What does a purple teddy bear have to do with potty training? At our house? Everything.
I have 2 kids, a 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter. I had always heard that boys are a lot harder to potty train than girls. But when my son was almost 2, he went up to the bathtub, pulled down his pants, and peed in it. With some redirection he started peeing in the toilet.
Besides that and him experimenting with peeing outside, there wasn’t really any potty training with my him. He just did it. So when we had our daughter, my husband and I both had an expectation it would be just as easy with her.
I know, shame on us. Don’t worry. We’ve learned our lesson 100 times over. Kids are different, and what works for one may not work for the other.
By the time my daughter turned 2 she had zero interest in potty training. We thought she would do it when she was ready. So we gave her time. But then she started bringing us a diaper with a wipe when she needed changed. She’d lay on her back and unstrap the sides of her diaper. She would even throw it away afterwards.
I thought if she could nearly change her own diaper then that meant she was certainly ready for potty training. Nope. This girl is stubborn. She was in fact NOT ready. When we would bring it up she would get so upset and insist that she was still a baby. The more we would urge or reason, the more she would resist.
So again we gave her more time.
Every so often my husband and I would try to introduce a guaranteed strategy we had read about. Once our daughter would even suspect it was related to potty training, she would dig her heels in further.
Shortly after her third birthday she sauntered up to me with the body language of an adult but was wearing a giant diaper. She leaned against against the couch and told me, “I’m going to go to PreK like Brother.”
“You can next year,” I answered. Then it hit me like a bolt of lighting. I saw my in.
“Well you can start next year if you are potty trained. You can’t go to PreK if you are still in diapers.”
“Fine,” she shrugged. “I won’t go then.”
Now logically, that was a full year away. We did have plenty of time. But in that moment it was not hard to picture her still being in diapers by then. In fact, it seemed very likely. In a bit of panic I offered to give her a piece of candy or a special prize after every time she used the toilet. I started bartering like a crazy person. She was still not interested.
I sat there for a moment before something obvious finally dawned on me. She had resisted everything WE had offered and tried. So I asked HER what it would take to get her interested.
“If you won’t go for candy or a prize or anything else we’ve talked about, what do you want? Think about what it would take to get you to put on underwear and use the toilet.”
“A purple teddy bear,” she answered definitely.
Huh. Okay. There was not a shortage of stuffed animals in our house. She had never once mentioned anything about a purple teddy bear before. I would not have thought she would be up for one big prize weeks away instead of getting small but instant rewards. I had no clue why she chose that or if this would actually work. I went with it though.
“Okay. A purple teddy bear? If that’s it, you don’t get one after each time you use the bathroom. You’ll have to wait until you are completely potty trained. You’ll have to wear your underwear and use the toilet till you are not in diapers at all before you get the teddy bear.”
“Okay,” she answered.
We went to her bedroom and picked out a pair of underwear. Two weeks later she was the proud owner of a well earned purple teddy bear. She named it Fluffy. There is no middle or last name. Just fluffy. That’s very important according to my daughter.
So Fluffy, thanks for the help and the lesson.