Warning: Real ranty and long but I do need some legit advice if you have any. Thanks.
Is there an effective way to do AP/Gentle/Non-Emotionally Harming potty training for a super stubborn toddler and extremely stressed out high anxiety mom?
Seriously, potty training is literally giving me panic attacks (I have anxiety disorder, and I don't take meds because everything I've tried either gives me bad side effects or makes me too drowsy to care for my daughter) and migraines and crying spells. I am at my wit's end. I really am.
My daughter is 2, will be 3 in September, and we've been potty training off an on since she was 13 months old. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about the toilet. She can put on and take off her pants, she can step on the stool and sit down, she can wash her hands just fine and does a passable job of wiping her own bottom and flushing. She knows what pee and poop are and she's comfortable using the potty. She can pee and poop on the potty with no problems. The only problem is that she only does it when she wants to. And if she doesn't want to, she just goes wherever.
See, here's the thing. She was completely potty trained. For real. She started showing signs of readiness at 13 months and our pediatrician recommended getting a potty seat for her and letting her try it. We didn't push it or pressure her, she just wanted to. She immediately took to it and loved it. She was totally potty trained for day by 18 months. She almost never had accidents and even stayed dry through the night and during naps on several occasions. She never was scared of going poop on the potty or using public restrooms. I was thrilled and she was happy too. I know this might be hard to believe (my friends who rarely see us don't believe me, I've been accused of lying to make my parenting seem impressive or my daughter seem special) but its true. Whatever... anyway...
Then right before her 2nd birthday we had to move across the country. It was very stressful for everyone and she regressed completely back to diapers. By this time I thought she was potty trained, so I had already given away all of her cloth diapers to my expectant friends who wanted them. She has super sensitive skin, so when she regressed back (refusing to go in the toilet, asking for a diaper, saying she doesn't want to be a 'big girl' or wear panties anymore...) I ended up having to buy expensive diapers and expensive wipes for her. I didn't want to buy a whole new cloth stash since I thought after the stress of moving was over she'd go back to the potty. Also we moved into an apartment with a washing machine that is sooo not cloth friendly. There is no way... ugh. Anyway, that was in September.
Well, the holidays happened which is always stressful and we did a lot of traveling. I also became very ill. We decided to wait until after the holidays to start trying to get her back out of diapers. Around New Years she started showing interest in the potty again (while in the bathtub she'd want to be put on the potty so she wouldn't soil her bathwater, and she asked us for panties with Bubble Guppies on them) so we started back at square one for potty training. This time we tried the 3 day thing which was really wrong of me. That was too stressful for her. We had a little bit of success but I think I freaked her out. We quit to give her a mental break from it. Then my BIL came to live with us and that was a big change for her. She's only just now got used to him being here all the time. Now she's showing interest again but I'm scared to start with pottying all over again after everything... It's so ridiculously messy and I do 98% of the house cleaning, so I know when we start again it's going to be disgusting around here...
She now has several dolls with potties, about 6-7 books (with more on the way from Amazon and on hold for us at the library), 5-6 movies/shows, and I've tried sticker charts and jellybeans as rewards. (Also gift surprises, the potty fairy/diaper fairy, and literally all that Pinterest has to offer) I've also tried a cardboard crown with jewel stickers (she gets a jewel sticker for her crown every time she goes). She has playdough, markers, coloring books, puzzles, and other toys she only gets when she's on the potty. I've bought her potty seats and toilet seat adapters, I've had her tested for UTIs, and I've promised her everything under the sun to motivate her. (Such as, if she stays dry for a full day I'll allow her to choose a bottle of her own nail polish, and if she stays dry for a full week we will take her camping) I have done EVERYTHING that the books, blogs, forums, and my relatives have told me to do. She's watched me use the bathroom, she's seen my underwear collection, I've taken her underwear shopping, she KNOWS what to do. She just won't.
Again, that probably sounds hard to believe for some people. But she's stubborn. I told her just yesterday that only babies wear diapers and that big girls wear panties. She told me that she's a big girl who wears a diaper. I laughed at the time but now it depresses me. She has an answer for everything and I can't reason with her. I'm afraid that if I argue with her or pressure her she will regress even further and she will become traumatized and stressed out.
I think that to her, wearing a diaper is just easy. She knows that I will keep her clean and dry for her, so she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to. She doesn't care if she's wet or has a poopie diaper. She would play all day in her own filth and never bat an eyelash. But of course I would never allow that. Once, it was suggested to me that I let her stay in wet trainers until she complained. I tried it once and she never said anything for over an hour and the next day she had a bad rash. I'm not going to try that again. Her skin is too delicate and I'm not going to do anything that would damage her health in the name of toilet training.
After everything I've tried, I have no idea what else I can do to motivate her. I really don't think it's to do with "readiness" on her part because she learned it once and did it almost perfectly for months. Also, she's physically and mentally able, since she understands the purpose of the potty and so on, and she knows how to use it. She does use it 3-4 times a week on her own, just because she wants to.
The reason why I'm having anxiety over it is because most of the daycares in our area (and all of the ones that I feel comfortable allowing her attend) insist upon all the 3 year old kids being potty trained. She won't be able to attend if not. I need to go back to work and I need her to go to daycare asap. We don't know anyone in our area (our family and close friends live over 1800 miles away) and I can't afford a nanny, etc.
Also, she is big for her age. She's very tall and articulate so people think she's 4, like, all the time. I've had people come up and ask me what is wrong with me allowing my 4 year old to wear diapers. I recently took her to the emergency room and our nurse (she didn't bother to read my daughter's chart I guess) started asking me why my daughter is in diapers. I said she wasn't potty trained and she asked if she had special needs. I said no and then she went on a rant about why perfectly healthy 4 year olds ought to be potty trained. When I finally told her that my daughter was only 2 (I couldn't get a word in edgewise....) she looked at me like I had 3 heads. I'm getting fed up with it. It's getting to the point where it's hard to find mommy friends in my new area and friends for her too because I'm afraid they'll be judge-y over her pottying... My friends and family are giving me problems over it now. Not to mention how expensive her diapers and wipes have become and my husband is constantly agonizing over money.
I'm scared to death of harming her psychologically somehow over this. She is super happy and I don't want to stress her out over this, but her stubbornness is really hard to get around. If I ask her if she needs to go (in a calm voice) she loses her mind. Starts having a tantrum just because I asked her if she needs to go! If I tell her to go to the bathroom she screams, starts flailing her arms and legs and fighting me, and won't sit down on the toilet. She'll wrap her arms and legs around me and scream like she's being stabbed. I live in an apartment building and I don't feel like getting evicted, so I don't push her at all simply to avoid screaming. (She knows if she starts screaming I'll back down... she's way too smart...) I have no clue what to do now or where to go from here.
Any help or kind words would be nice. Thanks.