Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secret Inside Information: Potty Training- Part 3 (Toddler/Preschool)

Get rid of your disposable diapers and disposable training pants during the day when you are at home.  Use cloth diapers or cloth training pants so they can feel the mess and wetness.  Another trick when the weather is warm is to take them outside in a fenced yard without their underwear on.  Dress them in a long t-shirt or dress.  Take the potty chair with you and wait for them to “go”.  When they do, pick them up, and run them over to the potty.  They will begin to make the association and you won’t have as much laundry or smelly stains to work on in your carpet and furniture. 

My Carpet and Furniture
Invest in a little spot cleaner for your potty training season.  You will find the clean up a snap and even if they have just begun to train, you won’t have to worry about your stuff being ruined or your house smelling forever!   Treat yourself to some smelly candles or heated oils to cover the smell.

Most of us will end up doing the bulk of potty training for our boys.  Boys LOVE to stand up and do business in the toilet.  Also shooting floating targets is a blast!   However, for bowel movements, they have to sit down.  If your little tyke does not want to sit, discourage the standing until he has been putting the bowel movements in regularly.  Then reward him with being able to stand.

What Rewards
I always used a combination of a food and sticker reward system.  The food was for the time spent on the potty and the sticker was for any production.  If you are like me, you need to find a food that you will stay out of.  I made the mistake of using M&Ms.  I was through the first bag in about three days and didn’t have any reward left!  So I switched to jelly beans.  I stayed out of them and they kept better than the chocolate.  Also stickers are wonderful.  They are not as powerful as a food, but kids love the beautiful colors and the idea of sticking it on something and it stays.  I used charts with about 30 empty boxes.  One sticker was a potty and two for BM.  We were having trouble with the bms for some of my kids, so I weighted those!   Then after the whole chart was filled with stickers, I gave them some sort of big prize we had agreed on.    Some ideas for big prizes would be an overnight trip to grandma’s house, a toy they have been asking for, or even a night out with a parent to a favorite place.  Also remember to pass out the treats to your older children when you are training.  It should be a celebration for everyone.

These are a fact of life.  Most pediatricians warn all of us to never punish a child for a bathroom accident.  However, if you have a very laid back child who does not care about being potty trained and you are at your wits end because they are nearly 3 or 3 and a half, natural consequences work wonders.   Allowing them to clean their own underwear and body, will cause them to think twice before they mess in their pants again.  But for all others, take a deep relaxing breath and begin cleaning up the yucky mess with a smile and grace.  Assure your child that there will be a next time and you still love them.

Last Words Of Wisdom
Potty training was one of the most difficult things I did with my children because it is something that you have to be consistent about, never punishing, and ultimately you cannot control it.  And just when you think you have it figured out, you have another child with a different temperament and you learn all over again how to potty train them!   In the end, you are only responsible for making an environment where a child most likely chooses to become potty trained.  Most children do, but there are exceptions.  If you have a late four or five year old who is not potty trained, I would certainly take them to the doctor to see if there is some physical cause.  If not, I would make an appointment with a child psychologist.  This symptom could be an indicator of something far more serious that you could begin to work on.   But remember, that is the exception.  Just keep loving and encouraging your child.  Soon potty training will be a distant memory and then suddenly you are teaching them to drive!

Do any of you have some secret inside information to add?  

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