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April 18, 2011

I Need Help!!!

Folks, I have a Potty 1822 Situation here = Potty 911 times two! I apologize upfront for the long post…but if you can spare some thoughts on this endeavor, I sure would appreciate it!

There have been several instances in which I’ve been reminded that the girls will do things on their own schedule. It’s much easier on them – and much less stressful for ME! – if I can chill out and follow their cues.

Based on this experience to date, I had been planning to “go with the flow” with regards to potty training.

I planned to look for signs the girls were interested in the potty, then make it available to them, and expect that in time they would more or less be trained. I didn’t have any “goals” in mind, like having them trained by the time they were two, or two and a half…I figured they would do it when they were ready.

[One parenting book I read talks about children having control over two aspects of their lives…what goes into their bodies, and what comes out. I feel like we’ve done a great job to date not allowing any “power struggles” over food, and I hope to avoid any power struggles over the potty, too. My goal is for the girls not to have any negative associations with the potty. I don’t want to make it “fun” per se, but – like my approach with food – I hope to be somewhat matter-of-fact.]

Exactly a month ago (when the girls were just shy of 27 months old), Baby A told me one morning she wanted to sit on the potty and make stinkies. I was quite surprised, as I hadn’t been talking much about the potty, or making any kind of suggestions to them.

I complied with her request…and to my delight, she performed beautifully! I praised her, and asked her sister if she wanted to try. Baby B sat on the potty that morning as well, although she didn’t have any successes to report.

From then on, I let the girls sit on the potty whenever they asked. Some days that might have amounted to twice; some days, six or eight times; and some days, not at all. I would remind the girls when they made stinkies in their diapers that I’d like for them to try to tell Mommy before they needed to go, so I could take them to the potty, but I always kept an upbeat, matter-of-fact tone.

I didn’t feel like we were making much progress for about three weeks, but I rationalized that the girls were becoming comfortable with the potty experience, and that they were learning about their bodies. I did not institute any type of reward system. I continued to praise the girls for their efforts, and when they had success they got to flush the potty, which they seemed to think was totally awesome. :)

Over the past week, though, I’ve really begun to struggle...

At times, Baby A in particular will ask to sit on the potty over and over and over again. She might sit for five seconds, tell me she’s done…and ask to repeat the process two minutes later. She seems to be having fewer successes, at least as a percentage of her trips to the bathroom.

I think I need to be careful not to tell her she can’t go potty, but I want to be careful not to turn it into a game (which is certainly how it feels at times).

Many times it feels like Baby A is using the potty as a way to garner one-on-one time with Mommy. I had been using a potty ring on the toilet (vehemently hoping to avoid buying a potty chair). The bathroom is removed from the den / playroom, where the girls spend most of their time, so a trip to the potty means leaving the den…with Mommy…and leaving behind her Sissy.

Baby A has also started to pull her diaper off when she tells me she needs to go potty. Along with the psychological aspects of complying with her request to potty, I don’t want to risk a mess of her running around diaper-less.

I gave in on Saturday and bought a potty chair. I put it in the kitchen, immediately next to the den. That eliminates the “trip” to the bathroom…and I hope will take some of the novelty out of going potty. Of course Sunday was the worst day to date, as both girls were anxious to use the new potty chair every three minutes.

So…to summarize…

- The girls are interested in the potty, and they seem to have an understanding of what to do there. They’ve had numerous successes – albeit sporadic ones – to date.

- I don’t feel like they’re making progress, though, and their potty trips seem to be becoming a game.

I might like to take a break from things and try again in a month or so (what the books say to do if you try to start training without success), but I didn’t really initiate the training in the first place. I am concerned with telling them “no, you can’t go potty”. And within the past few days, they’re stripping down when they want to go.

I don’t feel like “taking a break” is a real option.

My gut is that I need to implement a more stringent training plan...the girls know what the potty is about, and now I have set the rules about using it.

That’s definitely not what I had planned, but I’m losing steam…fast…these gazillion trips to the potty are wearing me out physically and mentally (seemingly with little to show for it).

Thoughts??? Ideas??? Anybody wanna meet me for a drink…or come babysit for a few days???


Mandy said...

Do you think you could push the issue, they can't get up untill they go? And when they do go do you really question them, as in "are you sure you really have to potty?" I wish I had something to offer. The girls have started squating in their diapers so I'm hopeful that that is a sign.

There is a method that involves super hydrating them so they have to pee all the time. Maybe that would be a way to test if she really knows she has to go or is just playing. Have you tried wearing shirts and not your beloved onesies? If she has to do it all on her own in the kitchen, maybe it will be less fun? Just some thoughts, maybe they will help.

And when you figure this potty business out I'll need a detailed, indepth, how-to post!!

Julia said...

That sounds so stressful, Mandy! I have nothing helpful to say here. I'm interested to hear what advice you get.

If we lived closer, I would absolutely meet you for a drink! :)

James said...

If they're this comfortable with the toilet and having some successes, it sounds like they're completely ready! I bet you could have them fully potty trained in a matter of days. Maybe a slight nudge in the rewards direction for successful potty trips (a miniature marshmallow or a favorite fruit) and a slight nudge in the deterrent direction away from gaming the system (making them sit there for some minimal amount of time if they decide to get on the potty). Or maybe just go with the big reward -- buy them some new underwear for when they're potty trained and use that as a carrot.

You're totally 2/3 of the way there. Kick it into high gear for a few days and I bet you'll be done!

Andrea said...

Obviously I can offer no advise, but wanted to say sorry for your frustration! Molly did that to me for a while, but now won't do anything!!! I hope you can get it figured out soon. I look forward to reading all your replies, maybe just maybe it might help me too! Happy Monday! Take care!

Eric, Marilyn, and Elliott said...

Frustrating! Elliott definitely made it a game for a while. Then after the novelty wore off, he wanted nothing to do with the potty for months. I was tearing my hair out! (On the inside, of course. Trying to play it cool on the outside.) Honestly, we just had to brace ourselves for a few messes. Once he showed interest in the potty again, we bought him the COOLEST underpants and let him wear them (and nothing else) at home. We'd stress over and over that he needed to tell us so that he wouldn't mess up his underpants. The few times he did, he hated the feeling and I think it made an abstract concept very tangible. We didn't scold, but he had to help w/ clean-up when he had an accident. You're getting close! Hang in there!

Eric, Marilyn, and Elliott said...

Almost forgot the most important part: bribery! Once Elliott was legitimately going potty, one successful trip earned one treat (a gummy bear, M&M, something that he normally wouldn't get). Don't stress; it's not necessary for very long. Stickers were OK, but he'd have 6 or 8 by the end of the day, and they'd get all scuzzy looking. After a while, you can go to one trip for every 2 trips, etc.

Now that he's completely out of diapers and Pull-Ups, we take him to the store every weekend to pick out a new Hot Wheels car for each week completely accident-free. We'll probably keep that up for the rest of the month. Finding the right (cheap) carrot can make life a little easier!

Julia said...

Oh, actually I do have something to contribute. You know this isn't personal experience, but I humbly throw it out there in case it might help.

This lady I used to work with had two children she'd adopted internationally (girl and boy) that were very close in age and were potty training at the same time. They did "potty support"--each time one wanted to go sit on the potty, the other would go with them, hand them toilet paper, bring them things to read, and just be general "support" and encouragement to the other as they sat on the potty. They made it a big deal to be the "support". Both kids potty trained really quickly and easily.

I thought of it, because you said you were leaving one to go be with the other (before the potty in the kitchen) so--if you made it a team effort, of sorts, then everyone would go to the potty at the same time. Maybe give you a bit of a break, as the "support" would take over :)

I don't know---again, not my experience, but thought I'd throw it out there in case it was helpful.

Helene said...

Crap!! I just had a long comment written out and it disappeared!!!! And now I gotta get lunch ready for the kids so I'll have to come back later!

Helene said...

Okay, they're eating...whew! Now I can't remember what I wrote!

I was going to suggest putting potty chairs in the rooms that you spend the most time in to avoid having to be in the bathroom but you've already done that.

Have you tried a rewards system yet? Putting up a sticker chart, where they get a sticker for each time they go pee or poop on the potty (no stickers when they just sit there but don't do anything). Then you can have a little shoebox with some goodies from the Dollar Store from them to choose from when they get so many stickers. That always worked well, except mine always wanted gummies as rewards.

Seems you already know that this could turn into a huge power struggle so at least that's out of the way. One thing I noticed that seemed to backfire for me oddly enough (and it sounds like maybe this may be happening with you) is too much excitement. I had to start downplaying my excitement each time they wanted to sit on the potty and/or had success because they seemed to feed off of that. So I'd just act like it wasn't a big deal, just a simple high-5 and "good job" and then I'd be sure to praise them really well on other things, like when they would clean up their toys. So it didn't seem like going potty was the ONLY thing bringing Mommy excitement.

They're still young too so you may have to give it more time. My kids weren't completely potty trained until 3 and even then they were still having accidents.

Hang in're doing really well and so are they!

Carrie said...

Sounds like you are having the exact same issues we have had. S used to really make a game of using the potty...always needing to "go" and "trying" over and over again with success some of the time. Both girls seem to be cognitively ready for it, but their little bodies don't seem to be keeping up with their brains. We've tried wearing underwear and using the potty only, but both will go in the potty and then eliminate the rest in the underwear minutes later. After so many accidents we are back to diapers and using the potty only sometimes.
A friend of mine suggesting putting the potty chair/seats away for awhile so as not to entice them into the "game" of going. That worked and when I brought it back out, they didn't really care about making a game of it.
Also, sometimes when one of them lingers too long and I feel like we've had enough time in the bathroom, I'll just say something like "good try, we'll try again soon." Then I'll turn out the light and walk out and go back to playing. After doing that a few times, they seem to get that using the potty is just business and not a game.
We try wearing underwear and using the potty every few weeks, but so far the girls have had just too many accidents so we just go back to diapers.
I'm with you that they will do it when they are ready so I don't want to make it such a huge deal that we all end up crying because we aren't successful. I'm just waiting for their bodies to catch up with their brains, then I think it will be much easier!
Good luck! Please share any successes you have!!

Johanna said...

Sounds like they are ready, but mine were showing all the signs of being ready at 2 and 1/2, and after one very exhausting day, I threw in the towel. I tried again at 2 and 3/4, and BINGO - not hard at all - they were trained instantly and had no (wet) accidents even the first day.

The keys for us (besides readiness) were:

*A big chunk of time where I didn't have to BE anywhere (no store trips, no playdates, no outings) We chose Christmas holidays since our friends were busy and my husband was home to help.
*Potty watches - Sounds stupid, but they helped both the twins and ME to remember to sit on the potty every hour. After two weeks of wearing them, they abandoned them and never looked back.
*Bribery - one M&M for every time they peed. No matter what. I carried them with me and had little tupperwares filled with them in every bathroom in the house. They had a harder time with pooping, so we used a treasure box filled with awesome toys that the girls earned for going to the potty. I was worried they wouldn't poop on the potty once all of the toys were gone, but it wasn't an issue.
*Celebration - we cheered them on. They cheered one another on. Pee=a party. :)
*A travel potty (for when we ventured out). I have one from One Step Ahead that uses gallon ziploc bags, and we use it OFTEN. I know it sounds gross to let you kid pee in the car, but it is SOOOO much better than putting their clean little hineys on a filthy public toilet. Plus two kids in a potty means one of them is always touching something. :)

I have a potty training tag on my blog, you are welcome to look at. Most of the recent posts are just funny comments since mine have been potty trained for a few months, but the earlier ones might be helpful to you. We started the first time in October, and then again in December, where it stuck. Good luck... I wouldn't wish potty training twins on my worst enemy.

Olusola said...

I have no experience in the potty training arena but (if you forgive me) I think its cute that your girls enjoy potty time. Good luck.

Cuz I'm the mama! said...

Wow! I am so hoping that some of these posts will help you out. As I was reading your post I was just getting overwhelmed for you (and me later). I know you will figure it out!! In the meantime -- sending lots of prayer and patience your way. :)

Barbara Manatee said...

hmmm....what about setting a timer to cue them when they can use the potty? maybe once every hour? or maybe try the 3 day potty training deal...??

Adam is no where near ready to potty train. Part of me is relieved...but it'd also be nice to live diaper free finally!!!

April is Autism Awareness Month. I'm dedicating my blog all month long to Autism.

Christina said...

I won't type a bunch out since you've gotten a lot of great responses. =) I struggled with Alex like this too in the beginning, before we moved and everything. She would constantly in the bathroom, checking things out, sitting, not peeing, all that jazz. It was super frustrating and it bothered the crap out of me lol. but then she backed off, and was back in diapers until a few months ago, when she decided she was ready. Abby is now ready, and I didn't push it at all-I just let her watch Alex, and do what she needed to do.
My advice is this-let them explore, let them do what they need to do. When they are ready, they will let you know. Potty training is what they say-not stressful if you do it when your kids are ready. I'm total proof of that. Good luck!!

Quadmama said...

Since they've shown interest, it might help if you initiate some of the potty time, especially soon after meals. I ended up taking a break with two of mine because all they did was make it a game. A few weeks after the break, they were ready. Also, don't be afraid to concentrate on whichever daughter is showing more success. Mine did not all potty train at the same time, simply because they weren't all ready at the same time. Good luck!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

for two days I've been forgetting to click over at home (can't see this form from work).

anyway, I heard somewhere (???) that if you potty train at 2, you train the whole year but if you potty train at 3, you do it in days :)

that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Then again I also said Connor would sleep in that cot til he was 3!

MultipleMum said...

I am no queen of toilet training so any advice from me would be misplaced. But I offer some observations - the younger they are, they longer it seems to take; 'toilet timing' might give you more success than training at this stage; nappy free time is your friend in these situations - remove the nappy if you want them to go to the toilet. All or nothing. Good luck dear Mandy. I am dreading it x2 xx