I decided to be gentle from 15 months to 18 months. After all, I could be totally wrong about her cues. Heck, even my mom was mocking me! (But that just made me more determined) I would sit her on her potty chair before and after sleeping periods, before and after eating and before and after leaving the house. We had some potty books and I used YouTube videos on my smartphone to keep her entertained and in one place. It was a few days before Erin actually peed on the potty. The rest of the time, I would keep a diaper on.
Then, I went bare bum. Yeah…I couldn’t hold out until 18 months to do this. Curiosity got the best of me. Erin had a pretty regular bowel movement, but her pee, I just wanted to know if she peed on a schedule. How could I find out if she had a diaper on? Little did I know that this would REALLY teach her that pee goes in the potty.
With the help of a woman by the screen name of “Bussinesshyer,” on BabyCenter, I followed her advice. She had great experience: potty training 3 boys (her 4th she is currently using elimination communication with) one of them with a processing disorder and speech delay, she seemed to know what she was talking about. Here was the advice I got and the plan I followed:
1) Wake up and tell your child there are no more diapers. Leave pants and undies off and enjoy the view folks!
2) Start taking your child on a schedule: before and after eating, sleeping, and leaving the house. This will teach them that we should try to eliminate before or after these activities. It also reduces the chance of them eliminating while sleeping or eating and having an accident while out and about. If they produce for you, give your child great praise and show them what they did. It was really exciting to see Erin look in her potty, point to her pee and babble with excitement realizing what she had done.
3) You can also choose to reward your child further with treats of some sort. I used goldfish: 1 for pee, 2 for poop. Some other people I know used M&M’s or stickers. If just praise works enough, then that’s fine. (Tip about stickers: I tried stickers at a later date when Erin was going through a little regression, she got mad because they stuck to the paper and wouldn’t come off, we don’t use stickers anymore)
4) When elimination occurs on the floor, whisk them to the potty and say gently and matter- of- factly “pee/poop goes in the potty.” Then, have them sit on the potty to see if they get more out. Stay with your child, until they are done on the potty. This part will really try your patience. You have to take into account that accidents are going to happen. Don’t expect them to get it within 5 minutes. If you get frustrated, take a moment to yourself and move on. But DON’T put a diaper back on, it will just make the process 10 times harder when you try again later. Accidents are learning opportunities, so welcome them. The morning after a particularly hard day, I would just tell myself, “expect a lot of accidents today, Tricia.” Then, I wasn’t disappointed. Try NOT to lose your cool with them. This is easier said than done, but making the potty a negative experience can backfire and make a child resistant to using it. Now, I’m not perfect, there were definitely days that I “lost it” with Erin and yelled or forced a sit after an accident. Accidents aren’t fun, but a child is learning a new habit: peeing in the potty rather than in a diaper. It’s like learning to walk…it’s a process, and we praise every step closer to the first steps, don’t we?
5) Have your child help you clean their accident. Some parents think this is harsh, but you know what? Erin now cleans/puts her toys away when asked, or on her own when we leave the room. If she spills milk, crackers, water or something else, she asks for a paper towel and cleans it herself. I do NOT see this as punishment. I see it as teaching her responsibility. We should clean up after ourselves and at 15 months or even 12 months, they are perfectly capable with a little guidance to do this. If they are resistant, just grab their hand and wipe it up with them. Her favorite phrase now is, “uh oh. Pick up!” She picks up and puts away EVERYTHING, even things I might leave out. 😀 Yes, she is resistant to picking up stuff sometimes, but with a little bit of encouragement, she gets it done without a screaming mess.
6) Pretty soon, your child will start to make the connection between their sensation on needing to eliminate and going to the potty. The way someone put it once was quite wise: kids first tell you AFTER they peed/pooped, then WHILE they are peeing/pooping and finally BEFORE they pee/poop. That’s the order of the process. Once they start to tell you they need to use the potty, put underwear on the next day. If it’s been four days and they still haven’t initiated, put underwear on anyway. You don’t want to have a “diaper recall.” Plan to have at least 20 pairs of undies on hand. The cheapest I found were from Target. If your child has a small tush, just wash the undies in hot water and they should shrink a little. I bought 3 packs of 7, totaling 21 pairs of underwear. For Erin this was enough. For my advisor, her first son went through 40 pairs of underwear on the first day (but she did not do bare bum with him, she just put him in underwear instead of a diaper).
7) Once underwear is on, don’t expect them to just not have accidents anymore…they will. Some may even start to release a little and stop. So now your target should be to do dry checks every 30-60 minutes. Praise them for being dry and remind them about the potty. You could even change your reward system to rewards for dry checks rather than using the potty. Once a child knows where their elimination needs should be done, they naturally start to play with “THE LINE.”
“The line” is the longest time they can hold their pee before needing to use the potty. This is a natural process so try not to get in the way. It’s hard, I know…there are countless times I’ve lured Erin to the potty with a forbidden toy. Remember that accidents are learning experiences and holding it is a natural process. They need to know where that line is so that they can judge how much time they need to get to the potty before wetting themselves. As they master this process, they should have less and less accidents.
Starting potty training early does look a little different: it can take longer. That’s okay. It won’t take longer for them to learn where pee and poop go, but it can take longer for them to be 100% accident free for weeks on end. It’s okay. Having one accident a day for a while isn’t the end of the world and to me, it’s a lot easier when they are more complacent than resistant to what Mommy and Daddy want them to do.