I just realized I have come to a new place in parenthood: the potty training no-judgment zone. This zone is probably not new to many of you mamas, but I think there are some in the previous generation or maybe your friend across town, who are still in the "my kids were all potty-trained by two, no problems, so what's up with your little people" place. These folks are well-meaning, and may even be telling the truth, but I'm willing to bet they have not had a challenging potty trainee or they are just leaving out the frustration.
When Monica was just over a year old, I remember talking to a friend about the potty training process. She had decided that they were not going to set up a reward system with candy, stickers, or McDonalds' french fries. Why reward a behavior that is not really a choice, i.e. people in our society are expected, from a social and hygenic standpoint, to eliminate in acceptable locations and receptacles. Period.
At the time, I thought, "Of course. I'm just going to get this girl to go potty when I think it's time. It's as simple as putting them on the potty every so often and, by two-ish, she'll understand to eliminate there. Who wants wet, soiled underwear, right? Surely she'll learn quickly just because that's what we do; it's the routine."
That may work for some, maybe even many, kids. But, I tell ya, some kids give you a rough go. Some seem to hold on to dipes and purposeful pants pooping for years. I've heard some theorize that this variation is due to parenting deficits and/or laziness. While that is possible, let's not forget that you can't control you kid's bowels or their development in understanding urges. Let's not forget that changes in the home can get in the way of maintaing and developing skills. Let's not forget that taking too much responsibility for our kids' bodily functions can cause frustration or a false sense of pride.
If you need to cut a hole in your kid's diaper and sit them on the toilet to poo, fine. If you need to give out a jelly bean every once in a while to keep them interested in learning to use the john, what's the harm? If you're willing the just wash out the messy underwear today because putting your kid on the potty every 30 minutes is exhausting, more power to you.
And my friend who said there was no way she'd reward potty traning? She has also reached the potty training no-judgment zone. Kids will do that to you. They keep you humble and honest.