Every parent will tell you that transitions are difficult. We frequently thank our lucky stars that our child has actually settled into a routine, which explains why I sometimes dread having to deal with a new developmental challenge. Potty-training was of no exception; the idea was planted when TT’s nursery teacher suggested that she might be ready for this change and I hummed-and-hawed over this. She had just started nursery and was adjusting well, did I really want to rock the boat?
I started off (procrastinated) by reading up a lot on potty-training – the different methods, ways to go about it, things I would need. And I also talked to other mums whose kids were the same age, who had either already tackled this challenge or were contemplating it. Did I think she was ready? I decided to get her familiarised with the idea of using the potty and since she had seen other little kids at nursery using it, this wasn’t difficult. So we proceeded by getting a little potty for her and leaving it in a corner of her bathroom. She would see it and we would talk about her using it when she was older. We bought a book about using the potty and kept reading it. This carried on for a week or two before decided to take the plunge.
Well, truth be told, it wasn’t much of a plunge. After discussing it with her Daddy, we decided that it might be a bit too much if we suddenly went cold turkey. So we decided to use pull-ups while encouraging her to use the potty. When talking to her nursery teacher, she said we had to keep asking her every 1/2hr to make sure she followed through with going in the bathroom rather than in her diaper. Her teachers and assistants at nursery also helped by encouraging her to use the potty. However, this didn’t quite work out. Even though she was quite good at actually peeing in the potty, she wouldn’t tell me when she needed to go and would just rely on her diaper. She would only resort to the potty if I asked her to and if she happened to need to at that time. After a month or so, we decided that it wasn’t working out and maybe we should take a little break.
Two months later, my friend told me about a 3 Day potty-training method that she had heard about from a family member. It would involve three full days of staying at home and watching your child like a hawk, and at the end of it, you could say goodbye to diapers. It worked for her and her daughter so I thought I’d give it a try. We waited till the Easter break so that we would have enough time to work through this. Before we began, I spoke to her about it again and read more about using the potty. We bought all the necessary items like mattress protectors, loads of wipes and paper towels, step stools, different potty seats, and an additional portable potty for travelling. I brought her to the shops and let her choose new big girl panties for herself. No surprises, we came home with a few dozen princess ones! Now we were ready to begin potty training.
To be brief, this is essentially what we did:
– Stayed at home for 3 days (seriously, no venturing out, at all!)
– Got rid of the diapers and used underwear from Day 1
– Plied TT with lots of water and juice so she would need to pee
– Reminded her constantly that she needed to use her potty when she had to pee
– Brought her to the bathroom only when she actually told me that she needed to go
– Cleaned up quite a number of accidents (keep your handy mop nearby)
– Kept reminding her to use the potty
– Gave lots of encouragement and little rewards
And it worked, it really did! She had a number of accidents on the first day so the mop and kitchen towels were put in full force. But once she figured it out, she was heading to the bathroom and even if there was an accident, it would be in the bathroom when she couldn’t make it in time. A mistake I made was bringing her to the toilet when I saw her shifting around and pulling at her panties. To me, these were the obvious signs that she was ready, but she would say she didn’t need to even when I asked. So I would insist and bring her anyway. On Day 2, I noticed she would wait for me to bring her. There was little initiation on her part. So, even though there was the possibility of more accidents, I decided that she needed to learn for herself. After all, encouraging her independence was a huge part of the potty-training. I let go and resolved to let her take the lead. This was perhaps the best lesson I learnt. And even though the wait till the next bathroom visit was rather excruciating, she went all by herself that time and every time after that. She truly surprised me, and all she needed was some independence.
Another tip – never underestimate the power of bribery, for potty-training or parenting in general! She was given a sticker to put on her training chart after every successful visit to the potty. And at the end of each day, we gave her a little present. She was also promised a big prize of a Frozen Anna costume when she had succeeded with potty-training. This big bribe was needed to push her into poo-ing in the potty. Within 3 days, she was easily peeing on her own, but she was more resistant with #2. She had always been a little strange with poo-ing, usually she would hide behind curtains or under tables and chairs, and would also insist that we go far, far away. So when she finally did it in the potty on Day 5, she yelled “Now can I have my Anna costume, please?!!”. The incentive definitely worked and I was mighty pleased about giving it to her.
We’ve had a few isolated mishaps, when TT was playing too happily and forgot that she needed to go to the bathroom. But we’ve shrugged them off as accidents, we’ve laughed about it and then moved on. We still haven’t dealt with forgoing the diapers at night. She’s been such a champion with this transition, so I figured we’ll do one thing at a time, and when she’s ready for the next step she’ll let us know. If your own experience differs from what we did, please share your own. And for those who have more than one kid, did you use the same method for all of them? I’d love to hear what you did!
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