Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potty Training, The Details....

Don't worry, I won't tell any of the gross kind of details! I just want to say that it has been a very good week. The first day, I expected a lot of messes, and that was the case. But by yesterday morning when Jonah woke up, he really started to get the hang of it. He didn't have an accident until almost lunchtime, and he had two right in a row, and that was it. Today, we went all day with NO ACCIDENTS!!!! YAY!!!! I am so proud of him. It's his biggest accomplishment yet in life, so I'm celebrating. But I'm trying to hold back the excitement too, because I know we are a long way from being able to boldly venture out in public. We are not carefree yet and won't be for a long time. I realize that a lot of the time, I was able to get Jonah to the potty "in time" because of recognizing certain signs and immediately getting him to the potty to go, but I don't count those as real successes because I want him to always tell me he needs to go. He has quite a few times, but it's not consistent. I have to really watch him and keep my eyes open constantly for the signs he gives of needing to go....because if he's enthralled with something fun he's doing, he will deny that he has to go even though he's holding himself and jumping around! So I just want to be clear that even though we've had an accident-free day and he's kept the same underwear on all day, we are far from out of the woods on this one. He's been so cute to watch in his big-boy one point yesterday he was wearing just his Thomas the Train undies and a cowboy hat. Wish I had taken pictures!

I don't know why, but I hadn't stopped to think about how sad this was going to be. I'm still not thinking about it yet. I want to just get through the training part and help him to be successful in this area, but I know that as soon as he masters this skill, I'm probably going to have a meltdown of some sort. I keep pushing it back, not wanting to think about how sad I am that my baby is not really a baby anymore. I can tell that it's going to come though. I'm not ready for the emotion. Consider this a warning....if you come into contact with me during the next few weeks, be prepared that I may be on the verge of being a total crazy person. But like I said, I don't want to think about that right now. Just praying that God will pour out His grace for that moment, when it comes!

Just in case anyone wonders what "training strategy" we have used, I thought I would share some of the details because I LOVE hearing the details of different parenting things people do. There are so many great ways to do it, and every child's needs are different, so this may not be helpful to others who will be potty training their child in the future. But I appreciated hearing and reading others' stories and advice, so here it is. Maybe it will be helpful for someone. And if you don't want to hear about little boys going to the potty, then you may want to just skip the rest of this post and join me on the next one!

  • We mainly used the strategy set forth in the book Pottywise....yes, it's written by the same people as the Babywise books. You pick the day to start, and on that day, you automatically put them in big-kid undies and start the process. We set the timer for 15 minutes and when the timer wentt off, we checked to see if his underwear is clean and dry. If so, he got to pick a prize from a bowl of little toys I got him. As soon as we checked for dryness, I took him to the potty. If he did something in the potty, he also got a treat, but it was something smaller, like a few M&Ms. You do this repeatedly throughout the day. The main point in Pottywise that makes it so successful is that they stress the importance of rewarding keeping their underwear clean and dry over rewarding the actual use of the potty. It's so logical and is what seems to make all the difference, because lots of kids will have a half-accident, messing up their underwear, but still making it to the potty to do a little in there, and we reward what they do in the potty. So we have to make a much bigger deal over being clean and dry when the timer goes off. So that's what we did. And we stretched out the increments to 20 and 25 minutes later on that first day. I really only did the timer the first day. By the second morning, it was a more familiar process, and he went in the potty as soon as he got up and really never needed the extra motivation of the toy-prizes from that point on. He still asks for candy sometimes, but we don't even give that every time anymore.
  • I love these strategies that avoid being in pull-ups during the day. I think it is necessary for them to learn how uncomfortable it is to pee in their underwear. So he only wears pull-ups at nap and bedtime. We are diaper-free now! And I've kept pants off of him during the day, just to make it easier. He's only worn shorts for the first time today (on the afternoon of the third day), and I really recommend that. You have to expect that there are going to be LOTS of messes that first day especially. You just have to be ready to clean lots of puddles, spray carpet, etc. It's a necessary part of the learning process. Jonah had more in the afternoon of the first day than he had in the morning, and I wish he'd had more accidents right from the start. It may have actually sped up the process. Make sense? I'm a huge fan of doing underwear only instead of switching back and forth between that and pull-ups. They really can't feel enough discomfort from messing in a's too similar to a diaper.
  • We "talked up" potty-training for about two weeks before starting, saying things like, "In another week, you'll wear big-boy underwear, pee-pee in the potty, and not wear diapers again. You'll be so big!" It doesn't matter if he understands. He just needs to hear it a lot. The weekend before, he picked out some big-boy underwear at the store, and the night before we started, he got to see all the prizes. That got him really excited! Though I must say, if your child is used to getting lots of toys and things bought for him all the time, then I don't know what kind of prize/rewards system of motivation you can do. I'd probably just lay low on spoiling him with stuff before starting potty training.....with sweets too, because you want those to be a big draw those first couple of days.
  • I think the most important thing in determining when to start is whether or not your child is a compliant child at all.If you haven't tackled other challenges having to do with their behavior and haven't seen much success with discipline strategies that you implement, then don't expect potty training to go well at all! You want them to be at a place where they trust you, are obedient (as obedient as a strong-willed toddler can be!), and want to please you.
So these are some of the things that have REALLY helped us this week. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow is really different and we have tons of challenges and accidents. It can definitely happen, and I want to be prepared for that. We're definitely not done! But these are the things that have worked out well so far and that I know we will be glad we did, regardless of how long it takes us to get this whole potty thing down for good. By the way, it's highly entertaining to potty-train a boy. I can't even write about all of the funny things, it would probably be mildly inappropriate.....but to those of you who will be potty-training a son in the near future, just know that you can call me and we'll share those ridiculous stories and I'll laugh with you about it. Because this process sure can be funny!!! Maybe one of the funniest things I've EVER been a part of. I'm so thankful for the laughs this week. Thanks to those of you who I know have prayed for us this week! I'm so glad God cares about potty-training.