…this whole potty-training thing…
…and I’m not just talking about my style, as in, “I’d like to venture outside the four walls of our house one day again…”
…I’m actually talking about my style of discipline.
It doesn’t always hold for every situation, but when possible, I like to enforce consequences-based discipline. The girls need to understand that their actions breed consequences, and I try to do that in a very matter-of-fact way.
I try to take the emotion out of the situation, and – as much as I can – live by the words, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.” (Of course that’s much easier said than done sometimes!)
Throwing a toy over the baby gate means that toy goes bye-bye. I verbally reprimand the toy-thrower, “No, we do not throw toys,” and I set the toy across the gate, within her sight (so she doesn’t just forget about it).
Playing during mealtime means mealtime is over. I issue a warning, “If you play, it means you’re all done.” If the play continues, I remove the playful partygoer’s plate and allow her to sit in her highchair. I will give the her a second chance after a couple of minutes, but not a third.
I feel like this is really effective for our girls, and it’s something I can manage pretty well, too.
Where I’m getting hung up is with Baby A seeming to turn potty-time into a game.
In hindsight I made a big mistake by playing up the fact that she would get to help Mommy empty the potty chair into the toilet. In turn (I guess) she breaks her potty activity up into as many mini-sessions as possible. She will easily make five or six trips to empty a small amount of waste.
Occasionally I’ll put my foot down and tell her, “That’s not enough to empty,” but I feel like I have to tread so lightly.
My gut instinct is to use a familiar phrase and tell her, “If you play, it means you’re all done,” and put her undies back on and return her to the den…but I certainly don’t want to clean up the ramifications of her going in her pants. (With the handful of accidents she’s had, she hasn’t seemed too upset…so I don’t think the risk of a mess would be a big deterrent for her.)
As it is, I try to make the trip from the potty chair to the toilet as uneventful as possible…”Go directly to the toilet. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.” I am trying to be very matter-of-fact during these many trips, and only praise her when she’s actually finished.
And I’m trying to maintain my cool and “never let ‘em see me sweat”…even when I work up a true sweat from all the exercise.
I am plowing ahead, knowing that this phase, too, shall pass. I know that the novelty of a potty trip will eventually wear off, and Baby A will want to consolidate her business there so she can get back to her work at hand…like reading books, and playing puzzles, and building towers...
...or maybe she’s exhibiting early signs of a career in industrial engineering…the lure of the flushing toilet being far greater than any toy she’s ever seen.