Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Princess Potty Party: Potty Training My Two Year Old Daughter

I was hesitant to potty train Riley because I remembered the frustration I felt during Jackson's Potty Party. Although he never went back to diapers, like so many books and parenting experts recommend, it was still a party that lasted a long was months before he was able to tell me he needed to use the potty...and months before a #2 went into the potty and not his pull up before nap (at least he waited for that). 

Riley was showing most of the signs of Potty Readiness by 15 months. However, just because I was potty trained by 18 months through the night (Mommy Nannette still likes to boast), and Jackson had his Potty Party at 21 months, I knew she still had lots of time. I wanted her vocabulary to get a lot better and less baby-talkish. 

Just before Riley turned two, she began to hold her bladder for long periods of time--several hours. When she would wet her 12 hour diaper, it would leak through. I knew this was the last sign that she was ready to be trained. I also knew that we would be moving homes, which might cause a regression...but honestly it was getting annoying having her soak through diapers and her clothes. She may as well be wearing undies! From infancy, Riley has never been a fan of a wet diaper. 

So just before her 27th month, we held her Princess Potty Party. The theme came together just a few days before when I discovered this adorable book, Princess Potty

The countdown to Riley's Potty Party started two weeks before the big day, May 2nd. We counted down on a calendar to the party day, and during the last week we kept saying, "...just -- more days until your Potty Party!" Jackson's enthusiasm helped a lot. The first week Riley was not impressed. She would say, "I don't want to do Potty Party." Uh oh! But by the second week she got excited and we told everyone about it so that helped. The enthusiasm was contagious! Even our little princess had buy in that this would work. I started to think it would, too. 

In addition to the countdown, we made sure to read at least one potty book each day. During this time, I enforced the idea of using the potty, potty vocabulary, and "wow wasn't it so neat that this kid was using the potty like a Big Kid?" Tip: Begin casually reading Potty books months before you train. That way there's a lot of background knowledge and the child becomes interested in the potty.

Also a few days before the party, I told Riley we would (she and I) be training Elmo to use the potty first. She was eager to do this and kept taking him to the potty before the party day. Once Elmo sat in toilet water. Luckily he washes nicely. 

I wasn't sure how long we would train Elmo for on the party day because with Jackson we trained Big Boy Bear all morning...and then after nap Jackson didn't have a lot of practice with the potty. I knew the morning would give us the most time for practicing and also we are all our best in the mornings! 

After consulting with my mommy friend Carrie, who had recently trained her second son, I decided to be flexible with Elmo's training, and in turn, Riley's. I read Teri Crane's Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day (Potty Party read) three years ago with Jackson, so I used the principles for training from that book, although I didn't reread it this time.

The night before, Sierra and I set up the party areas. I think Jackson went to bed with more excitement than Riley, but both were eager to attend the Princess Potty Party. Jackson was given a special role--he was the assistant, or coach, and if Riley earned a prize on her sticker chart, so would he. 

Jackson and Riley woke up at 6 a.m. like it was Christmas morning. Let the party begin! Downstairs they discovered the party scenes: a special breakfast, a new potty from Elmo, gifts, sticker charts, streamers and balloons! 

Although we have three other potty seats, I think getting her a new one was key. It was something special and new, just from Elmo. 

Well wouldn't you know after Elmo had just a few successes on the potty, treats, and stickers on his own chart...Riley wanted to put her undies on, too. It wasn't even 9:00 a.m. yet! Because she initiated this, I went with it. And of course we had some accidents that morning, but we had more successes than accidents! Amazing. She looked forward to earning stickers and small treats after successes. Jackson did, too.

While she was learning about how her body works, I had packed a box of supplies with little things she could do. Most of the books were potty related. I also had saved some Easter goodies from cousins Zoey and Ella who gave the best Easter baskets, and put them in the box so they were like new toys. It took between 3 and 10 minutes sometimes when I put her on the potty before she would go. Bring your patience with you to the Potty Party!

I set an alarm on my phone for Elmo to use the potty. Riley would use it after...about every hour. I made sure she was drinking a lot of liquids--usually juice, her favorite. On a regular day she is allowed one juice. But on the Potty Party she had A LOT. 

Meanwhile, we played fun games and I had activities planned for Jackson and Riley to do while we waited for the timer. I wanted to make the morning fun and special--different from another morning but keeping with our regular schedules for meals and snacks. We all watched Elmo's Potty Time DVD and I think she actually understood why we were watching it for the first time. She was making the connection!

This game became a nightly favorite. I played something similar with my 5th graders at the end of the day with a Kooshball. Silent Balloon: keep it in the air and no talking. You drop it or talk, you're out.
Princess of the Potty

By noon, it was time for Riley to get ready for her nap. She had earned a prize and so had Jackson. I started with three stickers on her chart. One sticker for pee, two for poop (TMI? Well, you are reading about a Potty Party!) 

"Dora socks!"
"The next Captain Underpants book!"

Jackson went to school and I put Riley in a pull up, making sure she understood these were for sleeping times. I was relieved when Jackson went to school because he was overly excited about the Potty Party. He was encouraging, but at the same time, he took up a lot of the time I needed to spend with Riley. I felt like if he had been gone, she wouldn't have had accidents. Probably some accidents of course, but he was sucking the energy out of me. He asked questions about everything she was doing, I was doing, etc. And during this party, you have to remain upbeat, chipper, so happy...even when there is pee on the floor. 

Luckily I had asked Sierra to pick Jackson up from school so Riley could have an uninterrupted nap and more time to practice on the potty. Tip: send other kids away when you potty train...much easier! 

By the time Jackson had returned home from school, Riley had earned another prize. So that meant he could have another, too. He was back to coach mode. He was really proud of the progress she was making and so were Mama and Daddy!

That evening we went to a block party and I took Riley to the bathroom a couple times and she had successes. I couldn't believe it was working so well! Tip: It's easier to stay home the first two days and not go anywhere. Then you don't have accidents in public. But, since we were so close to home, I risked it. 

At bedtime I put Riley in a pull up and told her how proud we were of her potty progress. Then I went to bed shortly after that because I was EXHAUSTED.

The next morning, she woke up and used the potty successfully right away. Sticker! Then we were at home for several hours and she had more accidents that morning than I think the day before combined! I think I was slacking about making it a big deal when she would go because of her fast progression. So I put the Potty Party Mode back on, and so did she. Successes after that. She was leading Elmo by so many stickers and earning lots of prizes. Coach Jackson earned prizes on the second day, too. 

Tip: Put a potty in an area you frequent so it's a visual reminder for the child. In our case, the family room is our most used room. Riley would sit on the potty and watch a show some days. 

Tip: For girls, try to have them wear skirts and dresses during potty training. These were so much easier and faster to maneuver in the bathroom compared to pants!

When we were home, I would have Riley wear undies. But since we had to be out of the house a lot for real estate agents to show our home, I decided to do something that some potty experts might disagree with...I put her in a pull up. I know...I know...don't tell them!!!

I encouraged Riley to keep her pull up dry when we were out and still stuck to the time frame for potty times, stickers, little treats (two M&Ms), etc. We have a potty seat in the car and she would use that...and the reward she made up was she could climb over the back seat to get to her car seat if she had a success. She's been climbing a lot over the seat! 

So what about poop? Over the first four days, Riley would poop in her pull up and still do her usual routine over the last several months of hiding in a closet. When you would ask her if she was pooping she would say, "No!" and run away or close the door. 

On day five, Riley and I were waiting for Jackson's Tae Kwon Do lesson to end and I could tell she needed to go poop. So I asked her and she said, "YES!" I put her on the potty in the car and she went poop! When she stood up she said, "It's a snake poop!" She couldn't wait to tell brother about the good news! Two stickers!

It took about another week before she used the potty again for poop. It was after an accident in her undies with poop (Dad's watch) that I think actually helped her because she doesn't like feeling dirty. She has been pooping in the potty ever since! Since she's earning so many stickers, I had to up the anti from 3 stickers to 5 and now 10 stickers gets a prize. It's like a prize a day really! Tip: Prizes are $1 items from Target. 

We are 2 1/2 weeks into potty training Riley and doing incredibly well! I am SO proud of Riley for learning about her body and using the potty like a Big Kid! Over the last week I have been encouraging her to let me know when she needs to go, and this earns an extra sticker. Today in the car she said she had to use the potty just 20 minutes after she had just I pulled over and sure enough, she went in her potty! We are averaging one accident every two or three days and I've taken the pull ups away except for nap, bedtime, and my barre3 classes. I can't expect the childcare there to take her to an adult potty and help her when they are not licensed for that type of care. Riley still stays dry in her pull up when we are there and waits to use the potty in the car after. Her accidents usually consist of her starting to pee, catching herself, and then telling me she needs to "go potty."

I think the best part about potty training Riley has been seeing her so proud of herself. She is literally beaming with pride as she uses the potty. And when she has an accident she actually looks embarrassed. So, I know she's on her way to being a Big Kid (sniff, sniff) and we couldn't be happier! 

More Tips:

1. Buy at least a dozen pairs of training underwear. They are thicker. You could start by doubling them up in the beginning.

2. If your child is in daycare, talk to them before you begin to potty train. They might have tips, suggestions, or tell you to wait. Maybe they potty train for you? Maybe they won't help out? Just talk to them so you know...and they do, too.

3. Have your child dress in clothing that he or she can pull up and down. A lot of times, I had Riley in a shirt and undies at home. 

4. During this process, remember to always be positive! =)

5. Let your partner know the Potty Lingo and routines before you begin the training. Even better, have your partner there on the party day!

6. If there is an older sibling, send them away during the party day. Then have the older sibling help pack up the extra baby diapers when the potty participant is ready to say good bye. In Riley's case, she packed them up a few days after her party for Baby Darwin at Barre3. She was excited to gift them to him!

7. Potty train on a weekend so you have at least two days together to focus on the potty.

8. If stickers and treats are not motivating, think of something that will motivate your child. Maybe 10 minutes of Ipad time for three potty successes? Even a high five can be super encouraging. Don't tell Riley, but we sometimes forget to put her stickers on when we have pees outside of the home!

9. Have at least two potty seats available around the house. Keep one in a room that's really visible to the child. 

10. Enjoy this process as much as possible. It is frustrating at times, but just more diapers for your Big Kid! You are helping the environment and saving money...and helping your child become more independent. 

P.S. Expect regression when a new baby comes home, with a move, or any other big adjustment. It's normal and that's ok. It doesn't mean bring back the's just a little bump in the road. Jackson was potty trained through the night over a year when Riley came home...and guess who started wetting the bed when she was two weeks old and sleeping so nicely at night? Yep, Big Bro!

P.P.S. Some of the books we have enjoyed over the years!

Potty, by Leslie Patricelli

A Potty for Me, by Karen Katz

My Big Girl Undies by Karen Katz

The Potty Train, by Ruth Kennison

Sesame Street's Potty Time With Elmo

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Naomi Wax & Wendy Wax

Princess Potty by Samantha Berger

Too Big for Diapers by Random House

It's Potty Time! 

Elmo's Look and Find Potty Book

Good luck on your potty training adventures!