Monday, January 17, 2011


Today was the big test. We left the house for most of the day. We left the house at 9am (or probably 9:30 or 9:45, even though the plan was to leave at 9am. Such is life with a toddler), and headed to the zoo. I lined the car seat with a cloth diaper, and packed three changes of clothing, just in case.

When we arrived at the zoo, E was dry. I put her in the stroller, and headed into the zoo. My plan was to have her sit on the potty before we entered, but to my surprise, the zoo was free today (not that it really mattered, since we have a membership, but it still threw me off), so I ended up forgetting to stop at the bathroom, until we were almost to the primate exhibit. We stopped at the bathrooms before visiting the chimps and orangutans, and E went without fuss. I'm glad she did, since the orangutans freaked her out. Next, we visited the lions, which did not scare her. She probably could have watched them all day. Go figure, my kid's afraid of monkeys, but not of lions.

We used the potty two more times at the zoo. Once before lunch and once before we left. Then we headed to the grocery store, since I needed to pick up some stuff for dinner. I planned on having her go potty when we got to the store, but I forgot. When I remembered, I was too lazy to take her and figured I would deal with the consequences of a wet car seat and screaming child.

E amazed me by staying dry through the car ride home, peeing like a champ when we got home (and pooping a weekends' worth of poop, since she didn't poop yesterday), and taking a nap without much complaint.

While she was sleeping, I spoke with my friend Ashley, and we made plans to meet for an early dinner. I met her at the Lucky Lab in Multnomah Village, and we hung out for about two hours. At one point, I asked E if she needed to go potty, and she said "yes," and did her business in the bathroom. Just as we were talking about getting ready to leave, E said "Get the poop out." I asked her if she needed to go potty again. She replied that she did, and once again, she performed. Amazing.

We got home around 7pm and played, then started getting ready for bed around 8. She peed before bedtime and I put on her overnight diaper (We're keeping her in diapers for naps and overnight until she's dry 5 times in a row. So far, she's been wet every morning, and dry two naps in a row). During snuggle time (part of our bedtime routine), we talked about how awesome she's been doing going pee on the potty and keeping her panties dry. She kept asking me to tell her more about the weekend, so we talked about how much she's progressed from Saturday until today. When I mentioned that she wet a lot of panties on Saturday, she got upset. I reminded her that she was still learning, and that she's been doing much better. I also told her that every now and then, she'll probably have an accident, and that's OK. It's all part of the learning process.

When it was lights out, she didn't make a sound. Typically, she'll cry (read: scream "Mommy! Daddy!" over and over again) for a little while, just to let us know that she doesn't want to go to sleep. Tonight, nothing. I figured she was building something up, but it's been 20 minutes, and no noise. Well, except I can hear her picking up her water bottle and putting it down every now & then so I don't have to go check for breathing.

So, I think at this point, I can say my child is potty trained. While I'm still reminding her when we're out, and I'm telling her to go before we leave the house and before and after sleeping, she's telling me at other times when she needs to go. In addition, she uses the potty at school and at the nanny's, and was really only wetting her diaper at home and refusing to use the potty for us. She's been independently pooping on the potty since she was about 18 months old, and all of this told me she was ready. It was just a matter of finding three full days to implement the boot camp.

Having worked in early childhood for the past 10 years, I've potty trained a lot of children, and I've also seen the pitfalls that parents fall into when potty training. One of the biggest is falling back into the diapers. On Saturday, E went through about 12 pairs of underpants. I was worried that we had started too soon. After all, she's only 26 months old. Typically, children aren't really ready until 2 1/2. Since we had 25 pairs of panties, I told myself that I wouldn't worry until we had blown through all of them. We still have 9 pairs that haven't been touched. I've seen parents panic and go back to diapers long before then. When diapers become an option, children don't learn to control their bladder, they learn to control their parents. They pee on everything until their parents break down and put the diapers back on.

Another pitfall I've seen parents fall into is the use of a sticker chart or reward system. While I've used reward systems for children in the past, I've used them for special needs children, not typically developing children, as they need more external motivators to perform tasks. Typically developing children learn the system quickly, and can use the reward system to their advantage. Parents will say "if you go pee pee on the potty, you'll get a sticker" and after a while, the child has the parent holding out the sticker, begging the child to pee on the potty. The child has control.

My belief is all about natural consequences. On Saturday, I didn't ask E to pee on the potty. I mentioned it, I suggested it, I asked if she needed to go. She said "no" every time. I let her pee herself. I made her clean in up. I made her deal with her own wet, pissy clothing. I made her put her clean clothes on, all by herself. She can't (or, I should say, couldn't) pull her pants up over her bum. It was frustrating. When she peed on the potty, I helped her get dressed. She learned quickly that things are easier when you go on the potty than when you go in your pants. Now, when I ask if she needs to go, she'll say "yes" if she needs to, or "no" if she doesn't. If I tell her I think she should go before we leave the house so she doesn't pee in her car seat and have to sit in her wet pants for the car ride, she'll go without fighting me. It's pretty nice.

If you're thinking about taking the dive and potty training your child, good luck. Remember it takes time, patience and a lot of underpants.


  1. This is sooo helpful! I'll be re-reading this and picking your brain for advice when it's time for Miss Anne's PTBC.

    So ... how do I know when it's time? :-)

    Ha ... the "word verification" word for this comment is "peecle."

  2. As far as knowing when it's time: For Anne, it will be when she's dry for long stretches of time (2-4 hours), has actually peed on the potty once or twice, is interested in watching you and hubby when you go, or other kids, can say pee pee, can tell you that she has gone in her diaper or hides from you when she does.

    For you: When you have the ability to give three full days to PTBC. That means no commitments to anything. Your first day will be spent in the house, you second day will be spent mostly in the house, and your third day will require you to focus on your child, so any outings will require no other distractions (ie don't visit old friends, bring your kid to the movies, expect to get all your grocery shopping done, etc.) This is the most difficult part of PTBC. It's literally something you have to put on your calendar. Oh, and you'll need to be ready to do a lot of laundry for at least one, if not two, of those days.

    Typically, kids are ready to potty train at about 2 1/2. Some are ready before then, some are ready later. Most of the time, the kids are ready long before the parents. Lizzie was ready in November, but we did not have the time to dedicate to it until this month.

  3. Looks like I'll have to take three vacation days sometime in my future! And I will need to train her well before she turns two, or wait until she's two and a half, since I can't take vacation days between Oct. 1 and April 20. :-(