Sunday, January 16, 2011

Further thoughts on potty-training

On July 8, 2010, I declared the end of our struggle to potty train Sophia. I thought I'd give it 6 months or so before trying again, especially given that conventional wisdom is against potty training that will soon be interrupted by moves, high-stress times, or Christmas traveling. In those 6 months, Sophia initiated peeing in the potty several times; some times she actually did produce some pee, but usually this proved to be merely a successful way to postpone going to bed at night. When she produced pee, we let her wear panties and play for ten minutes or so before putting a diaper back on her.

When we returned from our Christmas travels, I wasn't sure how long we should wait to let her feel settled, before trying the training again. Maybe I was postponing the stress and feelings of rejection... And then, on January 8, 2011 -- exactly 6 months later! -- Sophia initiated it all on her own.

Back in July, my mom had sent Sophia the book, Once Upon a Potty. It introduces anatomy and peeing in a potty -- and the fact that you have to wait and wait and wait for pee to come... it ALSO introduces the vocabulary of "I have a feeling." One day, the main character (Prudence) "has a feeling" that something's ready to come out, and she goes to the potty, and finally, she has success! Somehow, in early January, this concept clicked for Sophia. She started saying "do you have a feeling? like Prudence had?" While holding back a chuckle at her pronunciation of "Prudence," Ben took Sophia to the potty. She peed, chose panties, and since then, she's been telling us when she has a feeling and peeing in the potty all the time (except when sleeping or out of the house), with only 3 accidents in 8 days. I like this potty training SO much more than what we went through 6 months ago!

We don't really have a goal, or deadline, by which we hope she'll wear panties for sleeping and when we leave the house. I'm hoping that we can just keep following her lead on all of this... a couple days ago she asked if she could pee in "Momma's potty," and I put her up there, held her, and she went. And then she went again and again in "my" potty -- several times in a couple minutes. So yesterday, we went to the store and she picked out a bright red seat that goes on my potty (I don't want her to be afraid of falling into the big potty) and came with a matching red step, so that she can climb up onto the seat…

We have, of course, made some more mistakes… like giving her PEZ (from her Christmas stocking) as a reward for peeing in the potty. She’d already been going just fine on her own, but one day it seemed fun and appropriate to reward her. She caught on quickly and figured out how to stretch the contents of her bladder of over several back-to-back pees, so as to earn a lot of candy. So we dropped the PEZ thing in less than a day and she’s totally fine without it. We also haven’t figured out what to do about wiping… and it seems that a funky smell develops quickly when she doesn’t wipe. So now she goes through the motions, but not effectively, and we just bathe her more regularly.

I’m delighted that she really has told us when she was ready, and that it’s been so smooth and easy and full of fun and celebration this time. I’m glad we dropped it when we did back in July. And I’m grateful that she picked it back up.

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