Sunday, August 18, 2013

Potty-Training My 21 Month Old: Setting the Groundwork for Successful Training


I've been putting it off. My first excuse was our road trip to Utah. My second excuse was selling our house. I've run out of excuses. It's time to potty train.

Joanna is 21 months old. Oliver had been potty trained for over a month at this age. This is the age when my pediatrician recommends potty training. I got a pamphlet on potty training at Oliver's 18 month appointment, and I got a pamphlet at Jo's 18 month appointment. I don't think there is anything wrong with parents who wait until later. Parents need to do what is best for them! I just think this earlier potty training (by American standards) is best for me.

I just don't want to do the work.

Ha! Isn't that bad? But it's the truth of it.

Here's the thing: Oliver was a very easy child to potty train. He loves learning new things and being self-sufficient. It's just how it is. If you show him there is a new thing to learn, then he wants to master it. He loved helping Andrew and me in the potty. He wanted to get us the toilet paper and flush the toilet for us. He wanted to learn. It took a week of extensive training for him to really understand how to do it. It took another month for him to get really good at going whenever I sat him on the potty. By 21 months old, he stopped having accidents at all during the day (until Jo was born three months later, and then he had some regression for a couple of weeks).

So, I'm ready to start with Jo. I don't know if she will be as easy to train as Oliver. I don't know if it will go well. I don't know if I will throw my hands up in frustration and wait for another few months before trying again. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't! But it's time to try.

Here's what we have done to prepare ourselves and Joanna for potty training:
1. We try not to make poop icky. Even if it is gross and smelly, we try to make pooping an achievement. If I see her pooping in her diaper, I say, "Good job, Jo! You're getting your poop out!" My mom told me that making poop shameful for kids will only lead to them holding it in and not wanting to go. So, in our household, pooping is an accomplishment! Did you poop today? Way to go!

2. The potty isn't scary. Joanna has had some practice sitting on the potty. The first few times, she thought it was scary. I didn't hold her down or force her to sit on it. I worried that would give her some sort of complex. So, I would let her watch her favorite videos on the iPad, but only if she was sitting on the potty! Do you need a good potty video? Here's a link to the YouTube video of Baby Elmo learning to use the potty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1DugrrAxIg
She also got special treats to sit on it. She wanted a cookie? Sure, she could have one: if she sat on the potty. So, she is no longer afraid of the potty.

3. We let her help in the bathroom. For toddlers, there is nothing better than helping Mom and Dad! Jo can't flush toilets by herself yet, but she likes to tear off toilet paper and hand it to us. When we flush, she likes to wave bye. "Bye, pee!" she says.

The foundation is laid. It's time to get training! I will post our plan in a couple of days. If you're ready to start training your toddler, start working on those three steps in preparation first. Get yourself and your child comfortable with all of the potty stuff. Once that foundation is set, follow me to my next post this Tuesday, when I talk about the first steps in potty training.

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