Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Potty Training a Stubborn Toddler: Potty Training Made Easy!

I recently potty trained my 27 month old son, right after he turned 2.  I wish I could have done it sooner though because I could've saved a ton of money from not buying diapers.  When I talked to some of my former Korean co-worker ladies (they are all 15+ years older than I am) they all told me they potty trained their kids right when they turned 1.  My son was almost turning 2 at the time and my previous attempts to potty train him - at around 18 months old - failed miserably.  How in the world did they train their kids at such early age?  That's exactly what I asked them, haha.  And literally all of them told me the same thing:

  • They wanted to get rid of the diapers as soon as possible because they cost too darn much.
  • The younger they are, the less they know, therefore easier to train, because they have no choice but to think it's something they HAVE to do.
Okay, well good advice, except my son knew WAY too much by now and he was a stubborn little brat.  From my previous attempts, he DESPISED sitting on the potty.  It was frustrating.  I gave up, and thought maybe when he gets older, he'll realize that big boys don't wear diapers and will learn eventually.  Later on, I quickly learned that what I thought was very, very, WRONG.

My son's 2nd birthday was approaching and I was determined to potty train him right after.  By then, he knew how to follow most instructions and understand a lot of the things I say to him.  So I thought it was going to be easier.  Guess what?  I got him potty trained in 4 days!  Was it easy?  Well, yes and no.  Here's what happened:

Day 1
I put him in undies and I tried to get him to be comfortable with the potty.  I bought the Baby Bjorn potty because of rave reviews on Amazon.  No way.  He would not sit in it.  He was being so stubborn!  He was peeing everywhere in his undies and I was getting frustrated at him.  I would say, "No, don't pee pee on the floor, go pee pee in the potty." with a frustrating tone of voice.  I think it made him feel guilty enough to know that peeing on himself is a bad thing because by the end of the day, he held his pee for so long (for about 2 hours) until he just couldn't hold it anymore and peed on himself.  I felt so bad!  Then every time I tried to get him in fresh new undies, he refused to wear them.  I thought toddlers supposed to like the whole process of switching to undies.  But he didn't. This was going nowhere fast.  What was I doing wrong?

Day 2
After having no progress on day 1, I wanted to try a different approach.  If I was going to get him to be comfortable on the potty, I had to make this whole experience fun for him.  I took him to Target (diaper-less, I had to make sure he peed first at home) to pick out his own potty and undies.  Him being such a big fan of Lightning McQueen, of course, he picked out the Disney's Lightning McQueen potty.  It had a little handle flush which made a race car noise.  He really seemed to like it.  Then I let him pick out his pack of undies and he picked out Thomas and Friends underwear (he loves Thomas also).  He was so excited to get these new things so I was positive this was going to work.  Unfortunately, this did not work.  All he wanted to do was play with the potty and not sit in it.  The flush handle was a big distraction.  The undies?  He just wanted to look at the pictures and not wear them.  His stubbornness continued.  Holding his pee for about 1-2 hours at a time then peeing on the floor until he couldn't hold it continued, and my frustration grew.  Every time I tried to get him to sit on the potty, he kept saying "No, no, no, no." At times I was forcing him to sit in it, and he would get up right away.  I was getting stressed out and I could tell he was also.  Now I started to feel REALLY bad.

That night, after I put him to sleep, I thought to myself, 'You know what?  I'm not going to stress over this or get frustrated.  If he pees, he pees.  What's there to get so stressed about?'  I really started to sympathize him and realized that showing him my frustration towards this whole potty training was all wrong.  After all, babies and toddler are quick to feel and reflect on what the mother is feeling.  If I'm happy, he's happy.  If I'm sad, he's sad.  If I'm stressed, he's stressed.  I wanted to start fresh.  This time, I was going to act carefree and stress-free even if he peed on the floor.

Day 3
I didn't even mention the word potty that day.  I was showing him extra affection.  He peed on the floor, I acted if it wasn't a biggie and just said, "Aaww, you peed on the floor...eewww, now mommy has to clean your pee pee up, do you want to help me?" Then as I pointed to the potty, "Next time you have to pee, pee in the potty like a big boy, okay?"  So I let him grab paper towels and help me clean up and that was it.  By now, it was easy for me to tell when he had to go potty.  He would grab his "wee-wee" and start running around like a mad man.  I would ask him, "Do you have to go potty?" And his answer would be "No."  Even though I knew he had to go, I didn't force him on the potty.  When he peed on the floor, it was rinse and repeat the above.  Second half of the day, he pee'd and I said what I had to say...then out of nowhere, he just went to the potty and sat in it!  WOW!  Even though he sat in the potty AFTER he pee'd, I was so happy to see him sit in it.  Now this was my chance to get him comfortable.  I read books to him, I let him watch a few minutes of TV, did fun things with him while he was sitting in the potty.  I tried to get him to link the potty to positive things.  At one point, he was sitting in the potty long enough to go pee in it!  You have no idea how that felt.  It felt like a big load of weight had lifted off of my shoulders.  I gave him lots of praise and made him feel really good!  The rest of the day though, he sat in the potty AFTER he pee'd on the floor.  But that was okay, he made good progress today!

Day 4
I continued to be stress free about the whole potty training and I let him sit in the potty only when he wanted to.  When he did sit in the potty I let him feel comfortable by reading to him and doing fun things with him.  Sometimes he would sit in it long enough to go pee.  When he did, I gave him lots of praise and gave him unsalted tops saltine crackers (I don't do candy).  He likes crackers and I rarely ever give him any so it made him really happy.  Sometimes he still pee'd on the floor and then sat on the potty.  Second half of the day, I asked him if he had to go potty - because I could tell he had to - he didn't say anything but I let him grab my hand (instead of me grabbing his hand) and I led him to the potty.  He sat down with a bit of hesitation but he willingly pee'd in the potty!  I gave him the biggest praise ever and crackers!  And throughout the rest of the day, he had no problem sitting in the potty when I asked him to!  My boy was potty trained!  Just like that!

I couldn't believe my son was potty trained in 4 days.  He still has accidents here and there but people around me told me that it's normal.

If you are reading this because you are trying to potty train your little one, your experience won't be the same as mine because all kids are different.  But what I would advise is this:

  • Potty training is easy if you make of it.  Don't think too much of it.  Don't think that it's difficult.  You need to train yourself to think like so before you train your little one.  If you make it difficult, your little one will think it's difficult.  It's a natural learning process and you just need to be there to teach, guide and support him.
  • The way you present yourself affects your little one.  Don't get frustrated or stressed out at him.  If you get frustrated or stressed out, he will be stressed and will make matters worse and prolong the process.  He will think the potty is some form of punishment and start to think negative things about it.
  • Be content and carefree about the whole experience.  Relax.  If he pees on the floor, he pees on the floor.  Don't make it a big deal.  Just let him know that it's wrong and let him know he needs to learn to pee in the potty.
  • Sympathize.  Try to put yourself into his shoes.  Be understanding.  Don't use force.
  • Be consistent.  This is very important.  Once you start, don't give up.  I'd recommend that you do this when you have a 3-4 day weekend or longer.   Be on his case every time he pees and be consistent. If you are on and off, it will most likely take months to learn.  When he does pee in the potty, let him know he did the right thing and praise him.  I don't advise giving treats such as sweets as a form of praise.
  • Some may take longer to use the potty.  Every toddler is different.  It just takes time.

If somebody advised this to me before I potty trained him, I think I could have done it in 3 days.  I learned a lot through this experience though, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's amazing how your baby can teach you so many things in so many ways.  I learned how to be more patient & relaxed and not make such a big deal of things when he does something wrong, but make a big deal when he does something right.  I learned to look at myself before I say things or take action.  

My son is now using the toilet and learned to poop in the toilet also.  Even though pooping and using the toilet came a couple of months later, I never forced him or pressured him to use the toilet.  It just came naturally after he repeatedly saw mommy and daddy using it.  We let him flush after one of us went and day after day he became more and more curious.  Then one day he just said he wanted to use the big potty.  It was that easy!

Potty training is easy if you think and make it so.

-Nerdy Mom

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