Matthew and Andrew posing before we went to mass on Sunday.
Exactly 3 years ago today, my father, George Gerst, died. He died 4 days after my first son, and his first grandson, was born. Although I am able to accept his death, I won’t ever get over it. He crosses my mind daily. He is the greatest man I have ever known.
Recently, I undertook one of the first major challenges of fatherhood. It was time to potty train our oldest son Andrew. Just the mere thought of potty training filled me with dread. Although this is a required skill every child must master, I was extremely anxious about helping him accomplish it smoothly. But, after Andrew learned to use the potty in 7 days, I realized my feelings were totally were unfounded.
Dads about to potty train a child don’t have to fret over potty training. Here is some of my experience and a few easy steps to make it a stress-free experience for both of you. Hopefully, the experience of one father and son can help in your efforts to potty train your child.
Two main reasons caused me to dread potty training. First, I have almost no interaction, personally or professionally, with kids other than my own. So, I do not have enough experience to potty train effectively. Then, as an older dad, in my mid-40s and Andrew is our oldest on, I do not have the right temperment for the job.
However, exactly because of my trepidation, I decided to be responsible for potty training. Plus, as the father of a son, I felt it was my duty to take the lead.
Just like most modern dads, I wanted to hear from experts before undertaking potty training. To start, I talked to a few parents with good judgment. Also, I read some articles in magazines and online. I even watched some YouTube videos from trustworthy sources, such as Childrens Medical Center of Dallas, where we live. But I soon become overwhelmed with advice. So, make sure to limit your research and advice seeking.
Probably the most important element of potty training is understanding your child’s personality. Our son Andrew, almost 3 when we started potty training, is a really good and well-behaved boy. He is sensitive and anxious to please others. These kids often are easier to potty train than other personality types. Understanding your child’s personality will help make the process easier.
For a few months before we started, I acted as a role model. He watched me use the toilet and I told him soon he would use the potty like daddy. This helped him begin to understand.
Timing was a big worry. When to start potty training? Eventually, I realized he was not going to wake up one day and tell me he was ready to begin potty training. So, we started it when we could focus on it for a full week.
During the week of potty training, we stayed home. We didn’t eat in restaurants or go out anywhere. Andrew had to learn how to use the potty at home before doing it in public.
Before starting, Andrew got to pick it out his own potty at the store. Then, during potty training, we also decided to use real underwear. We had to do more laundry than normal this week, but it proved to be one of main reasons he was able to be potty trained in 7 days. We did not want to use pull-ups. With pull ups, he had a hard time feeling if he was wet. Plus, my sister in law took 3 months to potty train her son using pull-ups.
We had a few pair of underwear a family member had given us. We used these for the first 2 days. Then, when he made some progress, after the first 2 days, we took him to the store to pick out some underwear. Getting to pick out a few pair of Thomas the Tank Engine underwear made him very proud. Once he picked these out himself, potty training went smoothly the rest of the week.
Andrew was completely potty trained in 7 days. We started on a Satuday and by the following Friday, he was able to use the potty by himself.
The most important part of the whole potty training experience is to be supportive of your child. This is a new experience for him. Make sure he knows you are proud of him for trying. When he does use the potty, make it a celebration. Even weeks after he is potty trained, Andrew and I do the potty dance after he goes.
Support extends after he is potty trained. Several weeks after Andrew was potty trained, he had an accident and was very upset this happened. I reassured him this happens to every person.
Later, your child may use the potty to test the rules. Andrew also has to use the potty just after he is sent to bed for the night. He also does this during nap time. We will have to work on this with Andrew.
Finally, get support from your spouse.
But most importantly, trust yourself. You and your spouse know your child better than anyone.
Just one simple word makes me happiest. I get the biggest thrill when my 3 year old son Andrew says “Daddy.” The poem in this Gatorade commercial sums up the role of the father.
Our first child Andrew recently had a birthday.
He is now 3 years old. I am amazed at the kind of boy he is becoming. He really is a very good boy. Andrew really listens when we talk to him. I would describe him as a sweet, kind-hearted and sensitive boy.
We had a small birthday party limited to immediate family. Andrew’s birthday is always a happy occasion and a little sad as well. His birthday occurs 4 days after the death of my father. My Dad died just after Andrew was born. Andrew’s birth and my father’s death always will be linked.
Although it seems cliche, I cant believe it has been 3 years already. It was just yesterday when we took him home from the hospital. I remember driving 10 miles per hour to get home while Heidi rode in the back seat of the car hovering over our newborn.
Even though he is getting bigger and we have another son, I have always called Andrew “little boy.” Near the end of her pregnancy, Heidi was on bedrest with high blood pressure. As a result, Andrew was born small. When we left the hospital, he weighed 5 lbs 15 ounces.
Happy Birthday Andrew. I am proud of you. No matter your age and size, you always will be my little boy. Love, Dad.