It took a good while (which is typical for boys), but my Noah is potty trained. He started doing really well in August and he has the occasional accident, but he has done very well over the past few months. Surprisingly, to me at least, the thing that he has struggled with the most over this time has not been anything that directly deals with “using the bathroom.” Instead it has been the seemingly simple task of washing his hands.

I don’t know what the big deal is. In fact, I’m the complete opposite. I am rather fanatical about washing my hands. I wash my hands A LOT. Whenever they feel the slightest bit dirty, sticky, salty, or greasy I have to wash my hands. And I certainly wash my hands after using the lavatory.

Noah, on the other hand, HATES washing his hands. It’s not that he can’t do it. He can do it by himself, but I have to watch him like a hawk and usually help him along to make sure he completes the task to my liking.

We have a nice little routine for him. He knows it well, but that doesn’t seem to matter most of the time. First he puts the step stool on the floor in front of the sink, then he stands on it and pulls him sleeves up (he does not like it if his sleeves get wet). Then he puts some soap on his hand and we count to ten together while he washes them. Then he quickly dries them and moves on. So, it’s a pretty simple and easy routine that really doesn’t take much time. And yet, you’d think he was getting a shot at the doctor’s office.

Here’s a typical conversation in our bathroom:

Noah: “Not wash my hands?” (While peeing in the toilet)

Me: “Yes, you have to wash your hands. Watch where you’re peeing.”

Noah: “I’ll wash my hands next time.” (While looking at me and peeing in and on the toilet)

Me: “You have to wash your hands. And keep watching where you pee!”

Noah: “I’m done. Not wash my hands?” (still peeing)

Me: “You’re not done yet and please watch what you’re doing.”

Noah: “All done. I don’t have to wash my hands. I didn’t get any pee on them.”

Me: “Yes, you still have to wash your hands.”

Then, I can typically get him to wash his hands. Sometimes when he counts it’s “1, 2, 9, 10. Done!” Sometimes, it’s a big struggle for him to wash them at all. Occasionally he curls up like a ball on the bathroom floor and cries, but it’s not usually that extreme (thankfully).

He very rarely washes his hands if he goes in by himself. I can tell because his hands are always dry despite him saying he washed, but I know that he doesn’t dry his hands well so there’s no way he washed them and then completely dried them.

I don’t really understand the aversion to washing one’s hands, but Noah definitely suffers from it at this point. We keep working with him and I think we are making progress. His little sister is far more interested in washing her hands than him, but she can’t reach the sink (even with the step stool).