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Sunday, December 11, 2011

books - potty training!

Ya'll Ready For This?!
When my son, 21 months old, a few weeks ago randomly told me he had to poop on the potty, sat in his potty chair and pooped and peed not once but twice within a two-hour span without me even encouraging or helping him, my anxiety level went through the roof not having a clue what I was supposed to do next! I quickly packed my son - in a diaper because I was scared - and took off to Wal-Mart to buy pull-ups and big boy underwear. I raced back all prepared to help him take off the diaper if that's what he wanted to do, put on the new big boy undies, and move about our day potty training his way. We returned and he was so excited about the underwear that he put some on his arms, legs and head, while we sat at the potty chair. This lasted an hour until nap time. A few hours later after nap time and it's like the whole thing never happened. He refused to sit on the potty, told me, "mama poop, no Owen." Um, ok. I thought we had a deal here, pal?! You initiated this, remember, I felt like saying. It was over before it had even begun.

So I panicked a little, wondering what did this mean?! He's too young, I thought! I'm not ready for this yet! I have no clue what I'm doing! So I went online and ordered as many potty training books from the library as I could find.

I've been curious and a tad bit overwhelmed and scared about this potty training adventure that I knew was just up the road from where we were at in toddler land. I've been searching for a specific how-to on the subject, real answers, checklists even of what to do and when and how often (every 15 or 30 minutes to the potty? leave diapers behind once you start the process or are they OK at night? do boys learn to go on the potty sitting or standing?). I never found it. Even asking fellow moms on the mom blog site didn't prove to help me. They all just said "wait till he's ready," advice I strongly agreed with already, but didn't really tell me "OK here is the step by step of what I did..." which is what I was looking for, I think mostly to ease my own anxieties about not having a clue how to do this part.

When in Doubt, READ!
So I read, or skimmed, lots of books about potty training. I'll share here with you what I found. Here are the books I read, in no particular order:
1. Potty Training Boys the Easy Way by Caroline Fertleman, MD and Simone Cave
2. Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day by Teri Crane **(Despite its misleading title of only doing it entirely in one day, I LOOVED this book!)**
3. The No-Cry Potty Training Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
4. Diaper-Free Before 3 by Jill M. Lekovic, M.D.
5. Potty Training for Dummies by Diane Stafford and Jennifer Shoquist, M.D.
6. The Everything Guide to Potty Training by Kim Bookout, DNP, RN, CPNP
7. Toilet Training the Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and Joshua Sparrow, M.D.
8. Stress-Free Potty Training by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph. D.
9. Good Going! Successful Potty Training for Children in Child Care by Gretchen Kinnell

I learned a lot from these books.
A few key ideas the experts all agreed on in these books included:

1. Do NOT, they repeat, do NOT start the official no more diapers phase of potty training until your child is READY. Pushing it too soon or when your child is not ready will backfire and make it last longer for both of you. According to Fertleman and Cave on page 3 of their book, "On average boys demonstrate readiness to start potty training around age two and a half; for girls it's a few months earlier. An American study published in the journal Pediatrics found that training before the age of 27 months nearly always takes longer than training a child after this age."

2. What does ready actually mean or look like, you ask? Well, all the experts agreed on some key factors that make a child ready for the real deal potty training process:
a. stays dry during naps and for several hours at a time.
b. is typically between ages 2 and 3 1/2 or 4.
c. child is uncomfortable with the feeling of pee or poop in the diaper, moves around a bit, may even ask to be changed.
d. can follow commands like "come here, put that block over there, etc."
e. communicate - must understand the words you are saying relating to the potty process.
f. must be able to walk and stand, sit up straight.
g. child should be able to assist in undressing to sit on the potty.
h. children who are apt to imitate adults or others are more apt to understand following your lead on potty training, too.
i. your child is NOT ready if a major life situation is happening, such as an illness, separation or divorce, new baby in the home, a recent house move, new day care center or babysitter, etc.
j. child starts to have a routine or pattern to predictable times of bowel movements or peeing.
k. it needs to be about the child being ready, not the parents. Dr. Brazelton and Dr. Sparrow wrote in their book on page 29, "If she is to avoid being overwhelmed, she will need to know that it is up to her, and that she can proceed at her own pace."

Author Pentley wrote that yes, you need to wait until a child is physically, emotionally and socially ready to do the potty training, however you can't wait forever either. On page 18 she wrote, "... if you wait until that magic day when your child approaches you with a formal request to begin toilet training, you may be waiting a long, long, long time. A child simply doesn't understand the value of moving out of diapers to toilet independence. A child doesn't have the experience, knowledge, references or wisdom to make this kind of decision on his own.
"Think about it. Do you let your child decide his own bedtime? Do you let him take the lead on when he'll dress himself? Will you allow him to decide when he's ready to begin kindergarten? Your child counts on you to make many decisions for him... One of your important roles as a parent is to make decisions for your child until she is ready to make them on her own. When it comes to toilet training, she needs you to watch for her readiness cues and then for you to introduce this novel concept to her when you feel she's ready to embrace it. And you are very qualified to make this decision, because you probably know your child better than she knows herself."

In Crane's book, she offers the Top 10 Potty-Training Myths. Love these!
"10. She can say the word 'potty.'
9. He sees big kid superhero under pants on TV and begs you to buy them.
8. You find out you're the only one on the street who has a three-year old who isn't potty trained yet.
7. She discovers the joy of flushing innocent objects - toys, money, your new lipstick - down the toilet.
6. He delights in shouting new words like 'penis' when you're in the middle of a department store.
5. You find out that 'diaper-wearing toddlers' are banned from your local pre-school.
4. She asks her Sunday school teacher, 'Sister Maria, do you have a vagina too?'
3. He pees on the fire hydrant following the example of his dog.
2. Your fantasies of chocolate, romance, and passion are suddenly overrun by wistful thoughts of a diaper-free day.
1. Your husband proudly proclaims that his mother had him toilet trained before he was two years old and suggests that you give 'Mumsy' a call."

Most of these authors and experts agreed that potty training does not only start the weekend you intend to try to get rid of the diapers, but far sooner than that. Most of the authors said it needs to begin around 12 months of age. What they suggested was simply talking about the potty, letting your child follow you into the bathroom to watch how you do it, talking about toilet paper and flushing the toilet, how to pull up pants, etc. They suggested reading books about the potty, even having a potty chair around that isn't used more than for your child to sit on fully clothed while you go to the bathroom yourself. This happens for months before the real deal potty training starts.

The experts also suggested before the real potty training weekend came to gradually increase the number of times you have your child sit on the potty, even fully clothed. You can read a book to him, sit there for one or two minutes. Author Lekovic wrote on page 195 that they gradually added sitting on the potty after each nap time, after dinner, before bath, before bed, and when he woke up in the morning. According to authors Au and Stavinoha on page 47, "Routine makes the process very predictable and normal."

I liked in one book that they suggested teaching before training... which meant before the child even gets to the potty you try showing him with a doll using the potty or you using the potty yourself first. That way he knows what he'll be doing when it's his turn to try.

THE STEPS (a checklist, finally!)

-Pick the timing (make sure your child is ready first). If it's the right timing, one book said that spring and summer are the best times for potty training because kids wear fewer clothes during that season and can easily take them on and off. I think it's just as warm inside your house in winter if you turn the heat up so kids can run around practically naked then, too, whatever works.

-Feed your child for pooping success! Some foods that help the bowel movements run smoothly are: brown rice, dried fruits, fiber breakfast bars, fresh fruits, prune juice, veggies, whole-grain breads and cereals. Avoid foods that tend to constipate: cheese, excessive milk, pasta, white bread.

Drink up!
Offer lots of fun new drinks and at least plenty of water. Fertleman and Cave wrote in their book that it takes about 20 minutes from the time a child drinks something until when he needs to pee, so offer drinks and visit the potty frequently. Suggest every 30 minutes or so that he sit on the potty. Don't push it, if he refuses say, "maybe later."

-Get a doll for your child to practice using to teach it to go potty first. Kids learn by watching not only adults but dolls. One suggestion from the Dummies book was Potty Pee Wee Dolls for $12.95 at

-Start boys sitting down. Standing up will take some time. None of the books said exactly how much time or when to introduce standing up, but they all said to have boys sit first because once they stand they won't want to do it sitting anymore.

-Don't ask, "Do you want/have to go to the potty?" Toddlers always say NO to everything when asked! Say a statement, "Let's go to the potty now" or "It's time to go to the potty."

-Use tons of praise, be overjoyed even, way too excited about the potty attempts and real goes. If your child sits there and tries, still be excited and reward her as if she'd actually gone pee.

-make sure kids wash their hands each time they use the potty


In Crane's book, she gave awesome ideas for "potty parties!" I've heard of people doing this, so here's a step-by-step checklist of what she suggested to do for the party:
-buy a doll for child and wrap it
-buy and wrap big-kid underwear
-make big-kid underpants for the doll
-place potty chair in bathroom
-decorate the bathroom and party room with chosen theme
-get party prizes
-get a grand finale big kid celebration gift from the family and wrap
-prepare a variety of snacks and drinks
-get potty videos ready by TV
-put potty books in the bathroom
-place a waterproof blanket or rug on the couch if in the party room

The morning of the potty party is all about training the doll, showing your child that the doll has to go potty every 20 minutes or so, being excited when she goes on the potty, then cleaning up any messes the doll makes with accidents. Then after lunch and nap time, it's time for your child to learn to potty train with the doll going, too. Have game ideas and coloring and other activities ready for the party, in between running to the bathroom. A few themes included a beach bash indoors or a camp out in the living room with a tent to play in.

Once your child has the hang of potty training, here are a few final tips to finish the job:
1. Teaching your child to wipe himself or herself is a job in itself. This takes lots of time. For boys, especially, it does not typically happen until about age 3 and onward. Wait until your child announces he needs to poop. You tell him to go to the bathroom himself and you'll be up in a minute to help. It leads to independence, according to authors Fertleman and Cave.

2. Nighttime dryness
takes a lot longer, some into their 5th year. So be patient! Most of the experts said to put on pull-ups at night for a while in the potty training process. Nighttime dryness can only happen when a child's biology and physiology allows, so there is no point in trying to rush it. Until the morning pull-up is consistently dry, keep the pull-ups on at night, according to Pentley.

3. Remember: It takes 3 to 12 months from the start of training to daytime toilet independence, and "the age that a child masters toileting has absolutely no correlation to future abilities or intelligence," according to author Pentley. She also wrote that 98% of children are daytime toilet independent by age 4. IT WILL HAPPEN!
In Crane's book on page 28, "According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, moms who started training their toddlers at age two had them trained by the time they turned three. Moms who started training at eighteen months did not have their children potty trained until after they turned four."

Moral of the story... BE PATIENT and FOLLOW YOUR CHILD'S LEAD!

Fertleman and Cave wrote a top 10 list of signs that show your child is toilet trained. If you can check off at least 3 of these items on the list your child is done! If not, your child is still learning and needs some more help and patience, but is on his way.
"1. The potty has become dusty and forgotten because he uses the toilet.
2. When at home, he takes himself to the bathroom without telling you.
3. It no longer occurs to you to pack some spare underwear when you go out.
4. You don't worry about car journeys and know that the car seat won't be wet when you arrive.
5. He can wipe his own bottom effectively.
6. He washes his hands without being reminded.
7. You don't think about getting him up to go to the bathroom in the night.
8. You don't pack spare pajamas when you go away for the night.
9. When you're out he doesn't suddenly ask to pee or poop at awkward moments when there's no bathroom available.
10. You never remind him to go to the bathroom."

Glad to report my son has returned to being nonchalantly interested in the potty that lives in our bathroom. He sits on it almost daily, but not without a diaper unless it's just before bath time. We read stories about potties, but not religiously. I tell him every time I have to go to the bathroom and dad lets him in to watch the standing up process. Owen loves to flush the toilet.

Our plan now is to continue the above, and I intend to buy him a doll that we can teach to use the potty when it's time. After reading these books I realized one key thing that tells me my son is really only in the curious stage of potty training versus being really, really ready. He's not bothered by poop or pee in his diaper, in fact when we ask if he's pooped 9 times out of 10 he shakes his head no and runs off in search of another toy. I've vowed to myself that despite his initial appearance like he was ready to do this thing, coupled with my anxiousness about this process (especially with baby number 2 on the way), he's not really there yet. He's curious and we'll build on the curiosity for a while longer.

When he starts to show me he's bothered by the stuff in the diaper (which all the books and friends I know tell me he will start to do at some point) then I'll do a few days locked inside potty land... whenever that happens it happens.

Essentially, it's all good now in my mind. I definitely still dread this process when it really starts, but at least now I feel more confident that this too shall pass and my child will really let me know when he's ready, versus just curious, nothing I need to do. We will survive, he will be potty trained someday. Reading does help sometimes!

1 comment:

  1. haha, these pictures will haunt him! They are the best.