Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Potty Training Your Toddler
About a month ago, I was curious as to whether or not Little Olive was ready for potty training. She was so interested in the whole process. She'd talk about "pee" and "poo" and actually tell me when she was going in her diaper. I figured, What the hey, I'll give it a try.

So I brought her plastic potty up from the basement, and we had a nice little talk about it. She wanted to sit on it right away, so I took off her diaper and said, "You can go pee if you want!"

She sat for a while, kicking her legs, happily looking around the bathroom. A few moments passed. "Ah done," she announced, hopping off.

Nothing was inside the little potty, so clean-up was easy. We went into our bedroom so I could fold some clothes. Being the exceptional parent that I am, I left her diaper off thinking I could read her body language if she had to go at some point.

Well, she had body language alright. As I was off in La La Land, thinking of what a nice break it would be to not have diapers until the new baby came, I looked over at Little Olive. I was in the middle of folding a towel, and she was in the middle of leaning over, pooping on the hardwood floor.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed, rushing to get a wash cloth. Maybe this is a bad idea...

After cleaning up, I figured we'd just stick to our old ways. I told her to go get a new diaper, and she did right away. As she walked to the other side of the room where they were, she stopped in her tracks and looked at me, quite seriously.

I looked right back.

"...What are you doing?" I asked, nervously, going over to check.

Sure enough, she was standing in a fresh puddle of her own pee.

Oh, we are SO not doing this yet, I decided.

That was a month ago. Then today, I received a Baby Center e-mail with a great-sounding plan about potty training in 3 days or less. It certainly sounds very tempting. Little Olive is quite bright - she's very advanced, after all. I started to wonder if I should attempt the potty training process again.

But then... I keep reminding myself what I decided long ago about potty training. I've felt this way since before having kids, and it probably stemmed from working at the day care. In the toddler rooms, parents started training their children before (in my opinion) they were really ready. Experts say this is the perfect time, though. The kids will eventually learn and that accidents will happen and everyone just deals with the messes and mistakes.

I know a lot of moms who start this process around 18/19 months, and sometimes the toddlers pick up on it right away! Wow, I give them so much credit - both the parents and the kids. It seems like it would take a lot of patience to try that young. It's very impressive, and I mean that with all honesty. If you try it at this time and it works, treat yourself to ice cream - because you guys deserve it! As for me, I don't think I'll be attempting this for a while, and here's why:
  1. I would really rather change a diaper and have that be what's expected, than expect my child to go on the toilet and end up changing her whole outfit instead.
  2. I feel like I would be focusing a lot of time and attention on this training, and I'd be missing out on other things that Little Olive understands and enjoys at her age. I'd become frustrated and stressed out, and there would be unnecessary, negative emotions that I could only blame myself for.
  3. Several well-respected women in my life (including my mom) have said they didn't really "potty train." When their kids came closer to 3 years old, the children themselves decided they were done with diapers, and very few accidents happened after that. It sounds like my kind of plan.
  4. We're expecting a new baby in less than two months, and whatever training I have done this summer most likely will go out the window. Little Olive is going to need extra love and attention when the Baby arrives, and I'd rather cuddle her with a diaper than spend those moments rushing to the potty.
I can understand why parents might feel pressure or a desire to have the bragging rights among family, friends, or day care acquaintances. They don't want to appear lazy or their child to seem "behind". I'll be the first one to admit - I am so totally taking the lazy approach! And many kids aren't ready, cognitively and physically, to make that step toward exclusive potty and underwear until they're a little older.

Now I'm curious: when did you start potty training your children? Did it "work" - meaning, were they completely trained at that time? What techniques did you use? Do you wish you had done something different? Share your advice below. :)


i.ikeda said...

I think you're wise to keep the new baby and the new dynamics in mind. So much change in so little time. It would probably be stressful for everyone.

We didn't potty train, but we got lucky I think. We bought a potty chair (that she never used btw) when she was around 18 months just to introduce her to the idea. Then we would read potty books with her - I recommend "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi and "Once Upon a Potty" by Alona Frankel. She still reads them both and we haven't used a diaper since last December. So anyway, after introducing the idea, we let it go, but she would follow me into the bathroom. Then one day, right around the time she turned 2, she told me she wanted to go potty on the big potty chair, not her little one. I put her on the potty with the help of a little seat cover and she went. She did that the whole week both at home and daycare. So then we started taking underwear to school and keeping her diapers off during the day. Easy peasy, she had very few accidents and by December she didn't even wear a diaper to sleep. Yeah, it was early, but we didn't push, she was just ready.

Good luck, but smart as little O is, I know she'll probably do something like N., just potty train herself when she's ready. :)

Amanda said...

I completely agree! Lena was very interested and trained herself at 21 months, much to my worrying, and went back to diapers after Avi was born. This was MUCH easier since I didn't have to stop nursing a newborn or interrupt playing with my toddler. Around 2 1/2 she decided she was ready and so was I so we took her pants off for 3 days and it was done, with only a few accidents after that. Just before she turned 3 we noticed her pullups dry in the morning and gave that a try- she's been dry ever since! It really does have to be there time. Don't discourage it if she wants to sit on the potty (you don't want her thinking it's a bad thing) but I'd recommend keeping that diaper on until you're both ready to commit!

Natalie said...

Our oldest showed a lot of interest when he was about L.O.'s age - for about 2 weeks. Then it was back to diapers until he trained himself just before he turned 3. Our second turned 3 a few months after our third was born, and sometime within that period between the new baby and her 3rd birthday, she toilet-trained herself as well (she'd been pooping on the toilet for months before that, but had shown no interest in peeing anywhere but her diaper until she was almost 3.) This way worked so well for us because it meant essentially no accidents (maybe 1 or 2 total for each child) and the only real work I had to do was wiping butts - which I would have been doing regardless of diaper or toilet. ;)

Our third child, however, showed a lot of signs of being ready before he was 2 1/2. Ok, we thought - we'll give this a shot. Well - he only had a few pee accidents... but was terrified of pooping in the toilet. He told us that would "be disgussing" and he would either constipate himself, or run away to hide and poop in his underwear. After a couple of weeks of this, I had had enough - cleaning up poop messes really doesn't appeal to anyone, and it really didn't agree with my pregnant tummy. :P So I bought him the cheapest diapers I could find - $4 for a big bag. Figured he wouldn't like them and maybe he would be motivated to go in the toilet again. And if not, fine - I wouldn't force him either way. Well, the motivation was there, but not for the reason I thought....... he LOVED the "baby diapers" and refused to poop in them even one time because THAT would be "disgussing" - he thought they were cute and didn't want to mess them! So - that was that. He hasn't had an daytime accident since, and he's happily wearing underwear again. Had a few nighttime accidents so we do put him in the diapers occasionally at night... I'll probably do it as a safety precaution until after the baby is born, and we all adjust to things.

I admire the patience of parents who stick it out and train the kiddos themselves, but personally, I'm with you - it's much easier in the long run for me to just wait until the child is completely ready on their own. We're doing cloth diapers for this baby, and since cloth-diapered babies tend to be earlier trainers - well, who knows?? ;) We shall see - but it is not something about which I am going to stress myself. :) Every kiddo is so different... I don't want to have a time frame of expectations. I trained myself before I was 2, but after my brother was born I peed the bed every night for months (Mom's milk had come back in, of course, and I loved nursing!) My parents should have put me in diapers at night, but thought it would be traumatic for me. My sister trained herself at 18 months and never had an accident again... her middle daughter did the same thing for awhile, but reverted back to needing diapers a few months later.

So, yeah... be flexible, encouraging, and relaxed - it's not worth stressing over, and definitely not worth making your child feel guilty over something he or she may not be ready for... I've seen so many parents get so mad at their kids, and it makes me feel really bad for the poor little one. :(

Mountain Mama said...

I tried to introduce potty training with my son at 2 yrs but he wasn't ready. We bought the potty (he picked out) but he never actually used it. Then, I tried again at 3 yrs but I didn't push. I bought the chart, Elmo's Potty Time dvd and the book that went with it. He still wasn't interested. I was beginning to get frusterated when we were approaching the 3 1/2 yr mark but I really knew in my heart that pushing him to do this was not the right course of action. I had a lot of people telling me to just let him run around in regular underwear and mess all over himself, and that he wouldn't like the feeling and he'd be trained in a couple days. No, sorry. I refused to do that to him or myself. Shortly after the 3 1/2 yr mark, he suddenly became ready. He's been going on the toilet - not that little potty we bought - ever since. He hasn't even had one accident. I really think you just have to wait until they're ready. Period. Then it will happen quickly and, seemingly, without much effort on your part. Keep introducing the idea and reminding her that the potty is there should she decide to use it. I think my son just got really tired of having his diapers changed. I explained to him that going on the toilet is much easier than having to lay down and have your diaper changed. I think that did the trick.

Third Eye Photography Idaho said...

Well, my kiddo showed huge interest in going on the potty when she was 18 months old. We went on a special trip to the store. She picked out a plastic potty and Elmo's potty time book with DVD. I had not even taken her seriously at this point because I figured that she would just do it when she was ready. Low and behold, she really had full intentions of going in that potty! (Sidenote : my little girl was in cloth diapers while at home, disposables on long trips and overnight.) She never, ever, had any sort of tolerance for pee or poop in her diaper. When she was an infant, she would scream at the slightest pee dribble in the diaper. Thank God we were using cloth during the day because this baby would've cost me a pretty penny in disposables.
Ever since that 18 month mark, she has been going in the potties and just sleeping with a dipe (then) or pull-up (now) at night. We've had a few dry nights, but she still isn't quite making it through completely dry all of the time. She sleeps from 7:30pm until almost 7am the next morning. She's an amazing sleeper, so during that time, the urge isn't quite waking her up. :) She is taking her afternoon naps in underwear and doing great! :)

Karen @ Fun 4 Kids in Buffalo said...

First, "they" say (whoever "they" are!) that it takes a small child 3 months to get used to a big change. i.e. potty training, taking paci away etc. So, 3 months before my 2nd child was to be born I tried to potty train my son at 2.5 years of age. Luckily, it worked - we also used the Once Upon a Potty book. Very, very nice to only have one child in diapers!
With my 2nd, she was an early talker and was telling me at 22 months she had to pee and poop. BUT by then baby #3 had arrived and I was just too exhausted to deal with potty training. Anyway, 2nd child was a snap because she was SO ready and she was potty trained by 27 months. Again, used the Once Upon a Potty book for girls, this time.
You are right to wait - having a new baby in the house is a big adjustment for everyone. You will be glad you waited!