Potty training help for a stubborn 4 year old

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Posted 2/7/2013 by ccmom in NSBR Board
 

ccmom
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:21:38 AM
My son turned 4 in December. We have been fighting the potty training thing for about 6 months now. He has absolutely no interest in it and if he isn't interested he isn't doing it.

We have tried rewards, naked time, pull ups, just underwear, going potty every so many minutes, food coloring in water, Cheerios, everything. I am out of ideas.

We have been to the doctor and nothing is wrong with him that they could find so it is more of a power struggle than a physical inability.

Normally I would say just wait until they are ready, but I am worried that he will take forever and he has to potty trained for activities this summer.

Any ideas, help, or war stories are appreciated.


Heather, wife to Jeremy and mommy to Cody (10), Cooper (8), Colton (5), and Corbin (3).





pe@ce
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:24:44 AM

BTDT. How long did "naked time" last? How long will you go before you give up? Have you done an entire weekend? Once he knows you won't cave, he'll do it. Take a weekend and stay home. No diapers. I bet he gets it.






Sharon



sunny 5
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:34:48 AM
stop the power struggle. back off for a while. maybe around april, offer the chance to work on it..but he has to lead.

you can't "make him" do it and he knows it. my son trained at 4 and a half. we did survive.

firepaws
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:35:16 AM
My nephew was a struggle, we did the sink all the cheerios get a treat or something. Is he around others his age my dd finally got it when she was exposed to other kids, she didn't want to be the baby. With that said, we NEVER called her a baby she had younger ones in her preschool. They were the babies. Her term not ours.

Good Luck

candleangie
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:36:08 AM
This is going to be an insanely unpopular answer. lol BUT, for some kids it really does become a behavior/consequence issue. That's ABSOLUTELY NOT to say that you come down hard on a kid for having an accident.

But it's ok to be clear with him that going potty in his pants is not ok. We ended up in the same place with my oldest. It came down to being stubborn. (VERY stubborn) When he went in his pants, we told him that big boys don't do that. That it was not okay to keep playing when he felt like he had to go potty. And then he had to help clean it up. We made sure to point out that he could be playing right now, but instead he had to clean up his icky potty mess.

When it started being more inconvenient for him to have to clean it up than it was to just get up and go potty, it wasn't very long before he was dry.


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tiffanyo
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:37:56 AM
My son was definitely three and almost four before he stopped pooping his pants. He thought going in the toilet was "too gross". Um, grosser than sitting in it!?! Apparently.

He LOVES Spider-Man and had two pair of Spider-Man underwear. I told him if he pooped in them I was throwing them away and he would not get another pair.

He never pooped his pants again.

I had tried EVERYTHING I could think of and suddenly it clicked. I guess that is encouragement to say you never know when it will suddenly make sense to him.

One thing that worked with the pee side was a chart. I did a sticker for every time he used the toilet and when he got a certain number he got to choose a small toy (I got some little things at the dollar store). Eventually I switched it to a sticker when he was dry for a few hours and then for a day.

But if he needs to be trained for activities, tell him that. He is old enough to reason with IMO. Kiddo, so you want to learn karate like Kung Fu Panda this summer? It will be so awesome! Lets watch some videos! Look at this! Only big boys who wear big boy underwear can do it. Lets work on that so you can go.
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Posted: 2/7/2013 10:48:36 AM
I totally feel for you. I know how unbelievably frustrating it is. A fully capable child CHOOSING not to potty train. I have three girls and it was not easy with any of them. A wise old pea here years ago suggested that when the child wets their pants they must take a cold shower to clean themselves. Their thought was that kids always hated the cold wipes thus would hate the cold shower and choose the potty. This was my first child and I'd tried everything without success. Star charts, Dr visits, positive rewards, negative rewards, reasoning. So I gave it a try but wow did I ever take some flack for that from the grandparents! Put on your fireproof suit for that one if you try it but within a couple weeks of sticking to it. Guess who potty trained?! She was 3.5yo. Finally!

Second child loved cold showers so that method was out. *sigh* She sort of potty trained on her own by 3.5 just by watching her sister. It was never consistent. Some weeks would go by without accidents then some weeks were a daily issue. We tried a $$ system on her. Then when she wet herself she would have to buy pullups with her earned $$. She HATED that. BUT it drove the point home and she was officially done with bed wetting and daytime accidents by age 6! I KNOW!

7 years later child 3 comes along. We were older and wiser so to speak and chose not to push the issue and left it up to her. We just did rewards starting at the age of 2.5. We were in the middle of a move and I was so tired of cleaning her up at 4 years of age I gave her some NEW Tinkerbell underwear (instead of those ugly training pants kind) and said try not to tinkle on her. OMG! The first time she had stayed dry all day and made it to the bathroom! And from there on out no more accidents!

So my advice is no pullups or diapers, just underwear and let them choose to potty train. They feel so good because nobody is forcing them to do it. THEY chose it! This is the advice I gave my friend as a first time mommy. She also bought a potty training watch on amazon. That reminds the child to go try at a set interval during the day. It worked! She didn't push or pressure or anything, he chose it was time to use the potty like a big boy and he will be 3 next month.

Best of luck to you!


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TripletMom
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Posted: 2/7/2013 11:15:55 AM
Potty training my triplets was pure hell. We tried everything...everything! I HAD to do something to make them get it when #4 came. Four kids in diapers was not something we could afford. They did great overnight for several months, but could not get the daytime figured out. So, I ditched the diapers and pull ups for the big kids and made them wear underwear 24/7. If they went in their underwear, they had to clean it up. Meaning, scraping the poop into the toilet, scrubbing their underwear, getting into the shower to clean. Of course I supervised them, and when they weren't looking, I cleaned up after them. But, day two of this and they were completely trained! They couldn't stand cleaning up their own mess. They were just 4 years old.

Now, #4 was a piece of cake! She was potty trained at 2! I offered her dum dums for going in the potty and she just did it. No looking back. ONE day of potty training. LOL



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pudgy_groundhog
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Posted: 2/7/2013 11:25:17 AM

Normally I would say just wait until they are ready, but I am worried that he will take forever and he has to potty trained for activities this summer.
Is your son aware of this? This might be a big motivator if he can't participate in activities.

I do think it's one of those things that is much easier once they decide they want to do it, but I understand your frustration and wanting him to be trained.

Why is he not interested? Is it because he doesn't want to take time from playing or whatever he's doing to go to the bathroom? If that's the case, then having him help clean the mess, change, etc. will just be more time away from his activities. Maybe that would help encourage him once he realizes if he just goes in the toilet that's less time?



shescrafty2
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Posted: 2/7/2013 11:30:46 AM
My nephew had the same issues and what finally worked was making him clean up everything each time he had an accident. Scrubbing the underwear clean, using wipes on the area, etc. Also there were some toys that were "big kid" toys and were only for kids who acted like big kids. So the cool small legos went away and the chunky ones came back out. Hot wheels were gone and baby cars were available. Things like that to drive home the point that "big kids who went in the potty" had priveleges that "little kids" did not. My sister did it overnight and responded very casually, "Oh those Legos are for kids who go in the potty so I brought the other ones back out for you to use."

She also had him take a shower every time he went in his undies. The combo of showering and cleaning up after himself AND loss of big kid toys finally did it.


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Posted: 2/7/2013 12:20:46 PM
DS was 4 as well.

We battled forever over this issue.

Then, one day, I "ran out of diapers" on purpose. I was prepared to spend a few days cleaning messes. He was given the choice to be naked, or wear underwear.

After a 30 minute screaming fit on the floor, he went up to his room and put on his pants commando.

A couple hours later he came down and said "Mommy, I peed" so I gathered the paper towels and lysol cleaner, and said "where" and he answered "in the potty"

It was instant for him. We had a couple poop accidents, but for the most part, that was him done!


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BrinaG
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Posted: 2/7/2013 12:31:08 PM

My nephew had the same issues and what finally worked was making him clean up everything each time he had an accident. Scrubbing the underwear clean, using wipes on the area, etc. Also there were some toys that were "big kid" toys and were only for kids who acted like big kids. So the cool small legos went away and the chunky ones came back out. Hot wheels were gone and baby cars were available. Things like that to drive home the point that "big kids who went in the potty" had priveleges that "little kids" did not. My sister did it overnight and responded very casually, "Oh those Legos are for kids who go in the potty so I brought the other ones back out for you to use."


this is my answer as well. You want to act like a baby, you can be a baby. No big kid toys. No big kid activities. All your friends are playing t-ball? well, all your friends are potty trained. All your friends are doing gymnastics? well, when you are a big kid and using the potty you can do that class too.

JustCallMeMommy
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Posted: 2/7/2013 2:17:53 PM

I'm another who thinks he just has to want to do it. For Alison, it was moving into the 3 year old room at her daycare. A spot opened just before she turned 3, and her good buddy had already moved. She wanted to move bad enough that she made it happen.

I would find that THING that he really wants to do and put it up as bait. You'll get to xxx as soon as you are out of diapers!


-Jennifer


CnBsmommy
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Posted: 2/7/2013 2:20:59 PM
at 4, with no medical issues, it wouldn't be an option. He needs to learn that stubbornness doesn't work. I would run out of diapers, not use pull ups, put him straight in underwear. He'd have to clean up any messes. I'd also take away "big boy" privileges since he can't be a "big boy". I wouldn't make it "fun", he's old enough to know what he needs to do. I might do a reward chart but he'd be doing it on his own----the chart/stickers in the bathroom, when he goes he puts his own sticker on. once he reaches a set amount go for an ice cream, etc..

mythreeboys
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Posted: 2/7/2013 2:47:19 PM
You have to find something that motivates him. PP have mentioned activities, toys, etc. For my stubborn 3yo it was video games. We had got a GameCube that summer, and told him that if he peed in his pants he couldn't play GC. This was after doing EVERYTHING else I could think of to train him. It worked like a charm, but it was because it was something important to HIM.

Good luck! Potty training was seriously one of the most stressful things I've dealt with as a parent so far. However, ds#1 turns 13 next week, so I'm sure we have more on the way....

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snugglebutter
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Posted: 2/7/2013 2:58:22 PM
Some kids just need a little more time. Personally, I would back off for several weeks and try again.

My second took a long time, but once he was ready it happened very easily.


Sara


Fireflyy
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:06:09 PM
I agree completely with Sunny5. I would back off for a couple months.

CreativeEngineer
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:27:07 PM
At 4 yo, I agree with those who say make it his problem. So long as you are the one cleaning up the mess, why would he care?

My kids got it really quick at much younger than 4 when we made them help clean it up.





ksuheather
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:29:18 PM
My girls were very stubborn and potty training became a power struggle, especially with oldest. For her, when I backed off was when she decided to pee in the potty. For poop I had to find her currency, which was her dad. I matter-of-factly told her that daddy wanted to come home from Iraq for a visit and she needed to be pooping in the potty for that to happen. That day was the last time I cleaned up poopy underwear for her. Now, when I said that, I knew she knew what was going on and just needed motivation.

For youngest DD she potty trained herself and then regressed over Christmas. I just calmly put her back in diapers. For her, she didn't like the potty treats I had so a trip to the store to let her pick out something new (dum-dums) and we were back on track. I am still working with her on going before she tinkles a little in her pants.

DS was the easiest. He had the desire and just needed reminding. His motivator was getting to use the Wii. And at 4.5 he still needs reminding to stop what he is doing and go potty.



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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:35:44 PM
I feel for you. I teach pre-k. We do not accept any children into our pre-k3 or 4 classes unless they are not only potty trained, but completely independent in the bathroom (wiping, zipping, flushing, hand washing etc).

There is no reason (short of medical) for your child to not be fully trained by now. I recommend underwear 24/7. He needs to clean up his own messes...stop playing and bathe or shower. Make NOT using the potty a miserable experience. Do not, under any circumstance, put him in a diaper or pull-up. I cannot imagine one of my students lying down for a diaper change. He should not be doing it either.

Hang in there, mom. It is time for some tough love.




flanz
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:40:15 PM
I couldn't toilet train our son until he just turned 4. The day i figured out he was allergic to cow's milk and stopped giving it to him, was the day he became trained "overnight." I wouldn't have thought of it but two years prior to becoming pregnant with him I became allergic to dairy....

BudgetMama
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:47:19 PM
My son is 3 1/2 and still potty training. Here's some of our rules for him.

He wears diapers at night and underwear during the day.

If he pees/poops his pants, he has to clean up the mess. That includes cleaning the floor with vinegar and putting his dirty clothes in the hamper.

He can't go into the play area at the grocery store in diapers or if he's peed his pants that day.

He can NOT play with his Leappad until AFTER he has done #2 in the toilet that day. (it's his favorite toy) If he poops/pees his pants, he doesn't get it that day.

We make sure to tell him how proud we are of him when he's successful going in the toilet.

Other than "uhoh, we need to clean that up" we don't respond much to his "mistakes", but we really whoop up his achievements.

I make him go potty every 30-60 minutes.

One thing that got him over the "hump" in the beginning was realizing (and this is SUCH a boy thing) that his penis was like a GUN and could SHOOT the pee-pee. So entirely silly, but he loved it.

BudgetMama
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Posted: 2/7/2013 3:52:16 PM
Oh, and also, I put a small candy on the bathroom counter (we've been potty training since halloween and have small candies available) each time he goes. A mini Hershey bar or 3 M&M's for after he's gone, flushed, washed, and dried. He loves that. and he doesn't get any candy any other time.

ccmom
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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:07:05 AM
Thank you for the suggestions. It has been harder with this one because his two older brothers were trained in a week with no problems or fights. This one is another story!

We did back off in December to see if maybe we were pushing him too hard, but I truly think it is a power struggle with this one.

We have tried using activities as currency, but he doesn't care. He wants to do martial arts like his brothers, but doesn't care enough to want to potty train. Nothing seems to phase this kid.

I didn't think about making him clean it up. I will have to think about that one.



Heather, wife to Jeremy and mommy to Cody (10), Cooper (8), Colton (5), and Corbin (3).





lindywholoveskids
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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:27:09 AM
wow- I actually don't know of any parents that have made their children clean up their own poop.

I do agree with finding the child's currency though.

There are lots of books now for kids about getting potty trained.
Books for parents, too.

Good luck. Our grandson is interested in the toilet/potty, but won't get on with no pants or diapers on. he's just 2 &1/2 though. No preschool regulations to deal with.

Maryland
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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:25:24 AM
My girls were all 3, almost 4 before they were potty trained. The oldest actually had a child portable toilet that she actually used at 18 months. I was a new mom and everyone acted like that was way to early, that girls take longer than boys (which I compeltley agree - girls are stubborn!). So I put the toilet away.

Well, I waited too long. I have since researched and found that most kids in our parent's and grandparents generation toilet trained much earlier! That if you try earlier, the kids catch on quicker. I wish I knew that then. I also read that diaper companies want kids in diapers longer, makes more money for them. But I learned that too late for my kids.

So I completely understand, as I went through the same thing. I don't even have any advice, it just finally happened.


Kelli/Mom
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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:36:19 AM
With my oldest son, we had Batman underwear and the plain, thick potty-training underwear. Batman was sad if he got pee on him and we'd switch to the plain underwear so Batman could be washed. My son had picked out the Batman underwear and really liked it.

My brother had a really hard time potty training my nephew, so I took on the onus for a day. It was a day of underwear only and lots of lots of yummy things to drink and water-filled foods (things like watermelon) to provide a lot of opportunities for using the potty. Accidents were treated in a matter-of-fact manner, and pee in the potty was celebrated. By dinnertime, he was trained. I think it helped having someone else take over and having an almost constant need to go.

Laurel Jean
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Posted: 2/8/2013 5:58:39 PM

wow- I actually don't know of any parents that have made their children clean up their own poop.


Well, you just "met" one.

DS was very stubborn about potty training. He would go to the bathroom to urinate, but would not use the toilet for bowel movements.

Come to find out, he was scared to "go" on the toilet. He thought he was losing part of his body. Whenever he needed to go #2, he'd hide somewhere and do it.

If I "caught" him hiding, I'd take him straight to the bathroom and sit him on the toilet. I'd hold his hand and encourage him the whole time while he finished, and praise him when done. It didn't take long until he was not scared any more.

If he'd already "gone", he would have to clean his underwear in the sink and clean himself up, with supervision. I never presented it as punishment, just as something that had to be done.

I don't find that unnecessarily harsh. But then maybe I'm just old school.

elphalba
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Posted: 2/10/2013 5:50:27 PM
My youngest son, who was 4 in September is a bear to train. We started in 2011 and he is just having an awful time. His two year old sister is potty trained in the same amount of time with no accidents.

We've focused on the fact that he can't go to preschool unless he's completely trained which helped. Another thing that helped was the fact that he is really anxious to go.

Some kids are harder than others to train and it really is as simple as that. No child is going to be 6 or 7 (unless there are other reasons) still in diapers. It'll happen when its meant to and forcing the issue will result in more power struggles.


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elphalba
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Posted: 2/10/2013 5:50:44 PM
My youngest son, who was 4 in September is a bear to train. We started in 2011 and he is just having an awful time. His two year old sister is potty trained in the same amount of time with no accidents.

We've focused on the fact that he can't go to preschool unless he's completely trained which helped. Another thing that helped was the fact that he is really anxious to go.

Some kids are harder than others to train and it really is as simple as that. No child is going to be 6 or 7 (unless there are other reasons) still in diapers. It'll happen when its meant to and forcing the issue will result in more power struggles.


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bobomommy
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Posted: 2/10/2013 6:25:51 PM
My oldest son was the hardest to train. We gave rewards, took away privileges, praised successes, and had him clean up his messes. Nothing worked. Finally I told him that babies could wear diapers in the pool but big boys who still wore diapers could not swim. He didn't believe me.

We went to the beach for vacation. He got to play in the ocean but not the pool. When we got home and I took his big sister and baby brother to the pool he had to sit and watch. After just one trip to the pool he decided he didn't want to wear diapers any more. Yay!


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PeaFixture

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Posted: 2/10/2013 6:36:52 PM
I tried everything with ds, and what finally worked, when he was a few months past his fourth birthday, was getting his younger brother to quit diapers.
Little Brother was not quite 3 and eager to train.
Big Brother was sufficiently shamed.

TXDancermom
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Posted: 2/10/2013 7:18:32 PM
My ds was stubborn too, don't remember what age he was when we finally got him potty trained, but what did it for him was the character "big boy" undies. His were Teddy Ruxpin - and we told him that Teddy didn't like getting wet/dirty, and if he got Teddy wet/dirty then he had to wear the thick plain undies the rest of that day and the next day, and if he kept those dry then he could wear Teddy again. Took a couple of rounds of wet/dirty Teddy undies and he figured it out.

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Posted: 2/10/2013 7:41:26 PM
I can totally relate to you mama! I'll share my story with you in hopes of it helping you in some way.

My daughter gave us such a fuss when it came to potty training -- to call her stubborn is an understatement. In fact, many of my friends started to comment on her being in diapers (at almost 4) until I finally told everyone to back off and stop making it into an ordeal. It's important to remember that little ears are always listening and I found that the more we talked about potty training, the more Madison resisted us. What worked for us was ending the fight. Literally!

DH and I realized that Madison had been through quite a lot of change in her short life and we really needed to stop stressing her. She had just been weaned from breastfeeding, our legal affairs were finally over, and we endured two big moves in two years. Enough was enough for her. DH and I simply stopped the potty training.

Once the power struggle had ended for a while, we brought her with us to the store and bought her one LAST big box of diapers. We bought them with the mutual understanding that once the diapers were gone, they were gone for good. This way, SHE was able to control how quickly or slowly she used her diapers. It was all in her hands. DH and I didn't make any potty training comments along the way.

When she got down to the last pack of diapers from the box, she acknowledged that she'd have to use her potty soon. At that time, I took her to the store for a new potty chair. It sounds redundant but she had resentment built up against her first potty chair so a fresh start was essential. As excited as she was about having a new potty, she was afraid of it for a few days. After repeated sitting sessions (on her own accord), she grew to love it and use it! Heck, she didn't even finish her pack of diapers before she was using her potty. I have three brand new diapers tucked away in my dresser as a personal reminder of our triumph.

My best advice to you is to back off for a bit and then approach the subject in a totally new way. Give your son more control and go with his flow. If he needs a new potty chair, or some flashy undies, go with it. I, too, had fears that my daughter would start school in diapers. I can totally empathize with you but I assure you, he WILL catch on in his own time. I wish you the best of luck, hang in there!
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