On top of a 40+ hour per week job, some philanthropic pursuits, plus some measure of family time and a social life, I took on another job this past summer – potty training our 2 year old. Now, my husband has stepped up for his share of duty (doo-dy) as well, so thank goodness I’m not alone in this, but sheesh, it’s been intensive. And now I’m pooped. (Beware: potty references and more puns may be forthcoming.)
Our daycare had sent home info about potty training in 3 days – the http://www.3daypottytraining.com method was suggested, so that is what we did. My husband and I read the booklet two or three times each in preparation for the planned potty-training-bootcamp-weekend, and each time we were like, “Really? This is supposed to work?”
Now, for some background….a couple of weeks before we broached potty training, our little Penny girl was VERY interested in going to the potty, would follow us into the bathroom, tell us each step as we should perform it (like WE were circus monkeys for her – “Pee….wipe….flush…wash hands,”) she asked to go potty by herself several times over the course of a couple of weeks (and we would take her and wrangle her out of the diaper, etc), and daycare started implementing some potty-time as well. We knew she was ready, but we had travel plans every weekend, and couldn’t take the time out to do the 3 day potty training method as they suggested. Because (the booklet says), if you want to be successful, you almost have to quarantine yourself at home, with no excursions, no friends over, no distractions, no nothing. It was brutal. Especially for the social and on-the-go family like us.
The summary of this method: Go cold turkey from diapers. Get rid of them, let the kid see you throw them away, and talk about how from now on, he/she is a big boy/girl and will wear big boy/girl underpants. Let’s keep them clean and dry. Say, “be sure to tell us if you need to go pee or poop in the potty” to give them a sense of control (instead of asking a thousand times if they need to go potty.) Praise and give a reward (M&Ms, stickers, etc) when they successfully use the potty. Tell them over and over how proud you are of them. Praise praise praise when they do well, do not scold or punish if they make a mistake, just go on and say how they can try to do better next time.
The 1st day, we had a success rate of 4 out of 7 times making it successfully to the potty. The 2nd day, it was a whopping 13 out of 16 (we had to encourage her to drink more liquids by offering up juice, just so we could have more “learning opportunities.”) A few times on the second day, she actually told us she needed to go and led us to the potty on her own. By the 3rd day, we all had cabin fever, we’d done 8,000 loads of laundry, and we were all sick of hearing, “if you need to go pee or poop, let mommy or daddy know, ok?” The last day she was 6 for 7, with her only “mistake” being that she pooped in her pants. Yeah, gross. We are also not counting that she peed a little while napping. I’m not faulting her for that one.
Victory! (sort of)
Fast forward 3 months to the present. Our girl has always some some pooping issues (lots of constipation, withholding, etc) but we have come to manage it well with probiotics, diet, and Miralax (per pediatrician’s advice.) Once the initial potty training period was well underway, we would go several days without any sort of accidents, and those days started stretching into weeks. The thing that didn’t really sink in (to the toilet) for me when we first started this exercise in parental patience was that while it was a 3-day potty training method, it really isn’t over in 3 days. Or 3 weeks. Or 3 months. I think it lasts forever. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but really it IS an ongoing training exercise…don’t let any “3 day” method or whatever fool you. No one, not even your Mensa kid, will be *completely* potty trained in 3 days.
This past weekend was the 1st time we let her go all night in her big girl underwear and NOT in a diaper or training pants overnight. Yeah, the training method frowns on letting them wear anything except underwear – even at night – but honestly, we didn’t want to be changing bed sheets and clothes every single night, and she wasn’t ready for it until now. She went 3 nights dry, and just had her 1st overnight accident this morning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can head this off at the pass, and convince her she is able to go potty in the bathroom on her own in the middle of the night if she feels the need.
I’ll go out on a limb to say potty training has been “successful” for what it is – an ongoing exercise of poop, pee, rinse, repeat, combined with lots and lots of patience. Daycare has been very supportive, and except for some explosive pooping accidents there and at home, and the occasional peeing accident because she got too busy playing and forgot to go potty, MOST of the time, I would say she is potty trained. Or should be, by the time she’s 18 for sure.