Thursday, October 25, 2018

The "Potty Train" Technique

Raise your hand if you are beginning or mid- potty training.  If you just raised your hand, know mama [papa] that I feel you and am sending all good vibes, prayers and magical dust your way.  Let me also go ahead and get this comment out of the way:

You are doing great. Your child is doing the best they can.  Mercy... it seems like it's never going to end and honestly, sometimes it takes a long time.  Let me get real about my kids and our journey so that you can understand that all kids are different and that there is no "perfect magical potty training technique that works for everyone". I feel the need to say this because I felt enormous guilt and failure for a long time after a popular training method that worked for everyone else in our family (cousin in laws) just didn't work for us.  It seemed like it did.  Until it didn't.  Gah that is so frustrating.

The method I'm going to share with you today was the best "technique" we used and it was pretty much just made up. (ha- serendipity!) It wasn't perfect but for us it worked better than the previously mentioned and if this simple technique helps your kiddo go potty then I consider that a success. Why? Because we really need a break every now and then.

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products we used while potty training or products that can be used in this process.  Purchasing through these links earns me a small commission at no extra charge to you which helps support my blog.  Thank you.]

My son was fully potty trained by his 2nd birthday (using a popular technique).  A few weeks later we drove several states away with no accidents, he told us when he had to go, held it until we could make a stop, the whole shebang.  We arrive at our destination and things are a little here and there.  Skip ahead and he refuses to go potty and is having accidents left and right.  A year later and we no longer have a potty trained kid.  So I created the "potty train" and things finally clicked for him.  He no longer felt the pressure that the 1st technique created (he's pretty hard on himself anyways, it's in his nature and it stressed him out) and it seemed that he finally was able to go potty on his terms and it made the whole experience much better (for him and his mama!)

It's really quite simple:

Using some cardstock I created a "train" and sticky tacked it to the wall.  It included 3 sections:
1. "Thanks for trying!"
2. "You went PEE in the potty!"
3. "You went POOP in the potty!"

We set a timer on my phone to go off in increments of time that reminded my son to "go try". (They also make these potty watches that the kids can wear. I hear they are awesome!)  The popular technique we used when he was 2 discouraged against having them "go try" but after going through that and then trying this, we found that being AHEAD of the game was what worked best for my son.  Every child is different and you know your child best. EVERY time my son would try, he got a sticker.  He picked out which sticker he wanted and then he added it to his chart that I had hanging on the adjacent wall.

He preferred to put the stickers in a sort of orderly chaos on his chart.  Man I love this kid.  It's amazing how the simple act of picking out a sticker and putting in on a chart can give a child a feeling of control over the situation.  You'd think that the alarm would make him feel forced but it actually took the pressure out of the situation and he even started to ask me to "make the alarm go off" when he felt the urge to potty (hehe).  After the initial 'getting in the groove' with the alarm "tries" I allowed him to refuse an alarm.  What this did was created an opportunity for him to go potty when he may not otherwise be thinking about it but still have control over his body (because we aren't forcing him to try).

[Whoa blurry photo... as always, terrible lighting in my house]

That's the key here. 

So what about the PEE and POOP categories?

Every time he successfully went pee (even just a few drops) he got to pick a prize from the "pee prize box".  For us this was usually a handful of organic gummies , popcorn, or some other small food treat.  My son loves food treats so it worked for him (and we didn't have a million toys lying around) but at times we also did balloons or temporary tattoos.

For the "poop prizes" we picked small toys such as matchbox cars, fun chapstick or small art kits.  I also attached some "passes" to the train that my son could choose instead of the toy...

Our 'passes' were for: a movie, "Mighty Machines" (which are movies but he is obsessed, so seeing the logo made him want to earn it more!), getting to play with beads and getting to play with play dough.  His sister was little at the time so he didn't get to play with beads or play dough much when she was awake.  When he chose this prize, he could play it whenever he wanted. We also limit screen time so a movie is a treat! 

Pick prizes that you know would be a big deal for your kiddo.  Because, I'm going to say it again... you know your kid better than anyone.

...   ...   ...   ...   ...

Ready for my honest update on my kiddos?  And PLEASE listen to me here. Every child is so different and do things at their own rate. My son is now 4.  He goes potty by himself sometimes and sometimes wants mommy to go with him.  He occasionally still hides when he has to poop but if you let him be on his terms, he will follow through as he should.  He holds it at school and holds it with even my husband (his dad) and will only tell me and my mom (most of the time) when he has to potty. BUT GET THIS...

My daughter started potty training herself when she was 1.  She's currently less than 2 years old and although we still diaper her out and about, she tells us when she has to potty at home (and other places) and often runs to the potty by herself and does it all herself.  We don't push her but also don't want to discourage her since she's obviously interested.

Same family, same way of being raised, two very different outcomes.  So mama/papa... if it seems like your kid is never going to "get it", know that you aren't alone.  Give the 'potty train' a try and maybe your kiddo will find some comfort in that.  When it comes down to it though, your kid is going to do it when they want and how they want.  The best we can do is encourage them and for us, this simple train seemed to change the perspective on this potty journey.  It's not a cure all, it wont train your kid in 3 days or less... but it might help and dang it, that's worth a shot.

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