Sunday, February 10, 2013

Potty Training, How we did it. This is long!!

Okay so I have had two early potty learners (18 months and 17 months).  I am not sure if I lucked out or if we did something right.  So I really have to put a disclaimer on this first.  Potty training is a very parental based milestone, what works for one parent may not work for another.  I have never had a child that flat out refused to participate in the potty experience, I have never tried to potty train a child over the age of 2 (except for my students in that case they were all over age 5).  So I am just sharing this so it may help someone out there, it does not mean that this is the right way for everyone to potty train!

1.  Readiness, Honestly I throw that out the window.
I really do.  I know that many articles say they should not like their diapers wet/dirty, they should be telling you when they go, etc.  I never thought this was a clue.  In fact I always felt as if the child was at that point then maybe it was past time.  Again, my opinion, does not make it right!!  Prior to introducing the potty, neither one of my girls was showing signs.  Well, okay Audrey is another story but I will get to that later.  My friend trained both of her boys at age 2 and neither had readiness signs.

2.  Rewards, yep I use them.
Okay, I am a special education teacher and I would not have survived in teaching without using rewards for positive behavior.  I am not under the philosophy that kids should not receive rewards, and yes even edible rewards, for positive behavior.   As adults we would not go to work if their was not a paycheck (reward) involved.  I guess I do not see it as bribery either because I am not asking them to do something that is wrong.  The rewards are faded too, ask quickly as possible.  In special education, rewards are used to shape behavior and then they are faded.  So for Celia we used teddy grahams, yogurt raisins, or a quick elmo youtube clip.  Audrey was primarily teddy grahams and elmo on the iPad.  Both girls were faded away from treats for peeing with in the first few days and for poops, well that took a bit but after the first week they were faded.  Audrey does still think she should get elmo on the iPad but then again she asks for that frequently!

3.  I often view it as more being ready as a Parent then the child. I know this sounds odd or could be taken wrong but let me explain.  Potty training means that for at least 3 days at some point you need to be tied down to the house.  If you start potty training, you need to be consistent and persistent.  It is hard and it is often difficult to find time in your schedule to devote to it.  You also take a tired Mom who is dealing with the house, maybe a job, and a trying child, and then throw in potty training and it can be completely overwhelming.

4.  Start before age 2.  Yep, the US has the oldest potty train age in the world, in most other countries 2 year olds are full time in undies.  But my reasoning why, 2 year olds are nuts.  They are opinionated, hard to reason with, and not as willing to please Mom and Dad.  18 month olds, are curious, pleasers, and more shapeable (my opinion folks, not necessarily right).  3 year olds, well... they are getting into the independent streak and just even more strong willed.  Now that said, if you are started past age 2, it just may take some more persistence.

After all that here is what I basically did (will explain the basically).

Introduce the potty early if possible.  For Celia, the small Ikea Pink Potty came out when she was 11 months old.  It was a spot for her to sit while I went, then it was something to try out.  My theory for this is that when it comes to potty train, it is not something foreign.  For us, it helped Celia initiate going on the potty (she showed no other signs at the time, went on the potty but could care less if her diaper was wet).

We started for both my girls with part time potty training, basically potty at home and diapers everywhere else.  This was 100% not my ideal situation however their daycare had no bathrooms in the 1 year old room.  It worked out ok.  I suppose that if you wanted to, you could try it out, but not ideal.

My potty bootcamp week started with both girls when they were already going just not understanding that they had to stay dry.  So I devoted 3 to 5 days to stay at home and just devote to potty training.  I had my rewards set up, my stash of cleaning supplies, and my stack of underwear.  NO PULL UPS, they feel just like diapers (besides we use cloth).

Day 1 and 2:  Naked Time.  I let both girls go naked or I put a dress on with no undies.  I took them to the potty in the beginning every 15 minutes, then progressed to 20 to 30 min.  I think with Audrey though we may have started with 20, I forget.  Just set a time interval and decrease or increase it, depending upon how well it is going.  Reward each time they go.  If the child is reluctant to sitting on the potty, reward for sitting on the potty (Rewards can be singing a song, short video clip, hugs, high fives, edibles, stickers, time on the computer, etc).

Day 3:  Underwear time
If things go well on day one then you can try to move on to underwear 1/2 way through day 2.  So put on underwear and take on a regular interval, provide rewards.  What I did about accidents during these days.  I did not tell them it was "Okay" or "Poor thing, etc".  I actually pointed to it and said "oh no you went peepy on the floor, it goes in toilet/potty".  I never scolded them for it, just informed them where it went.  Saying it is okay means it is okay to pee on the floor, which at our house, is not.

Day 4 and 5:  Underwear and clothes time
So now it is time to go all the way and just put them in underwear with clothes.  Still stick near the house, but you might be able to venture out especially if you invest in some thicker training undies (cloth training undies, no pull ups).  I used cloth pull ups when going out longer but honestly they were not heavily used.  You can start fading the rewards.  It was on this day that my girls sort of forgot about getting the rewards each time.

It may take longer then this too, or less time!

They will not magically tell you that they have to go to the potty in a week.  Some kids will, most will not.  Audrey started telling me consistently a few months after she was trained but she had less accidents then Celia who told me sooner.  So you will continue to have to take them to the potty on a schedule but after about 2 weeks for Audrey it was every 2 hrs, so really not that inconvenient.  Naps and night time come much later, so do not skip on diapers during that time.

Changes may or may not cause set backs, but I am in the opinion that if you are ready to potty train then you really should not put it off.  I have heard that many people give advice not to potty train a child if they are going to have a new brother or sister soon because they will regress anyway.  Well.. perhaps the advice may be that you will have your hands full with the newborn and may not have the availability to devote to potty training.  Regression from a new sibling can develop in any different area, not necessarily in potty training.  Honestly the attention a child gets for potty training is a lot and maybe devoting that during a time when attention otherwise has decreased is a good thing, not sure!  But if you are ready, go for it!!  3 weeks after Audrey was trained we took a 12 hr trip to Tennessee, it caused a 2 hr regression time and then we were back to normal.

This all said, if you fail the first time, don't give up.  Stop it, drop it, don't even mention it and come back to the task next month.  No harm done.

Oh and why I say basically to my strategy.  Well Audrey was a bit of an odd ball, she pooped on the potty at just a few months old.  That is a whole other post.  So honestly when it came time to training her, the pooping part was easy!!

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