Stop Potty Training Your Kids!
Yup, you read that right, stop potty training. Have I gone crazy? What? If we don't potty train how will we ever be free, FREEEEEE of all of those diapers. Hang in there with me a sec. I'm not saying that you shouldn't support your kids in this next step of life, I’m just so over this whole training thing. Training conjures up images of parents in fatigues, barking orders at their tiny one below, sweating, panting, trying to squeeze something out amidst the trepidation about what is existing below them (we will get back to this soon). Now, of course that’s NOT how they are doing it, but TRAINING? YUCK. Let’s start to learn about mentoring the art of pottying. Now doesn't that sound more inviting already?
Time to step into your kids shoes. Sure, we were potty trained but who remembers THAT? I can barely remember where I put my keys or the remote or my phone. Ok, nix that last one cause my phone is never more than 4 inches away from me. Ok, ummmm, more about that another time, let's focus, back to your kids metaphorical shoes. Just imagine it. You're grasping on with all of your might, as you're suspended over what can seem like a vast ocean of water that swirls and then is sucked down into an infinite abyss. Where does it go? What if they fall in? WHERE WILL THIS VORTEX TAKE THEM???? This is what a toilet looks like to your kids. No not alllll of your kids, gonna head those comments off before they start but to many, many, many. Sure you may have a small potty but someday, someday, they will have to move on to the giant vortex of doom. Kids are also creatures of habit, ya know, not big fans of change. Great right? Just keep in mind, none of us went to high school in diapers. It WILL happen. BUT HOW????
Your first task is to be sure that your child is even ready. Yes, YOUR CHILD IS READY. Bodies develop at different times so one kid might be ready at 2 while your other may be ready closer to 3 and a half or 4. So how do you know if they are ready? Are they dry for a few hours? Do they know when they have gone in their diaper? Does it bother them? Are they interested in the potty? Can they pull up and down most pants? This is pretty important if you think about it. It's great for your kid to be going on the potty but if they can't do many of the steps themselves they might not be ready and it's still gonna be a lot of work for you in the end. Can they follow multi-step directions? There are A LOT of steps to going potty. No, really, check it out:
1. Go to the potty
2. Pull pants down
3. Pull underwear down
4. Get on the potty
5. Wait until done
8. Pull up underwear & pants
9. Wash hands
Mind blowing, huh? OK, your kid is ready, NOW WHAT???
First you want to get your child interested in using the potty. Buy some books, watch some shows, let them pick out a potty (they come in a variety of prices, colors and designs). Next up, info. Kids like information and the more that you can give them the better. Kids do NOT like the unknown especially when it involves a watery demise. Time for some TMI, but when you’re a parent you have to throw inhibitions to the wind. Here ya go, let your kids see you potty. Yup, yup, yup. There ARE moments when potty time DOES need to be private but take ‘em along when you at least are just going to pee. When they see you go, they will want to go and they will discover that it is a part of everyday life. It is just what we all do.
Once you have the potty, make sitting on it part of the diaper changing routine. When you change your child, have them sit on the potty. If they’re resistant, they can sit on it with a diaper or even fully clothed. Be careful not to ask. When we ask kids to do things, we’re opening the door to, “NO”. If we tell them, there is more of a chance that they will follow the direction, “OK, hop on that potty for a moment. Let’s see if anything comes out. What song should we sing?” You want your child to get comfortable with the experience not to master it in record time. So sitting fully clothed is fine and a step in the right direction. Remember, we are teaching the art of pottying and mastering the art of something takes time. As you move forward, have your child sit on the potty and “try” after each diaper change. If they sit for a moment, that is fine. Again, this is a process.
When your child seems ready to take the next step have NAKED DAY!!! Ok, not EVERYONE needs to be naked but have your kid be, at least on the bottom and take that potty with you everywhere so making it there will be easy and rewarding. This is best to do over a weekend so you have a lot of time together and you can all just be home. You’re trying to connect the feeling of needing to pee to the actual potty so when they feel the need they think POTTY.
Time to get real here for a sec, I like to be honest. You will “START” a few times before it takes. Kids are into it, then not so into it. You may go on vacation and long car or plane ride may be something that your child is no where near ready for, and you are not willing to risk the mess that may appear, so back in the diapers they go. Your child may get sick and can’t focus on the potty. Lot’s of things that can throw a wrench in the potty plan. Keep in mind we ALL ended up learning the art of pottying and your kids will too.
If you know me or have worked with me you KNOW that I'm not a fan of charts and prizes but learning the art of pottying is a different situation. There is an end. Once a child has mastered going to the potty they are not really going to stop just because you stop charting and gifting. A congrats can be a new pair of undies, choosing the movie for family movie night, a new (inexpensive) toy. You want have an end date so that you can begin to ween off of the charts and the congrats. For example:
• Use stickers for every time your child goes on the potty
• Then for every pee
• Then for every dry day
• Then for a poo
• Lastly have a big END prize
Big is NOT expensive. Your kid loves dress up? The dollar store has wings for $1 or masks. It’s just something big to your child. It can also be an experience. They can pick dinner or weekend activity. Having a big end prize makes a real statement. They have done it. They have reached the finish-line. They have mastered the art of pottying!!!!
Teaching the art of pottying is a right of passage for parents as well as kids. It's a little stressful, emotional, and if you have a good sense of humor, a hilarious time in your life. Take deep breaths and stay strong and you will find in a few weeks that your child will be going on the potty like a pro. Sure, your child might not be pottying in 24 hours BUT by taking the path described above the experience will be done without tears, yelling, tantrums, and TOO much stress (on the part of BOTH parties). Alright parents, you are now ready! Go forth and mentor the art of pottying!!!!