Friday, January 4, 2013

Ask Humble Anything: Parenting Advice on Potty Problems and New Siblings

Dear Humble,I really need some help!! I am the mother of 2. One girl, 2 1/2, and one son, almost 5. My problem is with my son. Like I said, he is almost 5 and still has trouble with going to the bathroom. Most of the time, he does really well with peeing (although, lately, he's been slacking there), but absolutely won't go to the bathroom on his own if he has to poop! Usually, he starts pooping in his pants, I smell him and then have to tell him to go. Sometimes he goes without a fuss, but most of the time he throws a major fit and fights me on it. I'm at my wits end and I just don't know what to do with the boy! It's rather embarrassing ( cause I know that you know how judgmental  some parents can be). I don't feel comfortable letting him stay overnight with anyone, because I don't want anyone to have to clean him up. It's getting rather ridiculous. Do you have any advice for me? I'm open to any helpful suggestions!
Tired of Shit

Dear Tired of Shit,
I have potty learned (learned is the new nicer way of saying potty trained, since kids aren't dogs, dogs don't shit where they eat...but that's where the differences stop) four kids. In my hard won experience I have learned that starting AFTER age 3 is most kids best bet. I am not really answering your question, but this is my one time potty learning advice, I will get to your specific question very soon. My reasoning is this, kids aren't going to do anything you want them to do. Nope. Not at all. THEY have to want to do it. I have seen and heard people giving rewards stickers, toys, candy and such and sometimes that works. Hell it works with 2 year olds. SOMETIMES. Some kids don't give a shit. Literally. They are like "oh you'll give me stickers if I pee in there? NOPE, I'll wait until you give me stickers for other reasons, and you will give me candy for other reasons too...or I'll just find it and eat the entire bag before you wake up tomorrow."
Also another reason why I start after 3 is because I don't want to be potty training for months. The older they are, the quicker they pick up on things. I have started potty learning once, when my daughter was 2. MONTHS OF ACCIDENTS. I started my son when he was 3 and he was done in 4 days. So basically my 2 rules of potty learning is:
1. They have to be ready. Physically ready. You can tell when kids are physically ready because they can tell you they went, or they start changing themselves. jk.
I always put my babies on the toilet starting at about 9 months when I would run their bath water. You know how they pee right when you put them in the bath? Well I would put them on the toilet. So that way, after they turned 1, they would automatically pee whenever they sat on the toilet. So peeing in the potty was never really an issue for us. That's another tip for any parents out there with babies.
2. They have to WANT to do it. They have to want to do it because of stickers or candy. They have to want to do it because they want to be like Caillou (that's how I did it with my now 7 year old...but now he will tell you he does it like a Ninja Turtle...for mostly disgusting reasons) They have to WANT TO DO IT. Most kids don't WANT to do anything they HAVE to do clear up until they are 18. Possibly older.
I had one of these kids that didn't want to poop in the potty. No stickers, charts, candy, toys, etc. would make her want to poop in that damn potty. I still don't understand it. I even talked with friends, cried onto my moms shoulder, cursed the sky, asked my 4 almost 5 year old "WHY ARE YOU POOPING ON YOURSELF?!" I felt like an idiot parent, and that every single one of my kids were doomed, because I couldn't even teach a perfectly healthy child to not poop her panties when she was eating a bowl of cereal she poured herself. You know what her response was? "I don't know why." Well then. That helps NOT AT ALL. She eventually did. We promised a Unicorn Pillow pet if she kept her panties poop free for a week. She accomplished this feat, in ohhh....six months. But she did it.
So first things first, I think your son is doing a great job. He most likely doesn't like stopping in the middle of what he's doing, to use the toilet. Show him that cleaning up his pull up or whatever he's wearing, takes a lot longer. If he poops at a regular time, have him wear underwear after he poops. That way he can see how nice they feel, even if it's just for a little bit every day. Keep track of his accomplishments. If he is already wearing underwear for example, keep a chart out where everyone can see it, that you can put a little star or something for staying dry at the store, telling you he had to go, and actually going. There doesn't have to be a prize at the end of the road or anything, but it's nice to have a little pat on the back. Also, if he is still wearing pull ups or can only poop in a pull up, have him do it in the bathroom. Have him help you clean it up. Make it as inconvenient as possible. Soon he will see that crapping in the pot is just way better.
And in closing, HE WILL DO IT. I promise you this. If he doesn't and he ends up in high school taking time outs from football practice to go shit in a pull up, I will personally come to your residence and you can kick my ass.
Love, Humble

P.S. How I potty learned my kid in less than a week.
I marked the calendar and told them on such and such day, they would not be using diapers anymore. I marked it a month in advance (they were already physically able to) and I made it a month after they turned 3. Some days I would remind them of the date, some days I wouldn't. When the date got closer they picked out some cool new underwear and tried them on. When the date was a week away I reminded them daily and said things like "4 more sleeps until no diapers!" The night before, I read them their book about going potty and we set out the underwear. We had been practicing using the toilet for weeks now, even if nothing came out. The day of, they got to be naked, basically they had learned to pee in the potty and we went every hour to every half hour to try and go. It took a day to get this down to perfect. They were ready, so it didn't take long. As for poop, my son pooped on the floor. He was not pleased. He held it in for 3 days. He wore the underwear for a bit in between peeing. On the 4th day, I could tell he was about to go, so I rushed him to the potty, where he did it. And that was that.
This was the second or third attempt and after the first few tries, I just set the underwear to the side and didn't bring it up again for awhile.

Dear Humble,
I am struggling with my daughter who is almost 2 and temper tantrums. Any suggestions on how to respond/react to them? I am a first time single mom who works 45 hours a week. I am on maternity leave now because I am a week away from giving birth to my son. I am spending lots of bonding time with her. But that comes to my second question, how do I bring another baby home without serious jealousy? I am just stressing my waddling self out and would love some insight from a great mom like you. Thank you so much.
Knocked Up and Tired

Dear Knocked Up,
First off, CONGRATULATIONS! Such an exciting time in your life!! I remember I was in your very shoes. A....uh, few times. I am not an expert on anything (see my potty training advice that I just gave, as an example) but if there is one thing I really feel I have racked up some parenting points, it's toddlers and new sibling experiences. As a reference I have brought home a sibling 4 times, and the age gaps are 2 years, 3 years, 2 years, and 4 years. I have also dealt with some very deranged toddlers. In fact, my second daughter is still infamous for her biting phase, and her ability to spin her head around and spit teeth and fire out of her nose. In fact, ever since her, toddler tantrums don't scare me. At all. "Oh how cute, he threw something across the room....I remember when his sister slammed her face into the concrete at Wal Mart and got a self inflicted bloody nose...BEAT THAT BABY."
Being a somewhat new mom (2nd kid are still new until the first kid is least) you may be expecting a little bit more from your not quite 2 year old. Tantrums happen. For awhile. A long while. The best way to go about these, considering your daughters age, is redirection and choices. Depending on your daughter's vocabulary, and understanding of course. The following is a list of things I tell my toddlers when they are having a "hard time"
Make another choice i.e. "This is looks really fun, but it's not okay to play with...make another choice" (and then lead them to a place where choices can be blocks and books...even if they are crying just calmly say it and lead them)
How can I help you? i.e. "You are sad, how can I help you?" If you know why they are sad, then skip this one. But if they are not able to say, and you don't know, then this is perfect.
It's okay to be mad, but it's not okay to hit (or..throw your toys, kick, bite. etc) and then remove them from the situation entirely. Another room, leave the store, etc.
The point is, to stay calm. If they don't hear you because they are freaking out, that's okay. Just let them freak out. There's no use in trying to stop it. Just make sure she can't hurt herself, or anyone else. You being calm is the best thing for a child throwing a fit. Imagine if you were upset about something and were crying, and went to someone for comfort and they started freaking would probably freak out more and never go back to them for advice or comfort.
As for the new baby coming, I have done lots of things to help the kids feel connected to a new baby. But first, I want to tell you that no matter what you do, it's completely normal for a child to feel jealous. Since this is your first time bringing home a new baby I will let you in on a secret, it will suck for you a lot more than it will her. My first new sibling I brought home went off without a hitch. My 2 year old was SO EXCITED. She helped name the baby, the baby got her a gift, she raced to a chair in the hospital so she could hold her, it was damn near magical how my daughter responded. But days later, we were sitting at home, and I was holding the baby and she walked over and told me "Put it down" and grabbed my hand. I JUST ABOUT DIED FROM GUILT. I couldn't "put it down" because I was feeding her. I told her to go bring me a book and I would read to her. "No put it down, I wanna play." STAB IN THE HEART. It was the first time, that the baby came first, and it killed me. I swore that having the baby was the stupidest idea ever and I cried. Okay I sobbed. I swore in my heart I would have NO MORE KIDS. But guess what? She turned on the TV and watched The Wiggles. She was perfectly fine and I got over it. I even had more kids. True story.
So here is all the things I have done to prepare a sibling:
Books about babies and bringing a new sibling home. Warn them that they cry. A LOT. And when the new baby does cry, try not to lose your shit in front of the kid. Just say things like "I have to help the baby, he's so hungry!" or "I don't know why the baby is crying, but I am going to hug him" let the child know that the baby is just being a baby and that his crying will end.
I had the kids pick out a gift to give to the baby in the hospital, and SURPRISE! The baby got them something too.
When your child goes to meet them for the first time, make sure you aren't holding the baby. Have someone else do the meet and greet while you watch. Your job is to sit there and look totally inviting to your kid in case they don't give a crap about the baby just yet.
If you know the baby is a boy or a girl, and their name, refer to them by their name, always. Especially when you are just about due. Kids, especially little ones, will have a hard time with the abstract idea of a whole human inside of you. Saying "It's almost time for me to have Jacob!" is a lot easier to understand than "The baby is going to come soon!"

Have them help however much or however little they want. Don't force it. My 9 year old was in charge of setting up my pump station, making sure all the parts were put together and such. Because she wanted to. My 7 year old son just supervised and would tell me which boob was winning the race. My 4 year old would get me a diaper, sometimes. And my 11 year old didn't like feeding the baby. The point was, what they were helping with, is what they wanted to help with. And now that the baby is older, and we are past the newness phase, they help a lot more, because they know it makes their lives easier and they get fed dinner in a more timely manner.

When visitors come knocking, remind them before they come, to please take some time to talk to the big kid first. Maybe they could be in charge of pointing out where the baby is snoozing.

There is lots of different ways to curb sibling jealousy, but if you accept that it's going to happen, things will be a lot easier on you. The other stuff will make for great memories and stories. Like the time my oldest pulled the baby by her long hair across the bed, in order to sit on my lap. It was horrifying when it happened, but now we can laugh about it.
Best Wishes!!


  1. No wonder everyone loves you. =)

  2. Great post!

    Id like to add two things...

    When potty training: ditch the pull-ups. Try to use them only when u have to, like when leaving the house or at bed time. Diapers and pullups tend to absorb so much (as they're supposed to) and don't allow the child to feel any discomfort, so it generally dosnt botther them. Big kid undies tend to be extremely uncomfortable when wet, and brings otty to the attention of a super. Busy toddler. I mean, why would I stop all the fun I'm having, if I can just do my business and cary on. Some kids may not even realize they've had an accident.

    When I brought home baby 2, I did my best to avoid saying " no, because the baby (insert baby necessity)".

    Example: kid one: "mom, can we go to the park?
    Me:"not today, its too cold for the baby". Or "not right now, the baby's sleeping" etc.

    I wanted to be sure my first born didn't associate the baby with being told "no", or any changes in his lifestyle he may feel is negative. Find ways to re-word the same answer, with a more generic reasson behind the "no". Such as:

    "We can't go to the park today, because its too cold outside. How about we pretend your bedroom is a park?". Or "sure we can, as soon as the baby wakes up".

    Even if its as simple as having to ask him to wait a few minutes before you can make him a snack, because you're changing a diaper. I feel like if he's always being told no, because you're busy, he may start feeling baby means "no" and begin to resent the new sib