The idea of your little one being able to consistently do their business by themselves, not needing you to change dreadful smelling sacs of crap from around their pampered little bottoms – well, it’s a very welcome notion. Potty training is a big topic for parents of young children, almost as debated and longed for as sleep.
Well, I haven’t done a ton of research, but I have some of my own feelings about what works, and so far it’s been fairly successful. [Edit: Since writing this post I have learned a lot about the Elimination Communication potty training method when I was asked to write a post for Green Moms Collective. You can read more about this similar method that many parents are embracing, and real experiences from parents who’ve tried it.]
My little one uses her little potty at least once a day for #1. Over the last week she’s even delighted me (yes delighted – it’s amazing what excites me as a parent these days) by progressing to use it for #2. I’ve been thrilled and surprised by my little big girl coming to tell me she had to carry out her business, affirming that she wanted to go on the potty, and holding it all in until we got upstairs and got her ready and seated. I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to packing up and bidding adieu to the cloth diapers we’ve been happily using.
So what’s my tactic? Well, it’s a mixture between creating familiarity and taking it easy.
When to start potty training?
I have never really wondered when to start potty training. I focused more on what came naturally, as with many things related to parenting. Since our little babe was old enough to sit up by herself we’ve been sitting her on her potty. At the beginning, she was excited to be sitting on her own little “chair”. I would sit across from her on our regular toilet each morning as a routine. I wanted her to get to understand using the facilities as just another simple part of life, like eating meals at the table, or washing up in the tub. If using the toilet was just something we always did, I figured that there wouldn’t have to be a big learning curve. I hoped we’d avoid the possibility of fear or reluctance to use something new and foreign to her when we decided she was old enough to start potty training.
At the same time, though, I feel that pushing a child (or anyone, really) into doing something you want them to do generally creates a hesitancy, and tends to backfire and make things harder. I wanted to have Z understand and be familiar with her bathrooming options, but I didn’t want to force anything, or put too much pressure on her. If she ever resists sitting on her little potty, I won’t insist she sit. If she shakes her head “no” when I ask her if she would like to go have a pee, I don’t push it. She’s in control of her body. I want her to learn to use the toilet because she knows it’s more convenient than diapers, and because she’s a big girl who can be proud of herself – not just because I force it upon her, or because there’s a special treat waiting at the end of her accomplishment.
Once she could move about freely, our initial potty training experience took a bit of a back step. She was so eager to move around (mainly to go check out the most fun place in the world – the bathtub), that it was hard to convince her to sit for longer than 3 nanoseconds. This meant she still would pee in the bathroom, but all over the floor and side of the tub instead of in her little froggy potty. But, like most things, this phase passed and we figured out ways to encourage her to stay seated until she was finished.
Beyond me using the facilities at the same time as her, here are a few things that helped encourage our little bean to sit, and stay on the potty until she was finished relieving herself:
Letting her hold something on her lap. Sometimes it’s as simple as a piece of toilet paper, and others it’s an item from her bath toy collection. I’ve found that the larger toys seem to be better, as they’re more cumbersome and generally stay right on her lap without any opportunity for poking them into the potty.
Making a noise. Right from the beginning I would make a “shhhhhh” noise while encouraging the wee one to wee. It seemed to make sense that a sound like water rushing would help start the flow, and it seemed to work. I’ve since found out that this is a tactic used by another potty training method to condition your little one to make that noise when they need to go. I haven’t noticed Z making this noise specifically, though. She will however make a grunting noise to tell me she needs to go #2 (although this seems to sound slightly different than when she’s actually grunting it out).
Whenever this toilet training thing is really over and done with, I’ll be happy to have diapers behind me, but until then, I’m not going to put pressure on my little one. Just like everything else, when she’s ready it will happen.
How do you feel about potty training? I’d love to hear your stories of success or failure, and any tips you have. Comment here below this post, or on The Big To Do List Facebook page, and don’t forget to check out these interviews and tips by parents who have started early potty training with Elimination Communication.