May 6, 2009

Okay, Sure, Let's Talk About Potty Training

Yesterday's post about declawing cats (and was it only me that had the urge to go out and declaw some cats JUST FOR FUN after that?) was insufficiently controversial for some of you, who now want me to talk about POTTY-TRAINING. Oh dear Maude. Next shall we discuss the death penalty?

All right, fine, let me just phone in for a tranq refill first.

Here is Swistle's Main Philosophy of Potty-Training: "Meh." Any preferences I express for one method over another are mild and casual and only because I find that way easier: I could be talked out of or into just about anything---though not for long, since I would soon default again to whatever was easiest.

I tend to side with the idea that children train when they train, and that the only changeable thing is how much time you get to spend doing the training and actively managing the pottying. This may or may not correlate with the VERY LATE TRAINING at our house. You're welcome, landfills!

If I start experimenting with training and it's a big struggle, I stop and try again later. Consistency is not one of my strong suits anyway.

I like to train in warm weather, when the child can run around without pants on. This makes it easier for the child to remember that he or she is not wearing a diaper. It also makes it easier for ME to remember that I need to be reminding and/or monitoring and/or making sure the child isn't sitting on the new couch.

I'm in favor of pull-ups for the stage when the child WANTS to make it to the potty in time but doesn't always succeed. I'm not in favor of them for the stage where the child doesn't care either way. But the only reason I'm "not in favor" is the cost. If they were the same price as diapers I'd be in favor.

We have a potty seat that attaches to the toilet like a third lid---like, so there's the regular toilet lid, then the potty seat flips up the same way, and then the regular toilet seat is the third thing to flip. It is the best thing ever. I bought it ten years ago from The Right Start or One Step Ahead or a place like that, and I haven't seen one since.

I use food treats to reward potty usage. Two small things (like M&Ms or Smarties or mini marshmallows or chocolate chips) for pee. Four small things for poop. Double treats for using an unfamiliar potty. Treats are stopped at whatever Major Upcoming Event (starting a schoolish program, turning a year older, a new calendar year) occurs soonest after treats no longer seem necessary for motivation.

For the training/learning stage, I buy ugly cheap children's underwear on clearance. That way it isn't painful to throw away a pair that got pooped in, and in fact it can be a real pleasure. See ya, ugly stupid animated character I hate! It even turns into a bit of a game, where I'm ROOTING for the child to have an accident in a particular pair. This helps reduce the frustration I might otherwise feel at accidents.

I don't know WHAT to do about night-training. I don't get it at ALL. It seems like kids either wake up and pee or else they DON'T, and very little can be done about it. According to our pediatrician, 10% of 10-year-old boys are not yet night-trained, and although there are alarm systems and so forth, the most effective cure for bedwetting is time.

There. Is that enough potty talk?

40 comments:

Miss Grace said...

I too, am in favor of training in weather conducive to pantslessness.

Also? Yeah. Night training. Gabriel has woken up dry less than ten times in the 14 months since he's been potty trained, and there doesn't seem to be too much I can do about it, and since pull ups are such a lovely invention, I suppose I don't much care. He is, after all, only three.

Hotch Potchery said...

I knew it took my son FOREVER to get night-trained, but he recently told me it was much later than I thought.

The reason I stopped at two children was that was as much literal shit in the pants that I could take. I despise potty training, and really hope I do not have to assist with that with my nephew who is moving here in 3! months.

Mimi said...

I have the massive experience of potty training one (1) child so far. We had several months of extreme frustration, then we had a breakthrough moment and he has been potty trained ever since. He's only had a few accidents since then, and has also never wet the bed at night or at nap times, wearing just underpants.
So I think night-training must be a total crap-shoot. Some kids can just hold it for that long and some kids can't and there is nothing you can do about it either way. I will say that my son, even when he is awake during the day, can hold his urine for an extraordinary amount of time. I think he gets that charming trait from me (when not pregnant). =)

Katie said...

I actually just saw one of those "small potty within the large potty seat" deals in the One Step Ahead catalog recently. We're just starting potty training and so far I'm of the "meh" camp. He's young, so we have time before he's going off to college in pull-ups.

Joanne said...

This is great for me to read. My son is not even close and he is almost four, but he's autistic and has insane sensory issues so I am being patient. Kind of! But my daughter is 16 months and I want to be smart and aware of what to do, since I have been just blindly changing diapers for so many years. So thanks!

mom huebert said...

Pullups are a life- and sanity-saver for night training. Bed-wetting is no longer an issue, just something that happens.

For the record, every summer my two nieces come for a two week visit, and the oldest one, who is now 12, still has bed-wetting problems. But never fear: last year we starting buying Depends. Works like a charm for keeping our beds dry, and I don't have to make an issue of it.

Linda said...

I am 2 for 3 on potty-training (#3 is 19 months) and I did it the Swistle way: LAZY. I waited until my kids ASKED to wear underwear and use the toilet. They were both trained in about 2 weeks (trained = one accident or less per day, not necessarily nighttime trained).

As it was, I was sort of reluctant to train because diapers are so convenient. I can change them when I want to change them. When your kids are potty-trained you have to be ready to drop everything and rush to the nearest toilet at a moment's notice. It's highly inconvenient.

heather said...

FYI we found those flip up seats also at babiesRus... they're only like ten bucks and I really do think they are one of the best inventions ever. Plenty of potty-training mamas were asking where we got our seat!
Question though... it is brilliant for girls, but have you used it for the boys?? I put it away when my daughter didn't need the smaller seat anymore and I haven't brought it out now that my son is potty trained. I know he'd probably appreciate the smaller seat, but I don't know that it leaves that much room for pointing down or aiming??

Nowheymama said...

Woot! Thanks, Swistle. I'm of the late school, too, but now I'm wondering how late is too late/weird. So thanks for writing about this.

d e v a n said...

Thank you! I now feel less stressed about potty training!

nevermelts said...

I am like you. Consistency? no way. I actually blamed myself for late training because I'm inconsistent. Then I figured hey, I let them be more independent.

My son picked it up in a week, but then regressed and would have accidents ONLY if he had underwear on. If he was commando under pants, he was fine. GO FIGURE! I do not know what's up with that. Maybe I should find that boy some itty bitty toddler boxers.

After my daughter put me through the Year of the Spiteful Pee... I was too shell shocked to train my son. Even though she was ready and trained early, I decided he was going to train himself... but then I gave in when I could hardly lift him up to the changing table hehe. (and I don't change on the floor, bed, or couch.)

Kathy said...

I subscribe to the "meh" theory of potty training, too.

brenna said...

Just an aside, and I'm not saying it would work for everyone, but my son (six-nearly-seven at the time) stopped wetting the bed when we stopped buying him GoodNites. Not exactly sure if a few nights of wet sheets were all it took for him to get the message or what, but there it is. Worth a try.

SarahO said...

I was in the "meh" camp as well. I end up putting my daughter in regular undies at almost 3. When she had an accident I sat her on the potty. (Hoping to catch a little of the accident into the potty.) She was trained in 5 days.

Night time? Yeah, she is in pull-ups and that is completely fine with me. She has asked to wear "big girl pants" to bed. I told her when she gets up in the morning with dry night-night pants, she can try big girl pants at night. I guess there's the controversy...she has expressed interest and I said no because she has just started to sleep through the night and I am T.I.R.E.D. Quick! Call protective services.

Stacia said...

I don't have kids, but I have to say I have NO IDEA how parents can afford diapers. It's insane!

No one wants to hear my Tale O' Woe, but when I was a kid, I got trained pretty quickly then at about 6 or 7 started wetting the bed again. Lots of parental disapproval and demeaning went on, because it was the 70s, and that's what parents did. 20-odd years later I discovered I had sleep apnea, and the bed wetting was probably a symptom of it (I had other symptoms, too). Again, not being a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine the stress and frustrating of regular potty training, let alone all the weird little things that could affect it.

DomestiKook said...

I used to work at the Right Start, and yeah, those seats are awesome! They make a folding kind that fits it a large zip lock for travel too!

How about the next post be not so controversial? How about A Georgie Update?

-R- said...

I am a long way from potty training but am wondering something anyway. Do you train a boy to pee sitting down or standing up?

Swistle said...

Heather- It definitely works better for girls, since it doesn't have much of a "shield" (because of the lid needing to close flat over it). But it works for boys, too. I have them, ahem, "tuck and close" (tuck it down and then close their legs to keep it down). Then when they get older, they put the seats all up for peeing, but then use the small seat for pooping.

Nowheymama- I wonder, too! Notice I was too shy to give any actual numbers! I tried to get hard info out of my pediatrician but he was reluctant to discuss "normal." He did say that on average, boys STARTED training at age three. (I only had boys at that point, so didn't get anything about girls.)

-R-- When I found out 11 years ago that I was expecting a boy, this was the FIRST thing I wondered about! I'm not sure what's typical, but I teach boys to pee sitting down, and then when they're fully potty-trained I have Paul teach them to pee standing up.

Erin said...

Hey, this is GREAT! You know, I started to write a post on potty training today but didn't finish it (slash CHICKENED OUT on posting it). But maybe I will post it...

I take the Strict Lazy Parent approach to the whole thing. Encourage, don't worry about it, they'll get it eventually. It might be a little-- um-- messier than other approaches. But I just can't bring myself to fret about the potty.

halloweenlover said...

I have recently learned people feel VERY STRONGLY about the potty training. Who knew? A woman went on and on the other day telling me that I was wasting my time and should just stop and shouldn't bother and was making a mistake and blah blah blah. But Gabe wants to potty train, and he's doing great, and I'm not going to worry about it. I like your method.

Chraycee said...

JB is going to be 2 in a month (!) and I have been wondering when is appropriate to potty train. She also still takes a bottle to bed at night and more often than not at naptime (about 1/3 milk and 2/3 water)and I wonder about that as well. She drinks from a sippy cup - no big deal, but likes the bottle for going to sleep.

Bethtastic said...

Me, too. "meh."

As far as night time, I'm so glad to see other people who don't think it's "REALLY WEIRD!" when kids aren't night-dry.

I wet the bed until I was 13. My husband was 15 when he stopped having accidents. Not every night, but at least once a week. I tried the alarms. No dice. My Mom tried getting me up every night. Again, no. Then, one day I simply realized that I hadn't had an accident in like two weeks...never did again. It's not a big deal at all to either of us. And we're both well-educated, successful professionals. Seems bed-wetting didn't warp us in the least. Like Swistle said, time.

Anonymous said...

This I love:
even turns into a bit of a game, where I'm ROOTING for the child to have an accident in a particular pair. This helps reduce the frustration I might otherwise feel at accidents.

Kristi said...

Three kids trained. Three ways of training. Don't ask me what they were, I don't remember (my last time was MONTHS ago, after all).

I actually opted for letting them pick out their own panties with their most favorite whoevers so they would be forlorn to poo in them. If they did, I literally cut them off with scissors (mean mommy) -- say bye bye to Belle!

Fiona Picklebottom said...

I'm totally with you on all of it, except that I've never done the treat thing. PROBABLY because I never actually tried to potty train any of my kids. Yet surprisingly all but the two-year-old do in fact use the potty. The oldest and the third just started at some point and the second just had to be told that she could not go to preschool unless she used the potty, so she did because she wanted to go to preschool. They do it when they're ready or if they really want something and you mention using the potty as the way to get it. Now, my 2-year-old does enjoy her em-ems (M&Ms), so I might suggest to her (after our summer vacation, because diapers are SO MUCH EASIER than emergency toddler potty stops) that some em-ems could possibly be forthcoming in the event of potty usage. So then I WILL have done the treat thing.

Kristi said...

I didn't know potty training was a hot button issue! I'm also of the "meh" method. I let my daughter pick out princess undies when she was 2 1/2, let her run around in them when we were home, and talked to her about going on the potty. Then one day she just took herself to the bathroom and went. No muss no fuss. Night training took a little longer, but we just used pull-ups until she was waking up dry pretty consistently. i figure that kids will learn eventually. no point freaking out about when.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

We have a potty chair for my 2 1/2 year old son but so far he just sits on it fully clothed and makes a "pssssss" sound.

Tara said...

Swistle, I think you totally missed the controversy you were going for, at least so far. ;)

My husband and I both work outside the home, so we subscribed to the "eh, let daycare take care of it" method of potty training. Honestly, they have this crap (ha!) down PAT, because they do it all the time. Once our son entered the 2-year-old room, all kids were encouraged to sit on the potty at regular times, and if they weren't trained, that was when their diaper/pull-up got changed. At home, we used pull-ups and asked him if he needed to go, and eventually his accidents became fewer-and-far-between(er?), and he was done. We did go through phases where we had ONLY pee accidents, then ONLY poop accidents, and then back to pee, but they were all rare.

As for nighttime? Dylan will be in pull-ups until he starts consistently waking up dry. I'm sure not going to let it bother me, I'm just going to do what I have to do for now to avoid changing sheets at 3AM.

Callie said...

Oh yeah - potty training. One of my least favorite times being a mommy. My youngest - smart as a whip, top of her class, etc - wanted nothing - NOTHING - to do with the potty chair. She knew I wanted her to use it, and she refused just to spite me. She would go off and hide behind the couch to pee/poo in her pull-ups. Then she'd come out of hiding and get this HUGE smile on her face. The little turd. She was 3 or 3-1/2 by the time she finally started using the potty chair.

So I am fully in the "they will do it when they're ready" camp, because trying to get a kid to do something they don't want to do is murder.

nicole said...

Yes. I agree with pretty much everything you said. Which is why my son who will be 4 in September is still in diapers. We've spent a day here and there practicing, and he is not ready for it. He'll go when he darn well pleases.

Jen said...

ha - my word verification is tured.

thanks for all this info ladies. i was totally prepared to wait a while to even start thinking about it but deven started asking about the potty and telling us when she went at ridiculously early.

we got her a little potty for christmas and it's been used a handful of times though she mostly uses it as a stool to chat when we're in the bathroom.

our biggest obstacle is the snaps on cloth diapers - getting there in time and getting them off. i s'pose pull-ups are easier and i think once summer hits for real, we can have some more pants-off time.

Anonymous said...

I think I have the strangest potty training story ever. Before my daughter turned 2 (and before I even considered potty training) she began SCREAMING right before she went to the bathroom. She cried, threw a fit, and begged for a diaper change (in her own way of course). I was extremely worried, and made an appointment with her pediatrician thinking she was in pain and had an infection. He found nothing wrong, and then it clicked - she knew she was about to go and was scared! She literally potty trained in less than a week (including night training) with no work on my part aside from reassurance so she wasn't scared when it was happening.

To sum it up - I am a big fan of letting them figure it out on their own! It just seems much easier than trying to convince a child who doesn't have a clue what you are talking about!

Whimsy said...

I think I can get behind a Swistle Covers the Controversial Topics week. Just saying.

And dude, I LOVE the idea of rooting for Alice to poop on the cartoon characters I hate. I think it might be a good strategy for ME living through the potty training.

But seeing as how it's a little ways off... I'm going to enjoy Alice attempting to TOUCH THE POO EVERYTIME THE DIAPER IS OFF and call it a day.

Thanks, as always, for catering to my every whim and request. Kisses! You're the best!

shriekhouse said...

I'm a big advocate for child-led potty training. That's why I sneak little chocolate bribes on the side. :-)

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I thought I was being all 'meh' about the potty training until it became apparent DS1 & I were locked in a power struggle about using the potty. Guess who held all the cards in that? Not me. And the boy ended up with a condition I can't ever spell properly & requires him to be on laxatives until he is at least 7.

This sent in me in the other direction with DS2, who ended up training himself at age 4,

DH gets them up at midnight to pee, before he goes to bed. DS2 formed a habit from it. DS1, not so much...

Farrell said...

Swistle,
I desperately need your help with a child sleeping issue. Not a baby: she's 4 1/2. I'm at my wit's end! See my post, Please!

Anonymous said...

Thought I would bring in another point of view...I was intrigued by the 'diaper-free baby' movement which is gaining momentum where I live. Started putting DD on the potty at 2 months, throughout the day, sometimes caught a pee or a poop, usually didn't. Sounds labor intensive, but isn't really (rather than just changing a diaper, I put her on the potty for a minute, sing a song or two, and then change diaper).
By 6 months, she knew what the potty was for and now, at 9 months, we 'catch' probably 90% of poops and 30% of pees. When we go out I don't worry about it, but rather focus on it when we're at home. I am not hardcore compared to others who do this, and she is by no means diaper-free.
But! It reduces the number of diapers we use significantly. Don't know where this will go (she recently went through a 'potty pause' though is back at it. When she poops on the potty she looks very pleased! It is (surprizingly) kind of fun and my thought was to get her used to being on the potty from the get-go.
This probably sounds kooky but hey, fewer diaps in the landfill!

RookieMom Whitney said...

I am a recent second time potty training alumnae. My daughter was about 16 months ahead of my son in potty training readiness.

I just bought that third lid thing you're talking about - so it does still exist. Awesomeness.

Sam said...

I'm so relieved to read about all of you who are in the "lazy parenting" category of potty training. I feel like I have a few good ideas (from teaching 2 year old preschool, my biggest weapon was kindly peer pressure, which I won't have at home) but I know my son and he WON'T be pressured into it. I think we're going to play it very cool and honestly, I don't see how I can potty train him until he's actually TALKING more.

Jen said...

I was *just* going to email you about your experience in the potty-training department. We are working on the night thing here, and it is FRUSTRATING! I don't get it at all. Sometimes she can stay dry all night, other times she wets her bed every 2 hours.

What do you do in this situation? Do you put them back in diapers? I was doing that, but now am just washing a LOT of sheets. I figure if I put her back in diapers for night time, she might get confused, or else lazy. Ugh. Thanks for the post.