Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Potty Training-Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

Have you ever read one of those posts/books/articles about potty training your child in a day?

Yes, well I read them, and they receive one of my definitely not lady like snorts.

I should just clarify that I am NOT an expert. My only claim to fame is that I have a 10 year old, 8 year old, and 5 year old who are not still wearing diapers or having accidents.

There are probably right ways to potty train, and wrong ways to potty train. But, we all just hope for success. And quick success, at that.

Which is why all the "potty train your child in one day" articles go viral immediately. What does that mom know that I don't?

Let me tell you my very limited experience of training my own children, and in observing friends, no child is ever potty trained in one day.

Why do I say that authoritatively?

Well, let me ask you what you would call a potty trained child. I would call a potty trained child one who has few or no accidents, and who takes themselves to the bathroom without needing reminded. That child is potty trained. And, no less than building Rome, that doesn't happen in a day.

Potty training is training of both you and your child. You to take them to the toilet. Them to learn the impulse proceeding going to the bathroom, and learning to actually go on the toilet.

Potty training is setting a new pattern of behavior in place, and reinforcing it all day. Sun up to sun down. Potty training is all that is happening. Potty training is your primary focus until your child is trained.

on the train-the potty train

But, in case you find the notion of one day potty training impossible, unlikely or just plain daunting, here are the Barefoot Hippie Girl's potty training tips:

1) Don't set yourself up for failure by having too high of expectations.
It is all in the label-potty training. You have to un-train your child's default mode of going in their diaper. Habits take time to form. It is not disobedience or rebellion. It is training. And I have found it takes 1-2 weeks to get a really good pattern formed. Plan on that. 1-2 weeks.

2) Don't start until you are ready. If you aren't willing to inconvenience your life to bring them to the toilet every 30 minutes or so, don't do it. If you are too busy to devote a chunk of time (1-2 weeks) to it, don't do it. It is better to wait than to start and stop, over and over again because life is busy.

3) Don't start until your child is ready. I was told by our local potty training guru that when you can tell your child to do something, and they obey you (put your socks in the laundry bin, etc.) they have the basic understanding to be able to potty train. This varied 6 months for my 3. BMV was the median, LC was early and Freckles was later.

What if you start and earnestly work on it a day or two, and they just aren't getting it? Then, pack away the potty seat for a month or two, and try again. Don't leave it out as a play thing. Put it away, and then restart anew a little later. I did that with Freckles. I tried around 20 months, and he was just not getting it. Tried at 24 months and the first day, he was going consistently. LC was raring to go at less than 20 months. It all depends on your child. And you are the best judge of when they are ready.

4) Use real underwear. It is messier for you, but it gets the cause-effect through to the child much quicker than a pull up. A wet pull-up feels just like a wet diaper. No discomfort. Generally the child will begin to connect the "oh, I needed to go potty, but now I am all wet. I'm supposed to be doing this in the toilet."Oh, and lose the onesies. They just don't mix with potty training.

FYI: I do not stop diapers at night until they are fairly consistently dry overnight. That is a different issue. I'd rather change that diaper than change bedding every day.

5) Praise and reward. Every time. Whoop it up. Cheer. Get the siblings to cheer. Get grandma to cheer. Let them know this is an awesome thing they are doing. And reward them. Stickers. A M&M every time they go in the toilet. (and have one yourself) And, to reinforce, give the siblings one every time they go. Positive peer pressure.

6) Stay home and potty train. This first week is not the time to run errands. It is not the time to cook 30 meals in one day. It may or may not be the time to be online. Your focus needs to be cementing in this new habit of going on the toilet. You may even have to skip church a Sunday. Or skip something else you'd like to do.

7) Take your child to the toilet every 30 minutes or so. Set your timer, put them on. Initially, you may want to just have them sit for 5 minutes, then let them get up. Your goal is to have them go on the toilet. Each time. Don't make it a punishment of having their butt glued to the seat (figuratively) if they don't go. Try-try again.

8) Warm water, and running water work wonders. Who doesn't have to go when water is running? A bowl of warm water to place their feet in feels nice for them, and often makes them go. Again-you are teaching the impulse-what it feels like to go. This is key.

9) If they have an accident, don't discipline in the training stage. Train. Tell them we don't wet/dirty our diapers. Take them to the toilet. Say, "this is where we go potty." Have them sit on the toilet for a minute or two.

10) Potty training is easier in the spring and summer. Less layers to soil and launder. Accidents outside are not as big a deal.

11) If you are going to be experiencing major life changes-new baby, holidays, move, etc.-wait until after the change to start. Or don't panic if the child seems to back slide a bit. It is a way they cope with change.
Yes, this is the kitchen. And life goes on.

12) Realize this is just a season, and it does pay off. No more diaper bag. No more cleaning up gross diapers. No more shelling out the big bucks for diapers. If you find yourself getting frustrated (and it is likely you will) remind yourself that you are going to be glad you persisted. You will see measurable progress in just a day or two. Encourage yourself. And post online so your friends can help you keep your chin up too.

13) After the first week or two, they are going to go potty every time you put them on the toilet, and have few accidents. That is great. You will still need to send (or take, depending on their size) them to the bathroom every 30 minutes. For quite a while. It just kind of is the way it is. They usually have to be reminded until they are 3 or 4.

14) Wait to clean your carpets until after potty training. That was a tip for the road.=)

And this would conclude the Hippie Method of Potty Training. (don't forget to do it barefoot)

Of course, I realize that Miss Meres is due for potty training in another month or two. And, I am sure I will be referring back to my own tips. I think I am going to wait until after our trip. I would LOVE to go diaper free, but it would make our holidays way to stressful.

This child...what would give me pause to think she would be anything but a breeze?
Snort! She is determined to break all the Barefoot Hippie rules.

Anyway, ask me in 6 months how it went.

I may be eating crow.

If you have potty trained children, what are your best tips? I would love to hear them!