Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guest Blogger from the BabyWise Network; Shea Moses on Potty Training

 Please welcome our guest blogger, Shea Moses, as she gives insight on her experience with potty training.  She is a fellow BabyWise mom and comes to us from the BabyWise Friendly Blog Network.  Please visit her page to learn more about her passion for parenting and for the Lord.

           My name is Shea Moses, and I am so thrilled to be guest blogging here today! I am a mom to 4 daughters ranging in ages 6 yrs -1 yr and I am an expert at nothing, but a lover of all things parenting has to offer. I use BabyWise principals and philosophies in my home, and I am excited to be a part of a blogging network that is BabyWise friendly. I have a little family blog at where you can find me should you ever have interest!  I am a work in progress, and like most of you, just trying to do right by my husband and little girls. I am taking a little bit of time here to share some potty training tips and a bit about my experience in this department. Remember, I am NO authority on this topic, I share strictly from my own experiences.

       Back in March, My husband and I geared up for our 3rd round of potty training. We had a pretty good idea of what to expect, and so we prepared for the “fun” just ahead.  I have read a few different books on potty training philosophies, and I feel like I have picked a few things from several of them that have made our potty training experiences fairly quick and less painful than you would expect it to be.  I wanted to detail some key concepts that we have taken away from having done this 3 times with 3 different personality types. 

Gauging Readiness

       Gauging readiness for potty training can be so tricky. You can have a young toddler “showing” you that he understands what happens in the bathroom. He may even talk about the potty.  You may set this same toddler on the potty, thinking this could be the beginning of him really learning how to use the potty, and he flips out at the idea of being anywhere near the potty. Or, you may have a toddler who has never shown a bit of interest in the potty, and then one day she comes up to you and tells you she needs to go before she is wet. They can fall anywhere on the spectrum.  Some books say 18 months is a good time to begin training. Some say don’t even try until they are 3.  So, with all the confusion that surrounds knowing if your toddler is really ready, these are the basic things I personally try to look for:

           1.      Their diapers are consistently dry after nap time, and usually dry in the mornings when they wake. This is a good indicator of bladder control. Can their little bodies hold it for a longer period of time than they used too? Can their brain effectively communicate to the bladder to store urine, and not release it, for several hours at a time? Be mindful of how long your child goes between diaper changes – and take into consideration the amount of liquids they have been given. Also, is your toddler pretty “regular”? Does their body usually release around the same time of day? This a good sign of readiness, so that YOU can be alert and ready and expect that to continue on when they are in underwear.

          2.      I like to evaluate verbal/communication skills too. When I think we could be getting ready for the potty training “event”, I like to think about how well they can talk with me about what is going on with them. If they can tell me they need a drink, and I can clearly understand – that usually lets me know they are aware of what their body is telling them, and they can go a step further than just knowing – they can ask/tell an adult to meet whatever need they have. Can they follow simple directions, such as, “Go get your shoes” or, “Let’s get into the car”? If so, this points to being able to work with you on completing a task successfully. Pay attention to just what exactly they are capable of. When you start paying attention, you will be surprised at just how much they can do!

            3.      Think about their age. I am a believer that every child is different and that readiness can come for one child much earlier than the next, but in general, I think it’s safe to begin thinking in this direction anywhere from 20 months on up. My nieces were training at 21 months, but my girls were never ready until about 28 - 30 months. Some are later than this. Don’t be discouraged if they are, just start to think in that direction! I promise, your baby won’t go to kindergarten in a diaper! It is important that you are not stressed about it, which brings me to my next point.

            4.      Gauge when MOM is ready. Mom’s readiness is just as important as the tot’s readiness is for potty training. I think you know if YOU are ready if you can find a way to get EXCITED about helping your child accomplish such a task. If you find that you are more focused on the child being fully trained than dreading the actual training you can feel confident that you are prepared emotionally to walk your child through such a big life change! When you are not stressed at the thought of training and you get to a place where you just want the training to be over with, you are probably of sound mind to get the job done!

When you know you & babe are ready 

and its time

            Carve out several days and devote them to nothing but training your child. Staying at home and honing in on the process for a long weekend will really result in a lot of progress and once you have perfected the art of going potty at home, you can take the next step to getting out and about with a potty trained child. Say no to play dates, PTO meetings, or even Sunday School if needed. Clear your schedule. The only thing you will be doing is getting knee deep in training your child.
 Expect the first day to be messy and exhausting. This is the just the reality of what you are getting into. The first day is a means to an end. The first day is hard, but it is so so so so key to the success of potty training. Your perspective will need to shift – you will need to look at the first day that is full of accidents – as opportunities for teaching and training. Understand that you would NOT be able to train your child if they did not have an accident(s) first. When they have an accident, remind them that pee pee and poop belong in the potty, not their undies. Then place them on the potty. Press repeat all day long. The goal would be to get them on the potty so that they can at least finish up in the potty – because anything that makes it into the potty is something to be celebrated! Spend the rest of the day asking them to tell YOU when they need to go – as this will place some power in their hands, and giving them a tiny bit of control will go a long way for you. I avoid placing them on the potty every 30 minutes or any time interval, really. It does no good for them to sit on the potty and not have a reason to be sitting there. It teaches nothing, so it’s a waste of time – and will most likely cause the toddler to lose interest pretty quickly, as it could turn into more of a game for them in doing so. 

Don’t just commit the days to training, but commit the time during those days to really focus, because you will learn a lot about your child if you do. You will learn how they handle doing something drastically different than they ever have before. You will see how they react to being in charge of regulating their own body. You will also have the advantage of seeing some non-verbal “I gotta go” cues.  I remember feeling at ease because this ended up being a game changer about mid-day of day 1. As the day progressed, I noticed my daughter would cross her legs at the ankles and then she would look up at me and tell me she needed to go. So, I took advantage of her cue here. As soon as I saw her cross her legs at the ankles – I moved her to the toilet. Those few extra seconds of time were huge! They saved minimal and major messes! I would have never noticed such a slight change in body language had I not committed myself to not taking my eyes off her during the time I had set aside to get this done. It turns out, my 2nd and 3rd daughter also had some non-verbal cues when it came time to train them. My 2nd daughter would stand straight up, like at attention right before she needed to go. So, as soon as she would stand up straight we knew to get her to the toilet STAT! My 3rd daughter would grab at her backside and start waddling around. Again, when we saw this happen we moved her quickly to the toilet and were able to get her there in just enough time. Moving your child to the toilet as soon as they feel that sensation of needing to go makes their tiny brains begin to associate the toilet with releasing and so the process works beautifully

Make this a fun and positive experience! Spend your time praising the successes your child has, and take NO TIME focusing on the accidents. Ignore them all together.  As stated above, accidents will happen. If you shift your thinking of accidents as nothing but a mess to being a necessary step to your child succeeding, you will find that potty training will be a much more fun journey than you would have ever thought.  Let them pick out their own undies. Let them have sugary drinks that they probably do not get to have on a regular basis. Make a sticker chart for every time they get it. Go all out. If you make it a fun and special time for the both of you, it can actually be hard work that is fun in its own way.

 By Day 2, you will see great strides from the beginning of day 1. That will give you the motivation to keep going strong. You will realize how capable your child is, and you will be so proud. I remember with my first, I realized how little I gave her credit for being able to do! It is amazing to watch your child grow exponentially in just a few days time! It will be a time you will probably never forget.

Some tips as you move beyond

  1. It is typical for kids to have a “final test” right when you begin thinking they totally have mastered training. Don’t worry, they have. Many children on somewhere between days 8-12 or maybe even further on than that, have a few days of many accidents. It is if they are saying, “Are you sure, mom, this is it? No more diapers? Ever? Even if I start messing up a lot?!” Stay consistent. Pay no attention to the mess, and encourage them a lot when they make it to the potty during this time. It’s a quick quick phase, and NO – they have not lost all that they have learned. They will pick back up in no time.
  2.  Keep a little portable potty in the car with you. This has been a saving grace for us time after time after time! We keep a little potty with us, and let me tell you, we have gone potty in parking lots of all kinds. At Every park in town. On the very side of the road. It has been so handy to have with us – and keeps us consistent with getting them to the toilet ANY time they need it!
  3.  Try to stay away from Pull-Ups as best as you can. They only cause confusion. Pull ups are basically a diaper – in every way except the tabs. If you can, try to go all or nothing. It’s the most effective. Remember that only training half way will only get you half way results. Why mess with paying for pull ups all while still cleaning up accidents all the time for months on end, when you can knock it all out in a few days if you fully focus? Trust yourself and your kiddo. They can do this, and so can you!

Shea Moses