Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Potty Training

I have had tons of people ask advice on potty training. I am not an expert, unless potty training three children makes you an expert, which I doubt. Every child is unique, but there are a few universal things about potty training that you should know:
1. Every child needs to be potty trained.
2. Potty training is hard.
3. There always accidents.

I used the “potty training in a day” method with all three of mine and it worked wonderfully. That is not to say that there were no accidents, but it really worked well!

So here’s the idea:

1. You get the child prepared. This means you talk to them about potty training before you start the actual potty training process. You get underwear (lots of underwear—it’s cheap and sometimes you just want to throw it out instead of try to save it) and get the child excited about the underwear. You talk about becoming a big boy/girl and that you’re going to throw away all the rest of the diapers. You plan a start date together.
*make sure you plan the start date on a day (or two is even better) when you plan to be AT HOME for pretty much the entire day.

2. The big day is like a celebration day—their graduation from diapers! They are now a Big Boy/Big Girl! This is exciting! They wake up; you throw that last dirty diaper away together and make a big deal about putting on the undies. Don’t bother with pants—this will be a day of accidents!
*I like to cover my area carpets and major kid-traffic areas with blankets/towels that will absorb the accidents and be easily washed.

3. Push the liquids—we want lots of opportunities for practice. Water, juice, milk, whatever—just get them to drink as much as possible.

4. Every time they go on the potty, they get a little treat and lots of praise. The treat is individual to each child—something little that they love. It could be a baby tootsie roll or a little toy—it depends on your philosophies and the child’s preferences. I usually make a little prize bowl and after they go on the potty they get to choose one prize.

5. After they have done their business on the potty and picked their prize, they get to call someone on the phone and tell them that they went on the potty. (I usually prepare the most important people in their lives for this a few days in advance. Daddy, Grammies and Grandpas, aunties—whoever your child may want to share their news with. The conversation goes something like this: “hi, ____ wants to talk to you.” ____gets on the phone and says something like, “I went pee on the potty!” and the special person says something like, “wow! I am so proud of you! You are such a big boy/girl!”)

v is for victory

Here are some pointers and things you may need to expect:
*poopies on the potty are kind of hard (no pun intended;)—you usually only get one shot a day and that’s not very much practice. You should not be surprised if this takes few days to get it right. If necessary, the poopy prizes can be a tad bit more elaborate.

*Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get pull ups. They confuse the child. Pull ups are diapers. You are getting rid of diapers.

*It’s an important part of the learning process to feel that gross feeling of urine running down your legs. Don’t be afraid of that. They will learn much quicker if they are able to be a little disgusted. In my experience it’s a big surprise the first time this happens—they aren’t used to thinking about going to the bathroom and paying attention to the messages their body is sending. So be understanding and supportive—do not show anger and frustration at their accidents.

*Putting the child to bed in underwear is a little scary, but at this point, the child probably does not go to the bathroom all night long. Usually they hold it and urinate first thing in the morning, so it’s not as tall of an order as you might think. I usually get one of those plastic mattress covers and put it under the sheet. They are only a few dollars at Wal Mart and aren’t as uncomfortable as you might think—they are hardly noticeable at all! In my experience, my children have never wet the bed while potty training (maybe at other times, but that's another blog for another day...), so I really think most parents psyche themselves out about bet wetting for nothing.

*It will be hard "going out" with a brand new potty training child. They don’t have a long time in between “I think I have to go potty” and the actual event occurring. You need to know where all the public potties are—kind of like when you were pregnant. One thing that I learned from another mom that was largely helpful was to keep one of those baby potties in my car with wipes for emergencies. Usually you are either in your car or close to your car and the child can sit on the potty and go. You dump the contents of the potty and “wipey” it out. It saved us many times.

*In my experience about 2 weeks into this, the potty training is “old hat” and you haven’t needed to praise the child so much and have stopped the prizes and all the sudden they revert and get lazy. The accidents increase at this time. This is normal. You have to make adjustments and find new ways to encourage at this time.

*do not start potty training until you are resigned to work hard at it

any questions?


andrea said...

yes, i have a question. does this method work on incontinent adults as well?

i'm with you on the pull-ups. a marketing scheme at its worst.

Georgia said...

Thanks :)

I only have to add, that my boys DO NOT wake up at night to go to the bathroom. EVER. They sleep through it completely, and then continue to sleep. They will wake up several hours later when they are wet and cold. Pull ups are my best friend for this :) Kayden is six, and has only JUST began being able to make it through the night, most nights, without wetting the bed... and he has been potty trained since he was 2.

I also have used the 1 day method with one of my kids. it worked really well for him.

Jen Lynn said...

Good to know. I've been trying to psych myself up for about 6 months now. Caroline will be three next month, and I've gotta start soon. Augh.

Shally said...

You were a recommended feed on my google reader, so HI! :)

I am getting ready to potty train twins. I really just don't think I am ready for the underwear thing. I have a 5 year old and an 8 month old, so my house is CHAOS!

I am not wanting to clean up extra messes.

Do you think their kindergarten teacher will change their diapers? CUZ I JUST DON'T HAVE IT IN ME TO TRAIN THEM! ;)

Mikael said...

Thanks for all the tips! I have been wondering about all this. I most likely won't tackle this for a while (makenzie isn't even 2 yet), but soon enough :)

Tori said...

So glad I don't have to do this EVER AGAIN!!!

Kara said...

Wow, impressive. I would indeed consider you an expert!

Emily said...

First off, thanks for your comment on my blog. People have been so loving and so supportive. Thanks for thinking of us, it means the world.
Secondly, when do you start potty training? I have a one year old...
Also, I think you should erase your blog entry and instead publish your tips and GET PAID for your expertise!!! :) I may call you when Quinn is getting ready to get potty trained. I will need all the help I can get!

calibosmom said...

Any advice on how you train snotty 9 year girls to not be snotty and 5year boys to not be sooo loud first thing in the morning and 10 year old boys to not flick their boogers? Aren't you excited for the next chapter of your book? It really is fun-I'm not complaining.

Darlene said...

I am currently doing this with my new baby...
except he weighs 2 pounds and is furry all over,
did I mention that he is a dog?

btw~ you look fabulous in your self portrait challenge picture!

Beautiful You,
xox Darlene

Abby said...

I am filing this away for #2...I am scared. What are the chances he will potty train himself (including nights) on his own, practically overnight, like Cubby? I am preparing myself for real life [aka doing hard things] with this next one...and maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised?

Anonymous said...

So very wise. We need a whole 'nother post about boys and why they like to pee on stuff for no apparent reason. Cole STILL (yes, STILL) pees on the floor JUST FOR FUN. Just for fun! He pulls down his pants and wizzes all over. It sucks. Anyway, you are the expert at lots of stuff.


emma jo said...

I hate potty training. I wish I could send them away to some kind of obedience school. I would pay 1 million dollars...any takers?

Paige said...

This is FANTASTIC- but only because I agree with every word and could have written it myself, but I would have been more rude and less thorough. So thank you for writing it, I am now sending everybody here who asks how to potty train.

Do you have an opinion on when they are ready? My first 3 I knew but the last I judged poorly the first time- a few months later and it worked like a charm. Although I do admit to pullups only at naps/bed because I don't want to get out of bed to take the kid to the bathroom.

Vanessa said...

How did you know I needed this advice for tmrw?? Thanks!

Ballard Greener said...

Great Post, yes pullups are stupid..what is the difference my daughter can take her diaper off just as easy as a pullup??! Unfortunately since my kids spend more time be cared for by their aunt than by us (mom and dad), I'm not sure how much infulence I really have at six o'clock at night two hours before bedtime. Ughh....