Last week, we officially started potty training. We started talking about the potty last year by pointing out when we used the potty and telling him that he would use the potty someday and could try to go on the potty whenever he wanted to go. We bought the Boon Potty Bench last summer and he liked to sit on it, but didn't really do much. After some random acts of potty that were far apart, he went on the potty twice after seeing another little girl do it at two playdates. Since he was 2.5 and the baby was born and he was showing signs of readiness, I took the next step of buying underwear. We didn't start seriously training at that point because we were going to be traveling back to Korea, but he did go on the potty a few times. In the week before we left, we talked about how he was going to wear underwear when we returned to Korea. Then, we started.
He got up in the morning and instead of changing his diaper, I took him to a drawer in the bathroom to pick out underwear. I explained that he was going to practice wearing underwear and going on the potty. We set up the Boon Potty Bench in the livingroom and put the padded potty seat in one of the bathrooms so he could chose where he wanted to go.
Before we left Erie, the Montessori teachers sent home a potty training guide. We are following a lot of the advice such as having the child help clean up accidents and being calm about the process. We are using diapers for naps, at night and when we go out. That is against the advice of the teachers who say that switching sends the message that diapers are more convenient. Well, diapers are more convenient. Ian is doing great when he is in underwear or naked, but he is having accidents in pants. We went out the first day of training and he had peed his pants before we hit the corner. I told him that this week, we are practicing at home and next week, we will wear underwear out. Yesterday, he wore his shorts for about 20 minutes until I put a diaper on. He is getting it. Next week, I will bring lots of underwear and shorts with us and deal with accidents out.
Here are some things that are working with Ian:
1. He has control. I do not ask him if he needs to go unless he is standing funny, etc. Even, then, I am trying to resist. He does much better when he is in control. If you nag about the potty, it might turn into a power struggle and take longer.
2. He helps clean up the messes to help promote the idea that he is responsible for his bodily functions. He enjoys cleaning, so I let him clean out the pot when he goes successfully as well.
3. At home, in this early practice, I let him choose his underwear or choose to go naked. Sometimes he wants to change his underwear when it is still clean. My adult instinct is to say,"No. It is still clean." But, this is an example of a time when I feel I need say "yes" instead. If I say "no", I will have a battle. If I say, "yes" and put those underwear back in the drawer and let him change, he is still in underwear, which is what I want. The novelty will wear off if I don't make a big deal out of it.
4. I have a the Potty Bench in the livingroom and a padded potty seat in the bathroom. It gives him variety and having the potty in the livingroom keeps it in his mind. I will eventually move the potty bench into the bathroom as well, but for the first few weeks, I think it is good to have it out in full view.
5. I don't reward or punish for potty success/failure. Many methods involve giving small candies like M&Ms or stickers on a chart, etc. That works for some people, but I wanted a more child-led method. He needs to do it to take care of his body, not for a treat. I did give reward incentives a few times, but then I stopped because it was counter to what I was trying to accomplish. As for punishing failures, that is the old school way and you may be advised to do that, but you'll just be creating more problems in the long run. You might think,"he knows what to do,", but little kids get distracted and have accidents. If he has an accident we talk about the need to do it on the potty and then we clean up. I don't get hysterical, we just take care of business.
Knock on wood, but this is pretty easy so far. Not perfect, not accident-free, but not painful and actually, fun! Like everything in parenting, I have found that you can either fight nature and/or your child, or ride the wave and try to steer a bit. It is so much easier on both parent and child, if you do the latter.
Update, next week, when we venture out with underwear.....