Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Potty training tribulations

A lot of the stuff I read said that one of the main reasons potty training dragged on for ages or became a nightmare was because the parents needed to be ready and dedicate time. Apparently, you need to be 100% committed and really observe your child every second, show no emotion when an accident happens and praise them to the moon when they finally do something in the potty. Sources differ on how long you should leave your child on the potty; some say until you get something from them, but most say for 5 or 10 minutes at a time but initially every 20 minutes and always after food or drink. Many say success lies in making them feel good when they pee/poo in the potty.

So after a couple of weeks of putting Emma on the potty first thing in the morning and when coming home from the park (keeping her in nappies the rest of the time) we took the leap and put her in big girl undies on Saturday. The
potty was familiar, she had seen her poo before (in the potty and seen us empty the nappy into the toilet) and the prize sticker board was stuck to the bathroom window with a sheet full of colorful stickers ready to be used.

Well, as far as I'm concerned this has been the hardest most frustrating time with Emma ever.

I think she got bored with going to the potty, although we were reading books and singing songs and watching nursery rhymes on YouTube while on it, as recommended by many. After 2 days full of far more accidents than successes (
there goes the positive reinforcement) I think she no longer knew what the potty was for. (Too much entertainment on the potty perhaps?)

Often, she would pee about 1 minute
after we got up and had finally pulled her pants up. (A word of advice here, get undies that are as big as can be without them falling off your toddler. Emma got fed up trying to pull her undies up over her bum and kept wanting to walk off with them around her ankles. By the time we had the undies back up it was nearly time to go back to the potty!)

Despite having a garden, it's also been really hard staying in for nearly 3 full days (instead of going to the park and seeing friends as we usually do. We even kept her home from kindergarden yesterday figuring it wasn't really fair on Emma nor the staff to send her off while she was still having so many accidents.

Mostly, I have found it supremely annoying to have to ask Emma a zillion times a day to get on the potty, only to be told "Neeein Mamâân, Neeeiiin!!" and then having to find all sorts of motivating tricks to
get her off, only for her to pee on the floor 30 seconds after getting up. That's the terrific two's for you I guess.

Mornings are particularly difficult: we get her up about ten minutes before her usual waking time so that her nappy is still dry and go straight to the bathroom. If her nappy is dry, she pees in the potty, no problem. We wipe her and put on some dry (not clean or dirty but wet and dry) big girl undies, empty the potty into the loo (she likes that) and stick a sticker on the board (she likes that too!). Then off we go to get dressed.

This is when things go south. While we head off to make breakfast or while she is running to the kitchen she actually pees again, and again and again - within 5 minutes. And lots too. Then today she peed again during breakfast. Every time we rush to the potty in case we can catch some pee, change undies, clean up the mess without any fuss.
I think we went through at least a dozen of undies-a-day during the first two days.

when pee landed on the floor, Emma would get a bit upset, look very worried and call me. Now she looks like she couldn't care less and comments that the puddle needs to be "nettoyé" ("cleaned up" in French). Is this "no reaction" attitude to accidents really helping?
We tell her that it's ok, that she is just peeing and that next time she should do it in the potty. But she doesn't seem to get the going to the potty part yet. Although she participates in the applause when our plastic duck toys pee in a potty (tupperware) during bath time.

Might she be too young, you ask? Indeed, I have wondered. According to my book, not, since she mostly wakes dry from naps and her nappy is even dry if we wake her in the morning which indicates some bladder control. She can also follow simple instructions, is "aware when doing a poo", is "eager to participate", can "point to the different parts of the body when you name them", has "the ability to sit and occupy herself for 5 -10 minutes"...

The one thing most sources seem to agree on is that you should be totally consistent and never put your kids back into nappies once you have removed them, however tempting (and it is, believe me!) all the while letting them sleep in their nappies until they have been dry in the day time for a couple of weeks.

My friendly neighbor whose son is 4 - 5 months older than Emma, said she waited for her son to tell her and just lets him run around naked and pee in the garden during the day (he doesnt' ever go to kindergarden). If he tells her he needs to go, she takes him to the bathroom. According to her, no training is necessary and children will learn all by themselves when the time is right, all this "training" is coercive, ruins children's "souls" and dates back to the 70's when they had no idea... This said, her son (at nearly 2,5 yrs) goes to bed in between 9pm and 11pm, sleeps in a bed attached to hers, is still breastfed, will only ride in the car if she sits in the back with him, throws all the couch cushions on the floor and jumps on them (to name but a few)...so I'm not convinced about letting the kids lead the way.

Having said that, Emma had a great time with us on this long week-end full of attention, applause, reading and stickers. So much so that she was not that eager to go back to kindergarden today. On the positive side, she made it from home to kindergarden in dry underpants. I left her with a stock of undies and trousers and hopefully the fact that other children are using the toilet will help.

Despite all the "never go back" advice, I think if we haven't made any significant progress by the end of the week, I'll give it a rest and try again in a month.

If you have any suggestions or have spotted something in our tribulations that you think I might have missed, or have any constructive advice drop a comment please!

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