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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Potty Training - A Success Story

Potty training.  As you can see, it's serious business.  And this week, I think, I can proudly claim success.  Of course, success is relative, and I've been trying for months to get to this point, using various methods and techniques and tricks, mostly to no avail.  The twins simply were not ready for my previous attempts.

I've had my share of pee-pee pick-up duty.  I've scrubbed down furniture and carpets to get rid of undesirable waste.  I've dealt with tantrums over wearing or not wearing a diaper.  I've rushed babies to the potty only to sit there for hours as they refused to pee or to move.  I've completely missed dinner at a restaurant, spending the entire time in the restroom with petulant twins.  I've gone through hundreds of stickers.  I've begged, cajoled, threatened and broken down into tears.

Potty training.  It is serious business.

It got so bad at one point, I simply gave up, deciding that my quitting did not equal a failure on my part or on my kids' parts.

After that last attempt, as the twins approached their 2.5 mark, I decided, once more, to try the potty.

Here are a few things that worked for me:

1) Forget the pull ups.  My children liked pull ups, they really did.  They liked them because they were pink and blue and pretty.  They had no interest in pulling them either up or down.  They know what a diaper looks like, even when it's colorful, and they know what a diaper does.  It's easier to pee pee in a diaper than in a potty, so if they were wearing a diaper, even one with snazzy velcro, they would pee in the diaper.

2) It doesn't matter what you reward them with, as long as you reward them.  My kids only got distracted with promises of stickers and candy.  The bribes didn't really work to get the pee pee in the potty.  They could not connect the two concepts.  In the end, the best incentive for them was letting them flush the toilet afterward.  This worked on several levels.  They got to do something they considered fun to prove that they were good girls, and they saw the completion of a task.  They gratifyingly saw their pee pee go away.  We have a little ritual that include waving goodbye to it and shouting, "Bye Shee Shee!"

3)  You do not have to clean up urine dozens of times a day.  Repeat that to yourself.  I do not have to clean up urine dozens of times a day.  If you find yourself on your hands and knees scrubbing away every hour for more than a few days (they do need time to get used to it), if your hands have a lingering salty smell no matter how much you wash them, your kids are not ready for potty training.  This is where I was when we gave up.  I simply could not bear to find another "present" behind the coffee table three hours after the fact.

4)  Take it in steps.  We started by going completely pantless.  A few accidents later, and the babies understood that when they had to go, they had to run to the potty.  It was magical.  Then I moved to keeping them in pants and underwear.  We had a few more accidents because up until that point whenever the babies had felt material on their legs they were able to urinate without consequence.  After a few pants soakings though, they now rush to me and I help them down with their pants, and they go, gloriously, as heavenly music filters down from the sky.

5)  Buy the right underwear.  While everyone pays lip service to having their babies trained at 18 months (I'm skeptical, I admit), the smallest underwear you can easily find is a 4T.  Don't do it.  If your child is a 2T or a 3T, hold out.  Wearing underwear needs to be a comfortable experience.  Ballooning, wrinkled, too-big underroos are anything but comfortable.  Be careful, too, of the cut.
On the left we have a "wrong" pair of underwear.  It's made by Joe Boxer.  First, it's huge.  It simply will not fit my babies for about another year.  Secondly, and almost more importantly, look at how small the front portion is.  It's not wide enough.  It doesn't cover, and the blue outline is too rough for the skin it's up against.  They are poorly made.  On the right, we have a "right" pair of underwear, although I don't remember their brand.  They're 2/3T.  The waist is smaller, the leg holes are smaller, the front portion is bigger and sits correctly.  It's enough for me to forgive the "Cute" across the front (really, underwear-makers?).

6)  If you are at the beginning of this potty training process, remember what not to buy, and that quitting is not failing.

Good luck and Godspeed.  Children are all different and can handle different developments at different times.  Two and a half just happened to be the right age for us.

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  1. My daughter was harder to potty train than my twin boys!
    Excellent advice!

  2. Done this three times and getting ready to start w/ number four. Lots of great advice in here! BabyGap has some tiny undies that are very soft and comfy. My little girl has a teeny tush and they fit her. Best of luck for a speedy process :)

  3. Great post I have a five year old daughter who was a breeze to potty train and was out of nappies at two but I feel my son is going to be a different kettle of fish. At 20 months old he is showing no interest in the potty.potty training in 3 days

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  5. My daughter is 16 months old and has no idea what I mean when I say "we're going to start potty training.

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