June. Part 2: The Great Potty Training Adventure

June 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm (status report)

“When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911”

-Erma Bombeck

About a month after she was born, I decided that it was time for Little Miss T to be out of diapers. She vehemently disagreed, using her lack of walking skills as what I felt was a rather thin excuse. Appreciated only with a once-a-week wipe-down and my many wistful looks, her potty chair lay gathering dust in the corner of my bathroom, yearning desperately for a tush to love. I bided my time – waiting, watching, and changing diapers.
T was still 1, and it really ought to have been 1 going-on-5, as she is in possession of a vocabulary to rival any 4-year old’s. She knows the words to well over 15 songs, can count to 11, knows her ABC’s, all the letters that spell her name, an the street she lives on. She has long-since mastered colors and shapes, including octagons and trapezoids, and memorizes books in her spare time. She regularly tosses out 3 and 4 syllable words in proper context within well-formed sentences. With this in mind, I came to the determination that she was, in fact, ready to learn to use the potty. I mean, come on! She tells me every time she has a dirty diaper! She also tells me when she’s hungry, thirsty, and exactly what she wants at any given time. My logic is that if she is old enough to demand specific culinary delights, I should be able to demand specific procedures for elimination. Its only fair. . .and anyway, I have loads of experience in this type of thing. I can train a puppy to go outside. I can litter-train a cat. Teaching a small person who speaks English as her native language must be easier than teaching an animal, right? A quick Google search told me that I might possibly be wrong about that. . .
First of all, a very stringent, if slightly ambiguous, set of requirements are in place to ensure that said child is even qualified to own a potty, much less actually use it. I took the following quiz from a site that knows all about it. The results were discouraging, at best.

Potty Readiness Quiz:

1. Does your child recognize when she is in the process of urinating or voiding? How the heck should I know? She tells me when she wishes her diaper to be changed, but not when she’s actually dirtying it!
2. Is she dry when she wakes from a nap? Nope!
3. Does your child show any interest in growing out of diapers? None whatsoever. I don’t think the idea of a world without diapers has ever really crossed her tiny mind, but she shows a lot of interest in not wearing them. . . or any other form of clothing. Ever.
4. Is the door to your bathroom easy for a child to open? Absolutely NOT. Thank God.
5. Have you made arrangements to make it easy for your child to wash his hands after going to the bathroom? No. . . no ‘arrangements’ have been made. For goodness sakes, she pees in a diaper, I didn’t know a hand-washing was required after peeing in a diaper. . .
6. Are you dressing your child in clothes that are easy to remove when it is time to go? NO! We are in the habit of discouraging all removal of any clothing. (See question #3)
7. Is your child is staying dry for longer periods of time? Maybe… I’ve always changed her about every 2 hours, anyway. Cloth diapers can be unforgiving…
8. Can your child can follow simple instructions? She can. If she wants to. She seldom wants to.
9. Is your child able to sit and engage in an activity for several minutes without becoming distracted or irritable? She can. If she wants to. She seldom wants to. She has the attention span of an egg. . .unless we’re watching Blue’s Clues. She could watch that for hours.
10. Is your child is walking and running well? YES! Jumping and climbing, too. Do I get extra points for that?
11. Does your child shows interest and desire in keeping dry or clean, in wearing “big kid” underwear, in what you’re doing when you go potty, and a desire to do what you’re doing? No. No. No. And No. The only interest she has in the bathroom, is to stomp in with hands on hips when I’m pottying and demand; “YOU GET UP! YOU GET UP NOW!” She demands a diaper change when she feels ready for one, but the fact that she just crapped in her pants doesn’t seem to bother her in the slightest bit.
12. Does your child feel the need for privacy while she eliminating? Does she go to another room or hide when she is in the process of urinating or voiding? No and no. The only time she feels the need for privacy is when she’s committing a crime – and that’s just to avoid the inevitable spanking.

Little Miss Tea’s score was not overly impressive. . .

“Your child doesn’t seem to have many of the signs that would indicate that she is ready to start potty training. It might be better to wait a few months and then take our quiz again. You might also talk to your Pediatrician if you still think that your child is ready to start potty training right now.”

YES =2

NO = 10


(Technically there were only ten questions, but they snuck more than one question into some of them, and that isn’t fair. Either way, Teagle failed epically. Even my own mother told me not to expect to have her trained by her 2nd birthday – and she’s done this FIVE TIMES!)
After considering the results, and my daughter, I came to the conclusion that it was ludicrous to assume that she wasn’t ready to learn anything based on a test that can’t even get its numbering system right. I suspect that Puff could master calculus if I was willing (or able) to teach it to her. I decided to continue onward with The Plan. . . except that I didn’t have one. How is one to teach something like using the toilet? T has no idea about ANY of this stuff! The only way I can make it clear to her is by showing her, and the only way I can show her is to get her to pee on the potty. The only way to get her to pee on the potty is to make her sit on it. A lot. . .and that can be tough to do with a girl like mine. . .
Memorial Day provided me with a handy 3-day weekend with which to get the proverbial ball rolling without any interruptions (or other babies underfoot), and I had a couple of weeks to prepare. We went shopping for Big Girl Panties, which Tea-ball was thrilled about (even having no idea what that meant). She picked out My Little Pony, Elmo, and Tinkerbell. I explained to her that if she could be a Big Girl and go on the Potty, that she could wear them. I sat her on the potty on random occasions, so she’d get comfy with it. We also picked out several books about pottying, loaded up on goldfish crackers and juice boxes (salty to make her thirsty, and juice to keep the river running). We also got skittles and gummi bears as super-special rewards, just in case she actually got something in the potty. Thusly equipped, Potty Training Boot Camp began.
I had instructed friends and family not to call, write, or stop by. The idea was that we were not going to be distracted by anything for 3 days. We borrowed an extra potty from A’s mom (she’s pretty much got A all set through high-school on stuff she might possibly need at some point), dragged it into the living room, and T used it as a glorified La-Z boy for the next three days. She ate on it, drank on it, watched TV on it. . .everything. We basically spent the entire 3 day weekend hanging out, reading potty books, and sitting on the potty. Not the best time for me, but she seemed to have fun. She did really well, though not quite as well as I was secretly hoping for. We had about a 50-65% average actually getting pee in the potty, as opposed to the floor. There really wasn’t very much actual ‘training’ involved on my part. Basically I just did everything in my power to keep her on the potty. Constantly. For three days. My theory being that she has only the vaguest idea about what I want from her, she doesn’t know what she feels when she’s about to go, and might not have control over the muscles that hold it in, so actually being ON the potty was a safest bet. It wasn’t the floors I was worried about – it was positive reinforcement. I figured that even if I have to CHAIN her to the potty, I was okay with that – as long as there was loads of screaming, singing, dancing about, calling of grandmothers, and super tasty treats every time she had a success (and I assure you that there was MUCH rejoicing over each and every victory), she might start to get the idea that the potty is an awesome thing to do stuff in. I didn’t keep her there all day – just until we got a tinkle, then we set the timer for 2 hours and sat her down again until we got some more. She was pretty cool with it, as long as I kept the juice boxes coming. . .and the candy! We kept up the same average for the first week, but started seeing a dramatic improvement by week 2. We still have accidents, but they’re quickly becoming rare, and we’ve made it through birthday parties, zoo trips, and outdoor events involving spot-a-pots without a hitch (Although personally, I’d be tempted to pee in my pants to avoid using a spot-a-pot). And yes, as a matter of fact, T was trained BEFORE her 2nd birthday – day trained, anyway. . .and still fails the readiness quiz.
A few random tidbits I’ve picked up while learning all about the potty with my Puff. . .
According to AOL, in February of 2008, Potty training was the parenting issue that was searched for the most. (and I bet they ALL took that stupid quiz)
Its amazing how quickly you get used to silly things like doing potty dances and using words like potty. . .and how quickly it becomes second nature to ask about someone else’s bodily functions – constantly.
This video is awful, and so is the song that goes with it. The Huggies company should be shut down for ever making it. T doesn’t like it, either.
The average age that a child was potty trained in the 1940’s was 18 months. A study in 2001 showed that the average had risen to 35 months for girls and39 for boys. (because they’ve ALL been taking that stupid quiz)
The book ‘No More Diapers for Ducky’ is awesome! As is the blast from my past ‘Once Upon a Potty.’ T’s favorite is ‘A Potty for Me,’ but that’s because Karen Katz is her favorite author right now.
In almost every other country, babies are taught to potty much earlier. 18 months is the average trained-by date, and many children are trained even as early as 9 months of age. (They must not be taking take stupid quizzes)
An American study in 1997 of 482 healthy toddlers between 18 and 30 months of age revealed:
  • 4% of the children were trained by age 2
  • 22% by 2.5 years
  • 60% by 3 years
  • 88% by 3.5 years of age
  • 2% were untrained at 4 years old
This video is hilarious, and so is the song that goes with it. Whoever came up with this stuff should be given a medal. T loves it, too!
A national survey done of diaper service customers in 1996 showed that babies who wear cloth diapers train sooner. The average is 30 months old.
It is now frowned upon to use the word ‘training’ with regards to teaching your child to go on the toilet. The preferred nomenclature is ‘potty learning,’ so that your child does not feel as if she’s being treated like an animal. (my child BEGS me to treat her like an animal. Her favorite things to ‘be’ are monkeys, cats, and elephants.)

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