Previous: Potty Training. Days Five and Six.
And now we come to the last post in my potty training series. I’m sure this will come as a great relief to some :).
We have just finished Day 12 of our potty training adventures. Yes, Day 12 — come on, did you really think I was going to “jinx” the process by publishing my blog posts in real time?
Quick recap of the last six days:
Day Seven. No pee accidents. Two poop accidents (one after breakfast; one after supper). We need to watch him more carefully after meals! He was quite upset about both accidents, which is actually a good thing because it means that a) he recognizes the feeling that he has pooped; and b) he doesn’t like it and/or he knows that pooping in his pants is not a desired outcome.
Day Eight. No accidents! We haven’t succeeded at getting him to use any public toilets, but he’s been great at holding himself when we are out (up to about 90 minutes at a time).
Day Nine. We went out for dinner this evening and the whole public toilet aversion thing came to a head. He refused to pee upon arrival at the restaurant, nor before his meal. I spent more than 20 minutes in the washroom trying to coax him, to no avail. Shortly after we started eating, I saw that he was grabbing his crotch. I went to lift him out of the high chair to take him to the washroom, and discovered he had peed himself. We went to the bathroom to change his pants and try another pee, but he wouldn’t go. Almost immediately after we got back to the table, he was grabbing his crotch again, so I picked him up. On the way to the washroom, I noticed that he had peed a little in his pants — again! I realized then that he had been trying to hold it (literally, with his hand) but was not succeeding; hence why he had only peed a little each time, not a full pee. This is generally a good thing because it shows that he is conscious of the feeling of needing to pee, and that he is at least trying to control it. But it still didn’t negate the fact that we had a major issue with public toilets on our hands.
As we were walking to the bathroom, I told him, “Mommy is not happy that you are making pee-pee in your pants instead of the potty. Pee-pee does not go in your pants. It goes in the potty.” He started to cry a little and I had a twinge of guilt, but at the same time, I knew it was important to reinforce that this was not a desirable outcome. When we got into the washroom, I sat him on the toilet (on his seat insert), pulled up a chair and sat down beside him. I said, “I can see that you have to pee-pee. We are going to sit here until you make a pee. When you finish all your pee-pee, we will go back to the table and eat.” He cried, fussed, protested and was generally unhappy. I sang songs, talked to him, and reminded him that we were not going back to the table until he peed in the toilet. After about half an hour, he finally peed! We both cheered, and he ran back to the table to announce his success. About 15 minutes later, he said “Potty,” so I took him back and he peed again. We did one more (successful) potty trip before heading home.
Day 10. We decided to go back to the same restaurant for brunch, in order to reinforce Oliver’s success from the previous evening. He peed in their toilet several times, with no hesitation. In the afternoon we went to Safeway, and he actually asked for the potty while we were there. He went without any trouble. No accidents today!
Day 11. This morning we went to the community centre, and out shopping, and Oliver made several successful public toilet potty trips. I think we are over that particular hurdle… at least for now. No accidents again!
Day 12. Daycare. I drove myself nuts with worry trying to prepare for Oliver’s eventual return to daycare. I wrote extensive notes and instructions in his journal last night, and met with his head teacher to go over them this morning. I packed five extra pair of pants and socks. I still maintain that my concerns were justified, but fortunately the day was more successful than I anticipated. At around 4:00 PM the phone rang, with the daycare’s number on the caller ID. My heart sank. I figured they were calling to tell me to pick him up, as he’d gone through all of his changes of clothes. Instead, they were calling with amazing news — he was still wearing the same pants he’d been wearing when I dropped him off in the morning! No accidents! Unfortunately he ended up having one accident, just five minutes before I arrived to pick him up (if only I’d been half an hour earlier as I’d planned…). In general, the reports from daycare were good. He was using the potty when instructed, and asking for it at other times.
At home, we are totally confident in Oliver’s ability to either go to the potty himself, or to tell us when he needs to go. We are still somewhat on “high-alert” when we are out of the house, only because so much of Oliver’s success hinges on the ability to get him to a toilet quickly whenever he indicates the need. For now, we plan our outings carefully.
Because of his age and developmental stage, Oliver hasn’t yet mastered the art of manipulating his pants. He also doesn’t always remember that pants need to come down before he sits on the potty! So if I suspect that he is going to have to use the potty soon and I’m not in a position to give him my undivided attention (i.e. I might not immediately notice that he has run off to the potty), I will usually remove his pants and let him run around bottomless. This allows some of the necessary autonomy for him to eventually make the transition to full self-initiation. Some people would argue that a child is not ready to be potty trained if he or she cannot execute the entire process without assistance, but that is about as ridiculous an argument as insisting that a toddler not start walking until he is able to do so unaided. As with all learning, mastery of potty training is a process.
A few random bits and pieces, and lessons learned:
Potty training is a lot like sleep training. You need to have a strategy in place before starting; be unapologetically confident and consistent in both your expectations and responses; and be prepared to persist through episodes of resistance or regression.
Sometimes you have to encourage — or even, “push” — a child past his comfort level in order for him to achieve new things. Efficient potty training is largely a parent-led process. If these statements make you cringe, just think about some of the great milestones your child has achieved thus far: rolling over, crawling, walking… Did you sit by idly while he figured it out for himself, or did you entice him, physically manipulate his body, provide opportunities for practice, cheer enthusiastically when he succeeded…?
***(06/02/2013) Edited to add: With regard to my strategy for helping Oliver overcome his apprehension towards public toilets, I just want to clarify that this approach is not necessarily something I would recommend for every parent or child. In Oliver’s case, it turned out to be exactly what he needed, but this was a situation where I really had to rely on my instincts and trust that this was the right way to handle Oliver’s particular issue. For many children — especially if there is major fear or anxiety involved — forcing the issue could potentially make things worse. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the various hurdles that crop up during potty training.
Do not potty train in diapers. Pull-ups and other disposable training pants are diapers, not underpants. Cloth training pants with waterproof layers are diapers. They are all universally designed to contain accidents, i.e. they are designed to be peed and pooped in. This is the exact opposite of what you are trying to teach. Training pants also make it too easy for parents to not fully engage in the process. An accident should be an inconvenience to the parent, and should feel gross to the child. The desire to avoid this natural consequence is a very strong motivator to give potty training the effort it requires.
Do not confuse being “ready” with being “capable.” This is one of the most frequently reiterated points in both the Oh Crap Potty Training Blog and the e-book. Here are a bunch of posts where Jamie talks about what it means to be capable, as opposed to ready. Also, Jamie’s signs of
readiness capability are quite different than those you will typically read about in other potty training resources.
It’s easier to find diapers for a five-year-old than it is to find underwear for a 17-month-old. I can find giant diapers in just about any grocery store or drug store, but stores that carry underwear small enough for a child under two? I’m still looking…
Finally, I must give credit where credit is due. There is no way I would have had the confidence to undertake Oliver’s potty training at 17 months without having read Jamie Glowacki’s e-book, Oh Crap Potty Training (yes, that is a link to purchase the book, and no, I don’t receive any kickbacks from it). If potty training is on your radar, you need this book! Fortunately, Jamie has generously offered a free copy to one lucky reader — and I’m not even going to make you sell your soul on Facebook for a chance to win it :). All you have to do to enter is share a funny potty (or diaper) story in the comments below. If you also want to like my Facebook page and/or share this post with others, that would be grand, but there’s no obligation to do so. The winning commenter will be chosen via random number generator. One entry per person (please post any follow-up comments by hitting “reply”), and make sure to enter your email address in the appropriate field so that I can contact you if you win (it will not be visible to the public). This giveaway closes on Friday, February 8th at 6:00 PM PST.
P.S. I did not receive any compensation for this post. We paid for the book ourselves, and I have no financial interest in promoting it. I just think it’s a really useful book, and I also love that Jamie is a mom who has found a way to make money by helping families and doing something she loves.