his ear. Let’s just say I didn’t feel close to God that Sunday.
So here we are at dinner. Everyone is doing fine and I cooked. I made chicken and potatoes and veggies and everything. I sit the girls down and tell them the potatoes are French fries and we’re ready to roll. Then I grab King Toot and, of course, he is unhappy. Of course, because I asked him to do something. Never mind that he’s been begging for food for an hour. I dared to tell him we were going to sit at the table and eat. That’s when he started his high pitched shriek. It could break glass….it does break ear drums. Now, these are a few things we have learned through trial and a massive amount of error. If I ever give in, even once, and just let him scream and ignore it….it eggs him on. He will only escalate more, and more, and more, and more. He has followed me around and pushed on the back of my knees to make me fall. He has thrown things at me, hit me, etc. If I immediately address it right then, he’ll stop. The best punishment for him is isolation. We stick him in his crib and call it “a break” and tell him we’ll check on him in a few minutes to see if he’s ready to come out. If he stands up and says sorry, he has admitted defeat and we’re good to go. He has to say sorry…not just a cease in crying is enough. Trust me, I’ve tried. I mean, I’ve TRIED! But he MUST admit defeat or this battle is not done. It’s like the white surrender flag that he waves to admit that he lost this round.
It’s exhausting. Dinner tonight I spent taking a bite, trying to have a conversation with my (at that moment) sweet girls, and then jumping up to offer him a choice between saying sorry and joining us or staying in his crib. He would just stare at me and scream louder! He was not distressed….he was pissed! I had to do this no less than 10 times. He finally said sorry, I told him what I always do…that I forgive him and I love him no matter what but that it’s not an excuse to act that way. Then he proceeded to lick the ketchup up and eat nothing else and then say “done.”. By that point I was too tired to care and let him down.

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My adorable little monster at dinner.

It’s in these moments I always truly doubt myself. I see all these articles my friends post that all basically say the same thing. They have lovely titles, like peaceful parenting, or enjoy motherhood, or loving your kids. They all recommend something along the lines of: ‘there’s no need for conflict! Let them express their frustration, offer them choices, redirect, get on their level, and as long as you talk it out respectfully to them they will respect you.’ I feel a failure because my house is so often riddled with conflict.

But then I remind myself. I taught for several years. I did those things. I know them well in fact. I use them with my daughters with great success. But they made things worse with my son. So, so, so, so much worse. This is the first big meltdown in two days (plenty of small ones, but those only required going in once or twice). It used to be seven epic meltdowns a day…minimum. He is getting better and I am calmer in dealing with him. It comes down to this: parenting is an art…not a science. There is no magic formula that will magically transform every child. For some, if they were to use the tactics I just mentioned they would have a very different response. Parenting is an art because the materials you have been given differ. Some kids are like soft clay (like Urpling) which require gentle molding…anything harsher will crush them beyond repair. Some are like my son…titanium…and must be melted at a million trillion degrees before they will bend even a little. So I just take a deep breath, dress for battle, and remind my son at the end of each day how much I love him no matter what. Because at the end of the day, I know he will grow up to be a strong leader so I just need to give him the foundation to be a good one.

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At the end of the day, how could I not love this little guy!

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