Monday, May 9, 2016
Parenting by Instinct:Potty Training
I have officially potty trained my 18 month old daughter. It was interesting to me how many people said: "she's still so little!" This is true, and I knew it would make the experience a little more complicated. She doesn't really have the coordination for wiping down, yet, and she isn't dry through the night as some insist your child should be before training. I didn't wait for her to show "signs of readiness," nor did I have a big build up to get her excited. We bought the potty, taught her how to sit on it, put away the diapers, and told her it was time to learn something new.
Why did I train now? Why not wait?
First, because my daughter has always had extreme sensitivity to moisture. She gets terrible, bloody rashes from wearing diapers, and I've tried everything to help keep them at bay. Short of keeping her naked most of the time, it wasn't possible, and I decided that it was important for her to have a consistently dry bottom as soon as possible.
Second, I am expecting a baby in five months, and I didn't want to deal with two babies in cloth diapers. That's a lot of laundry.
Lastly, I wanted to do it at a time when I felt good (done with morning sickness but not yet in the pains of the third trimester) and when I could fully concentrate on teaching her.
To start, I decided to buy a book on potty training in three days (watch naked child like hawk and learn his "about to pee/poop" signals, gradually add underwear for longer periods of time, night train simultaneously). There are several out there, and if you feel like that sort of training will work for you, go for it!
After two or three days of training, I realized the method wasn't working with the temperament of my daughter, so I decided to do research into other methods. I specifically searched for how to potty train stubborn children, as I believed that was the root of our troubles, but everyone said you shouldn't even try to potty train a stubborn child - that you should follow his or her lead, which would tend to be around three or four years old. Although the idea of just letting her train herself appealed to me, it didn't fit into the needs of our family.
Everyone else seemed to think treats are the best way to go. The thing is, my daughter isn't a dog. Dogs get treats for doing tricks. She shouldn't get a treat for doing what everyone in the world does purely for the satisfaction of relief. Sticker charts? Well, stickers freak her out, so I knew that wouldn't work.
After some more research, and after trying to use the three day training for the remainder of the week, it seemed like all I was doing was making it too complicated, so I decided I wasn't going to follow a method, anymore; I was going to keep encouraging use of the potty but go about my day as normal instead of the "watching" approach. I wanted to proceed in ways that were instinctual to me and understanding toward my daughter.
One thing I stopped doing was trying to sleep train. My daughter is a heavy sleeper, and she wouldn't wake up when she wet the bed, regardless of what she was wearing. It didn't seem fair to expect her to learn when there was zero awareness of what was happening, so I put a diaper on her for sleeping. Immediately, she was more relaxed and willing to train.
I also kept her in real clothes all the time instead of waiting for her to figure out the potty first. For some reason, getting her panties and clothes wet had more of an impact than peeing on the floor.
Lastly, I decided to read books about potty training to her (her favourites were the "You Can Go to the Potty" and "My Big Girl Potty"). She has loved books since she was tiny, turning real pages (not cardboard ones), one at a time, as soon as she was able to sit up on her own, so I thought those might connect the dots in her head. Sure enough, within one book, she got it. From then on, things improved significantly from day to day. Within one day, she peed on the potty voluntarily (first time ever). By two days, she was telling me she had to go before she did. By four, she was having significantly fewer accidents, and by five days, I felt completely comfortable taking her to places, without a pull-up, and letting her use public bathrooms. She is now confident and proud of her new ability, gleefully saying "I go!" whenever she finishes.
I realize children are all different. My daughter isn't the first child I've potty trained, and she won't be the last, but I think there's something to be said for following your instincts as a parent. You know your child better than any potty training expert, and although I think it's smart to look for tips and advice, I think there's also something to be said for making sure that whatever you do is tailored to your child. The only sad thing is, I'll have to figure it all out again with baby #2 :).
How did you train your child? Why did that method worked for your family?