Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Potty Training - A Re-Post

About two years ago, when I was pregnant with L, it came time for me to potty train E.  She was a quick study, and I posted the event on my pregnancy blog.  I've had some requests to share that information again, so here it is.  Originally, it was in three posts.  I just put them all together in this one post.  It sure will be interesting to see if L potty trains this easily.:

1/14/11: This blog has nothing to do with being pregnant or growing a child inside my body. Instead, this post has to do with growing a child outside my body, specifically, my toddler. She is 26 months old, and has been using the potty for quite a while. When she was about a year old, she developed a poop face. I think it was because she had GI issues and often had constipation and hard poops. In any case, when I would see her poop face, I would hold her over the toilet because I didn't want to change a poopy diaper. By 18 months, she was pooping on the toilet pretty consistently, and for the past 4 months, she's been telling us when she needs to poop.

Since she turned two, she's been peeing on the potty for the nanny, the people at her preschool, and sometimes for us. She kept her diaper dry for two days at my in-laws' house over Christmas break, using the toilet pretty consistently, and even telling my mother-in-law that she needed to pee a couple times.

So, since we have another hellion on the way, we figured we might as well get her potty trained so that we don't have two in diapers, and so we're not trying to potty train when we have a newborn.

Today is day one. We've been telling her all week that today would be the day of panties, which made her refuse to use the toilet all week. Every time we suggested it, she would scream and throw herself on the floor. She was anticipating it, and wanted to get her money's worth from those diapers, I guess.

I picked her up from preschool today, took her home, changed her soaked diaper, and put her down for her nap. When she woke up, I asked her if she needed to go potty. She said she didn't. Her diaper was dry. I let her pick out her panties. I figured she'd have an accident in 10 minutes. She didn't. She helped us make dinner, ate dinner, and began to play. She didn't have her first accident until 7:15 tonight. She handled it well, saying "pee pee!" We ran with her to the bathroom, and she even had some left for the potty. She took her panties off by herself, peed, freshened herself up with a wipe, put her wet panties in the diaper pail and put on her new panties. She wanted me to put the wet panties away, but I told her it wasn't my pee pee. As she was putting her new panties on, she kept saying "Pee Pee in panties." It will be interesting to see how she does as she has subsequent accidents this weekend.

1/16/11:We began our potty training boot camp Friday night. E did well, and had one accident just before bedtime. On Saturday, we gave her unlimited amounts of milk, and let her do her thing. She had about 12 accidents. Most were half-accidents, where she caught herself peeing and ended up finishing on the potty. Each time she had an accident, she was responsible for taking off her wet clothes, putting them in the diaper pail, and putting on new clothes.

The last accident of the night was while we were Skyping with my in-laws. When we Skype, she sits in her high chair, because it's the only place she'll stay still. She likes to strap herself in. Well, she began struggling in her chair at one point, and wouldn't speak. I kept asking her to use her words, and then I saw the pee coming out of the bottom of the chair. It really upset her. When we were in the bathroom and she had calmed down, I reminded her that she needed to tell us that she needs to go potty.

This morning, she woke up with a wet diaper. Two hours later, Daddy asked her if she needed to go potty. She said she didn't. And then she yelled "Pee Pee!" and ran to the bathroom. Her panties were just a little bit wet, and her pants were safe, which was good, since she was wearing her Thomas pj's. That was the only clothing change we've had to deal with today.

We didn't give her unlimited milk today. She had her usual dosages. We also took a two hour excursion outside this afternoon. We walked to Home Depot. Before we left, we reminded her that she should go potty, and she did. Before we left Home Depot, we reminded her that she should go potty, and she did. We stopped at John Barleycorn's for lunch. Before we left, we reminded her that she should go potty, and she did. We got home, she took a nap and woke up dry. She remained dry for the rest of the afternoon. We took another excursion for dinner, walking to Sweet Tomatoes. Once again, she went potty when we reminded her. When we got home, she said she needed to go, but then didn't when we got to the bathroom. She did go right before bed, though.

Tomorrow, I plan to take her out for a much longer period of time. We're going to visit the zoo or Children's Museum, depending on the weather. We'll see how that works for us.

1/17/11: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 a friend, 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.

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