Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Potty Training Post - Part II

Potty training is serious business and yesterday's post has already received positive feedback from three moms.  Late last night I realized that I had a quite a bit more advice and suggestions on potty training so this is an addition to everything I posted yesterday.

- Most communication is not verbal and having good communication skills (verbal or signing) is not necessary to successfully potty train.  When I began the potty training journey with my son, he only spoke less than ten words:  mama, dada, what's this, tie-tie (tired), poo-poo, Elmo (La La), yes, tasty (tash).  Even now, two months later, he only speaks about 20 words.

- During the training, I never turned on the television, I didn't use the computer, and I did zero socializing.  My son had 100% of my attention for the entire time.  The emphasis is to focus only on your child so that you can learn the way they communicate that they need to use the potty.  They might grab at themselves, they might dance around, they might stare into space, they might do any number or combination of things that tip you off that an accident is getting ready to happen so you can hustle them to the toilet as soon as it starts to happen.

- I always kept the potty chair in the bathroom. When do children eliminate or evacuate in the living room? When they wear a diaper! Get them used to running for the toilet when they have to go potty.  I think this also helps train their muscles to hold it for a short time when you're out and are looking for a restroom.

- You must catch each and every accident, as it is happening, and rush them to the potty. You're trying to break the association they have with their diapers being the place for pee or poop and you want to help them associate the toilet with being the place for pee or poop.

- Remember that an accident is a learning opportunity; never use negative words when they have an accident. This is all very new to a young child and sometimes it takes time for them to understand their own body's signals.  I was always very matter of fact and would say that his underpants weren't clean & dry anymore and that he needs to remember to tell Mama when he has to go potty.  That was it.  No shame.  No condemnation.  Just that his underpants weren't clean & dry anymore and he needs to remember to tell Mama when he has to go potty.

- Do not lie the child down to change them. Lying down is for babies and they are big kids now. Would you lie down to change your own clothes? Stand them up to change their clothes too!  Yes, this is messy when there is a poopy accident, but they can be cleaned and so can their clothes and your floors.

- Damp underpants aren't a big deal because they just mean that the child caught themselves having an accident and stopped themselves.  That's a good thing because they are learning how to control their muscles and recognizing that releasing their muscles means that their underpants won't remain clean & dry.

- I never forced my son to sit on the toilet or potty chair unless he was going potty. Never ever. The child needs to learn how to listen to their body. Forcing them to sit on the potty until they go doesn't teach them their internal elimination signals. If anything, it teaches them that you are trying to control them in every single aspect of their lives.  The point is not to use force to control the child's toileting times. . .follow their cues and let them learn to listen to their own body's signals.

- Since my son now associates diapers with babies, I call swim diapers "swim pants."  The only reason I still use a swim diaper is because most pools require one for children under age 3.  I don't generally use them when we go to the beach or are swimming at a private residence because he tells me when he needs to poop or pee when he's swimming.

- Lora Jensen says that 22-months is the perfect time to PT. I don't know if this is true or not, but I do think there is a certain "sweet spot" between when they are physically able to control their biological toileting functions and when they are too stubborn to bother with learning how to control their biological toileting functions. I first tried this method at 18-months and he was too young so I stopped and decided to try again later. Why do I think it was the wrong time? Well, mainly because it was an utterly miserable day. No matter how encouraging I was, my son spent the day in tears. I could not soothe him and he ultimately just sat on the floor and sobbed. Like I said, way too young to attempt potty training without traumatizing his psyche.

- Seeing poop can freak out young children.  I would ask my son to stand in the restroom while I rinsed his poopy diapers into the toilet for many weeks, maybe even months, before I began potty training.  I'd also have him wave bye-bye to his poo before I flushed it away. Once he began to poop on the potty, I began to ask him if he wanted to wave bye-bye to his poops before flushing them away.  Pooping in his big boy underpants was very distressing to him, but pooping in the toilet is not and he has no problem with making #2 in any toilet we are near.  Even those gross toilets at the beach. . .bleh!

- Praise was a big hit during PTing, especially when he was praised for making a poop. I would call several relatives on speakerphone so that he could hear me praise him to other people. He lit up like a Christmas tree whenever I called to brag on him to the people he loves.  Of course, they would shower him with praise too.

- Contrary to what Lora Jensen suggests, I don't believe in giving the child a "poop prop" because there will be times that the child needs to go and you don't have your poop stick or whatever else you've fashioned to facilitate pooping. Make a ton of juice and high-fiber foods available to your child to move things along the natural way while PTing.  My son very rarely had juice prior to being potty trained.  Being constipated can turn into a fear of the toilet so now I give him a cup of juice every few days or so and it helps prevent his stool from getting too hard.

- Prior to starting the potty training journey, my son went to bed at 7:00 pm.  Shortly after beginning to PT, I pushed his bedtime (over a few weeks) to 8:00 pm. I did this so that he'd have plenty of opportunity to drain the lizard, so to speak, before going to bed.  It somewhat helped to decrease bedwetting.

- I cut off all fluids about 2 hours before bedtime, he goes potty twice during our bedtime routine. I also found that taking him to the potty before I go to bed (around midnight or so) is a good way to cut down on night time accidents.

- I feel that Lora Jensen is rather harsh toward the parents of bedwetters. Look, you might follow her plan to a T, but that does not mean you won't have a child who is prone to wetting the bed. Some children just do it and they aren't doing it to spoil your morning. Show them love, compassion, and let them know that accidents happen & that it's okay. But add that they can always call for you when they need to go potty in the night because you'll always be there for them.

- If it seriously bothers you to change bedsheets and you're wondering what's "wrong" with your child, use a pull-up diaper and stop worrying. If I went that route, I'd call them "night-time underpants" or "night-time panties" so that the child doesn't think they're going back to diapers and I'd still make an effort to catch all accidents. I guess changing bedsheets didn't bother me all that much since I didn't go the pull-up route.

- Once you have decided to do this - do it 100%! No more diapers! No more pull-ups! You can do this and your child can too! Have faith and don't allow backsliding into a diaper!

- Will there be a lot of back & forth between your living room and the bathroom? Aw, hells yeah. But keep your eye on the prize: A diaper-free child!  Yeah!

- You may have noticed that I've called potty training a journey a few times.  It really is.  Think of a road trip; there may be all kinds of stops, road bumps, problems, madness, & mayhem, but the destination makes all the aggravation sooo worth it.  A diaper-free child is so worth the effort you make on the potty training journey.

- If you have any questions or would like some specific advice that hasn't been covered in this blog, please do let me know. I don't claim to know all the answers and I certainly can't make my way for for you, but it did work fantastically well for us and I'm happy to help a fellow mama (or Daddy) in beginning the potty training journey with their own child.

- I'm also interested in hearing from seasoned parents about the potty training methods they have used!

This is my 200th post and I've covered all sorts of crazy topics in the last seven months!  Thank you to everyone who has been reading and commenting on this blog.  I appreciate your support and kindness.

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