( Graeme with one of his beloved matchbox cars )
Even though I'm pretty sure that yet another blogger post on potty-training does not need to be added to the plethora that surely already exist, I did want to share a few things that we learned through this process.
I can hardly believe that potty-training is behind us.
( pun intended, hardy-har-har! )
Before we started the potty-training process with Graeme, we were given a lot of advice. You know what I'm talking about, right? Here are some examples: He might be too young. You should have already started. Let him decide when he is ready. You are the parent, you decide when training should begin. Boys are more difficult to potty-train than girls. Girls are more difficult to potty-train than boys. Train him to go standing up. Train him to go sitting down. Set the timer to go off once per hour. Let him tell you when he needs to go potty. Don't do a sticker chart. You absolutely must do a sticker chart! Treats will be your best friend. Don't give your child treats. Treats are okay as long as they are gluten-free, sugar-free, and organic. ( smile and nod, smile and nod. okay, I totally stretched that last one, wink! )
Many tips were quite sound and helpful, but ultimately, I had to realize that I am Graeme's mommy and I know him better than anyone else. I had to act on that knowledge.
Short and sweet, the following steps made potty-training easy-breezy for us:
* Know his learning styles
* Devise a plan of attack
* Choose the best rewards
* Establish and stick with a routine
Here is what I mean by those:
Knowing his learning styles. . .
Graeme is a visual and auditory learner. Knowing that, my first step was to read him books about potty-training for several weeks prior to starting the training. I ordered The Potty Book for Boys by Capucilli and also read him the book, Everyone Poops, which we already owned. Reading to Graeme about the whole nine yards of potty training set the wheels in motion in his little brain. After just a few times through the books, he would begin to tell me that he wanted to go potty on the potty. He would ask to flush the toilet. Sometimes he would clap for me when I went on the potty. Too much information? Yeah, it happens when you have a toddler! ( smile ) Anywho, I knew that he was starting to grasp the concept and was excited about his new-found knowledge. Believe me, I was excited too!
Devising a plan of attack. . .
Graeme is often in his own little world and becomes very focused on what he is doing. That being said, I knew getting him to realize when an accident was about to happen or happening might be a very difficult task. I decided to begin with no underpants. Yep, just a shirt and leg warmers. I wanted him to *immediately* feel and know when an accident was occurring. It worked quickly! Within the first 2-3 days, we saw major results. And although there were definitely times of frustration ( mostly on my part--remember this post? ), success was right around the corner. I learned a very important lesson during days one and two of potty-training: walking down stairs = Graeme going potty. All over the stairs. Every. single. one. of. them. Second lesson learned? Furiously scrubbing every stinking stair will give you plenty of time to get out your frustration before you see that sweet little potty-trainer's face again. Believe me, I know. It happened twice.
*Don't worry, after the first two days, I put Graeme in training pants; he wasn't a poor nekked little boy for very long!
Graeme was very excited about buying his potty-seat. He had read all about the "special potty" in one of his books and was ecstatic to make the big trip to Home Depot with daddy for his seat. The NextStep seat by Bemis is amazing. Get it and no regrets will be had. Mama approval right here!
In the beginning, setting a timer or using this sweet little gift from Granna, the potty watch, was extremely helpful. The potty watch was fun for Graeme. It played a little song when the time was up and he thought that was pretty coolio.
Another thing that we did that was super helpful during the first week was allowing Graeme to hold his portable dvd player and watch a little video while he tried to go potty. He absolutely LOVES to watch "e-os" and I think he began viewing the potty as quite the positive thing instead of something that he dreaded. Obviously, this wasn't something that needed to continue for very long as his "wait time" began to shorten by leaps and bounds. This, I should add, was most helpful when Graeme needed to go potty and Job needed to eat--all at the same time : ) I would get Graeme settled and then know that I had a few minutes of quiet to feed Job. If Job was already down for a nap, I often would read to Graeme as he sat waiting. Again, it gave him a positive outlook towards the potty instead of negative.
Choosing the best rewards. . .
Graeme loves food. Plain and simple, he lives to eat. It's the first thing he talks about in the morning and sometimes the last thing he talks about at night. ( No, I do not believe that means that he will be obese by the age of 12, I just believe that he really loves food, like most boys : ) That being said, I made this knowledge a part of my plan. I loaded up on some fun little snacks. Here's the thing: I was totally fine with him having 7 skittles a day ( one for each time he went on the potty ). Totally fine. Raisins would have worked well for Graeme too--raisins are to Graeme what peanut-butter and chocolate are to me. But this was a new, exciting step of life, and I wanted it to be extra fun. Graeme had never tasted Skittles before--he hasn't since, either--but they definitely did the trick! By the way, when he started going number two on the potty, we ended the treats for going number one. It was a very easy transition and the lack of treats for number one really motivated him to go number two on the potty : )
I did purchase a book of reusable animal stickers from Powell's Books. Graeme loves stickers and I thought a sticker chart would be the icing on the cake for him. Fail. Every time I looked over at his chart, all of his stickers were missing and I would find them on Graeme instead. ( smile ) My little boy loves stickers but he prefers to play with them, not stare at them on the wall. In the end, stickers were a great replacement for the Skittles, they just didn't fare so well on the sticker chart, wink!
Getting success in the number two department was definitely more difficult than results for number one. However, we knew that a certain little boy would do almost anything for his beloved matchbox cars, and so, we made a deal: you poop on the potty, you get a firetruck matchbox. It was the best couple of bucks we've spent in a long time! ( daddy was extra nice and bought a few extra matchbox cars along with the firetruck : )
Establishing + Sticking with a Routine. . .
After a few days, Graeme began telling me when he needed to go potty. We fell into the routine of going immediately when he woke up in the morning and after nap-time, right before nap-time and bed-time at night, and additional trips about an hour after eating + drinking. Within the first couple of weeks, Graeme began waking up from his nap with a dry diaper; right around the month mark, Graeme began waking up in the morning with a dry diaper. We began potty training on January 26th ( I remember the date because it's my brother's birthday! ) and am happy to say that we are completely potty-trained. No diapers during naps or at night-time, just our big boy pants. I am so proud of Graeme!
In all reality, I feel like the potty-training process was just a continuation of child-training. And, while that may sound silly or redundant, it was very true for me. I, by the grace of God, am teaching my child to live and love life through trusting and obeying. It was another step in him trusting us. I think it's still cute that sometimes, when he is using the restroom upstairs --the one without a child seat-- he says to me, while I am helping him, "mama won't let you fall in, I promise".
It's true. He's never fallen in yet and we hope to keep it that way. ( smile )