Friday, June 5, 2009

Potty Training: Betsy's "Method"

I'm not sure you can call this a method or not--it's more a conglomeration of various tips and strategies. But here's what I prefer to do:

Phase 1: Pre-Potty Training like crazy (this is when I become Potty Training Cheerleader Extraordinaire--did that little visiting girl just use our potty? Yea for Suzie!! She just went pee pee in the potty! Look! You're going pee pee right now! (in the tub) Are you going "stinky" (at sign of red face)). I also wait for readiness signs (dry diaper for 1.5 hours or so at a time; vocabulary in place--they need to be able to say "potty," "pee pee," etc.; interest in potty; telling me they've gone to the potty--usually only occasionally).

Phase 2: Gear up. (Get towels, drinks, potty chairs, etc.)

Phase 3: Awareness Commando, baby! Little naked babies running around, a stack of blue towels, and LOTS of fluids. After all, if they're not pee-ing, and obviously so, there are no training/teaching examples. I didn't want to use a potty chair with the boys, but quickly saw that we needed one (well, two) with this approach. The potty chairs move with us around the house: we sit in them when we watch movies, we sit in them when Mommy reads us stories, etc. Gradually, we'll add underwear to this scene. Generous and frequent rewards for any sprinkle in the right direction.

Phase 4: Control After kids are very aware of when they're going pee pee, we try to move to a pee pee on command (they need to be able to go before we leave the house--when I tell them to--especially if it's been a while since they've last gone). So, this phase is a continued education for them in learning to control their bodily functions.

Phase 5: Independence This is when they get to tell me when they want to go potty, and I pretty much operate as a normal Mom (as opposed to Potty Training Cheerleader Extraordinaire). I do have a few consequences for accidents: if someone can't take the time to come inside, for instance, and has "wet pants" while swinging, then they must come in then and there from their playing. If, however, he/she makes the attempt to come inside, I always make sure they get a little time back outside as a reward for taking the time to stop and use the bathroom.

Some notes: time spent in each phase is relative for each kid. With my daughter, she was firmly in the indepent phase by 2 months from the start date (start of awareness phase). We've just begun with the boys and are making good progress in the awareness phase for one twin (as I write this, it's day 2). But, obviously, I don't have a gazillion success stories to back up my method.

Also, and this is huge, your vocabulary makes a big difference. Don't say "if you go pee pee, Mommy will give you some candy." Two things wrong with that: first, they're going to go pee pee. That's not the issue. The issue is that they go pee pee in the potty. So, make sure you include that. Second, they are going to go pee pee at some point. Say "When you go pee pee in the potty, Mommy will give you some candy." When you move into the control phase, same thing. Say "When you go pee pee in the potty, then we'll go play outside." Not: "Hurry up!! We have to leave! Just pee!" You might as well realize that that's never going to work, so don't waste your breath and don't stress out your toddler.

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