Sunday, July 15, 2012
How to Potty Train Your Stubborn Toddler
It’s happened. You didn’t even see it coming but here it is. Your precious little baby is not a baby anymore. I feel your pain. The phrase Time Flies doesn’t truly click until you are a parent wondering what happened and where your tiny, compliant, little angel went. There are so many milestones to look forward to when you first learn of your impending parenthood. First smile, first laugh, first steps, first word….So many beautiful moments of growth. And then there is potty training. See the beauty in those first milestones is that the only thing you need to do is take tons of pictures to show off to anyone and everyone (even if they do not care to see anymore cute baby pictures) but potty training is a whole new ballgame. It would be magical if one day your toddler turned to you and said “Mommy, I think that I may be too big for diapers now. I’m going to the bathroom to use the toilet now. Then I’m going to wash my hands and put on clean underwear. Okay?” Magical indeed, also really creepy if your toddler just started conversing with you out of nowhere. But I digress. What I’m trying to say is that going from diaper changes to toilet time is work. For you and your kid. It takes teamwork to reach that porcelain trophy of toddlerhood. Remember when I shared your pain about missing that compliant little baby? It is because you and I both know that little stage lasts for a minute before kiddo decides independence and defiance are fun. You get to the potty training age right around the time your toddler reaches the “no” stage and the “I don’t want to stage”. Also known as the “Mommy- is- losing- her -mind –and- just- wants- to- cry alone” stage. The independence comes with stubbornness and that means if they are not interested in this new potty concept you present them with, then you will be promptly informed. But don’t give up and stock pile the diapers just yet. I have gone through all of this with my son Noah and I live to tell you the tale and all the tricks.
1. Make sure before beginning the process that your child is ready. You can’t force them to understand the concept; they need to be able to get what you want them to do. Signs that they are ready include: waking up with a dry diaper, being curious about the toilet and how you use it, not wanting to wear diapers anymore, having predictable bowel movements at the same time of day every day and announcing that they are going pee or poop. So be sure to look for some sign of readiness before jumping in.
2. If they are not ready don’t stress about it. It will make it that much harder for you and your child. Every child is different and will be ready at different times. It says nothing about your child or your parenting if your kiddo is a late learner. My son was almost three when he finally got it done and become a pro. A lot of my friends would brag about their 18-month- old being fully potty trained and that’s great for them. But I made sure that I didn’t let that affect how I saw my child and his abilities. (I also struggled to make sure I did not let it affect how I viewed myself as a mom. Some moms see motherhood as a completion and love to brag about how they are better or how their kid is smarter. DO NOT LET IT GET TO YOU! Brush it off and focus on you and your child. It is not a competition. More on this in my next hub.)
3. Go on a potty preparedness shopping spree. Buy a big girl or boy potty for them and put it next to the toilet. Explain to them that it belongs to them and they can use it whenever they want. Sure it seems weird to get excited about a toilet, except those magical ones where the seat warms up. (Hey, a girl can dream.) But they are in the midst of their terrible toddlerhood glory where everything is “mine! Mine! MINE!” and having something new and exciting is, well, new and exciting. Next buy them underwear with their favorite characters on them. Noah nearly fainted when I presented him with big boy undies featuring the Avengers. They will love to pick out the undies and they will be so excited to wear them. The catch?
4. Put on the undies and no diaper. Yes, no more diapers cold turkey style. I warn you now, it will get messy. There will be accidents but I tell you now, they will loathe the feeling of being wet and dirty. It will not take long for them to decide the potty is where it’s at.
5. To avoid accidents as much as possible invest in a potty watch. It’s a watch that your kiddo gets to wear and it goes off as often as you like letting you and him or her know that it’s time to go sit on the potty. Proceed to the bathroom and have them sit and do their best to go pee or poop. If they go, great! If not, that’s perfectly fine too. The watch will go off again soon enough for another try. If you can’t find a potty watch or just know your child well enough to know that they will not keep a watch on (*cough* Noah*cough cough*) then there is a fantastic app for smart phones called iGo Potty by Pull Ups. You set how often you want the timer to go off and the “I’m a big kid now” jingle rings to let you know when it’s time. You also set the times your child is awake so that it doesn’t go off while you or they are sleeping.
6. Celebrate their accomplishments! Hugs, high fives and praise go a long way to boost the morale of a kid learning a new skill.
7. Patience is a virtue. Like I said before, accidents will happen and it’s ok. Keep calm and be encouraging. If you’re frustrated, chances are so is he or she. Lead by example and don’t get discouraged by the setbacks.
All in all it took about two days for Noah to go from diapers to underwear with no accidents. It was messy, stressful and at times just plain hilarious. But isn’t that the definition of parenthood? Wishing you lots of luck and Avengers undies!