Friday, February 3, 2012

All Aboard! Let's Get this Potty Training on the Right Tracks!

I have decided that now is as good a time as any to start Lauren on the life long habit of peeing and pooping in the potty. As a fairly recent graduate in the field of Psychology, I did what any aspiring behaviorist would do: research. I got several books on the topic and read away.

Potty training is fascinating. There is a lot of advice out there and a lot more methods. For someone who trained a chicken to peck a hole to get food and trained a rat to make it through a maze, I feel very opinionated when it comes to my personal choice of methods.

First a few disclaimers: I, in no way, shape, or form believe my way will be the best practiced out there, nor do I think that the methods I am against are bad for everyone. If someone wants to wait till their kid "is ready" and "interested", by all means, good luck. I would hope those same friends would review my method and wish me luck as well!

Secondly, I, in no way, shape, or form think that I am an expert on this topic or feel superior to my friends' kids who are not potty trained; although, if this actually works, I will be one VERY HAPPY and PROUD Mama!

Thirdly, I document this only because after holding her own head up, feeding herself, and walking, potty training is the next monumental occasion. And also, in case my 3 sisters and the other 2 people who read my blog need any ideas for their kids, voila! They have a reference!

So, without further hesitation, I give you my method thus far in the preparation to potty train my 21-month old! Might I add, I would like to call it "Potty Learning". You train your kid to share. You train them to clean their room. They learn to use the potty. It is not a cool little trick they do or have the choice of doing. It is a sanitary, life long habit that they HAVE to do. Someone just needs to teach them. {Easily argued? Yes. Really just a manner of semantics? Of course. But it makes me feel better!}

First, I had to expand her vocabulary from "Scrooge saw the ghost" and "I don't know where it is" to things like, "Pee pee goes in the potty" and "poo poo goes in the potty". Next, the concept of wet and dry had to be learned. Which, for me, meant one thing: she was GOING to have an accident in her new big girl underwear. After that, she pretty much got the idea.

[Side note: the diaper industry has a lot of explaining to do! Did you know that they put chemicals in their products so the child does not even know they are wet??? Kids are never uncomfortable! Why would they stop to go in the toilet when they don't know the difference. On top of that, the longer we wait to train, the more they have learned to go in their pants. That is why before disposable diapers, the average age to potty train was before 12 months. It's called "infant training". Look it up. There's some good dirt on the disposable diaper and why kids are potty trained later and later in life.]

Secondly, I came to terms with the fact that my method will take several months, lots of preparation, no overnight solution, no potty trained in a day, and there will be accidents. It took Lauren about a month to really feel comfortable walking by herself. Add another two months to conquer stairs. I'm hoping she'll get the whole potty thing down by her 2nd birthday...which gives me a 4 month window to ease her into big girlhood.

1) Talk about the potty all the time.
2) Put up pictures of potty.
3) Pat bum area and say "dry" or "wet" (if she's wet)
4) Bare bums are not only cute, they make for a quick and easy getaway...for pee into the toilet!
5) If your kid is stubborn, and naughty, use that against them. Lauren is really possesive right now. One time I sat on her little potty and said, "MY POTTY!!!" She got so mad, she literally pushed me off, told me it was her potty, and sat down. I left for 2 minutes, came back, and she was swishing her pee with her her potty. (Note: Have them help you with clean-up when there are accidents.) (Another note: I'm not a big fan of bribery, nor am I of manipulation. That being said, sometimes with a toddler you need a little help from our friends, "Candy", "Sticker", and "The Sting". Just get out of the habit AS SOON AS your kid gets the concept of the potty. If you take any advice from my affinity for psychology, let it be that!)
6) Poop. I haven't gotten that far, so we'll just say TBA.

Lauren has had quite a few successes. Way more accidents. No matter how you slice it, you'll always be way more excited each time there is a success. That's all they need. Don't say anything when there are accidents. They'll get it.
Positive Reinforcement: giving (adding) hugs, kisses, praise for using the potty.
Negative Reinforcement (tricky concept): no hugs, no kisses, no praise for pee pee on the carpet--aka, taking away the praise; this is not to be confused with punishment. There should be no punishment besides having them help you clean up a mess.

That's all I have thus far. My method includes using the potty 1-3 times a day. I'll slowly add more times until she gets it on her own or is asking me to use the potty. So far, she'll tell me when she's peed on the couch or carpet. In my eyes, a step in a direction (I think the RIGHT direction, but at least a step in the direction towards the potty!)

I'll give updates as this will be quite an excursion we are embarking on!

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