Tuesday, January 30, 2007

P.O.T.T.S. 101

Potty On The Train Studies
How Landon was really potty trained

Nearing the arrival of Landon's 3rd birthday, I was beginning to think that there was no time like the present to introduce a potty training method in his young and impressionable life.

But, I didn't know for sure how to cross the final thresh hold from diapers into underwear without dealing with annoying accidents, pee on the carpet and just a general sense of frustration on both his part and mine.

One morning, I was contemplating the day ahead and thinking of the goals I needed to focus on for that day. Landon's potty training was persistent in my thoughts and I really wanted to give that a shot. But where should I start?

But God!

Obviously, the Lord could see my thoughts and desire to get this boy trained and being the all knowing God that He is, He could fully see my difficulty in conjuring up bright ideas in this pregnancy fogged mind of mine. So, He thoughtfully did all the figuring and concocting and firmly planted a bright plan into my head. Honestly, nothing like this plan had ever crossed my mind before that I'm convinced He sent it just when I needed it. God is good!

The plan of action

Plan and schedule. First off, I determined my schedule for that day and also the next few days... was it a good time to concentrate on one thing and one thing only? Or would I need to focus on something else for several hours over the next few days? The coast looked clear so I mentally checked that box "okay."

Evaluate and arrange. Secondly, I evaluated our house and analyzed what room would be most adequate for both him and I as we pursued this potty training. I didn't want to spend the entire next 3 days in the bathroom but neither did I want Landon streaking around the house with just cloth on his behind. The threat on our carpet and furniture was too great to allow free range of the house. So, I chose the kitchen, a logical and easy to maintain room.

Equip and prepare. Thirdly, I got the tools around needed for the actual potty training part.
  • Lined training pants (typical training pants inside but the outer is an attached rubber pants -- one accident is contained in each pair so they're more absorbent than regular training pants)
  • Potty chair
  • Splash guard (100% necessary for boys)
  • Treats
Design and set boundaries. My fourth step was setting up our classroom in the kitchen. The classroom needed to hold a distinct demand on his attention and focus on potty training but I needed to consider his energy level and keep his activities corralled in one room and spiced with variety. This way, he couldn't get too distracted and forget about the project of being potty trained. I was making it difficult for him to fail at his task of becoming trained. Following is the list of things we used:
  • Child's small table and chairs
  • Potty chair (or in our house, the potty "train")
  • Step stool next to the sink and a full bottle of hand soap
  • Beads to string and other "school" stuff
  • Timer
  • Clear and obvious boundaries in all doorways of the kitchen (for Landon, I just pointed to the doorways and told him he wasn't allowed to step over them. Depending on how the child understands verbal commands, a gate or door (if possible) would be definite boundaries set.)

Communicate and be patient. The fifth and final thing I did was have a little talk with Landon before we took the diaper off. I explained to him in simple facts that his diaper was coming off and he would wear underwear from now on. When he had to go potty, he would go in the potty chair. I stressed the importance of all the pee going in the potty chair. He understood me perfectly and was so anxious to try this new thing out.

Staying positive by remembering your focus

Then the rubber met the road and the class started. I wanted this to be a positive thing for Landon and not a negative experience. Yes, we were potty training but I didn't want to make it into a big deal as he learned to detect when he had to go and how much time he had to get to the potty chair. So often I had seen kids struggle for months being potty trained -- even with adequate treats when they did well and punishments when they failed. I wanted this to be a fun, natural process so that we would all enjoy it.

Keeping child positive with praise and incentives

I also made it "fun" for Landon to be cooped up in the kitchen. I didn't want to see him sitting in the doorways longing for freedom. He stayed very busy but considering the fact that potty training was our focus for the day, he was consistent in "trying" the chair out every few minutes. I'd set the timer for 20 minutes but he'd usually take himself there about 4-5 times within that time frame. Both he and Janae worked at their little table and then we cleared it off for lunch time. They thought it was great fun to dine in such style -- a table and chairs their size!

Using variety when change is needed

Between lunch time and nap time, Landon seemed to get hyper which isn't very typical of him. I think the tiny quarters was making him stir crazy. I did let him move around a bit but used the timer even more frequently and kept following up with him, making it hard for him to allow an accident.

About 30 minutes before nap time, I gave him his juice and then had him go potty one last time right before I diapered him and tucked him in bed. I didn't care if the diaper would end up wet or dry because today we were only focusing on wake-time potty training. Nap time and bed time would come later and I didn't want to bite off more than we both could chew.

All roads have bumps -- be prepared

That evening, he had a bowel movement so that was good thing for him to get under his belt in his potty training experience. Because of the difficulty it is for him to do a bm even with a diaper on, we encouraged him through the process by reminding him of the new train engine he would get for his tracks. It was a good motivator for him and gave him the incentive to "get the job done."

The proof is in the pudding

The next morning, he went back into his "underwearems" (Landon's word) but neglected the potty chair: the regular toilet was the new fad. He was so consistent with taking himself there that I hardly had to remember we were still officially potty training. He'd jump up from his trucks, tell us he had to go potty as he ran to the bathroom. I was in the bathroom once when he came flying in and he wouldn't go until I went out. The little squirt!

Landon really took potty training seriously and acted responsibly on it. As I look back on the beginning stages, I can honestly say that I basically ended up devoting just one day to this potty training cause; he took on the rest himself. In a weeks time, we only had 3 accidents.

One size does NOT fit all!

If you read this and think, "Oh, I can do this with my child too," keep in mind that a lot of the success depends on your child's readiness to be trained. I waited until I knew Landon was ready before I got serious myself in making a plan for him. I didn't want to be trained to take him to the potty chair all the time; I wanted him to be trained to take himself.

Just because I efficiently did this once with one of our children, doesn't make me an unfailing pro! For instance, Janae will be 2 this spring and though several of her playmates her age are being trained, I know she is not ready. She's too distracted to focus on physical changes such as a full bladder, she is unreliable in relaying information and she is still too much a baby to grasp the concept of becoming potty trained.

Points to consider

In talking to other moms, I hear a frequent set of tips shared by many potty trainers regardless of the age of their children they were successfully trained.

  1. Make certain that the next several weeks are clear of any known schedule changes, travel plans, new baby coming, holidays, moving plans, or any busy work load that would effect the child and distract the mom for several days.

Tip one leads into tip two.

2. Once you start training, don't stop until it's done.

Through my own experience, I would have to say that within a half of day of training, most moms will be able to detect if their child is ready or not. Landon had at other times shown interest in being potty trained but when it came right down to it, he didn't end up being ready. I would quickly end any "training" we had started before it had made too big of an impact on him.

A little history...

Once Landon disappeared for several minutes and left no trace of where he was. We looked all over the house, out side, down the street and in every imaginable place but he was no where. Finally, a little voice was heard from the bathroom and what should be found but an underwear clad boy sitting on the potty chair! We were moving the next day and couldn't possibly take the time to consistently train him over such a busy time. Needless to say, it was a nice thought while it lasted but he was soon back in diapers and forgetting all about his short trend with the potty chair.

In conclusion

Now at last I can say that my little boy is trained and fully capable of learning the ropes with all bathroom activity. We're still teaching him that he can go in other people's toilets and are working on eliminating the diaper altogether when we go places. Bed time and naps are still accompanied with a diaper but I'm sure that eventually that will not be necessary either.

Above all, I have to say how thankful I am to the Lord for blessing me with such a smart boy who made potty training so easy. And also, the plan He etched in my mind to try that first day of training, proved to be the faultless and perfect design for us. P.O.T.T.S. is over for Landon!

Now for that girl child...

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