|< left > Roxy's 'Potty Training Boot Camp' Chart, complete with prizes. |
< middle > The only thing that would coax the Bear to sit on the potty was that Red Game.
< right > The ZoBo doing it HER WAY.
Well, this is my third child... and to be honest, it's my first child I didn't completely dread going through this stage of toddlerhood with.
With the first one, Roxy, I was gung-ho towards potty training. I read articles, even sections of books ('sections of books' is big for me, I don't read grown up books) on potty training. I purchased all the necessary supplies: potty dolls, potty Elmo, books with toddlers going potty, actual toddler potty, toddler potty seat, rubber pants, regular panties. I even made the sticker charts with rewards. All of the supplies were picked out by Roxy and I with great anticipation and everything was surrounded by excitement.
Well, she was around 18 months old when we began (because that's when the book said we should start potty training) and through lots and lots of frustration on my part and a very strong-willed resistance on her part... we eventually made it to success when she turned 3 years old. Yes, it took us 18 months to potty train my first child.
With Riley, not only was I still drained from my first potty training experience, but he was also a boy. Which, in my head, meant that potty training would be completely different this time. Add to this the fact that he had absolutely ZERO interest in sitting on the potty or wearing underwear at ALL until he turned 3. He loved his diapers and I was not willing to force it on him. I felt like I forced the potty on Roxy and that's why it took us 18 months.
It turns out Riley was totally different at learning than Roxy. Roxy learned the skills of the potty gradually and eventually. With Riley, it was an overnight thing. It was more of a decision that he had to make himself. One day, he loved his diapers and refused to look at the potty, and the next he was in underwear and had practically ZERO accidents, even through the night.
Which leads us to child number 3, my ZoBo. Child number 3 had absolutely zero interest in that kiddie potty she's seen in the corner of the bathroom for so long. She wouldn't look at it, so getting her to sit on it was out of the question. I decided not to push it.
... until I started noticing her going longer and longer between wet diapers. And then I noticed she would wake up every morning with a dry diaper. I waited it out to see if it was a fluke, and it wasn't. Three months before her 2nd birthday, she had a steady pattern of waking up with a dry diaper. Finally, I decided I'd start her potty training regimen after we came back from our Summer Adventure so she would have more of a reliable schedule to not distract her from learning this new and VERY IMPORTANT skill.
Since she still had zero interest in that toddler potty, one morning I sat her upon a little toddler Dora the Explorer seat we have had since Cameron started using the potty (yep, about 8 years ago!). She went and was very proud! Mommy and Daddy did a little dance and she knew she did something good.
Since that moment, I would ask her periodically if she had to go pee pee. Most of the time she would exclaim, "Yea!!" and sit on the potty. Sometimes she would go and sometimes nothing came out. It was okay with me either way, she's sitting on the potty and that is amazing to me.
The Timer Method
After about a week of sporadically going in the potty, I bought a pack of Target brand Pull Ups (which I hear is a no no, but they are working wonderfully for this child), and I decided I'd start her on the timer method. I set the timer for 40 minutes and every time it went off, we would sit on the potty and try, then reset the timer. If she went, she would get a lollipop or 3 marshmallows. She started to prefer the marshmallows, so we only get marshmallows now.
Baby Steps and Learning Curve
After about 2 days of the timer method, she started telling me when she had to go! I realized we were making some real progress here!
Currently, she is at the point where she has a dry diaper all day EXCEPT sometimes when she naps, and she isn't at the point of going number 2 in the potty.
We have gone a few days with panties, even out to Roxy's Open House at her school and a restaurant in panties with total success.
She still looks forward to those 3 little marshmallows as a reward and so I still make a big deal out of it and make sure she gets that reward she is entitled to.
Yesterday, she started practicing pulling her pull up down and getting on and off the potty herself. She is so proud she can do this all by herself. She will even drag a little toddler size chair into the bathroom so she can reach the sink and wash her hands herself.
Sometimes she plays in the water a little too long and that's okay with me. She's excited about going potty and washing her hands herself and so am I.
My Zoie is 24.5 months old and 98% potty trained. I couldn't be more proud.
So, long story short... here's what worked for us:
- Look for potty training readiness cues (e.g. longer periods of dry diapers, dry morning diaper, or blatant interest in using the potty)
- DON'T make her do what she doesn't want to do.
- CELEBRATE all her achievements.
- Focus on POSITIVE reinforcements. Find out what motivates her (in our case, marshmallows).
- No negative feedback. Accidents happen. Scolding her for an accident only makes two angry people.
- Let her learn new skills (i.e. trying out the potty, learning to tell you when she has to go, going potty on her own, number twos...) at her own pace. Don't try to force it all at once, it is a learning experience and there is a learning curve.
... Wow! I sound like I've learned patience. ...
I'm sharing this with you because I know how desperate it can feel when you think you've tried everything. Sometimes you just need to get a little more advice worded slightly differently.
Perhaps the third time is a charm for me, I've finally learned that potty training does NOT have to be the nightmare I had thought it was for so long.
Good luck to you and yours.
<3, Tabi :D