Thursday, February 2, 2012

Potty without Training

Potty Learning in Progress
Photo Credit: Manish Bansal
Creative Commons License
Last week I wrote about the reasons why I refuse to potty train my children. This week, I'll tell you how they learned to use the toilet anyway!

Instead of "training," I used Gentle Encouragement. Theresa, from The Outnumbered Mommy, calls it "Potty Learning" in her house. I like that term too, because there's no forcing or control implied.

My Gentle Encouragement method takes longer than the 3-days or a week that traditional training methods require. It can take a few weeks, or months or a year. It depends on the age and readiness of your child. However, it also takes a lot less patience and determination! Begin with the understanding that your child will eventually use the toilet exclusively. Understand that they will want to! Then, simply encourage them to do so.


Note: Your first born will likely take the longest. Younger siblings tend to pick up interest sooner because they see their adored older sibling using the toilet.

The How To - There is no set-in-stone procedure, but to give you a general idea, here's how I do it:

1. Watch for readiness - Our brains are wired for bladder control. Somewhere between 18 and 30 months your child will start to "tell" you they're ready. Signs include staying drier longer, especially through naps; general interest in the toilet; he notices when he's wet or tell you when he goes potty or poop in his diaper; ability to follow 3-step directions; an increased attention span.

2. Encourage the Transition - When my first-born started fighting every diaper change, with every diaper change I would say, "You sure don't like diaper changes! When you go potty in the toilet you won't need them anymore!" Then I would list all the people she knew who use the toilet! "I go potty on the toilet. Aunt Jen goes potty on the toilet. Your friend Ava goes potty on the toilet." And so on and so forth. Use male role models for boys.

3. Frequently recognize and verbalize her (or his) big kid status - "Wow, what a big girl you are! You did _____ (fill in the blank)! Big girls go potty on the toilet too!"

4. Exposure - The more natural, non-demanding exposure to the toilet your child gets, the better. Read potty books, have play-dates with peers who already use the potty and when you need to go, let him know, "Mommy has to go potty on the toilet now! I'm a big girl!"

5. Just Ask - When you're at home and it's convenient, just ask once in a while. No pressure, no forcing, just a simple question. "Want to go potty on the toilet?" My 2-year-old (29-months) now tells me, "Big kaka" ("kaka" is French for poo poo, my kids are bilingual) right before he goes. So, I ask the question. Sometimes he says, "Yes!" and we run to the toilet. Sometimes he says no, so I say, "OK. If you go in the toilet we won't need to change your diaper."

That's it. Easy, stress-free potty learning. You're wondering how long it took my kids?
1st born - started showing interest around 22 months, out of diapers at 30 months (Grandma was coming to visit for Thanksgiving. That day my girl decided she was officially a big girl and diapers were gone forever).
2nd born - started showing interest around 20-months. Out of diapers around 32 months, nights took until age 4.
3rd born - currently 29-months, goes potty on the toilet a couple of times a day. Still in diapers.

Questions? Ask away!

17 comments:

  1. I think My son decided on his own! We never forced him SO I guess we did i this way also! Great post! :)

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your method! My son will be 21 months soon, and I am so anxious/nervous about starting the potty training process. He follows me and daddy into the bathroom and is very curious about what is going on, he has his own potty seat and likes to sit on the toilet and try to go, and it helps that he loves to flush the toilet when he is done (whether or not he has gone). I definitely encourage his willingness and how he has fun with it, and he has gone potty in the toilet a few times! He also loves to tell me when he goes "poopoo". This is a great post, thanks for sharing!

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    1. You are welcome! It's the anxiety that I want to remove from the process. We are in a generation that has so many "supposed to" parenting methods. Forget it! Let's feel confident in the choices we make as mothers and feel good about following our own intuition! Thanks for visiting. :)

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  3. I'd love to hear what you think of parents who potty train babies. My Mom said she potty trained my brother when he was 10 months old. That is just CRAZY talk to me. Why would you even want to choose that battle? Love your perspective!

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    1. Mama Kat visited my blog! I love yours. You are to me as Ellen is to you, except... I don't stalk or write you letters. Somehow your comment ended up in my spam box. I have never, ever had spam before... which is why I'm only seeing this 6 weeks later!! Mama Kat in my spam. The injustice!
      Thank you for visiting! I feel so honored!

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  4. Great post. I am following via FNFWBHop. I am your newest GFC follower.
    Hope you have a blessed weekend.

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  5. Sounds like what I was doing but I just thought I was lazy lol! Glad to hear that I'm not the only one taking a different approach. With my daughter it was hell for everyone involved. I don't want that with my son. I don't want to force it on him. He's getting there. Slowly but surely.

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    1. I think it's key that we follow our child's lead. You're not lazy!! You're paying attention. And why do we want to stress our children and ourselves when this is something that comes naturally with time? Feel confident in your decision to use Gentle Encouragement!

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  6. I think that's great. My oldest was so easy. I didn't say anything. I just placed him on the toilet when I was getting ready in the morning. He loved it and went at a year old. He kept asking to sit. It just was easy. My younger one wasn't as easy. He's known how to go potty for over a year. He just gets lazy about playing and not going. He's almost 4. All of them are so different.

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  7. I always wondered about the "my kid(s) were potty trained in 3 days" method. I thought it was a bunch of hogwash! that is great, but what happened after the 3 days??!! I highly doubted it, but I also felt a little pressure to get the "job" done. We started training our oldest at about 2 and half with pull ups. I don't reccommend them as a "training" method. but it gave Daddy and Mommy a piece of mind when we were out and about. we started slow then moved to real underwear and then moved to using the toilet the bathroom. we took it step by step. long story short, our 3 and half years old and hoping to start him in preschool this coming school year. He has started having accidents again because he waits too long to use the bathroom! we see him doing the "dance" but tends to put up a fight about it "no I don't want to. I need help" etc. just not sure what to do about this. I know kids get involved with whatever they are doing etc, but peeing all over the bathroom floor for the 5th time in what seems like a month is getting a frustrating! should we go back to rewarding him when he makes it and goes in the potty? also we are trying to get him to go by himself to prepare for school, but he always claims he needs help and he doesn't really. so please HELP a frustrated Mommy and Daddy in Colorado. any advice would be greatly appreciated! thanks!

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    1. I had the same issue here and there with my middle child. Even after she was able to go all morning at preschool without any problem, on mornings at home she sometimes had accidents. It was the same - she simply played too long and ignored her urge to go. Make a big deal about how "yucky" it feels to be wet, how you wish we could still be playing, but now we have to clean up! Oh, it is sticky and stinky! Be careful with your wording - make it a team effort. My frustration with my daughter only prolonged the issue. She "needed help" too. It's a hard time - they are little, but they are big. We want them to do it themselves, especially when there is another little one to deal with.
      After a couple of 'accident's when you've worked as a team to get him cleaned up and verbalize the yucky side and how nice it is to be dry and clean, start encouraging him to use the potty before beginning an activity. Help for a day or two - "Let's go potty before playing with trucks so we can just play and play and play!" Run him to the toilet (that's help!) let him do it and then offer to help him squeeze the soap or whatever. Help with a couple of little things for a couple of days and don't show him any sign of irritation - do it joyfully (yes, you can fake it!). Talk about how it feels to need to go potty, maybe he doesn't identify the feeling in his bladder with needing to pee, so explain a little about the pressure he may feel there. "Listen to your body when you need to go potty!"
      After a couple of days of this gentle encouragement, you'll need only to use verbal reminders. Take it in stages, see what happens. Let us know!

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  8. This is a very well structured plan!

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  9. Hello again today I am following you via Welcome Wednesday. Already a follower.

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  10. I think you are spot on when you call it learning versus training. It really is a learning process and no amount of trying to train will make a kid ready to learn.

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Go on, tell me what you think!