So far, potty training has been interesting and full of surprises.
Munchkin tends to be too focused on his shows, or his toys or just mischief to remember to go pee. I have had to take him every 1.5 hours to make sure he doesn’t have an accident. While this doesn’t necessarily count as potty training, but parent training, he has since learned to hate being wet or soiled, so I have not completely failed. When he has an accident, he tells me right away and holds it until he can finish in the potty.
After nap time or first thing in the morning, he waddles like a penguin from his room to the bathroom because he doesn’t like the feel of his wet diaper on his bum. He also informs me that he peed in his bed and needs to use the potty. This is a huge step in the right direction, and major progress from three weeks ago, when he would be all too happy to sit in his wet underwear all day.
I took away his bean bag chair and the throw pillows from the couch when we started potty training; they are much too hard to clean several times per day. We gave him back his beanbag chair on Friday and told him it was because he was a big boy that stayed dry enough to have it back. I told him that if he had an accident in his “pillow”, that I would have to take it away for a while. Since he wasn’t too pleased with the idea of loosing it again, he has been careful to tell me, or at least not argue when I tell him it is potty time.
He is slowly telling me that he needs to go pee. Sometimes is after a little dribble, sometimes he can’t hold it super long so we need to rush to the potty or have an accident on the way, but he is learning. For such a stubborn and unfocused child, I am very proud of how far he has come in the last three weeks.
For the most part, I place him on the potty when he first wakes up. At breakfast, he has a glass of milk and I make sure he gets a potty break between 1-1.5 hours later. We go before every meal, when we leave the house to go somewhere and 5 minutes after we return from outside, regardless of how long we have been gone (temperature change and all). As long as we aren’t staying in the house all day, that’s between 7-8 potty breaks in 12 hours. Unless he has a poopy accident, he mostly stays dry all day and tells me at least once or twice each day.
Next week, I will try just reminding him starting at 1 hour after a drink and wait as long as 2.5 hours before making him use the potty, encouraging him to tell me before the accident instead of after. If this doesn’t work after 1-2 days, I will go back to 1.5 hours for a week then try again. The last thing I want is to discourage him and make him feel like a failure, he really does get upset when he has an accident and I have no choice but to tell him that I am disappointed that he didn’t tell me in time.
Rewards and Punishment
This has been a very long process but never a negative one. Other than friendly lectures while on the potty, there has been only positive comments. He was getting treats when he went in the potty, now it is limited to when he tells me before the accident. When I do place him on the potty, unless he holds it in and pees a few minutes later on the carpet, he is never reprimanded for his accidents, just reminded of where we go pee and show him the mess on his underwear and pants. Eventually, he starts to give the correct answer when you ask “where do you go peepee?” and starts to say eww when you show wet pants.
We tried the treats for pee in the potty, or a sticker, or tv time, but he is smarter than that. If he doesn’t want a treat at the moment, or wants another treat not on the potty-treat list, or he list his tv privileges for something unrelated, then my whole reward system is out the window. Eventually, we switched from external rewards to internal rewards; he should feel proud for using the potty and disappointed for having a (legit) accident. Within a few days, this worked much better.
When he does refuse to pee in the potty, but a few minutes later on the carpet, he gets another trip to the potty and a time out immediately after. Since I know he is capable of going on the potty (as in, he is not afraid of the toilet) and clearly needed to go, this was just an act of rebellion and will not be tolerated. He sits on the potty for roughly 2-5 minutes after an accident while I read a calming book or have a chat about something random. If I leave him alone, I can’t tell if he actually went and he tends to be silly and play with anything he can touch (or try to reach things too far away).
Depending on how long we are traveling in the car, I either let him wear underwear and place a peepee pad in his car seat, or I make him wear a diaper. I don’t like that idea, but I also don’t want him sitting in pee for a 3 hour car ride. The shoulders on German highways are only for emergencies, and a peepeed toddler doesn’t count. The reset stops are not that close together so he wears a diaper but I still take him to the potty as soon as we arrive or if we see a rest stop at roughly the time he needs to go. We went to the dr office last week and he managed to pee in his stroller (with a peepee pad of course), so we sat on the potty and got changed as soon as we arrived. Just before we left, we tried again and he managed to go in the potty. He fell asleep on the way home and had another accident, good thing I didn’t have to go anywhere after the dr’s appointment, I can only carry so many underwear and pants in his diaper bag and wet items in a grocery bag.
This is going to take a few more weeks before it is perfect but I knew that starting this in the first place. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy and this is definitely something important for him to learn. We have no plans for vacation until late February, early March, so we have plenty of time before then.