I finally see some results. I have felt like the multiple months we have been working toward independent toilet use has been in vain. I have prodded, cheered, encouraged, spanked, charted, motivated, cried and pulled my hair out but nothing has seemed to work with Ivan. Yes, he’s done it, and will do it, but not without my insistence or hovering over him. The days he has been dry all day long have been because I didn’t forget to make him go. When I made him go he cried and whined about it making it less and less likely that either of us would want to continue this fruitless process. Even spanking him for “accidents” was more punishment to me than him. He hated it, but wasn’t willing to do what was asked of him. I was beginning to wonder if he had some sort of physical problem that was causing a delay in his ability to know that he was about to go.

Last week I sat down and had a talk with myself about Ivan and his thought processes. Having tried prizes as well as punishment I realized he is not suddenly going to become motivated by these things and just upping the ante will not change that.

“What is motivation for Ivan?” I asked myself. “He likes to do things on his own,” I answered. He is angry when I make him hold my hand to walk through the parking lot. He wants to push his own cart at the grocery store. You would think he would want to go to the bathroom on his own but it’s not that simple. He does want to go on his own but he doesn’t want me to tell him to go. I think going to the bathroom was only distasteful because he felt he was being forced to do it…and he was. So why wasn’t he just doing it on his own? If I let him go…he would wet his pants. Every time he told me that he had to go, he had already leaked just a little in his underwear. It was as if going to the bathroom was a last ditch method for avoiding a spanking. Each time I told him to go he was crying and whining to let me know that this was not his choice and going on his own would have given me the wrong message in his mind. If he was going to be potty trained it had to be because he chose to be potty trained. Even giving him prizes only reinforced the idea in his mind that he was being manipulated. My promises of a new toy or an outing of some kind were not only difficult for me to come up with and follow through with, they were not putting a light in his eye or quickening his steps at all. He would just look at me and smile…as if to say…”that’s a pretty good deal mom, but I’m really not in the market for a trip to Chuck E. Cheese right now.”

I started praying about this issue way later than I should have. It wasn’t until last week that I started doing more than asking God to give me patience. I finally asked for wisdom instead and what do you know…results.

I thought through some of the things that have made Ivan turn about and do what I want him to after he insisted he didn’t want to. One of those things is something I think he got from me…if you tell me you don’t want me to do it…that’s what I want to do. He is a real sucker for reverse psychology. I don’t like this (in me or in him), and I don’t want to encourage it because it’s such a rebellious attitude, so telling him that I don’t want him to go the bathroom wasn’t an option. However, if I make him wear a diaper as punishment and then tell him that he has to go potty in the diaper and not in the potty…it just might do the trick. And it seems to have worked.

On Friday morning I was exasperated. He had peed in his pants twice before 10:00. The second time I had to clean him up…I pulled out a diaper…NOT A PULL-UP…A DIAPER…FOR BABIES…and made him wear it. He wasn’t too upset by this until he had to go to the bathroom. I told him that he had to go in his diaper and he cried. I made him wear the diaper all day and that evening when a babysitter came I changed him into another diaper and she was instructed to leave it on him all night. I told him that he could start again with underwear in the morning.

The next day he was back in his underwear and things went much better. He volunteered each time he had to go, and though I was sure to warn him several times that there were plenty of diapers if he had an accident, he was for the first time consistently proactive about going potty in the bathroom. Even announcing his need to go before allowing that little leak in his underwear. Sunday was the same way and so far today as well. DRY, DRY, DRY.

I don’t think it is as much the punishment of the diaper as it is being told he has to do something a certain way. He has decided that “his way” is going in the potty, now that we’ve introduced the lesser option. Now, going to the bathroom in the potty is his choice instead of something I’ve forced on him.

I feel like we’ve finally had a breakthrough. I don’t know what Dr. Spock or Dr. Dobson would say about this method, but I really don’t care…I am just so thankful he’s making progress.