I was skeptical as you all know about the whole idea of potty training my 24 month old daughter. Was she ready? Was I asking too much of her? Was it too soon since the twins were born to expect this from her? I just wanted the answer. Like I mentioned in my previous post, “To Potty Train or Not to Potty Train, that is the Question…”, my mom was staying with me helping with the twins and Mattelyn until I felt I could
handle this situation on my own. She thought while she is here, why not help me potty train her so I would have one less baby in diapers by the time she left?? (Brave woman, she is a saint! And good idea!) Mattelyn was showing all of the signs that she is ready, so I trusted my instinct, my mom’s optimism and moved forward with potty training (with skepticism and worry).
We loosely followed the book, “Potty Train In A Weekend,” by mom of four, Becky Mansfield. (For a list of what we used, read “Potty Training: The Starting Lineup.”) We determined three days would be spent doing nothing but taking Mattelyn to the bathroom. Yep – three full days with absolutely nothing in mind from morning to bedtime except the potty. (It seemed too EASY. That right there told me it would be much more difficult. After all, we ARE dealing with a tiny person who has a spunky little feisty personality. With two year old expectations and temper tantrums daily over the fact that she didn’t want milk in her sippy cup but rather apple juice, to wear her open-toed white sandals when it’s 40 degrees outside and insists hot dogs are okay to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reasoning with her consists of us asking her to please wear her sunglasses and hat outside to which she replies, “Yes, mama! Sun and hat, mama!” wearing both proudly around the house only to walk out the door and sunglasses and hat stripped off and on the ground immediately with a huge smile on her face). We rolled up all of the carpets, blocked off two rooms where she would spend the days “camping out.” (Camping out meaning being constrained to two rooms that connect to our bathroom; eating in the room and singing and dancing as though it was a really special time to spend with her grandma like camping out. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in those two rooms not in the kitchen. Rules can be and were broken during these three days). Mattelyn ran around all day with no pants on. No pants, no undies and no diaper (my husband just shook his head and I could tell he was just a tiny bit hopeful but not expecting too much).
My mom set the timer on her iPhone that went off every 20 minutes the first day, the ENTIRE DAY.
Every time it went off to a “samba” song, she and I would encourage Mattelyn to “run” to the potty as though it was a fun game – and she loved it and began anticipating the song that accompanied my mom’s phone alarm. We filled her with juice, (apple juice mixed with prune juice) to encourage her “to have to go.” She also had a special NEW water bottle her daddy brought her home after work one day just for water that we kept filled. We fed her frozen grapes, applesauce and gave her bananas (along with her regular snacks and meals). We used a crazy fun straw to encourage her to fill up on her liquids. She ate sitting on a hand towel at her little table in her playroom or on the floor for “fun.”
Eventually, she needed to go potty. She showed signs like crossing her legs and running around anxiously on her tippy toes. We just kept putting her back on the potty chair and eventually, she (accidentally) went. She had never heard the sound of peeing; the “tinkle.” As soon as she went, we clapped and congratulated her and did a bunch of happy dancing. It was a WIN. Honestly, I believe she was potty trained that day – day number one.
SHE UNDERSTOOD IMMEDIATELY WHAT WE WANTED HER TO DO.
Nothing was lost on her. She peed and pooped both the first day. She also did both the second day. We rewarded her with washing her hands (she loves water and soap, standing on her step stool) and she got to FaceTime with one of her favorite people if she pooped on the potty. (She LOVED doing this and her first request was to call her daddy at work – so cute!) She also got to send a photo of herself after going to anyone she wanted to (mostly to her Papa).
The key is consistency and not giving up on them. This is such a hard (but exciting) time for them. The whole situation is foreign and feels weird. We tried to remain upbeat and really kept the encouragement high. When we got tired, we pushed through. We made sure to keep everything in the day fun and exciting FOR HER. We colored, sang songs, read new books, watched TONS of other kids on YouTube videos singing and doing the “Poopy Dance” and the “Potty Celebration Dance.” We practiced flash cards and we played with a ton of her toys and read books about going potty, (to the point that she had one pretty much memorized by the end of the three days).
Then we began to recognize she was starting to hold it in. She adamantly refused to put on a diaper and she only wanted to wear undies. But she wouldn’t go. Not in the toilet and not in a diaper. And, she wouldn’t have an accident either. She was just HOLDING IT. And it was getting worse and worse – she was beating herself up over the whole scenario – it was a true, real struggle going on within her little mind. It was really sad. She was pretty much beside herself by the weekend after the three days and and was holding it and going both one and two over night in her diaper.
“The potty training wasn’t the hard part. She was potty trained the first day – she is smart and knew exactly what we wanted her to do and she was happy to oblige. It was the idea of GOING on the potty chair that was freaking her out.”
Unfortunately, I began to doubt myself. I told myself she was too young. I told myself we pushed it when we shouldn’t have. I really had a rough time watching her cry and get frustrated because she didn’t want to go AT ALL. We tried everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. In order to get her to feel comfortable with going on the potty chair, I read that giving her a sucker or lollipop while on the potty would encourage her to sit longer and keep her mind off of WHY she is actually sitting there, taking the anxiety away, and eventually she will go – you take it away if she gets up.
We tried having her sit on her potty chair in her playroom while she ate lunch and watched her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad to keep her mind off of the task at hand. I took a picture of her dolly “Lala” sitting on the potty chair and printed a photo of it while Mattelyn napped so when she woke up, she could see Lala potty training, too. I taped it to the lid of her little potty chair. When she woke from her nap, we told her we were potty training Lala – and she LOVED this idea!
I created a playlist “Potty Training Lala” on YouTube of potty songs including “The Poop Song.” This Poop Song is ridiculous but she watched it with intensity on the iPad, on my iPhone and my mom’s while sitting on the potty and I really believe it resonated with her. (Here we are three months later and she still knows the words to the song!)
Everyone wears Mattelyn’s new undies on their heads…
Three days after the three day potty training I determined I could not watch her run around upset with herself anymore. I was especially taken back by how strong headed she truly was and I learned a great deal about how she is going to handle difficult situations in the future!!! (This was when I posted the poem I wrote to her, “Potty Training: A Message to My Daughter.”)
She had eaten and it was time to go number two (she “hides” behind a toy to go) so I took her into the bathroom and told her she and I weren’t coming out until she went poopies on the potty chair. She screamed and cried and threw things and hit and kicked me and three HOURS later, she went on the potty chair. Finally.
She realized it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t going to hurt and it was okay. High fives and a phone call to her grandpa and she was celebrating. A day later however, she was holding it again and asking for her diaper. Ugh. All of that heartache, second guessing myself, feeling like maybe I was being mean and ALL of that time spent in the little bathroom watching her struggle and go through so much appeared to be for nothing. I forced her to “get over it” and to “move on.” I sat with her until she HAD TO GO and then I encouraged her to hold onto mama and push. I reminded her over and over again that it was okay and she was okay. The fear was real for her and I just knew if I could get her to go, I would be helping her get over the worry. I also knew if I let it go and dragged it out over weeks, she could develop an even stronger resistance to going and we could be doomed. (Not to mention, I have twin 4 month old boys at the time). We went to her two year wellness check up a few days after all of that and her pediatrician said not to worry about it. Every child is different and she was still very young. He said to give it a few weeks – have her wear a diaper again and act like she wasn’t potty trainned – then start over with the three day process if she begins showing interest in it and otherwise, just wait until she is ready. He said she could be trained in a week or it could take a year. She actually decided it was okay a week later and she has been going on the potty (even in public) ever since. And, she has never had an accident. I haven’t tackled the overnight yet as she is still in her crib and can’t wake and take herself in the middle of the night and I am still nursing at times in the night. But that is next for sure because she is so upset and embarrassed at times in the morning when she has had to pee or poo in her diaper.
So all-in-all, Mattelyn was actually potty trained in total, in a little less than a month and she was 25 months old.
I have shared my “key learnings” and I REALLY hope some of them if not all of them prove to be helpful for anyone in my shoes!
*Something else I realized in hind sight that may have been drawing this process out was, I think she was ENJOYING having mama’s or her grandma’s FULL ATTENTION without a baby in tow. You see, the three days that we concentrated on the actual training, we would take turns going with her to the bathroom and sitting on the potty chair everyday all day long. It was a game and it was fun! And we would accompany her to read, tell stories, play with flash cards, etc. It was 100% undivided attention to Mattelyn. For the past four months, it’s been Mattelyn sharing us for the first time in her little life with her newborn twin brothers.
Here are some things we used that may be helpful to you:
*Flash cards for colors, shapes, numbers and alphabet, *Floor puzzles, *Books in bathroom, *Baby wipes, *Diapers, *new undies, *leg warmers, *footed socks, *Paper towels, *Disinfectant, *Lysol wipes for the small potty chair, *Coloring books, *crayons, *chalk board, *music to dance to, *iPad for YouTube videos, *iPhone for FaceTime calls at first as rewards and then as incentive, *The poop song and the potty dance, *Cheerleader pompoms, *Congratulations balloon after a successful poop day, *Frozen grapes, *GoGo Applesauce Packets, *Bananas, *Prunes, *Prune juice.
Things we tried not to use:
M&Ms or food for consistent incentive – we used the idea of a cookie to encourage her to go once she was having issues with going altogether. But it didn’t convert into something she thought she had to have.
Pull-ups – we used Pull-ups at nap times and overnight diapers overnight – but we didn’t use Pull-ups during the day. She didn’t want them anyway but I feared it would make her feel too protected and she would be more likely just to go rather than run to the potty.
This is what worked for us. It was a PROCESS!!! Thank GOD for my mom!! And all of her GLORIOUS PATIENCE!! (Oh yeah, mom, don’t forget – I have two boys that will be ready soon, too!!) Please know this is what worked for me – this isn’t the way it should be done or anything like that. It is just what worked for me and there are hundreds of ways to do it! Please share with me if you have had similar situation or experiences or if you have new or better ideas that worked for you! I have twin boys to train here in about a year and a half! And remember, this is HARD. It’s the hardest thing you and your baby will go through and it is a HUGE toddler milestone. Everyone gets there – have patience and show them nothing but tons of love, encouragement and patience. And remember, they are only TWO. Still babies. But they love their newfound independence daily and will welcome you treating them like the big kids they are soon to be!
Much luck and love!
XO ~ Stephanie
Our first outing in new undies the first week potty training an Easter Egg hunt in our neighborhood.