August 11, 2011

The Toilet Training Saga: update 8/11/2011

Sometimes I feel like I'm on an episode of TLC's What Not To Wear - the part where they stick you in the 360 mirror and you get to see all your flaws up close. Only, for me, it's not my clothes that are being scrutinized. Instead it's my not-so-good attributes like pride, selfishness, and jealousy. And the mirror reflecting my flaws back at me is life's challenges... Very revealing.

   Wait - isn't this a toilet training update?

Yes it is. Who would have thought the struggles of toilet training my son with Fragile X Syndrome would lead to self-reflection.

To put it simply, the toilet training isn't happening. I have hit the pause button. The first day was terrible. It became clear within the first hour that I needed to step back and evaluate my approach.

(Click here to read my original thoughts on toilet training our oldest son.)

Instead of placing the huge burden on Grant's shoulders for him to learn the whole processes the same way a "typical" child would (all in the name of keeping expectations high), I decided to break it down.

Here is the revised plan:
  1. Learn how to push down and pull up pants, talk emphatically about wet and dry as we do diaper changes and wash hands, and learn more bathroom-related ASL signs.
  2. Learn how to push down and pull up underwear (we are going to use pull-up diapers to begin the process) and learn how to sit on the toilet (sit on the toilet first thing in the morning, after lunch, after nap, and before bedtime).
  3. Then sit and relax long enough to accomplish the mission. :)
  4. Follow a toilet schedule (something like 15 minutes on then 45 minutes off) and learn the concept of keeping the "underwear" dry.
  5. Keep pull-ups dry during the day.
  6. Graduate to underwear and probably repeat step number four for a little while.

This process makes much more sense for my family - for Grant.  In fact, as soon as I realigned my expectations I felt as if a big burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

   So what's this talk about self-reflection?

If you read my first post on the topic, Fragile X and Toilet Training, I had the attitude of "ready or not here we go". Well, Grant wasn't ready and it didn't go. The first few days were so stressful that Grant's speech began to regress and he was incredibly out-of-sorts. He was angry and confused. I was also extremely emotional and was taking it out on the rest of the family.

As pathetic as it sounds, I was floored that I couldn't MAKE Grant be ready. I simply had to accept that he wasn't. I felt wounded. Why? Because my pride had been attacked. I was trying to control something that wasn't mine to control. I wanted Grant to fit in with his friends who were being toilet trained and I wanted to prove that I was supermom.

How incredibly selfish of me.

I wasn't keeping Grant's best interests in mind. Sure, there was nothing wrong with testing and seeing if Grant was ready to be toilet trained, but my motives were all wrong. I had to remind myself that this isn't about me - it's all about my sweet son. I truly want him to succeed and be happy.

I still have high expectations for Grant. But I am keeping my motives in check. I have gained a new perspective. We will continue to work with Grant and toilet training but I must allow him to learn in the ways he needs to learn. After all, as many kindly reminded me, it's a marathon - not a sprint.


  1. I love your honesty Karen. You definitely have extra challenges and I love the way you take them head on. Your new system seems perfect.

    I think that your feelings are universal. I remember going to church and seeing that my daughter's friends were potty trained... I immediately felt behind and embarassed. I went home and started the process. She would scream her head off and hold eveything in to the point that I thought she might get a UTI.

    Its amazing how quickly we get away from what's best for our kids and into what brings us glory. Thanks for being so open. Its a challenge for all of us to look at what our motives are in parenting!


  2. Sorry to hear that your had a difficult time. :/ I think we're going to hit the pause button as well. Jonathan's stubborn-ness (a trait that he gets 100% from his father - Hehe) is shining through full-force. Hope you have better luck next time.

  3. Great post. Seems I'm not alone in the potty training mess that is FX. It's so difficult, our oldest is 4 and having issues with it when my younger son (non-fx) is 2 and trained except at night. Hope you have some better luck going forward, these kids seem to require us to think outside the box quite a bit. :)


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