Our Potty-Training Journey -- A Matter of the Will

Posted by  | Tuesday, June 22, 2010  at 2:43 PM  
I have only potty trained one child, so I am by no means an expert! But I definitely had my share of frustrating days and learned a lot from it, so I wanted to share with you how it went. Let me start by saying that I have an amazing dear friend who decided to try early potty training with her absolutely adorable baby. She started started getting her baby used to the potty when she was only a month old. I know, it sounds crazy, but she had amazing success with it and her baby was pretty much potty-trained by 13 months! I just think she is awesome! Click HERE if you want to see the book that inspired her to try it. I was personally not brave enough to do such a thing, but when I found out that we were pregnant again and would have a new baby when Karis was just 20 months old, I decided to try to get Karis out of diapers before the new baby came...

Attempt #1
-- Karis was 17 months -- I had read The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers and was planning to use her method for potty training at a younger age. I tried to get her to just sit on the potty but she was deathly afraid of it and screamed bloody murder. In retrospect, I should have bought a bjorn potty that is recommended for early potty training because it has great support and younger babies feel comfortable and secure in it. But I just decided that 2 in diapers wasn't the end of the world and we would try later :)

Attempt #2 -- Karis was 22.5 months and very excited about her little pink potty this time. I decided to use the method in Gary Ezzo's book because my sis-in-law had great success with it. Basically, you praise the child for staying dry rather than for using the potty. So we checked her diaper every 20 minutes, but it was always damp. I moved the timer down to 10 minutes, then to 5. It seemed that Karis was always a little damp so it was hard to reward her for staying dry. I think she just didn't have very good control yet. We had a very messy first two days, great success the 3rd day, and then on the 4th day Karis went ballistic and ran screaming away from me every time I even mentioned the word potty. I didn't want the potty to be a power-struggle, so I decided to follow everyone else's advice and wait til she was at least 2 before trying again. I still think the premise of the book is great and would work well if your child is ready, but Karis just couldn't seem to stay dry for any length of time. She just wasn't ready yet.

Final and Successful attempt -- Shortly after Karis turned 2, I started noticing that she was often dry in the morning when she woke up and after naps as well. And a lot of times I would go to change her diaper and it had been completely dry for several hours. I knew she was ready for potty training, but we had a lot of fun summer traveling ahead of us and I really didn't want to worry about finding a potty at the beach :)

When we finished our travels, we had 2 difficult weeks getting Karlie to sleep well again because all the traveling had really messed up her schedule. After we got her all straightened out, I told Mark that I ought to take the plunge and potty train Karis . He begged me to wait because we needed to have just one "normal" week after all the craziness of the summer.

Apparently, Karis did not want to wait because on Wednesday, she randomly asked to use the potty and stayed dry all day! I was utterly amazed at her perfect potty day but figured it was because we had just been reading this book and this book that we had checked out of the library. Needless to say, I highly recommend them :)

So with her leading, we took the plunge. Karis had her ups and downs for a couple of days and was very excited about her new underwear, going potty, and then getting her treat (some frozen smoothie, healthy chocolate candy, or power balls ). But then she simply stopped wanting to go potty at all. She would sit on her potty just fine while I read her books, but she never filled it up. One morning she started looking very uncomfortable around 10:30. So we sat on the potty for about ten minutes. Nothing happened, so I let her get up. But then she looked like she needed to go again, so we sat and read some more. (I put her potty in the living room so I didn't have to drag Karlie in the bathroom every time :) This went on until noon and we had to go eat lunch before naps. The minute I reached in the fridge, she went used the bathroom all over my floor. I was sooooo frustrated! I had wasted my whole morning trying to help her go potty and we still ended up with a mess!

Once I put the girls down for a nap, I called my Mom for advice. She recommended that if I was certain that Karis needed to use the potty, to tell her she had to sit by herself in the bathroom until she could see it in the potty. This would help her to focus on the job at hand. As soon as Karis woke up, I told her the new plan. She wasn't happy about it, because she had really enjoyed my attention when I read to her on the potty all day long :) It became a discipline issue immediately, which I had hoped to avoid. But it worked instantly! As soon as she knew she would get a spanking for leaving the bathroom early, she did her business immediately. I only had to discipline her the first 3 times, and from then on she happily did her thing. And the excitement on her face when she realized she could do it was enough reward to cover all the spankings :) For the next 2 months, she would run out of the bathroom with her undies around her toes, carrying her little potty seat to show me her success, yelling "Yay Karis!!!!" at the top of her lungs. It was hilarious and I was just so proud of her! Karis never looked back after that day and pretty much never had an accident again.

Summary: I know that all children are different, but for my sweet, stubborn 2-year old, discipline was definitely the key to teaching her one of the most basic skills of life. Potty training was fun for her at first, but when she grew tired of it, she needed to know that she could do it and that it was important to Mommy and Daddy. After that realization, she never looked back and has used the potty cheerfully without any accidents ever since!

3 comments:

ChezDeshotels said...

You could have just typed my story with my oldest now 4.5 it all came down to will and one time of dicipline and she never had another accident after that. I have an 18 month old that we are really talking potty and reading books so I hope to train her by 2 thanks for the stories

AJ

Jackie said...

Anyone have advice for a child that refuses to go #2 in the potty? I'm tired of cleaning the mess up! We've been working on this for two weeks and he is doing so well with #1 that I know we don't need to take a break. Maybe is does just boil down to a discipline issue.

MMS said...

Hi Jackie,
We went through the same thing with Noah for a few weeks. He had the pee down, but the poop took a while longer. I sent out an SOS email to the moms in his pre-school class, and a lot of people responded that they were having a smiliar problem. Once I realized it was a normal problem, it was a little easier to deal with. One mom with an older child said that she would put the poop in the potty to emphasize that that's where the poop goes. We did that, and it seemed to work well. I also gave little rewards for him sitting on the potty and trying to poop. I tried to keep a "it doesn't bother me" attitude to prevent a power struggle from ensuing, which was what I wanted to avoid at all costs. I don't know that I'm helping much, but I will say that after a few weeks, Noah decided he would rather poop on the potty than in his pants, and there was no looking back. Hang in there! What you're struggling with is so normal, and I guarantee he will work it out eventually! :)

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