Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Potty Training a Headstrong Toddler

Since I was a stay at home mom this summer, I was determined to potty train my 2.5 year old son before I went back to work. I knew that it was going to be a challenge since Jason has my fire. He will only do something if he wants to do it, when he wants to do it. 

I determined that I would try some sort of variation of potty training boot camp. I set my expectations low and hoped for the best. I figured if he didn't get the hang of it, I would just try again once we got back home. There is a lot of info out there but I didn't want to buy a book or try only one thing. I looked at a number of options and decided what I thought would work best for my determined little boy.

Jason was showing signs that he was ready to be potty trained. He was starting to hate dirty diapers, though he was not at all excited about sitting on the potty. He also had dry diapers after napping or sleeping all night.

We had purchased a small kiddie potty months ago, but he preferred to push it around our house and take it apart rather than sit on it. Since we were overseas for the summer, I was not about to buy another one or a kiddie toilet seat. It would be one more thing to bring home. All of our training was done using normal toilets, which I think helped a lot. I dedicated a week staying at home and not doing any errands so he could get used to a routine of using the potty. 

I also offered him incentives.  I made a sticker racetrack. Every time he went #1, he got one sticker. When he did #2, he got two stickers. He also got a small piece of candy when he went on the potty. I alternated between chocolate and fruit chews so he wouldn't be too sugared up. 

Lastly, I decided on putting him right away into underpants. I didn't want him to be confused with using pull-ups since they are so much like diapers. I bought him some Toy Story and Thomas underpants before we left. My theory was that he wouldn't want to get them too dirty if they were some of his favorite characters. 

Day 1 started out with him wearing loose shorts and no diaper. From when he got up and every twenty minutes, I tried to bring him to the potty to have him try to go. There was a number of accidents and lots of crying about not wanting to go. He did go a few times that day. He hated the feeling of accidents and having to get cleaned up. By the end of the day, he was wearing underpants. I was super proud!

The next couple of days got better and better. Jason was getting the hang of going #1 on the potty and the number of those types of accidents were decreasing. He was still afraid of going #2. Anytime he actually did it without having an accident he was showered with praise because it was a big deal (a lot less clean up for Mommy :)). I was still taking him to the potty on a schedule but I was increasing the time in between visits. He was doing awesome!!! Jason finished his sticker racetrack in four days! He was allowed to choose a small toy for doing so well. 

That weekend we took him out hiking. Probably not the best decision on our part while we were trying to potty train him. We put him in a diaper and tried to take him to the bathroom now and then but he wanted nothing to do with it. Needless to say we ended up with a bit of a regression there. I decided to be more diligent when we went out and that I would invest in some pull-ups for outings. They were more similar to underwear than diapers leading to less confusion and more cooperation.

The second and third weeks things just continued to improve. He decided that he had his "favorite potty"in the house and that made things more comfortable for him to do his business. I created two more sticker charts in order to keep the incentives going for him. I also made the charts larger each time in order to make him work harder to finish. Since he finished the third chart, he will get a "big dinosaur present" when we get back home.

By the end of the third week, the accidents stopped. He wears underpants full-time at home. He tells us when he has to go and agrees to go when he is away from home. He still wears pull-ups when we go out in case of an accident. He has only had one since that first week. He wears a diaper when he goes down for naps/bedtime simply because we don't want him to have an accident on a bed that isn't ours. He has never had an accident during the entire time he was potty training.  

I have to say that repetition and understanding have definitely been the key to this whole process. I am actually surprised that he was pretty much trained after the second week. The only thing that has been a challenge is making sure that we remember to ask him to go when we are out. Usually he is too into what he is doing to take time to stop on his own. He is getting better about not being upset when we want him to go try to go. 

This methodology definitely worked for us but may not work for all kids. You as a parent need to know what triggers would work best for your child to learn. If your child is anything like mine, you should try what we did. Just be prepared to clean up lots of accidents, be patient and it will happen.

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