Thursday, February 19, 2009

Temporary Scarcity--Potty Training Earlier

MommaBear questioned if I should be potty-training during this busy time of life. Good question! Here are my reasons for potty-training Jeremiah right now:

*After a week or two of using cloth diapers again I realized that cloth diapers really aren't that different from underwear. It was amazing how much more aware he was of his own body going potty when he was in the cloth.

*We babysat Jeremiah's best friend, Arianna, who is 2 months older than him, a couple of mornings in the last couple of weeks and she was always going potty on the little potty chair. He wanted to mimic her and said, "I wanna go potty too!"

*With King Jo working less hours, he is home more to help with supervising Jer's going potty. I've been staying home a lot too during this time (trying to shop less and go out less as we have lots going on this month) and that's a NECESSARY component of toliet training.

*I knew it could theoretically be done! Though I'm not into infant potty-training after trying it with Ali as a baby and realizing how much work it is ("Mommy Training") I do know folks who have successfully trained little boys before, or shortly after, two years old when they are old enough to walk themselves to the potty. I also stopped to consider that the pioneers and our grandparents, who didn't have the luxury of disposables, somehow managed to do it! And if you wonder if little kids can really be trained to go potty or are "ready" you need to take a look at babies around the world who are trained to go on command at just a few months old. It's possible! Even my own little Justus seems to prefer going poo whenever I take his diaper off! He often goes in the middle of a diaper change into a wetwipe, making cloth diapers even more do-able!

*I found a book at the library called "Early-Start Potty Training." While it has some tips, it really wasn't as great as I thought it would be. It's way over the top in being anti-disposables and thinking disposables harm toddlers' health. However, it did make me stop to consider why all the doctors and childcare books these days are pushing for kids to "be ready" and "take your time." The diaper companies make billions of dollars off of parents choosing to wait an extra year or even two with potty-training.

*Need. When we have to find a way, we do it. Honestly, if we hadn't had this financial set-back I would have happily bought diapers with coupons until this summer when I had planned to let Jer run around naked and learn to go in the yard. But when you don't have that option and it's a choice between scraping poop off of cloth diapers or training a child to go in the potty, you get busy!

Jer is 27 months old and Ali was trained at 23 months (and with the exact same motivation due to the fact that I was babysitting a potty-trained girl and she wanted to copy her!) He stays dry at naps if he goes pee-pee before his nap and can go a few hours, or even all afternoon without needing to go potty. But I do put a cloth diaper on for naptime because prevention is better than a huge clean-up! Half the time he comes up to me and says, "I'm going pee-pee" which means he's about to go, and half the time I sit him down if it's been a couple of hours since he's last gone and he'll go within a few minutes of me sitting him down. He still has some accidents (usually not the floor-cleaning, carpet shampooer type accidents that were common the first two days of training) if he starts to go in his pants right as he's telling me he has to go. I do let him wear undies to church, running errands around town, and riding in the car to pick Ali up from preschool. We still do a disposable at night for bed since 12 hours is way too long for him to hold it!

Even if it takes him a while to be fully and completely trained, the fact that he's consistently going 4-5 times a day in the potty saves me having to change and wash diapers. He still needs some help pulling pants up and down sometimes but I don't mind and he'll soon learn that especially if he wears sweats a lot. He still needs to learn going potty standing up and he especially needs to learn to stop spraying on his pants when he's sitting there going. Our little splashguard thing keeps falling off and though he tries to "point down" he doesn't always succeed, so there's still plenty of laundry to do right now! It is LOTS of work to potty-train and a big commitment, but it was actually easier than I thought it would be since so many people have told me how hard little boys can be to train. It's not something I would ever want to take on if I was pregnant! I had to remind myself over and over during the pee-pee clean-up that everytime he was going potty, even if it was on my couch cushions or on my floor, that he was learning what his body does and learning about the sensations that accompany elimination. Each clean-up episode brought us one step closer to the goal!

We started off using BIG rewards (a sucker or candycane from the candy jar) and once he was going a lot, we moved it to monkey bite mini-cookies and now conversation hearts. After the first 5 times Daddy bought him an ice-cream cone, and then again after the next 5 and after 20 more times he got a Happy Meal! It's so fun to see how excited both of the kids get when he goes potty and how proud he is to be a big boy!

One thing that I have discovered with potty training that the books don't often talk about is obedience. If your kid won't obey, they will be very hard to potty-train. Jer is very compliant but we've had some times where he refuses to try to go potty when we ask him to try when he hasn't gone in a while. Keep in mind, we're not forcing him to actually go, but asking him to obey and sit down, just as when we ask him to clean up his toys and he is expected to obey us. If your child consistently obeys then you can ask them to sit on the potty for a minute and try and there won't be a big show-down, scream-fest, etc. So, teaching kids to submit to authority helps even in the potty training arena! I'll be sharing some links in the future that I have found helpful for training kids in obedience. I'm no expert but it's just something I realized when we've been training Jer. I can imagine it would be a nightmare if you tried to potty-train if your children don't listen to you and don't ever have consequences to their disobedience.

Having a potty-training kid isn't easier than having a kid in diapers (in my opinion) but it is a lot cheaper! It's amazing how long the disposable diapers last now that Jer is training and Justus is in cloth. It's also amazing how much less trash we have to empty now!

Just because we are training earlier than some doesn't mean I think all kids can do it and that it works for all lifestyles. It's what works best for us right now and every family is different!


Kristin said...

It's interesting that he wanted to start going potty after he saw his friend go, because I'm sure he has seen Ali go before? Big sister just doesn't have as much influence as his little buddy, I guess?!

Also, do you find that Ali is having more behavioral problems right now due to the fact that Jer is getting a lot of attention for potty training, plus getting rewards for going? Does she still ask for a reward if she sees him getting one?

Mrs. Jo said...


Yes, we thought it was weird too that Ali had no effect on Jer but Arianna did! I guess it's because Ali goes on the big, "scary" potty.

We've always told Ali that she will get the same reward Jer gets so this helps her to encourage and celebrate with him when he goes. She doesn't expect it when she goes potty though because she knows she's a big girl and has been trained for 2 years. The first day he was training though she pooped in her bedroom though. She swears it was an accident but we think it was probably for attention. Because of this she missed out on the ice-cream cone that Jer got. It hasn't happened since! She really isn't having a lot of behavioral problems right now. She turned four yesterday and I can see such an amazing difference even from her turning three. There is hope Kristin! It continues to get easier!

Topher said...

I saw a great tip from dadlabs that suggested waiting until it was summer time-and letting the kids run free in the yard. Pretty funny!

I guess timing is everything!

Momma Bear said...

oh to have a hubby at home to help with that is a blessing! And that Jer wants to is awesome! You go busy momma!
Take Care!

Lesley said...

Good job!! You're a lot farther in the potty training than we are. Kayley is just starting to actually go on the potty after months of sitting on it and nothing happening. I really need to work harder on it because she could probably be doing a lot better if I took more time to work with her. I've just been so exhausted and busy lately but it's no excuse. Hopefully she'll be trained by this summer!! We go through A LOT of diapers around here!

The Three 22nds said...

I don't think it is too early to start! May as well! I am going to start my little one here soon too.

I have been thinking of manly shows for you. Most kids shows are about kids or animals and not about "men".

Every single show I can think of has something that I don't completely agree with. So I pick and choose and just discuss it with them. I get DVDs from the library so I can avoid halloween episodes etc.

There are the non fiction Mighty Machines dvds. I find them boring and my kids only want to watch them occasionally.

The one movie that I HIGHLY recommend is Veggietales full length "Pirates who don't do anything". It and Cars are the only 2 full length movies my kids watch. (I won't let them watch traditional disney and most pyxar.

Although Pirates doesn't follow a Bible Story it has a great message about true heroes and has sparked MANY discussions with my boys about heros. Basically the "pirates" turn from wimpy deadbeat dads/boyfriends to responsible heroes.

It is probably slightly too old for your kids. It is moderately scary in parts etc. and it will add scallawags and "back to the sea, dog" to your kids vocabularies.

Deacon watched it at 4 1/2 and was slightly scared the first time. Roman who is 3 likes to watch it with me and he really seems to understand the true heroes concept.

Anonymous said...

27 months isn't too early to start, assuming the child is responsive to trying. Everything I've read says that if the child isn't ready, it's not worth the fight. Sounds like Jer is.

Angela said...

Our little girl is also 27 months, and I did a three day potty training with her last week (from an e-book). I did a review of the method on my blog. You are right, it is so HARD! But I'm glad it's over. Diapers were so much easier, but I'm glad to be saving the money now.

Mrs. Jo said...

I loved your review Angela! I basically did everything you did even though I didn't have the book. I think it takes a super stubborn parent to get it done. You will not quit even if you nearly die trying! You won't put that disposable back on even if everything in you is crying out to do so because you've cleaned up enough messes! But it is true that after 3 days, the hardest part is done!
Jer is going poo in the toliet as well as pee but he too is scared of other toliets out in places other than our home (except for at Grammy's; he did go there because she has really good rewards!)

Momma Bear said...

thanks for the comments Mrs Jo, at my blog! Appreciate your thoughts!
You're desire to PT your babe inspired me to post about my own happenings in this area-oh boy is all i can say! haha

Thia said...

How wonderful to have an extra hand around when doing this! I am pretty sure my son would be responsive, but I am reluctant b/c of time. I need to get everything else completely caught up so that I don't have to do any of it for a few days b/c I know nothing else would get done. Things haven't been completely caught up here...well...ever!

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