A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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Potty Training Follow Up- aka, I've never washed so many pants
April 26, 2016
You may have read my prior post about potty training gear. In that post, I admitted, we were just getting started on the whole process and had no idea what we were doing. That continued to be the case for awhile, but now that we are mostly on the other side of things, I wanted to pass along a few tips that heped us.
As with anything "training" related, no one approach is going to work for every kid, and there's lots of ways you can go at this. But I've included what worked for us below, including the book and method we followed, and some of the bigger tips that helped us get over the hurdle.
We still occasionally have accidents, but for the most part, it took about a week for Chewie to "get it", and then about 4 weeks for it to become totally solidified. And while not having to change diapers is pretty stellar, my favorite part about this entire experience has been seeing how proud Chewie is that he's so independent. We've set up our bathrooms so that he can go by himself anytime he wants, which is what he always does. He only calls for me to wipe at this point. Otherwise, he normally yells at me to "give me my pwivacy!" I've tried explaining that mama also needs HER privacy when she's in the bathroom, but so far, his understanding of this concept extends to him opening the door while I'm using the bathroom, saying "I give you your pwivacy now", and then shutting the door. Not *exactly* what I was going for, but we'll take it.
Anyways, for those of you starting the potty training stage, just remember that like almost all major transitions in parenting, the anxiety about the transition is almost always worse than the transition itself. And with that, here's what worked for us:
Book of Choice: We followed the "Oh, Crap" Potty training book, which is one of the few kid-related books I've ever read. The general approach is for one kick-off training weekend, followed by 7-10 days of follow up. The reason I liked this book so much is that I was laughing as I was reading it. In describing the way some kids poop, she actually states that "some kids drop it like it's hot". Also, her approach to expectations really re-focused me when I was getting frustrated. She reminded me that this is equally frustrating for your toddler who wants to be independent and get this right, but needs to learn how to do everything for the first time. Oh, and she advocated the liberal use of wine at the end of the day. Since I'm preggo, I couldn't participate, but I liked that sentiment.
Rewards: The "Oh Crap" method doesn't advocate for sticker charts or rewards, because her point of view is that the independence and the pride in doing it yourself should be motivation enough. Also, she suggests starting around 27 months, and at that young, kids don't always "get" the sticker chart. And with immediate rewards like candy, they might always demand a treat every time they peed. I was a little reluctant about going sans-reward, but Chewie was so flipping proud of himself when it started to click, I was glad we went this route.
Taking off pants: DO NOT neglect this stage or overlook it. In the "Oh Crap" book, she points out that unless your kid is a pro at this, learning how to take their pants on and off while having to pee is not ideal. She suggests a "dressing party" where you practice over and over how to do it. For us, this was crucial for Chewie. I had just been saying "then you pull your pants down", but truthfully, toddlers are very literal. What I needed to say (and eventually said) was "now you PUSH your pants down", and actually showed him how to hook his thumbs on the elastic of his pants. In those early stages, 5-10 seconds makes all the difference, so this was huge. It also built upon the idea of independence. Because at the end of the day, what you're teaching your toddler is how to be independent, and that's a huge accomplishment.
Commando: I had heard that buying "big boy underpants" was a great way to kick off the potty training, but in reality, the minute we put them on, they felt so similar to diapers that Chewie immediately peed in them. The "Oh Crap" book advocates for going commando, and so that's what we've done. In fact, he's still sans underwear (which we'll probably have to fix for the summer). It makes things feel "different" enough to queue them that they're not wearing diapers, plus, it makes going to the bathroom much easier.
The Red Solo Cup Trick: Alright, you might be grossed out by this, but I think of this trick as pure magic. For Chewie, his hang up was the fact that he would only pee the smallest bit connnnstantly throughout the day. So, a Wizard/Mom-Friend of mine suggested the Red Solo Cup. The video about all the reasons you'd use a solo cup is here, but the general idea is you have your toddler try to fill up the cup. The noise of it and the "game" of trying to fill it up will distract them into fully evacuating (aka, the strangest euphemism ever). This became big for us when we finally attempted leaving the house, as he would actually go enough that I knew we wouldn't be hunting for a bathroom in five minutes. Apparently you can also use a red solo cup if you're peeing and your kid needs to at the same time, or in a pinch it'll work for an emergency toilet. Yes, it's gross, but so are soiled pants.
Pooping: For this, I really recommend reading the "Oh crap" book because she goes into much more detail (and points out that you might have a PhD in rocket science or some other fancy degree, but you will be cheering up and down when your kid poops and brought to your knees when they don't). But, the big takeaway on poop for us, was that as much as you want to, you can't hover over them peering under their legs while they're learning. Imagine if someone did that to you. The author advocates for putting your child on the toilet with a book or something that will keep them there, then saying casually "oh, I forgot something, I'll be right back" and leaving them there to do their business. That was the trick for us. Plus, as Chewie says, toddlers are just like everyone else--- they just need their pwivacy.
So that's our round up. Best of luck to all of you trying. All I can say is I almost caved on day 3, but pushed through with some support from friends. You CAN do this. They CAN do this. And soon, you'll be hearing the magical sound of the toilet flushing by itself, and your kid saying "mama, I peed!"