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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

adventures in potty training by Holly Gunn


My lovely friend, Holly Gunn, tells us all about her adventures with training her son to use the potty. Enjoy! (Definitely not a stage I am looking forward to... but Holly gave us some great advice!)

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Potty training can seem like such a daunting task, a long road, and a crazy time but I've waited a little over 365 days to get to this point - no more diapers!

Our journey began last summer when Jonathan was just about 2.5 years. He was slow to grasp the concept and at one point was terrified of the idea. We tried everything to bribe the poor guy - M&M's (1 for pee, 2 for poop), fruit snacks, twizzler, dum-dum lollipop, and even Thomas the Train (this worked well but became very expensive).


Everything seemed to work but didn't hold his interest for too long, so I put it on the back burner. Everyone always said, "he'll go when he's ready, don't force it," and so we waited.

We tried the pull-up thing but he really wasn't having it. It was just a diaper that you pulled up. We used a toddler potty and also the seat that goes on the potty. He seemed to be most successful with the pint sized potty that doubles as a stool and later progressed to the bigger potty as he grew.

Come this past winter, I was roughly 6 months pregnant and the idea of having two children in diapers started to really blow my mind, financially. We instituted a system - every 15 minutes Jonathan was to sit on the potty and try. Hopefully, if all went well, he'd be successful. Finally, we started to make some progress. Around the first of the year Jonathan started pooping on the potty exclusively. Just one sign that he was ready in his own time.

At one point the potty was moving around the house as my little man did, making it accessible and noticeable for him. In April we welcomed baby Jillian and roughly one month later I was laying on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest when Jonathan asked, "You change me mommy? I peed" and that's when it all began...the diaper came off and never went back on. If he could ask me to change him because he was wet and he was uncomfortable, he was ready to say Good-Bye diapers and Hello underwear.

We had 2 days of several accidents and a load or two of laundry but persistence and patience pays. We instituted the sticker chart so he could see his progress and at the end of the week we did something special to celebrate. I'm happy to say that though we're not diapering a 3.5 year old anymore and we are still having accidents occasionally, he's grown by leaps and bounds and he is beyond proud of himself for the accomplishment that he has made.


If there is one thing that I never realized about potty training it's that once he started using the potty on a regular basis we, as parents, were still having to remind him to go and encourage him to try. He can get very distracted and focused, much like any other toddler. Much like parenting and everything else that comes along with children, it's never truly over.

Now that we've made daily progress on the potty the next step is staying dry through nap time, night time, and so on. It's been a long road but I feel confident in saying we're finally POTTY TRAINED and boy oh boy does it feel good. I hear training girls is easier than boys, for whatever reason, and perhaps this is the case. I will, at some point, find out first hand. :)

If there's one thing I can suggest when it comes to knowing when it is the right time to start potty training....it's never the right time. Very rarely have I ever heard of someone saying they introduced the concept and their son/daughter was trained overnight. As I said before, it takes time, patience, and persistence.

Getting your child interested in the idea of a potty is a start - check out some potty books at the library, purchase a little pint sized potty for them to sit on and get used to, maybe make a reward chart, possibly use pull ups. Every child is different. Talk to your own mothers, siblings, friends and see what worked for them and their children. Trial and error....trial and error. Whatever stage you're at, hang in there, be consistent, and praise them for the littlest amount of effort. They want to succeed just as much as we want them too.

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Some tips on potty training from the book, The Must-Have Mom Manual - Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett, where the authors include a great chapter on potty training, starting on page 290.

- wait until the child is ready
- patience
- two steps forward, one step back
- set the timer for every two hours to use the potty
- sometimes there will be a good couple of days then a bad day, then better, etc.
- have special books and toys in the potty room
- stay in the bathroom with your child while he is going potty
- don't make it a struggle or punishment
- At first praise him for trying, stay in the room with him. After a week of success, tell him to head into the bathroom alone and you'll be right there. When working well, help him go to the bathroom and say "let me know when you are done and I'll help wipe." "Encourage the independence gradually," the authors wrote.
- many use pull-ups at night and nap time for years.
- Get the Once Upon a Potty book by Alona Frankel - specific ones for girls and boys

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