Wednesday, June 14, 2006

WFMW - Get Real Potty Training

For this week's WFMW, I'm posting the first installment of:

Get Real Potty Training

Part One – Get Real

My pediatrician tells me that the average age for potty training a child is 2-½. I personally think his other patients are just too embarrassed to admit the truth, or are just trying to make him feel good for statistical purposes. I love him dearly, but Get Real.

I define “potty trained” as complete daytime dryness/un-soiled-ness (reliable in big-kid underwear ALL day).

Using that definition, my earliest was two years and nine months. My latest was almost 3 ½.

I know lots of people who feel the need to complete potty training younger than this. You are free to go read their blogs.

Personally, I have enough stress in my life. I choose the lowest trauma method – easing them into it slowly over a longer period. That way, when we finally take away the diapers, it’s the most natural thing in the world. We’ve had little to no regression.

So relax. Take a deep breath. Loosen up a bit!

Potty training is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

It's going to be fun!

Part Two – Get Ready

Here’s some gear that might come in handy around 18-24 months.

Option 1- Potty Chair. We started off with a little potty chair with child #1. It sounds good in theory (it’s small, it’s portable), but have you ever (a) kicked one of these puppies over when it was full of tinkle, or (b) cleaned poop out of one of these (note yesterday’s video)? You’ll be wishing you’d let the kid do the big job in a diaper.

Option 2 – Potty Seat. After scrapping the potty chair, we used a potty seat (something like this) for the next few kids. It fits over the toilet seat. It is padded to fit their little hineys, and makes falling in the commode less of a threat. Love this thing.

Option 3 - A small stool. Make sure it’s not tippy, since they will need to be able to climb on it and then turn their little selves around on it. We started with the potty seat and the stool, but now this is the only gear I am using for child #5. She somehow balances her little bottom over the big potty with the help of the stool.

Also for fun:

- A wetsy doll (a little visual aid to play in the bathtub)
- Potty books like Once Upon a Potty (unless you have siblings of the opposite gender who are a bit too curious – might want to put masking tape over certain parts!).
- Be prepared to be followed into the bathroom and/or have your "job" inspected at very close range (toddlers feel the need to place their entire head into the toilet seat!).

Getting these things in place early helps:

- raise their curiosity (it doesn’t take much - we are, after all, in the anal stage)
- make the potty seem like a nice, friendly gadget, and
- reinforce the idea that using a potty is the “in” thing to do (two-year-olds are always game for a party!)

Part Three – Get consistent

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a big fan of routine. Kids just do better with it. If your family eats on a wherever/whenever basis, this is going to make potty training practically impossible.

Remember the rule: what comes in must go out.

If your child’s intake is at all hours, so will his outflow be (pardon the pun – just couldn’t resist!). If this is a new concept to you, start by easing your little one into bit of a routine for meals, naps and bedtime.

This is also the time to work on good nutrition. I had one that was perennially constipated, and it made potty training one very extended excursion in frustration. It took several months of working on increasing fiber and liquid intake to make things “regular.” (We ended up consulting a doctor and using mineral oil. It was that bad, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone).

All the while I am getting consistent with meals and naps,I pick ONE time that I regularly put the child on the potty, every day.

For some, that’s first thing in the morning. My kids are big morning snugglers, so nobody wants to face the Great White Throne first thing in the morning. Plus, morning’s usually the absolute worst time around here.

So we choose bathtime. It's an easy one for distracted people like me to remember, and something about the water running usually makes them pee on the floor anyway, so why not set them on the potty?

I say something cheerful like, “Let’s sit on the potty while the water gets warm.” If they stay on for a nanosecond, shower with praise.

Never, EVER ask, “Do you WANT to go potty?” The answer will invariably be “NO!” Let’s not play on their obstinate tendency at this age. Just make it a normal, natural, “this is what we do” thing. This is, after all, normal, and natural, and this is what we do.

One day, by chance, they will be tinkling on the floor, and we will whisk them onto the potty. The connection has been made.

Now we just go for repetition.

Alas, I'm out of time. Next week:

Get Rewards, Get Creative and Get Rid of the Diapers!

Thanks again to Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for being such an awesome hostess! Check out all the other WFMW tips and leave her a nice comment.

Did you post a potty training tip? Leave me a comment so I can link you here:

Code Yellow Mom

Tags: Potty training, Parenting, Toddler


Code Yellow Mom said...

Katherine - Thanks for doing this! The 'get real' is the best part. My boy didn't potty train until 3 1/2, but three days later, he was dry all day and asked not to wear diapers at night - has yet to wet the bed, and that was almost two months ago. (I'm probably jinxing myself here...) I just think waiting until he was a little more cognisant of the whole process made it go more quickly. I have a potty training post - not for WFMW, but it does include my limited pearls of wisdom on the subject, if you want to link it. (I can't figure out how to make a link in comments.)

Laura said...

Loved this little girl will be turning 18 months on the 4th of July and I've been starting to think about starting the potty training thing. We have a number of issues regarding routine due to some sensory issues making eating and sleeping a guessing game every other day. I'm a structured kind of gal so I can't tell you the heartache I've gone through with this - I need the routine and know she does too but her little body just doesn't do well with anything consistent or change of any kind so she craves the structure and yet refuses it all at the same time, so I have worried about potty training just a little. My question though is what you would advise given our living situation over the next few months. She'll be 18 months in July and at the end of August we'll be moving out of state and into a temporary rental situation while we find a new home and then into the new home and then her little brother or sister will be born the early part of December. SO. Lots of changes. Should I go ahead and start with as much consistency as our environment will handle or wait until she turns 2 in January and start once we're more settled in our new home/life?

Michelle- This One's for the Girls said...

With four down and one to go-- I liked your advice about "getting real." So true. I don't know why people get so uptight about early potty training.

My motto is- they have to be three (or pretty close) and it has to be summer. :)

Katherine@Raising Five said...

For Laura - First of all - RELAX!

Sounds like you have a lot going on! I would do what you can now to keep her world as manageable as you can. That will make the transitions ahead that much smoother. Introduce the potty casually over the next few months but don't get stressed over it. If she goes, great. If not, no biggie. In my experience, having a newborn in the house is NOT the time to get serious about potty training, but you can still set her on it occasionally and talk about it in the course of your normal day.

By next summer (at 2-1/2) I bet things will be on a better routine and things will fall into place. I'll post more on that next week. You have time. You'll see!

Beck said...

Oh, I'm so glad to read that you're a relaxed toilet trainer! When I read in your blog yesterday that you were going to be writing on this topic, I asked DH how we ever toilet trained our first two, and he answered that we waited until they were old enough that they wanted to be trained - roughly, at three.

Amy said...

I agree that people must be too ashamed to admit when they have actually potty-trained their child. Our son was almost four. We pushed, we pressured, I cried, he cried- it was horrible. Finally, I said forget it! And guess what? He decided to use the potty. Low pressure is the way to go and easing them into it is your best bet. Thank you for the tips. Hopefully the next one will go into it more smoothly. I am cloth diapering this one so I am hoping that she will have an advantage just by doing this. :)

Thanks, Katherine!

Sandra said...

My son who is 3 years old JUST got potty trained two weeks ago. I tried and tried forever and he was very resistant and stubborn about it. Then suddenly two weeks ago he came up to me and asked for his big boy underwear and that was it. When he needs to go he just runs in there alone, takes off his underwear, flushes and puts them on again, all by himself.

No pushing from me, he just did it all on his own, so my best advice to all the moms out there???? STOP PUSHING, they will do it when they're ready to :)

Full Contact, Savior-centric Livin said...

If you don't mind my saying, I'm happy that potty training is a part of my past--I think.

Mom2fur said...

Full contact, I'm happy it's part of my past, too! But Katherine's got it right--this is gonna happen on the kid's schedule, not the grownups. I like your line, Kathy--"Potty training is not a sprint; it's a marathon!" All 3 of my boys went to almost 4, but when they were done, they were done--no accidents. My daughter (also a Katherine!) was out of diapers by 2 1/2...and had many accidents. I never pushed any of them, she just liked pretty undies. But she didn't have the physical control for at least another year. So anyone who tells you their kid was trained at 18 months...wishful thinking, LOL!

Mom2fur said...

Hey, Katherine--to answer the question you asked over at my blog about the celery in foil--I'm not sure it's the foil itself that keeps the celery fresh. I think it's just that it locks in moisture better than anything else. But it seems to work.

Unknown said...

This is great! Ds just turned two. I used the soft potty seat with dd (who is 5 1/2 years older, so I'm rusty). We've started doing just what you suggested--sitting on it at bathtime. I'm not rushing him, but if he "gets lucky" and something comes out he might want to start using it.

Laura--I think that 18 months is awfully young. You will end up very frustrated. At best "you" will be potty trained (if you can get her to go on the potty when you put her there). I started with dd right after she turned two, but we were frustrated. I waited a few months, and it was so much easier then.

Gabriela said...

Great tips. I just got done with #3 and I agree with you. The less truama the better!

Laura said...

Thanks for follow-up WFMW thoughts! I wasn't really thinking of actually potty training her as of 18 months, only introducing it. Just wasn't sure if I should even try to introduce it with all the other changes going on. I think I shall relax. Can you define relax though first? Not sure I have a handle on the definition. ;)

Bethany said...

Yes, I call the children who are "potty trained at 16 mos." mommy-trained kids. Their parents usually spend half their day in the bathroom with their kid on the toilet so they "don't have any accidents"!

My daughter was three and a half when she was finally potty trained. My son was a lot faster (more structured child...) and was potty trained around two and a half.

Great tips. I'm expecting in November, and although I thought my potty training days were over, well...they are not. I'll remember some of this, I hope, in a few years!!

Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

You are cracking me up...thanks for letting us moms off the hook! It IS a marathon, and we forget that way too often! Sometimes we think if our child isn't potty trained, reading, and playing a musical instrument byt the time their 2, we've failed!
I love the ideas...our youngest might be ready to potty train, oh, in another year or so...I'll be sure to use these ideas!!!

Carol said...

Great tips! I'm so glad I don't need 'em any more. Mine both trained at 3 years after I finally just gave up on them and decided to let them to go college in diapers, if that's what they wanted. So, that's what worked for me.

Stephanie said...

Great post. :) I'm in the beginning stages of potty training with my daughter and we have already established the potty-before-bath routine. I'm getting pressure from family to push her along, but she's just not ready yet for more than that and that is FINE with me. :)

Theresa said...

Great blog...and I love the video from yesterday - the dad's gagging that is sooo my husband. If you don't mind I would like to upload to my blog sometime this week? Of course, I'll send you some link love as well. :)

On your topic, my first potty trained herself literally just days before she turned two and never wore pull-ups! I know a MIRACLE, but the second one she's (15 mos.) I'm guessing she'll be pottying in her panties all the way to kindergarden. Thanks for the tips.

The only thing I have to add is that my little girl like to sit on the potty backwards. Don't know why...maybe she felt she could hold on to the lid or something. I also heard many do this with boys, I don't know but happy P.T. days! Will be there right behind ya!

Laurie said...

My favorite advice when my own kiddoes were wee-ones was from my friend Darlene, a mother to four. She said that by the time number four came along she just kept her in diapers until her daughter looked at her one day and said, "Um, Mom, could I try underwear today?" I always felt that walking and potty training were nothing to brag can't tell when a person is 16 whether they walked at 8 months or 18 months, and you can't tell if they were potty trained at one year old or four years old.

Glass Half Full said...

I will be venturing in this area again soon enough!! I pray it is as easy as my first son's experience. :)

Anonymous said...

I am loving the right before bath idea! What a great time to start. My dd is young still, I just want her to have the choice if need be. Loving the tips!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I also have 5 and by the time the 4th one
was ready to potty train I really thought
I had it all figured out. But he has
thrown me for a loop and makes me question everything I have known.

How you do you calm a toilet fear of
the public bathroom? He is getting use
to going at home, on the big potty. He is not scared there. But when we are in public, it is a different story- my blog has a detailed post about this.
Any help with this would be appreciated!