Thursday, January 6, 2011

Toddler to Big Kid - Help with Potty Training

A friend recently asked me for advice on potty training.  She said that her 18-month old daughter was showing interest in sitting on the potty.  Here is my reply to her inquiry.

WELL, I'll start by saying (just from experience, not to be annoying,) that all kids show interest around this time, but might not be ready. It is great to respond to the interest by having them sit on the potty, explaining the process of going the bathroom on the potty, etc.  But that doesn’t mean you should or need to complete the potty training process yet.

It can be a very, very rough and long process to potty train so I wouldn't WANT to do it early. It means staying home a lot at first and then taking an extra outfit/portable potty seat everywhere you go for weeks or months.

I do know that there IS a big theory about doing it before your child turns two, and there are books about it. The parenting columnist from the Omaha World-Herald is a BIG proponent of this and writes about it regularly. He also doesn't believe in giving rewards.  If that sounds up your alley, go to the bookstore and research this approach.

OK, with that said, if you want to follow my method, keep reading.  I waited until two months before my son’s third birthday.  I was told to try it for 3-5-7 days and if it didn’t work, wait a few weeks and try again.  The last thing you want is to become neurotic about it which will in turn, paralyze your child (figuratively of course.)

I stayed home with him for 3 days (took a day off of work and then the weekend.) I put a cute towel and a cute, kiddy soap dispenser in our powder room. And then I got a big clear jar with a tight lid and put a HUGE bag of M&M's in it. I waited until it was hot out and put him in a short t-shirt and nothing else.  Side note: I had initially put him in a t-shirt and cute underpants, but he didn’t care, or notice when he wet them.  He just asked for a new pair of super cool underpants!

We went on the potty every 15 minutes ( he is a camel, so this was too often for him, so we upped it to 30-60 minutes) and every time he sat on it, he got an M&M. If he went pee, he got 2, and if he went poo, he got 3. Some moms told me they did 1 for pee, 2 for poo and nothing for sitting, but he wouldn't even sit on it.  I should mention that the M&M approach was done after the sticker method didn’t work.  He didn’t want to sit on the potty just for a sticker.

And then he just stayed half-naked all day (inside and out) and the first day was HELL. He peed all over the wood floor multiple times and I cried.  One of my closest friends who is my voice of reason told me to commit to 3 days and if there was no progress, then wait another month and try again. She said I couldn’t give up after LESS than one day!

It was a little better by day 2 and by day 3, he was great. He did have accidents out and about (he peed in the sculpture garden at our local art museum), but they were few and far between. And then I did pull-ups at night for a couple of months, but he only wet them a handful of times, so I stopped after one box. I was very lucky and still am b/c he hardly ever goes during the night.  I never did Pull-Ups during the day.  I had heard that kids think they are like diapers, and then they regress (or just go ahead and go in the Pull-Ups.)  I was willing to risk a few "in-public" accidents to avoid Pull-Ups.

As for number two, that was harder because he is on Miralax and doesn't notice the feeling sometime! But I trained him to go poo in the potty about 1-2 weeks after we had completed the pee-pee training.  I bought him a big toy and put it out of his reach. I then told him he would get it when he went poo in the toilet. And he actually did it while I was at work - for a babysitter!  And that Doodle Pro is still his favorite toy!!!!  We have bought three total because he wears them down from excessive use.

As you can see, my way takes an older child because there is some reasoning involved. But I think no matter what age, the key is to stay home with her or him for at least a couple of days... And relax during the process.  I am not mentioning the time he went number two at Mom’s Day Out, all over his clothes, or the time he went number two in his glider without even noticing.

The other key is that when she sits and tries, you just let her sit for 1-2 minutes. Don't let her sit and read books, etc.  It shouldn’t be a game, a comfortable hangout or excessively fun.

And just remember, it won’t work if the child isn’t ready.  So don’t stress if the deadline in your head passes.  Just try again a week or a month later.  Don’t worry, have you ever seen an 8-year old in diapers?

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I'm sure I'll be writing you down the road about this!