Melody is 2 1/2 now, and we have to face the inevitable. We have to start potty training…dun dun DUN! So, I have been looking into the various resources out there – websites, books for parents, books for kids, anything. I bought an expensive, highly rated book with a solution to potty training that won’t make your child cry and it gave me ideas to fall back on in the event Melody does cry but no ideas on how to start this whole process. All of the free websites I have looked at list the same 10-20 bullets about rewarding the child, don’t pressure the child, be prepared for accidents, etc.
So far though, the most frustrating thing about potty training has been the lack of instructions! I don’t have older kids and I don’t have friends close by with older kids, so I need someone to just spell it out for me. How often do you take the child to the potty? How long do they sit there? Pull ups or cotton training pants? These are important pieces of information that would be really helpful if they were listed somewhere on the internet or in that fancy schmancy book! Sheesh how hard is that?
I did the next best thing to crying on my best friend’s shoulder: I emailed her. At work, no less. I am seriously at a loss over this. Her response was not only helpful, but really one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages. It made me realize I am stressing way too much over this, but more importantly she gave me what I wanted – instructions. Here is her email. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.
“I have come to realize that good parenting is nothing more than the successful, strategic use of bribery and threats.
Potty training calls for bribery…lots and lots of bribery. M&Ms have always been Bobby’s personal form of crack. (Score for us!)
At least once an hour, I would ask him if he had to use the potty. Soon, I discovered that no matter what his bladder condition, he would say ‘No’. As soon as my “Do you want to go potty?” question changed to “If you go potty, you can have an M&M…”, we began to have success. Pooping on the potty? Heck, that was a small sandwich bag of M&Ms. Bobby knew this, and I’m surprised didn’t damage his anatomy struggling to get something…anything in the potty for that baggie of M&Ms.
I have friends who do the marble jar thing. At this age though, I don’t think kids get the whole building up of marbles for a treat concept. Instant gratification works best. Heck, instant gratification works best for me, why not a 3 year old? (although its been argued that my mental state often does parallel that of a 3 year old’s).
If you haven’t already, you may want to invest in Elmo’s Potty-time. I’m not 100% sure it helped Bobby, but I think it might have eased the transition a bit (besides, its pretty dang funny).
Bobby’s teacher was a bit of a drill sergeant (in a loving way, of course). Heck, she intimidated me a little. He was potty-trained at school months before he was at home. That definitely helped to get us a running start. It also helped that Bobby desperately wants to ‘be a big boy’ like the ones at school. I would frequently point out that those big boys used the potty. (Did I mention manipulation works as well?)
Once you decide to do this, stop with the diapers during the day. Kindercare had us bring four outfits to use each day. Their concept was, if the diaper is there, it will be used. If the kid is in clothes, they’ll much more quickly learn that wet undies are uncomfortable and changing is a hassle. We only had a handful of accidents at school over the course of the process. I was shocked…they weren’t. Guess they knew what they were doing!
Of course, we’re still in pull-ups at night. However, I think that is more me not wanting to risk having to change sheets at 3 AM more then him actually not being ready. I figure there’s no rush for that transition. As long as he isn’t wearing them at his fraternity house in 17 years, we’re good.
Another pointer, don’t use a potty chair. Put her on a real toilet (you can use one of the padded inserts if you want, but I don’t think they’re necessary). If you start her on the potty chair, then you actually have to train her twice. Once to use the potty chair and again to use the ‘big girl’ toilet.
Enjoy the journey. At least you won’t have to say “point your peener down” 352 times in the next couple months….
After reading this I went out and spent a ridiculous amount of money on training pants, the Elmo video, and Pull ups (and since it was Target, yes I got a few things for myself too, and that sent the total through the ceiling but not much!). So for anyone else who was clueless about where to start and what to do, take this as the golden rule of potty training from the oracle of momminess. Whatever this lady says I pretty much do. Love ya back! ;-)