When Abigail was 18 months old, she started asking to use the potty and consistently using it when I would set her on the potty chair. Well, instead of rolling with it, I kept her in diapers. Why, you ask? A few reasons: 1) people kept telling me Abigail was too young to potty train and 2) I had no idea how to potty train and couldn’t wrap my head around paying any money on literature that would tell me how to do it. First of all, I should have trusted my gut- I know my kid better than all those other people, and second of all, spending the money would have been worth it…
Turns out, girls typically show interest in potty training between 18 and 24 months. AND it is much easier to potty train during a toddler’s “I want to copy and please you” stage and much more difficult to potty train during their “I’m my own person and want to control everything” stage, which typically hits around age 2.
Anyway, a month or so ago I went to MommyCon in Atlanta, a convention designed around parenting (specifically natural parenting), and was fortunate enough to attend a potty training seminar, put on by Laura Wojciechowski of Super Undies! I followed Laura’s advice by holding a Potty Training Boot Camp Weekend. Abigail made so much progress, that by the end of one weekend, she was in panties full time, only wearing a diaper for nap time and night time.
For quite a while prior to our intensive training, Abigail and I talked about the potty, and pee pee and poo poo. She came with me to the bathroom every time I had to go so she could “witness” me using the potty (she particularly loves flushing the toilet for me). We read potty books, we sang potty songs, we talked about the contents of her diaper at every change. The experts call this “potty culture immersion.” Yes, seriously. And it really does matter. Then, I made a potty training sticker chart. Don’t judge my lack of artistic ability.
I also bought a bunch of cheap “treasures” ($1 or less per toy) and a treasure chest. Some people use candy as their reward, but I chose toys. Candy is certainly more affordable. You choose what works for YOUR family!
I bought and installed this ingenious toilet seat from my local hardware store,
and bought a plain, white plastic potty chair. I got lots of panties, a cheap kitchen timer, salty snacks, lots of juice, and of course, flushable wipes. We were ready!
The weekend arrived. The boot camp method requires you to do one of two things: pay really close attention to your child, or to lock yourself within feet of the potty… Well since I’m too easily distracted we chose the lock-in method. Abby’s bedroom has an ensuite bathroom, so we locked ourselves in her room for the morning. I set the timer for 10 minutes, and when the timer went off, Abby sat on the potty. She would sit there until she peed or for 30 minutes, whichever came first. It a long day. There were temper tantrums. There were tears. There was a power struggle between me and my strong willed daughter. The most important thing about these battles of will, was that I NEVER got upset with Abigail. I maintained my patience, kept calm, holding her on the potty, explaining in a soft voice that everybody uses the potty and she needed to start pee peeing in the potty just like mama and dada, and that as soon as she pee peed, she could get up. Most times she would pee while she was throwing her fit, and I would redirect her immediately by throwing a huge party with every success. Once she washed her hands, I let Abigail pick a treasure from the treasure chest, and put a sticker on the chart. Each pee pee in the potty was a step closer to being diaper free.
We also had a LOT of accidents. Each accident resulted in “no big deal, don’t worry, just try and tell me before you pee pee next time.” Each accident was an opportunity for me to set Abigail up for success. I’ll say it again, it was a long day. By the time nap rolled around, we were both exhausted, cranky, and sick of Abigail’s small room. The break was welcomed with open arms.
I took a shower and slept for two hours, while Abby slept for three. We both woke up as new women, and I made an executive decision: we were taking the party outside. The plastic potty chair, the wipes, the rewards, the timer, snacks, juice, spare pants and panties- EVERYTHING- traveled to the backyard. The change of scenery was a Godsend. In the beautiful weather, under the oak trees in our yard, Abigail had a breakthrough. It just clicked. She would pee in the potty within five minutes of sitting down. I didn’t have to hold her on the potty; she sat willingly. It was amazing.
Each day, we would add five minutes to her timer so she would hold her pee longer between potty breaks. Gradual progress. We had decided to keep the rest of the weekend low key, but with the help of the timer, we ventured out into the world. The timer was very valuable to us. Abigail did not like having Mama or Dada remind her to use the potty since it felt, to her, like taking orders. Using the timer eliminated that fight. If the timer said it was time to potty, it was time to potty, no argument.
Since our exhausting “boot camp” weekend, Abby has been doing incredibly well. She still has accidents on occasion, but they are becoming less and less frequent. She is in panties full time, and has been waking up from naps dry, so hopefully we will be out of diapers at nap time soon! Abigail has been a rock star through the whole process. I’m so proud of her.