Friday, December 23, 2011

Potty Training

I've been saying since I started back at school that I wanted to try to potty train Lucas during winter break. Well, winter break is upon us and it's time. A few other Moms have also expressed interest in potty training, and reached out to the masses via social media for advice. I decided this would be a good time to write down my potty training techniques.

Let me start by saying that every child is different, and no single method will be effective for every child. I'm aware of this, and I don't expect anyone to want to actually do what I suggest. I'm just putting it out there, because I've had good luck with it in the past. I'm not an expert, and do not claim to be.

I was a preschool teacher for 2 years, then a nanny, and now a mommy. I always have started by introducing the kids to the potty through observation. In the preschool we had a large open kids' bathroom, so kids could see their friends going potty and it sparked interest. When I was a nanny, I told the parents to have an "open door" policy with the bathroom for a month or two before trying to potty train. Kids need to see what they are supposed to do. In my house, we've always had an open door policy with Lucas. He's very aware of what happens in the bathroom. He even cheers us on. Open door policies, apparently, make some parents squeamish. I live by a "to each their own" philosophy. It works for me, it always has. I'm sticking with it. 

So after we had a decent "observation" period, I like to jump straight to a cold turkey method. I buy about 10 pairs of comfy easy-wash pants. I tend to go for cheap sweatpants. Then put that kid in undies, with lots of talk about how to keep them dry/clean, and then just go with it. As a preschool teacher we would make bathroom trips every 20 minutes if I had a potty training child in my class. As a nanny to twins, we started with potty trips every 6 minutes, and increased the time between trips by 1 minute every hour. I know that may seem excessive, but the twins were fully potty trained in under two weeks. The first two days are always the toughest. Expect to go through all those sweatpants for the first few days. Be ready for the onslaught of laundry. 

The most important part about potty training is your attitude. Stay positive. If you go into it dreading the amount of laundry, or stressing about accidents you'll drive yourself nuts. Not to mention, your kiddo will pick up on those bad vibes, and the whole experience will be less than pleasant. Have realistic expectations, and stay as level headed as possible. 

I'm on the fence with "rewarding" successful potty trips. At the daycare, we didn't really do much in the way of rewarding kids for using the potty. We certainly were encouraging and very congratulatory, but never gave a physical reward. The twins' mom, however, insisted that they get 1 M&M for every time they peed, and 2 M&M's for every B.M. This seemed good in the theory, except that there was no end to the rewards. When they moved, a full two years after potty training began, she was still giving rewards for potty success. 

I'm planning to start the process (again) with Lucas on the first of the year. He's very interested in the potty. He's even asked to wear underwear a few times in the past couple weeks. I have found potty training other people's children to be quite easy. I have a feeling that potty training my own child will be quite different, but I'm excited about the process. My little guy consistently surprises me with his ability to cope with change. I have the highest hopes for him!