Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why I Don't Ask my Toddler if She 'Has to go Potty'

We've got the paper underwear, the real underwear, the flushable wipes, the potty treats , hand sanitizer and lots and lots of extra pants on hand and ready to roll.  Yes, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about its potty training time in our house!  This will be our third go at it, training our third and final child how to be a 'big girl'.  There are a lot of successful approaches to potty training because different things work for different kids.  Today I'm going to share with you some of my best training tips.
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This is how potty training usually starts out at our house. "Today we're going to wear big girl underwear and go pee on the potty.  Aren't these underwear cute?  We don't want to get them wet, otherwise we'll have to change them."  Several minutes later...  "Do you have to go potty?"

"No." Three seconds later....  "Mom, my pants are wet!"

Don't laugh at me, I know it's happened to you too!  Seriously friends, this could and will go on all day, maybe all week if you let it!  She had no idea she had to go potty; how would she?  See the thing about potty training is that the child needs trained; not only trained on how to go potty (sit, wipe, flush, wash) but trained to realize when they need to go.  Up until this point in life (unless you've dealt with constipation, and I'm sorry if you have), your child has probably never once thought 'I need to go potty'.  Here's my revised approach to teaching my children to recognize when they have to go potty:

"It's time to go potty now."  (See how I put that idea in their head.)

"Do you want me to carry you to the bathroom or do you want to walk?" (Let them have a choice in the matter; either way they're headed to the bathroom.)

"Do you want me to help you with your pants or do you want to do it yourself?" (I try to offer the best choice as the last choice to activate the recency effect - responding with the most recently heard option.)

"Do you want me to set you on the potty or do you want to climb up there yourself?"

This is the dialogue that happens at our house.  "It's time to go potty now" has gotten excellent results.  And the subsequent questions/options empowers the child to make their own decision, not about if they want to do it but about how they want to do it.  When our strong willed second child was training I would often ask him if he needed me to help him and he would quickly reply, "No, mine job!" (Music to a mother's ears.)

The first week or so of training we head to the bathroom every 20 minutes (seriously, set a timer).  If  there is no tinkling in the toilet we go back in 5-7 minutes.  This training is intense and can be exhausting for little ones and parents alike.  When we're first starting I usually choose to only train in the morning, afternoon toileting is at will.  Do whatever frequency is right for you and your little one.

Treats are offered at the rate of 2 for the trainer, 1 for the encourager.  And yes, I give treats just for trying!  In my experience the treats are self eliminating.  My mom makes the 'in-training' grand kids use bathroom before she gives them something to drink.  It's really quite genius because I find that children often relieve themselves while they are drinking.  In this case the drink is the reward.

I make my little ones wipe up their own wet spots; it teaches them responsibility for their own actions.

My potty training tactic is incremental.  I start out training just in the morning, then work up to mornings and afternoons (paper underwear/pull-ups at nap time).  You can usually tell when your little one is able to stay dry through nap time.  Once they are able to stay dry through the day they will a lot of times start staying dry at night on their own.  Some kids take longer than others to stay dry all night, just make sure they go to the bathroom right before bed.

In the words of Grandma Mary, "They all train eventually."  Keep working at it, keep researching different methods and see how they align with your unique situation, and teach them that

"It's time to go potty now."

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