How to: Potty Training

Before I *decided to potty-train my daughter I went to my faithful library and checked out some how-to books and I read them and I took notes. I dutifully took detailed notes in my cute little yellow notebook with a yellow flower on the front cover because I thought I would look over those valuable notes numerous times over the weeks and months to come. I thought if my husband wouldn’t read the books, he at least might read my notes. I was wrong. So to save you that precious time (those are hours I won’t ever get back) I present to you the Cliff’s Notes version.

brazelton.jpg Toilet Training: The Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton

The infamous pediatrician offers a “watching and waiting” approach. Brazelton uses a child-centered model, which at times seemed a tad too child-centered for me. However, if potty training is turning into a battle between you and your child I would recommend this gentle approach. I do not possess quite enough, ahem, patience for a whole lot of watching and waiting and I think the path you should take depends on the personality of your child. The book states you should wait until your child shows signs of readiness before training. Let it be their own achievement as the child needs to feel in control of her own body. Certain events can lead to regression, such as moving, a new baby, a new school, going on a trip or illness. Reassure your child over and over: you can do it. Brazelton says a child will stay dry at night by 6 years (three more years of buying pull-ups?!!?!?!). Do not shame them for having accidents. Recognize that you are hungry for the child’s success and this hunger can lead to pressure on the child. Pick out a travel potty to take on trips. (We keep the “little potty” in the trunk of our car for emergencies and have used it twice so far, including once along the side of the interstate.) Boost their self-confidence with praise and reassurance. Put them in clothes that are easy to take on and off quickly. “Be grateful that she can and will save any regression for you, as the safest and most important person to understand, to accept, and, later, to help.” This is SO true and to get through this I tried to focus on the fact that I Am The Most Important Person.

diaper-free.jpgDiaper-Free Before 3 by Jill Lekovic

This is kind of the polar opposite of Brazelton’s theories and in fact Lekovic spends part of the first chapter (as seen here) refuting his guidelines. I thought this book was the best of the ones I read. Lekovic gives a ton of good advice, such as let the child go on the little potty when you go on the big potty. Listen to her to allow her to learn to listen to her body. Patience, repetition and encouragement are your friends. Lekovid recommends knowing your child’s routine and schedule (i.e. when they go potty) and starting a ritual, such as reading a story on the potty before and after nap or going potty and washing hands before eating. She says the more they get signals from their bodies and recognize patterns that go with routines, the more potty training will succeed. I have the following sentence starred and highlighted in my yellow notebook: Do not ask if child wants to go. Say, “It is time to go potty.” This tactic worked well for us. Lekovic also offers these suggestions. Avoid saying: “I don’t want to change your diapers anymore.” “You are not a baby anymore.” “Why didn’t you go in the potty?” Instead focus on: what a great accomplishment it will be when she can do it by herself, what a big girl she is and you are so proud of her. I have to admit to saying “Why didn’t you go in the potty?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?” several times. This is also a great tidbit: remind her of all family members and friends who wear underwear and use the potty. We have had many, many discussions about various friends and family members who use the potty “just like you.” Lekovic says to get rid of the diapers and put them in underwear. Don’t threaten, argue or force them to sit on the potty. She says resistance is like a tantrum. The more attention you pay to it, the more child learns it is a good way to get attention. Give the child your positive attention and praise. Don’t focus on the problems.

potty-one-day.jpg Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day by Teri Orane

Here’s what my carefully taken notes say about this one: Yeah, right. Orane suggests using a potty-training doll and having a potty party. I found this book ridiculous.

What ended up working for us was a combination of charts with stickers, prizes for going number two on the potty, and lots of praise and patience. Good luck!

*I really had very little say in the matter. The little monsters lovelies are in charge of their own bodily functions and there’s not much you can do about it.
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June 5, 2007. how-to, non-fiction.

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