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It's a Potty Life for Me

Well, we did it. We said on Little L's application for preschool that we would have her potty-trained by her third birthday (coming up in February), and Nanny Miss Bee and I accomplished it!

Not a potty pic, but a celebratory one! :)
Now I realize that at 33 months, Little L is probably a little late to the potty-training world, since I have heard of little girls (including myself) who mastered the art of peeing in a pot shortly after age 2. The range of "normal" usually falls somewhere between 2-3 years of age. Some of the literature I've read has suggested waiting a bit longer before attempting, because developmentally immature bodies that are potty-trained too early can develop toilet issues down the road. Others have suggested that training after 32 months has detrimental results, too.

So basically, there's really no "right" or "wrong," and as a parent, we have to just read our kids and find a time that is right for them. In Little L's case, the readiness signs had been increasing:
  • dry overnight diapers
  • willingness to sit on her potty
  • regularly pooping in the potty when prompted (80% of the time)
  • ability to communicate her needs with words
When we nailed down a date to actually go diaper-free, the plan was to let Little L wear big girl undies and simply let us know when she wanted to use the potty. We figured that if we prompted her regularly, we could probably avoid an accident. In order to facilitate ease-of-potty-access, we also committed ourselves not to go very far from a known bathroom for a few days.

On the first day, Little L was fairly compliant and excited to wear her big girl undies. We didn't offer any candy or sticker incentives for voiding in the potty, only verbal praise and permission to use her iPad while she did the deed. We had a few accidents when she didn't tell us she needed to go, and we had forgotten to ask over a significant length of time.

On the second day, we decided to ask Little L every hour, on the hour, if she needed to use the potty. She quickly grew resentful of our constant questioning. There were a couple of pee accidents, but it was mostly when she didn't quite make it in time to the potty.

By the third day (a Sunday), Little L was downright annoyed by our invitations to go potty. We had reduced the frequency to once every 1.5 hours, but during Sunday School she had a full-on meltdown when Hubbs tried to take her to the bathroom. She was definitely growing increasingly frustrated that we weren't trusting her to tell us when she needed to go, so we dropped the prompting frequency to approximately once every 2-2.5 hours. This seemed to be the perfect amount of time for Little L to have enough to void, and for her to not feel suffocated by our incessant potty talk. We found that she would also let us know when she needed to go, and did so without prompting as well.

During the following few days, Little L's accident rate dropped to 0 and she started being able to tell Nanny Miss Bee when she needed to use the potty. To her credit, Miss Bee also took her to a potty immediately upon Little L's waking from her nap, even if it was a public potty at the supermarket or nearby Starbucks. Because my kid almost always had to go after her nap, she willingly used the public toilets. This has helped her get over her phobia about using "big" potties, and now we don't actually need to take a portable kiddie toilet seat with us when we go out. We just have to hold her under her armpits to keep her from falling in (although sometimes she props herself up using both hands on the sides of the seat).

Her potty schedule looks fairly regular at this point:
  1. When she wakes up in the morning
  2. After breakfast
  3. After playing outside (or inside), sometime before lunch
  4. After lunch
  5. After her nap
  6. After playing outside (or inside), sometime before dinner
  7. After dinner
  8. After bath/during bedtime routine
  9. Final pee before bed
We haven't had very many accidents in the past month since we started the training. On occasion Little L hasn't been able to "hold it" long enough to find a potty, or she tells us a bit too late if we forget to ask her, but the accidents have been minimal. With our prompting and her own growing ability to let us know, she has been able to go out to the park with the nanny or on car and stroller excursions with us (even across the border) without accident. The best is that Little L has figured out how to read her own body cues for pooping, so we haven't had any poop accidents since we started this a month ago (knock on wood!).

Now, I'm no expert on this whole potty training business. I haven't read a lot about it on Google, I've looked at exactly zero books on the subject, and I kind of went by gut-feel (as evidenced by the hourly prompting gone awry). However, I am proud of the way that we approached it. We didn't use a lot of external reinforcements (unless you count the iPad, which we do let her play with off the potty, too), we didn't cause her a lot of tears or distress, and she was able to figure it out when she was physically and emotionally ready to begin wearing underpants.

We still put her in a pull-up overnight, just in case, since we co-sleep and I don't want pee all over my king size. However, every morning she surprises me with a dry pull-up and a full bladder, so it's all good.

Now we just have to figure out how to wean her.....


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