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Parenting Page: Potty Training

This is a parenting page, about parenting Page. I am a child psychologist and a mother. So I specialize in children, yet I am human, thus I am full of knowledge and yet as full of emotions as any other parent. So I decided to write this Parenting Page since it might be informative and funny for others to take an insider look at a child specialist raising her child. I also wanted to create a way to show Page when she grows up, if she chooses to have children, a real-life view of the experience.

It isn’t uncommon for day cares to have a rule that to enter the 3-year-old classroom the child must be potty trained. Thankfully, our day care has no such rule. I’m not sure when our society decided that three was the magic age by which children should be trained, but Page missed that memo.

I dutifully began potty training around two-and-a-half, and Page tricked us into thinking it was going to be easy at first. For about a day she came to me to announce when she had to potty; I was thrilled! Easy-peasy as Page would say! But then…

The second night came, and even though Page had a diaper on at night, she woke up screaming and running in circles in her bedroom yelling, “Pee is coming, pee is coming!!!!” This was much like you might imagine Chicken Little yelling, “The sky is falling!” There were a couple of nights of that and then she lost all interest in the potty, and in any talk of the potty, no matter how I coaxed her or how many tricks I had up my sleeve from the many parenting articles on this topic. Even the Dr. Phil method didn’t work.

Next I tried a gift from Dora when Page turned three, who Page adored at the time. We went on a week-long beach vacation and one birthday gift we made a big deal of was from DORA THE EXPLORER! Dora sent her a Dora folding beach chair and a very cool Dora backpack filled with Dora underwear. Page spent three days peeing continuously while sitting in the Dora chair wearing her cute Dora underwear with us cleaning it up, before Peter put his foot down and said he didn’t care if Page was never potty trained, he wasn’t cleaning up any more and to put the damn pull-ups back on her. As far as he was concerned, some day she would magically be interested in potty training and he was pretty sure he didn’t know any adults not potty trained, so it wasn’t a concern. I still thought we should take a more active approach, though the pull-ups were back in play for sure.

For a brief moment I resorted to my mother’s method, which she had always described as working well and being a snap. She potty trained her four children using M&Ms; three M&Ms if you pee in the pot, five M&Ms if you poop. “Worked like a charm,” she said. Using food to train children is frowned upon in this day and age, but I was desperate, so I reasoned, “how much damage could it really do?” (I seem to have turned out OK, though in fairness I do have a weakness for chocolate.) But Page was disinterested in the M&Ms! I had hit rock bottom and resorted to candy, and even that didn’t work! It was like the gods were torturing me!

When Page was three-and-a-half, Peter and I attended a regularly scheduled mid-school-year parent-teacher conference at her day care. At one point potty training came up and we expressed our frustration that Page had been so disinterested. The teachers said, “Would you like us to train her for you here?” Peter and I looked at each other in shock, and clearly of one mind said in unison, “Do people say ‘no’ to that?!” “Oh yes,” the teachers explained, “Some parents say no even if we offer because they want to do it themselves.”

Overachievers, those parents.

We graciously (greedily, excitedly…) accepted their generous offer. Anytime a teacher wants to help Page learn a developmentally appropriate skill, that’s fine by us! And in no time, Page was potty trained. Apparently focusing on it at school where the other kids were using the potty daily was helpful to her learning and motivation, since she had examples to watch and subtle peer pressure to do what the other kids were doing.

I love teachers, from day care to school, now for a million reasons. Teachers are priceless. I only wish they had offered to train her earlier, so I wouldn’t have had to live with the shame of having resorted to the candy approach in my dark days of utter desperation…

Dr. Tina Lepage is the owner of Lepage Associates Solution-Based Psychological & Psychiatric Services, a group practice in S. Durham/RTP. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. www.lepageassociates.com. You can find her on Twitter at @LepageAssoc or at Facebook.com/LepageAssociates.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/dr-tina-lepage/parenting-page-potty-training/

Parenting Page: Mama Bear

This is a parenting page, about parenting Page. I am a child psychologist and a mother. So I specialize in children, yet I am human, thus I am full of knowledge and yet as full of emotions as any other parent. So I decided to write this Parenting Page since it might be informative and funny for others to take an insider look at a child specialist raising her child. I also wanted to create a way to show Page when she grows up, if she chooses to have children, a real-life view of the experience.

MAMA BEAR

I don’t consider myself tough. Most people could take me in a fight with one hand tied behind their back. Somehow my brief stint in adolescence as a juvenile delinquent did not toughen me up. Though apparently, nothing turns you into a ferocious bear like motherhood. As it turns out I am far tougher as a middle aged mom than I was as a teenage delinquent.

When Page was an infant some stories had been on the news about mothers with infant carriers being targeted for theft. Some were minor thefts such as grabbing a purse while the mom is preoccupied with the baby. Some were horror stories where the car is stolen and the baby thus snatched along for the ride. It was noted that women may be used as decoys to make a mom feel safe while a man then swoops in and robs you or steals your baby. Scary stuff!

One afternoon when Page was about six months old I was at the Southpoint Mall packing up the car to leave. I had placed my shopping bags and purse on the trunk and was strapping Page into her car seat when a woman approached me and asked for a dollar for the bus. It’s hard to describe how my body reacted to that. It felt instantly like I was devoid of emotion and hyper-focused; an eerie calm. My brain was immediately assessing the situation – we were far away from the bus stop way out in the parking lot where almost no one was; it made more sense to ask for money for the bus at the bus stop where many people were passing by, and no sense to be asking for money where we were. It was as if I had many thoughts at the same time, though not jumbled and quite clear. While thinking about our positioning I was noticing where my car keys were and taking those, placing my body close to Page, and scanning for a man or van or anything looking scary and suspicious. That all took place in the few seconds it took her to say she needed a dollar for the bus. Then I started talking like a crazy-lady tough-chick. Here’s how it went down.

Woman: I’m sorry to bother you but I lost my purse and I need a dollar for the bus. (She’s walking toward me.)

Me: Stop. You should not approach a woman with her child. You need to step back.

Woman: Oh, I’m sorry, I just needed a dollar… (I interrupt)

Me: Why are you still talking? I told you to step back. You need to walk away.

Which she did, walk away, and once she was far enough away I could turn my back to her for a moment I jumped into the car and locked the doors and we left immediately.

When I reflect on this I think how funny it was to be possessed by mama-bear hormones and talk in a way that is far more forceful than I ever feel otherwise. Really, I said with force and conviction, “You need to step back,” and “Why are you still talking?” The poor woman probably just needed a dollar for the bus and thought a mom would be just the understanding and kind type of person to give it to her. Instead she gets a crazy lady who watches too much scary TV.

Dr. Tina Lepage is the owner of Lepage Associates Solution-Based Psychological & Psychiatric Services, a group practice in S. Durham/RTP. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. www.lepageassociates.com. You can find her on Twitter at @LepageAssoc or at Facebook.com/LepageAssociates.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/dr-tina-lepage/parenting-page-mama-bear/