Ever have an “aha!” moment that suddenly clarifies a perplexing problem? I recently had an epiphany like this during a potty-training seminar at my sons’ school. No, this post is not technically about potty training… though I’m sure as I enter into that FINAL FRONTIER with the boys I’ll be posting up a storm on the subject. THIS particular post is about a weird relationship I discovered during my potty-training learning process.
So there I am sitting in the conference room, blank page and pen ready to take notes on the brilliant methods and observations of the professionals as well as those of the parents who have gone before me. Halfway through the session and with great frustration a parent asks, “HOW? HOW do I get my child to sit on that little potty for 3 minutes while absolutely NOTHING interesting is going on?” I feel this mother’s pain. My guys will give me a count of 10 on the pot…. barely! 3 minutes is a lifetime to them! So, the facilitator mentions that you need motivational rewards — aka enticements — that will encourage the child to attend longer. Or, more accurately, to distract the child from what he’s really doing there just long enough to accidentally catch him in the act of doing it. So, the facilitator suggests that taking your child’s favorite book into the bathroom and allowing him to read it, or to read it to him, ONLY while he sits on the potty and NEVER EVER anywhere else…. is certainly an enticement (versus a reward) for him to stay seated a bit longer.
Picture this, you take your diaper-dependent son to the bathroom, pants down, you sit him on the potty and let him read/look at his absolutely favorite book — or better yet, you entertain him by reading to him from his favorite book — as he sits patiently on the potty awaiting nature’s call. When it does, you celebrate the moment and hope he connects the feeling of relieving himself with the praise he receives from you for doing so… if not with his regained freedom from potty-sitting. (“The sooner I do this, the sooner I can get out of here!”)
This potty training method relies on the notion that once nature’s door opens for him — via emptied bowel and/or drained bladder — while sitting there on his little potty, all the praise and applause he receives from you for being such a big boy will be rewarding enough to repeat the performance over and over again. Mostly true. Initially he will comply for your praise or for the freedom but ultimately he’ll do it because it’s the big boy thing to do. Or, maybe he does it for access to his favorite book??? I do not doubt that this method could work for some if not all diaper-dependent children who have their favorite book vanquished to the bathroom for training purposes.
BAM!!!! My epiphany came when I suddenly realized that this MUST be how the habit of reading on the throne as an adult becomes the time-consuming, hours-long habit for some people AND potentially a point of contention in 1-bathroom houses where other family members — like wives and children — might also wish to use the facilities. Now I know why! And, NOW I think I understand!
Do you know anybody whose mother must have used the “favorite-book” form of enticement for potty training?