Friday, January 20, 2012

This Is How We Potty Train

The other day another mom was joking with me that she used to think giving birth was the hard part of parenting. Ha! True, the c-section and the terrible, horrible night after the c-section were no picnic, but in a way it was less painful than some of things on our immediate horizon: potty training, weaning, and saying goodbye to the paci. *Shudder* Both for the sake of ease and the sake of avoiding too much shedding of tears (and I'm including myself here), we're tackling things one at a time. First up is potty training. Now, I'm not saying that this is the only way or the best way to do potty training. It's just our way.

Step 1: Building Curiosity
  • We purchased two freestanding potties and set them in the bathroom. The kids were allowed to sit on them and inspect the parts of the potties. We went with the simplest of potties. Our potties don't play music or cheer, which seems distracting and maybe even startling. Imagine - you're new to the potty, and the instant your pee hits the pot, the potty starts blaring a song. Yikes!
  • We checked out books from the library about going potty.
  • We purchased and watched Potty Time, a video from the makers of Signing Time that teaches about the process of going potty as well as some potty signs. I'll be darned if those songs aren't incredibly catchy. I'll sing the "Uh-oh, It's An Accident" song for days at time.
Step 2: Learning How the Potty Works
  • I let the kids come in the bathroom with me. I know some people aren't comfortable with that, but the easiest way to teach the process is to model it.
  • Soon after bringing the potties home and setting them up in the bathroom, we made using the potty part of our bath routine. When everyone was stripped down, I set them on the potties with a book or a toy. Sometimes they were into it, sometimes not (and I didn't force them to stay on the potty). Sometimes somebody peed, but usually not. Then they got in the tub. No biggie. It was good practice.
Then I watched for readiness...

Step 3: Potty Learning
  • I purchased Gerber training pants. At the very, very least, I recommend buying 9 pairs. 12 would be better. Also purchased, the Potty Time watch. Love, love, love this watch. I'll try to post more on it later.
  • On the morning of Day 1, I asked Veda if she would like to wear big girl underwear and use the potty today instead of wearing diapers. She said yes. Adamantly.
  • We started with a short interval between potty visits - about 15 minutes on that first day. We're now up to thirty minutes. I have faith that one day we'll make it to an hour and will be able to leave the house again.
  • A successful potty visit gets some clapping, praise, and a high five. We're NOT doing extrinsic rewards (i.e., stickers, M&M's, etc.). I say a lot of things like, "Wow! You're getting to be such a big girl!", "You must be so proud of yourself!" and "I bet it feels really good to stay dry." The point is to help her stay focused on her own intrinsic motivation. I'll post more later on why I think this is important.
  • Since daytime potty training and sleep potty training are different things, we do diapers during nap time and at night.
  • No matter what, we do NOT wear diapers until it's time for sleep. It would be so confusing for a little guy to have to go back and forth.
We've been at it for a week now, and for certain there are still accidents, but we're making a little progress every day. I was surprised by just how many "accidents" there were on that first day. We literally went through EVERY pair of training pants we had, and I had almost convinced myself that Veda wasn't really ready and that I should give up and try again later. Luckily, my friend Heather talked me into giving it another day, and she was right. The next day was so much better.

Having a kid who uses the potty... it's almost the new normal.

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