Monday, August 12, 2013

Potty Training Part One: My Method

Every time I feel like I'm in over my head, I turn to a book (or a blog). So when it came time to potty train Reed, I first turned to a book: The Ultimate Guide to Potty Training for Boys & Girls by Johanne Cezar. Why did I choose this book? Easy: The book was only $2 to purchase for my Kindle and, well, I'm kind of cheap. I was happy to find, though, that in addition to being cheap, this book proved to be very helpful in potty training both my boys. I base my method heavily on this book as well as on a few modifications that proved helpful to me. Here is my method, in a nutshell:

1-2 Weeks Before Starting:
Buy a potty or potty seat and explain to your child what it is and what it's for. Let you child watch you and your spouse use the bathroom. Put the potty or potty chair in the bathroom so your child can get used to seeing it there. This process is basically a soft introduction to the potty so that you don't drop a huge bombshell on the child when you tell them it's time to start training.

You need to be prepared for day one of potty training with your potty, a timer (I used the kitchen timer on my oven), and your rewards. Plan on not leaving the house at all with your child for a few days. (Yes, it's going to be a long few days.)

Day 1:
The basics
1. You're going to be taking your child potty every 20 minutes today. Get excited.
2. No diapers, no pull-ups, no underwear. NONE. We want a bare bottom.
3. Accidents are going to happen. Keep your cool, but be sure to talk about each accident when it happens.
4. Be sure your child pushes each time he or she sits on the potty.

Hooray! Start the day excited. Take your child into the bathroom first thing after they wake up and remind them that it's potty training day. Have them sit on their potty and try to go. (They likely will have a wet diaper from overnight an may not need to go, but it's important to try.) If they go, awesome! Give them their first reward, whatever that may be. If not, that's okay. Set your timer for 20 minutes and go about your day.

You need to leave your child bare-bottomed today. Seriously, it may seem weird, but it works. Pull-ups are just confusing--it's a diaper that they aren't supposed to go in? Yeah right. Underwear, at this point, are still just another place for them to go to the bathroom in. Leave them bare--it will help them to remember to go potty in the potty.

When the time goes off, don't act annoyed or frustrated or like it's drudgery (which, by the end of the day, it will be). Be excited--it's time to go potty, hooray! Have your child sit on the potty and push. If they push, they can't hold anything in. To explain what you mean by "pushing," try tickling your child's belly. When they laugh and their muscles tighten, they are pushing. It might take a few attempts to explain "pushing," but they will get it. If they go, great! Give them the reward. If not, have them sit on the potty for 5-7 minutes trying, then let them get off. Set the timer for 20 minutes after you leave the bathroom. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Day 2:
The basics
1. Today you get to move the timer back to 25 minutes, hooray!
2. Still no diapers, pull-ups, or underwear.
3. Accidents will still likely happen.
4. Continue to be sure your child is pushing on the potty.

Today will continue as yesterday did, but with slightly longer intervals: 25 minutes between each potty trip. Continue to use the timer, continue to be excited, and continue with your reward system.

Day 3:
The basics
1. By today, you should be having more successes than accidents. If so, push your timer back to 30 minutes.
2. Still no diapers, pull-ups, or underwear.
3. Your child may still have accidents today, but should have far less than days 1-2.
4. Be sure your child is pushing on the potty!

You've got it down by now, I'm sure, but just be sure you're still using that timer and still being vigilant.

Days 4-7:
The basics
1. You can stop using the timer, but I'd enforce an hourly potty break.
2. You can put underwear on your child, hooray!
3. By the last half of the week, accidents should no longer be the norm and really shouldn't be happening at all.

You made it! UPDATE: Click here for part two of my potty training posts, which has tips about how to deal with accidents, potty training for naps and night, and the best things I've learned from my potty training experiences.