Potty Training Woes and Colourblindness

Time for some more Dear Abbey Jenn letters!!  Thanks to everyone who has sent me letters, I am going to try and find time to answer them all. 🙂  Today I selected two.

Dear Jenn,

When we began potty training, it seemed to go so well.  My son was 2 when we introduced the potty and he took to it very well.  We used the old “keep them naked” technique that worked for many of my friends.  I took a week off work and we stayed home with a potty in the living room, my son naked from the waist down.  It worked like a charm and by the end of the week he was using it quite regularly.  Now my son is 3 and my concern is that he still is not night trained, at all!  Every night he still wears a diaper and every morning it is soaked through.  We go to the bathroom before bed, limit his water intake after dinner and still, that diaper is soaked every morning.  He doesn’t even wake up when it happens.  My husband seems to think that we’re doing something wrong but I am not sure what to do.  Any ideas?

– soaked at night

Dear Soaked at Night,

From my personal experience, I don’t think you are doing anything “wrong”.  Night-time training is a whole other ball-game and something that you really don’t have a lot of control over.  All kids are different and one thing I know for sure is that the bladder grows at different speeds for some.  My daughter night trained super-easy and hasn’t had an accident at night since she turned 3, yet my son took a lot longer and wasn’t fully night trained until he was about 6.  Keep in mind that your child sleeps for probably 10+ hours per night.  That is a VERY long time for any child, especially a 3 year old.  From talking with other parents and our family doctor, I found out this is completely normal.  There’s a reason they make those nighttime shorts for kids.  We left our son in nighttime pullups until he was about 4 years old, at which point we began taking him to the bathroom in the night.  Before we went to bed, we’d lift him out of bed and onto the toilet.  He’d never really wake up completely, but he’d go to the bathroom and then right back to sleep.  I never found that this caused him to be any more tired during the day and the best part was that he would wake up dry in the morning, eliminating the need for the expensive pull-ups.  This gave him more confidence as well.  We did this pretty much every night for 2 years, it became our routine. Then it got to the point where we would forget occasionally and he’d still be dry in the morning so we stopped.  Sure, he had the occasional accident after that but not often and usually I could remember that the night before he had more to drink than normal or I didn’t remember seeing him go to the bathroom.

However, the one thing I will stress to any parent dealing with this, NEVER make them feel bad about it.  It’s not their fault.  It’s nothing they can control and making them stress about it isn’t going to solve any issues.  If anything, it will probably cause more problems because they won’t sleep as well, thinking that they will get in trouble if they wet the bed.  Just make sure you have a good mattress cover that is machine washable and an extra set of sheets handy.  Our family doctor did tell us that if this went on past about age 6, then she would want to do some tests just to rule out any medical problems but we never reached that point as he’s grown out of it now.  I honestly just think you need to give it more time and don’t stress about it.  If you stress, your son will be stressed and that’s not good for anyone.   🙂


Dear Jenn,

After hearing about your son’s colourblindness it really opened my eyes. I have two daughters ages 6 and 10 and one son aged 3.  My 3 year old is not like the other two in so many ways so it never phased me when he was having trouble learning his colours.  He still mixes them up quite often and I am beginning to suspect he might be colourblind.  When did you notice problems and how did they find out for sure?  If he is colourblind, how will this affect his future?

– not seeing the rainbow

Dear Not Seeing The Rainbow,

I am only beginning to learn a lot about colourblindness but I can tell you about our experience for sure.  My son was about the same age as yours when I began to notice and suspect something might be up.  However, I thought that maybe he was just being silly or confused.  When they are young it’s so hard to know when there is an actual issue or if it’s something more so I shrugged it off as nothing.  It wasn’t until my daughter was about the same age that I really began to notice the difference in how she perceived colour vs. her big brother.  He would often show me crayons and ask “is this green?” when it was clearly green.

This spring my husband was due for his annual eye exam so when he called to make the appointment, he made one for our son as well.  He passed the vision test with flying colours but failed the colourblindness test.  This is that typical test where they show the circles containing smaller circles with several colours and shades, making up a number in the middle.  Those without colourblindness can easily see the numbers, whereas those with a potential issue cannot.  Failing this test could have been a fluke though so we were asked to return one month later to re-take the test, to see if he failed the same numbers.  He did and then it was onto a secondary test where they must put colours in order based on shade.  This test is more precise and tells the doctor what type of colour blindness they are dealing with.

From this test, they were able to tell that my son has Deuteranopia, which is a hereditary type of colourblindness only found in males.  Basically one of the cones in his eyes never developed and he has trouble with colours in the red, yellow and green spectrum.

So where we notice the biggest issue is when that colour is used in conjunction with another similar colour.  For example, he has a lot of trouble with the colour purple.  It turns out that he can see only the blue in the purple and not the red.  However, since he’s always been this way, he has learned to distinguish that certain shades of what he sees as blue are actually purple.  Colourblindness just means that they see colours differently than the rest of us – but they can pretty much live normal lives.  So there’s no need to worry if you don’t get a diagnosis when they are really young.  There’s nothing you can do about it, they will always be colourblind.  However, it is good to know for their education as teachers often plan activities based on colours and so it will help the teacher in their planning if they understand that a student is colourblind.

As for their future, it won’t affect them too much.  They can get their licence, go to university, and have a career is ALMOST anything they want, with some exceptions.  Although laws and policies are ever changing and maybe by the time our kids are grown things will be different, I was told that we should let him know now what he will not be able to do for a career.  He can’t be an electrician, a train conductor or a pilot (well, apparently SOME commercial airlines do allow colourblind pilots from what I’ve read).  He can’t do some jobs in the military or the police force.  Being a chemist or any job looking through a microscope could be an issue as well.  However, our eye doctor said he is welcome to be an eye doctor!  She said that during their schooling, there were several colourblind students in her program.

Basically, there’s no need to worry.  If he is colourblind, it’s easy to detect.  Also, colourblindness in males is typically hereditary, affecting only males on the mothers side.  Take a look at your family history.  Your brothers, your dad, grandfather.  Were any of them colourblind?  They may not even know if they are!  Make an appointment at the eye doctor, if you are in Ontario, it’s covered by OHIP for children (sorry not sure about other provinces).  If he is colourblind, just make sure to let his future teachers know and be prepared to be asked a lot of “is this the colour I’m looking for” questions.  🙂

xo  J

The image on the right is a simulation showing what my son sees when he looks at the image on the left.

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