Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Mommy! I Have to Go Potty!

Jacob made two breakthroughs last week: First, as he was getting in the bath, he asked to get on the potty to pee. He did in fact pee in the potty. It was very exciting for all. As a reward, we called Uncle Brian and Aunt Teresa and left a message on their machine. Also, Jacob had a special zucchini muffin as his nighttime snack. Second, Jacob asked to wear big boy underpants the next morning after breakfast. He wore them for about an hour and a half till we had to go out shopping. He kept them clean and dry. We have yet to capitalize on these advances, but we will. Onto the review:

Mommy, I Have to Go Potty: A Parent's Guide to Toilet Training2nd Edition, by Jan Faull, M.Ed., updated and expanded by Helen F. Neville, B.S., R.N. Raefield-Roberts Publishers, 2009, 176 pages, $14.95 US.

Brief overview of content:

The book begins by discussing the physical, social, intellectual and emotional readiness that a toddler needs to begin potty training. Parenting styles (take-charge, diplomatic, laissez-faire) are applied to potty training, showing the strengths and weaknesses of each. A brief review of necessary items (potty chair, potty training clothes, etc.) leads to describing three training approaches: part time underpants, child's choice between underpants and diaper, full time underpants. Different types of rewards (social/praise, tangible items) and whether rewards are needed lead the authors into emphasizing the importance of positive feedback and encouragement ("you did a great job trying") and avoiding negative tactics ("do you want to be a baby forever?"). Tips on how to deal with potty-training plan failure and power struggles are provided. Shifting from home to child care providers is discussed. Accommodations for special needs children are described. Problems with bedwetting, constipation and soiling are given practical resolutions. Early potty training (from 6 to 18 months) is also discussed.

Author overview:

Blurb from the back of the book: "Jan Faull is a well-known child development and behavior specialist. She is the parenting columnist for the Seattle Times and the author of four books on parenting. Helen Neville is a pediatric nurse and educator known for her parent-friendly books on child development and temperament. Also the author of Is This a Phase?"


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

While you could read this cover to cover at a slim 176 pages, it's also easy to skip over chapters or sections that may not apply in your situation. For example, the discussion of special-needs children or the early potty training don't apply to my situation since both children are past the age where we could start early and don't show any special needs. The index is good as is the reference section. The references are divided into several parts: first, children's books on potty training with brief descriptions; second, DVDs for children (though only two are mentioned); third, books for parents with descriptions; fourth, web sites for bedwetting alarms and early potty training support.

2. Readability.

The style of writing is informal and informative. Real life experiences (callout boxes titled "Stories from the Bathroom") and examples are woven into the content and support the ideas presented. Technical jargon is rarely used or in the occasional footnote (did you know bedwetting is medically referred to as "nocturnal enuresis"?).

3. Helpful to a parent?

The book gives a good review of the basics: getting equipment for potty training and making sure child and parents are ready to start. Especially good are the discussions of special-needs children and dealing with power struggles. The chapter on early training was interesting and had enough detail to get you started if you wanted to try. Another plus for the book is how much leeway it gives in going back to diapers temporarily if problems arise. The book is definitely helpful to a parent.

4. Did we use it?

We've been great at avoiding power struggles, mostly because we have been waiting for Jacob to show more interest. He has recently, so we are getting him on the potty more often (almost once a day). Plus, we've had a flood of books from the library to read to him about potty training, some from the list provided in the references.

Sample text

On the importance of avoiding power struggles: [B]e careful not to get into power struggles over toileting. An emotional battle can result in your child refusing to use the toilet and retaining his stool. Remember, ultimate control lies with the child. It's his body, he's the one in charge. You can encourage, reward, influence, and motivate, but you can't force a child to poop. [p. 141]

On hypnosis for children five and up: Hypnosis provides positive suggestion when the mind is relaxed. If you're interested in this approach, you can try it yourself or work with a child threapist who does hypnosis. A reputable book on this subject is Raising your Children with Hypnosis by Donald Mottin. The author points out that intention must be stated in the present tense and positively rather than negatively. The subconscious mind takes thing quite literally. If you say "My bed will be dry," this could mean tomorrow or a year from now. So instead, you say, "My bed is dry." [pp. 124-125]
How many science fiction experiments have gone awry without the proper phrasing? Or poor use of hypnosis?

1 comment:

  1. We at Parenting Press appreciate your thorough review of Mommy! I Have to Go Potty! This book has been popular since the first edition was issues, cases and case and cases of diapers ago. Another advantage of Helen Neville's revision is the emphasis on temperament, and how that affects the pace of toilet training. (Not to mention how the difference between the child's temperament and those of the parents can affect everyone's mindset during the process!)