Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Potty Training Blog.
I've been questioned frequently about our potty training experience over the past several months, so I thought this would be a great subject to blog about it. But I also want you guys to know, that just because I did this so soon with him, doesn't mean that I look down on anyone who doesn't do it as soon as I did or the same way I have. I strongly feel that the age and method of potty training is up to each parent(s) and what their situation is. There is no single "right" way to do it.
In June I took him to his 15 month check-up. His doctor gave me a couple papers about potty training. At the time, I thought to myself, "Are you kidding me? There is NO WAY I will be potty training this boy anytime soon!" But I read the papers anyway (so the seed was planted). Around that time I started sitting hi mon the potty before bath time and pouring warm water over him to get him to pee in the potty instead of the bathwater. Soon after that I got an email from Babycenter.com about Julie Fellom's Diaper Free Method - a potty training method for toddlers 15- 27 months. I was still opposed to the idea, but I read it anyway. Over the next couple of weeks, I kept thinking about that method and started to come up with more and more reasons to try this method.
WHY. I ended coming up with several reasons to potty train so early. Here's a couple: 1) To save money. Diapers are expensive. I'm always looking for ways to save money. Less diapers = more money saved 2) He was already sitting on the potty before bath time and had no objection to it. He was at a stage where he was interested and receptive to the idea of using the potty. It was fun for him. What if I let this stage pass by without taking advantage of it? Would he be as receptive as his was at the time at a later date? Not necessarily. 3) Having my son potty trained before the next child comes around would be amazing. Less diapers. Less work. Starting him at this point would give him plenty of time to adjust to potty training before another kid comes around. 4) Time of year. It was still warm out, and this method requires your toddler to wear less clothes. Starting during the summer would keep him from freezing due to less clothes. This method also takes approximately 3 months to complete. If I started then, I could be finished before the holidays came around. (At least so I thought). The more I thought about this the more I realized that I had too many reasons to at least try this method.
THE PROCESS. One thing that I've heard over and over from mothers is that potty training can be difficult and stressful. So before we started, I mentally prepared myself and made a goal to keep this from becoming a stressful process or a power struggle. According the the Diaper Free Method, it takes 3 days of diligent teaching and supervision and then 3 additional months of follow through. (You can check out the link if you want to know more about the method). We started him when he was 17 months, which was at the end of August. After the first 3 days, he had a solid understanding of the concept, "You cannot poop or pee anywhere you want. You need to hold it until you sit on the potty". But he had a hard time getting started peeing on his own (he had mastered the skill of holding it). Because he did so well controlling his bladder, we kept working with him. Since he struggled with peeing on his own, I started to research potty training. I learned that there are three different stages of muscle control that need to develop and they all develop at different times. First is the ability to control your bladder, like to hold in your urine (I think that develops around 15 months). Then the muscle control to poop. And finally the muscle control to start peeing - typically around 22 months for boys. (I talked to his pediatrician about all the muscle control needed, and he said that muscle control can happen sooner for a child, but it depended on the child) Along the way hemastered pooping on the potty, but we were still hung up on starting to pee on his own or peeing on command. So I started using warm water again to help him start peeing. Over the next several weeks I debated on quitting and restarting at a later date, but I had 2 reasons that kept me from doing so: 1) Levi was so good at controlling his bladder and was getting better by the day at pooping the potty 2) If I stopped now, I was afraid that it would reinforce the concept that wearing diapers was an option, which in turn might turn into a huge battle later when we started again. So we kept going. Throughout the next couple of weeks and months, I had to make a conscience decision to keep this process from being stressful. We stopped using water, and then started again. If something about the process was getting stressful, then we would change up our method or tweak something to a way that kept things stress-free. Around Thanksgiving, he should have been finished with the process, but still had yet to master peeing on command. At this point we were pretty sure that he had the developed the muscle control to control to pee on his own, but we needed to take the time to work with him on it. But when the holidays came, our schedule became busy, very busy. It was difficult to find time to work with him on this. So he had more accidents than I would like to admit, and he even reverted back when we went to my parents' house....just because he knew he could get away with it. But after we came home Joel and I took 3 days to work with him and help him pee on command. And it worked. Beautifully. These days he takes himself potty or tells me he needs to go potty several times each day. He has an occasional accident, but we are going more and more days without accidents. He still needs help getting his clothes off. If he sits on the big potty, he usually needs help getting up. He also still wears diapers when he sleeps. At this point I would consider him to be potty trained, but I've found that term to be relative. So this is my definition of potty trained. He understands the concept of being potty trained and practices it. He pees and poops on the potty. He has bladder control and uses it. Its a rare occasion for him to have an accident in public. There are still things we need to work on - like standing up instead of sitting when he pees, his aim, and pulling up and down his pants by himself, but I think that he has accomplished a lot considering the fact that he is only 21 months. :) And we only use 1 or 2 diapers a day!
THOUGHTS. I have a peace about starting him when I did. I tried to keep this as stress free as possible. Any time that the stress level began to elevate, we evaluated what part of the potty training was stressful and then adjusted our process to alleviate the tension. It was never a power struggle (but I had to be careful how I reacted to accidents to prevent it from becoming a power struggle). I never forced him to go potty and I never strapped him to the toilet until he went potty! And I also feel confident that he has not acquired any emotional trauma by learning so early. ;) This wasn't a easy process, but this definitely wasn't the hardest thing we have been through with him (His first year of life was way more difficult). Some people say that this is more like training the mom than training the child. Maybe so, but I've found the reward to be worth the trouble (my life is no more chaotic now than it was when he was younger by adding potty training onto our plate so soon). Plus, I RARELY change a poopy diaper. Let me tell you friends, that is awesome.
QUESTIONS. Questions that I get asked from time to time: "Now that you've gone through all this, and know what you know, will you do it again with your next child?" My answer - Yes? No? But probably yes. It's hard to say. It really depends on what is going on in our life at the time. From what I've read, toddlers who started after they had turned 20 months tended to have better success. I think that next time, I will probably be inclined to wait until the next one reaches 20 months. But it truly depends on what is going on at the time. I might want to save on diapers again next time! "Knowing what you know now, if you could go back, would you do it again with him ?"Probably. I think it may have been easier to start around 20 months, but that would have landed our start date in the middle of holiday chaos. Not a good time to start. If we had started after the holidays, I think it would have been harder because the house is colder in the winter. So yes, I probably would have still started him when I did. Another question I hear is "Don't you worry about him reverting back when you have another child?" No. I don't. I'm not saying that it won't happen, but if it does, I know how handle it - the same way we handled it before. Levi had a couple moments where he reverted back, but we had to stay consistent, and keep a closer eye on him and he always went back to using the potty. Even if he were to revert back, I know that he has a solid understanding of potty training, so it's not like all our work would be undone. If we were to have a baby 9 months from now, he will have been using the potty for over a year by the time the baby would be born. (I'm not pregnant. Don't misconstrue what I'm saying;)) That's one year of experience using the potty.
I don't think that I am the potty training expert. My knowledge is limited to the experience I've gained from my one and only child. From this experience, I've learned a lot, and I have a better idea of what I would like to do with the next child, but it doesn't mean that I will be able to. I've observed that while one method will work with one child, the same method may not work with another. He has taught me that although I may have plans to do things a certain way, it may not come into fruition. I learned that with the pacifier, with breastfeeding, and his eating...to name a few areas. So I have plans and hopes that things will go according to my plans, but I have to remain flexible in case they do not. But for now, I know what has worked for my own kid. :)