Oh the glamour of parenting! For you readers who are not following this blog for parenting info please feel free to head on to the next one. I have had several friends ask about how we went about potty training so I thought I’d share the info here as well.
I did work as an ABA behavioral therapist with young children before going to graduate school so that gave me some basic foundation for understanding rewards and taking good data on actions. Below are five helpful links. I took ideas from a few different sources and cobbled them together to create a plan I thought would work for us and our little guy.
The most important point in my opinion: Are you (as a parent) ready to put in the time and effort to potty train?
An ABA based guide (We went more for something like method #2 as our little man is NOT content to sit in one spot for longer than 30 seconds (if that)).
Potty Training in Three Days or Less.
Helpful and Practical Advice from the Trenches: 1, 2
I don’t think your kid needs to be doing all these things. The number one piece is being somewhat excited about using the potty or about being a big kid or even (if short-term rewards are necessary) getting that big reward. I would say our little guy had about 9 out of 13 on the readiness list.
On handling accidents.
Ideas we didn’t try but could be helpful depending on your little one:
“Training” a doll & muscle memory
I wanted to get a doll but was done spending and we didn’t already have one and weren’t able to borrow one easily. I think this would have been really motivating.
I do not think the 10x muscle memory thing would have been motivating for our guy- I think it would have been experienced as a punishment. But some kids might find it helpful depending on how they learn.
Phase One: Potty Awareness
- Let him come to the bathroom with mom and dad
- Bought a training potty from Ikea (ask if needs to go potty each night before bed- no pushing just for fun)
- Went to the store and let him pick out his own undies
- Potty books!
Potty Time Elmo (sound effects were big-time)
Potty Time Boys (its counterpart is probably good too, I’m assuming)
Phase Two: Potty Party
- The week before potty training we talked with him all week about how the coming weekend would be a potty party and a chance to learn how to pee in the potty.
- On Saturday morning we woke up and took the diaper off and put some training undies on and had a special breakfast with lots of juice.
- We made a simple star chart and explained it to him and showed him the special snacks and juice he would have over the weekend for the party.
- We took him to sit on the potty every 20 minutes and tried to make it fun and light-hearted. When he had his first accident we simply said things like “Oops, pee pee goes in the potty” and “Uh oh, we don’t want wet undies that is no fun, etc.” We were careful to be firm but not upset. One of us would whisk him to the potty then the other would help him clean up after. He really enjoyed little potty songs and dances that mom and dad came up with (and no, I will not be posting a video of those;).
- We put towels on the couch but mainly encouraged floor play:)
- The next couple of accidents were less and less and then, when he went on the potty, we both went crazy with dancing and gave him his special snacks, a star on the chart etc. We continued this all day and just tried to do preferred activities with him to keep it fun.
- One thing I learned from ABA training is that your reward any morsel of success consistently and go from there. So even if he started to have an accident (despite the impending mess) we’d grab him and have him finish on the potty and have a mini-celebration and a talk.
- By the end of the first day he was having more successes than accidents. I would say we had five accidents that day.
- On the second day, we repeated everything and had only successes. We ventured out for our first outing (but you’ve got to be ready to stop everything at a moments notice so we got this portable potty and it has been a life saver)! We did have an accident or two later in the day but just followed the same protocol- this takes a lot of energy people!
- On the third day it was just me (I think it was important that both J and I were there for the first two days) and I told him that if he stayed dry all day he could have his special undies. That was very motivating, he stayed dry all day and got his undies.
- We put him in diapers for naps and night time.
Note; We still had poop accidents throughout (not many, thankfully) and he typically poops during nap time or at night now.
Prep: Have towels, cleaner, new underwear (these are awesome for starters, before the “fun” underwear your child picks out, snacks and preferred activities ready. We purchased this awesome potty seat and love it- so little mess and fuss- much better than anything else I’ve seen! If I could install it anyone can. We keep the ikea potty in his room for upstairs emergencies and pre-bed claims that he needs to use the potty;)
Phase Three: Shoring Up
I tweaked and adjusted as need be…which I think is one of the most important parts of the process. Keep the drawing board handy in case something isn’t working (after giving it a good go). Sometimes he will have a few accidents in a row just because he having a bad day or too into any given activity. Gotta love that extra change of clothes in the plastic bag!
And we are still working on poop in the potty as opposed to in the diaper at night. I bought this book and some m & m’s and so far there have been more successes and no poop accidents. I think it is pretty normal for kids to delay this a bit longer.
Pull-Ups (not necessary but somewhat helpful for those in-between times like a long car ride or at night). We simply use Huggies night diapers.
ps- I was planning on falling back on this method in case the three-day didn’t work out. It might be a better method if your child is very sensitive or you don’t have the time/energy to impose the structure needed for the 3-day method. The short-term results won’t be the same but the long term will and that is what matters:)