Monday, July 11, 2011

Potty-Training Boot Camp

One of the not-so-pleasant aspects of mothering--at least for me--is potty-training. It's one of the first times in a child's life when he recognizes that he has some control over his situation. "I can go potty if I want to, or I can just pee-pee in my diaper and let Mommy or Daddy clean me up later." I imagine that is how some kids--in particular, my kid--think. Kate would sit in a wet diaper all day long if she had to. Now, if there's a stinky poo-poo in there, it's: "Mommy, change me! Now!" But as long as she's just wet, then play can continue uninterrupted.

Our daughter Kate is 33-months-old (over 2 1/2). She has been potty-training since 18 months when we found out I was pregnant with child number two. At that point there was absolutely no pressure on her to use the potty. We simply introduced the potty chair, made a fun sticker chart, and gave her a small treat when she pee-peed in the potty.

However, since then nothing permanent in the way of being fully potty-trained has transpired. In fact, she has had setback after setback, even refusing outright not to use the potty simply because "I don't want to!" I have tried different approaches from leaving her alone and letting her go potty when she's ready to forcefully holding her on the potty in a {failed and futile} attempt to make her go potty. We have tried stickers, toys, Veggie Tales, and every candy under the sun to encourage {read: bribe} her and have recently resorted to actually taking away prized possessions to punish her.

Yes, I have read countless sources that say a child should not be coerced into potty-training, that she will go when she's ready, blah-blah-blah. Kate has been mentally ready since 18 months and physically ready for at least 6 months now. Her nine-month-old sister would probably be potty-trained before her just because Kate is stubborn and, like most kids, would rather be playing than to be bothered with going potty. {Can you sense my frustration?} As a mommy, I see her failure to go potty as an act of defiance that warrants discipline.

That is why, beginning Wednesday, we plan to implement Potty-Training Boot Camp. My plan is based in part on this article on Alpha Mom and on some books I am reading as well as knowledge of what works and doesn't work with my child. Here is a brief run-down of what I plan to do over the next four days:

1. No more diapers or pull-ups. Except for at night time, Kate will wear underwear throughout the day beginning as soon as she wakes up in the morning. During nap time, she will wear plastic training pants, and I will put a plastic sheet on her bed to protect her bedsheets. I have found that the cute characters on the pull-ups and diapers are actually an incentive for her to keep wanting to wear them. So, instead, we will be going to Target this afternoon so she can pick out her very own big girl panties to wear.

2. Have special treats. Yes, we've done this before. This time I plan to let her pick out new candies and stickers from the store. She will get 1 sticker and 1 candy per each successful trip to the potty. Double it if she goes number 2.

3. Make her go potty every hour. At least for the first day, Kate will need to sit on the potty and try to go once every hour. If she goes, she gets a treat; if not, no treat.

4. Stop everything. If Kate has an accident, then she will have to stop whatever she's doing {swinging, playing, drawing, whatever} so I can change her. Instead of getting on to her for not going potty, I will simply tell her: "When you pee-pee in your pants, then we have to stop everything and change your clothes. That's no fun, is it?" Then, she will have to sit on the potty even though she probably won't have to go.

5. Go somewhere fun. After 2 days of potty-training at home, we will get out of the house and go somewhere fun {McDonald's playground, the park, the library}. I will remind Kate to go potty often while we're there and warn her that if she has an accident, then we'll simply have to go home. She will not be happy if she has to stop playing and leave. Cruel, yes, but necessary I think.

This is my tentative plan. We've been potty-training for awhile, so I'm willing to take some pretty drastic measures to get my child out of diapers permanently. I will keep you posted.

What has your experience with potty-training been like? Did you ever have to implement a potty-training boot camp? If so, what advice do you have for me?


  1. This sounds like a good plan to me...kind of what I'm doing with my second son. Potty training my first son was tough and took a long time, largely to me not being consistent and getting frustrated. I now know that the most important thing is to just not get stressed about it all.
    I've let my 2 year old kind of lead the way and now that he has shown sides of readiness, we are off the diapers as well.
    With my third baby, I started infant potty training...I'm not hard core about it, but use it often enough that I"m hoping it makes training later easier.
    All blessings to you!

  2. Yeah, I wasn't very consistent in the early stages of potty-training my daughter. I just didn't want to pressure her, but now I realize that she really needed that pressure to motivate her! I am interested in the infant potty training for my little one. Hope you'll post about it on your blog. Thanks for stopping by!