The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 28, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, January 28, 1996
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Page 11
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THE SALJlw3buRNAL Life SENSE FOR SENIORS / B4 ALMANAC / B6 CROSSWORD / B7 B In Potty Purgatory? Help and hope for training your child By EMILY J. MINOR Cox News Service ' Many childhood milestones come and go with relative ease. The first smile. Rolling over. Pulling up. .Crawling. : Then comes potty training. "I was totally freaked out to start," says Tina Stanley, 24, a West Palm Beach mother of twin girls. "My sister had had such a hard time with her kids, and I just knew this was going to be awful." But it was easy — for Stanley, her husband and their daughters. Within a couple of weeks, both girls were using the toilet alone. Carolyn Tillman of Lake Worth says she never flinched when they started toilet training in their house. She simply bought a little potty, sat her daughter on it, and hoped for the best. . What she got was the worst. ' "We would have knock-down, drag-out fights," says Tillman, 33, whose daughter finally used the toilet when she was a little more than 3 years old. ''And my husband and I disagreed on the methods. It ,was awful." , As parents, we are often comfortable letting children set the agenda for development skills. If a 5- month-old isn't ^ rolling over, we "For a lot of parents, the concept of them being we'wait, "when, , r J ^ . ^ , .° at 8 months, ba- gooa parents is tied in by isn't sitting with potty training:' S^SffSSt Kathleen Bey tion the pediatrician, but we : psychotherapist, West Palm Beach, Fla. don , t freak Qut 4> But if a 3-year- old isn't potty trained, that's different. That's failure. That's Freud talking. "I think the real feeling of 'We're going to screw them up for life,' comes from . . . the old vestige of Freud," says Marty Seyler, a therapist at the Parent- Child Center Inc. Why is the use of the toilet so crucial? Many child development experts say there is truth in Freud's belief that children want to hold onto a bowel movement because it's part of them, that they're afraid of letting go. And it is also true that, as adults, we often judge our health in terms of bowel regularity, especially if we have a history of irregularity. Constipation can be downright miserable. "What's the most popular over-the-counter drug? Laxatives," says Kathleen Bey, a psychotherapist with the Center for Family Services in West Palm Beach. "Old people judge their health by the state of their bowels. If you have a bowel movement every day, you're healthy. That's what we've been told." ' But today's parents have an added pressure: daycare rules. Many child-care centers won't move children out of the 2-year-old room until they're potty trained. This creates an impossible predicament for parents - and children, who may find themselves immersed in toilet training before they are ready. "For a lot of parents, the concept of them as good parents is tied in with potty training," Bey says. "It's a source of pride to say, 'My child is 2 years old, and he's trained.' " But it doesn't always go like clockwork. All kinds of things can happen to make toilet training go awry. A spider in the toilet can scare off a kid for a long See POTTY, Page B8 Local child care providers help teach youngsters By BECKY FITZGERALD The Salina Journal Photo Illustration by TOM DORSEY/The Salina Journal Salina doctor gives advice to avoid terrors of training By BECKY FITZGERALD The Salina Journal Toilet training can be a positive experience, but both parent and child must be willing and able to do their part. Dr. Elaine Ferguson of Salina Family Physicians said parents must make a commitment to the process and provide unconditional love when accidents occur. Children need certain physical and mental tools. They must have control over their sphincter muscle, which al- V PARENTING lows them to hold in or let go of waste, and they must be able to use and understand words. For example, a child should be able to use one word for urine and another for a bowel movement, and he or she should be able to point to the potty chair when asked. "When parents don't push, when they allow their child to be a baby until she starts showing independence, then they'll be more successful," said Ferguson during a free parenting forum sponsored by Child Abuse Prevention Services Inc., YWCA Family Resource Center and Central Kansas Mental Health Center. 10 tips Here's 10 ways parents may avoid the terrors of toilet training: 1. Teach facts about body parts and terms for waste products. "Diaper changing is one-on-one time parents can use to teach body parts," Ferguson suggested. "Show boys their penis and scrotum. Let girls explore their vagina and labia. "Accept the child unconditionally," she said. "Saying things like 'stinky' and 'ick- ypoo' gives children the idea their waste is something they ought to be ashamed of, and they may have trouble eliminating in the toilet later on." 2. Teach about the toilet and the appropriate term for using it. "Let them explore with your supervision, maybe let them flush your stool." Also, parents, don't teach words or phrases you'd be embarrassed to hear in public, such as church or the grocery store. 3. The child must realize what causes soiled diapers. Check diapers frequently and change them as soon as possible once they're wet or soiled. Children begin to learn and enjoy the difference between soiled and dry diapers. Praise the child when he tells you he is wet or soiled. 4. Recognize a child's signals that he is about to urinate or move his bowels — fidgeting from foot to foot, tugging at diapers, etc. — and point those signals out to him: "It looks like you're trying to make a B.M.; are you?" 5. Children need models. Let her see you and other adults in the household actually using the potty. 6. Mention the advantages of using the toilet. "Once you go in the potty, you won't have a sore bottom from wearing your diapers." 7. Read books to your child that are written for children about potty training. Weary parents reward teens' obnoxious behavior •/ j. Another day, another diaper. That's Gina Sweet's good-natured philosophy about potty training accidents "at Alphabet Academy Child Care Center and Preschool, 410 W. Iron Ave. Because the center is licensed to care for children ages 2% to 7, center personnel prefer children be toilet trained when they're enrolled. However, children who haven't left their diaper days behind aren't frowned upon. "We're more than happy to help parents train their children," said Sweet, assistant director. "That's the last thing a parent should have to worry about when it comes to their child's day care." Center staff ask that children bring or wear Pull- Ups or underwear to further the training process, and parents are expected to continue the training at home. "Some children have accidents, but often they're trained within two or three weeks," Sweet said. "They see other kids go to the bathroom, and they pick up what the others do. Sometimes, it's kind of a psychological thing. Boys will have on new Batman or (Teen-age Mutant Ninja) Turtle underwear and they won't want to get them dirty." Elaine Edwards, director at Salina Child Care Centers, said parents and child-care providers must travel a two-way street when it comes to toilet training. "There has to be cooperation between the parents and the providers," said Edwards, who oversees an infant/toddler center at 406 S. Fifth and a center for 2V 2 - to 12-year-olds at 308 S. Eighth. "You have to agree about how to train, and the training must take place at home, too." Timing is also important. "Some parents say 'My child's ready,' and they're not even close. Some children are trained at 15 months, but that isn't the norm.. Parents have to realize they can't force their children." Children who attend the infant/toddler center learn toilet training skills. Providers expect children enrolled at the Eighth Street center to be potty trained. Older children who aren't completely trained are not allowed to remain at the infant/toddler center, because of licensing regulations, Edwards said. Child in control Child-care provider Debbie Webster said patience is a prerequisite for potty training. "If we start and the child rebels, we stop and try again later. Potty training is one thing the child has control over," said Webster, owner of Grandma Debbie's Daycare, 1016 Windsor. She's licensed to care for infants and children up to age 12. She discourages the use of Pull-Ups because their absorbent material keeps children too dry. Youngsters must learn there's an advantage to using a toilet. "Some parents let their children run around naked at home, so when they go, they feel it." Suggestions: Koko Bear's New Potty (Bantam Books, 1986) and Once upon a Potty by Alona Frankel (also available on video). 8. Don't start training with undo stress in your life or your child's. For example, • these times might be just after your child switches day-care providers or the birth of a baby. 9. If you decide to use a potty chair, introduce it gradually. Let the child sit on it fully clothed and do something he or she enjoys, like "read" a book or watch TV. 10. Allow practices, such as before bath or bedtime, but don't leave her there alone. Stay with her until the time comes when she no longer seems to want or need you there. If "results" aren't produced after 5 minutes, allow the child to get off the chair. Praise the child the first time she is successful. Some adults give in to unreasonable requests rather than risk child's scorn '• Comments from a teen-ager directed to his parents: ; "Don't talk to me, just drive me to the mall." "Stop asking me where I'm going; give me $20." ;'. "You drive too slow; I want my own car." These equations are all wrong. But most adolescents don't see the problem. In .their self-centeredness, they feel justified being disrespectful while at the same tjime making demands. What is shocking to me is that parents are caving in. '. I know a man who tells me his son is a terrible driver and should not be driving, yet he has bought his son a car to get the boy off his back. I think, "How could you let your son jeopardize himself and all the other people on the road?" I saw a pre-teen throwing a fit in a department store. She wanted a particular dress. Her mother thought the dress was too short. The daughter said in a mean-spirited tone, "You don't know anything. Just look at the way you're dressed." Instead of politely saying to her child, "We're leaving," the mother handed the sales clerk her charge card. I stood DORIS WILD HELMERING St. Louis Post-Dispatch there thinking, "What are you doing, lady? Why are you rewarding your daughter's bad behavior?" In another family, both parents work outside the home. At night they're beat. They come home and the house is a mess — dirty dishes everywhere, laundry sky high, filthy bathrooms. Their two teenagers are sitting watching television. The parents' beef: "Our kids expect us to wait on them. Buy them what they want. Drive them where they want to go." My beef: "Why aren't these parents expecting something from their children?" Adolescents definitely need time to vegetate. But you're doing yourself and your teen a disservice if you don't have expectations. For example, when they get home, it can be their job to clean the kitchen, make a casserole, and throw a load of clothes in the washer. One reason parents give in to unreasonable demands is that they are overtired. Easier to say, "OK, I will take you to the mall," than to think through the situation. An alternative might be to say, "Tonight you wash and fold three loads of clothes. Tomorrow night, I'll take you to the mall and buy you a pair of jeans." A second reason a parent "caves" — children are .often relentless in pursuing what they want. They have figured out that if they hound, harass and pester long and hard enough, parents will give in. Parents are also afraid to be different. They are driven by the need to act as all the other parents are acting. Adolescents know this. For example, Joan tells her mom, "Sally's mom is going to buy her a car,, and when Jenny turns 16, she's going to get a car." Soon Joan's parents are looking for a car for her, although buying another vehicle will be a financial strain. Incidentally, this is the reason so many teens get to go away on spring break. Parents are aware of the wild drinking and sex. Nevertheless, because every other parent is giving permission, they, too, go along with the program their adolescent sets forth. Indeed, teen-agers can wear the best of parents down on occasion with repeated requests and expectations. At the same time, if your children act obnoxious, you should not reward them. If you do, you teach them that the way to get what you want in life is to act like a jerk. We have enough of these people in society already. Do you want to add another human bfr ing to the growing pool? SUGGESTIONS? CALL SHERIDA WARNER, LIFE EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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