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    On Potty Training

    October 26, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    I would like to blame this post on Ellen, but the truth is that I was already planning it. I will begin with What Not to Do. Please do not do what I did with my firstborn, which is to say be half-hearted about this. The children just get confused when you do this.

    Now, I know that sometimes being half-hearted just happens. It happened to me because I ended up on bed rest for a difficult pregnancy, and so my son was only practicing using the toilet when someone other than his mother was around to help him. There was also some other drama surrounding his training, but I think the fact remains that he was getting mixed messages and that if I could have done what I did with my girls it would have gone better for him.

    So, without beating ourselves up for things we can’t control, it is still okay to have an Ideal in mind.

    My ideal is the proverbial Cold Turkey, thanks to my friend, the delightful Mrs. Owens, who so wise, she should have her own blog, but doesn’t. Mrs. Owens took what I did with my older daughter and put it into high gear for me to use with Q., and the result is that we survived today relatively unscathed.

    Here is how it went: {Please note that I spent weeks telling her that this day was coming.} We rose at the Usual Time, and I took Q. to the potty chair and sat her on it. She didn’t go, but it was a good chance to take off the diaper and exchange it for Big Girl Panties and talk about how the day was going to go. I handed Q. her last diaper, and she ceremoniously threw it in the trash, while being photographed by the family historian, otherwise known as Granmama.

    All we did all day was try to use the toilet, plus get Q. to drink as much as possible {which is hard, for this girl isn’t a very thirsty person} so that she’d have as many chances as possible to practice. The day was filled with successes, as I mentioned in my other post, but I must confess that experience with my other children tells me that failures on Day One in no way indicate failures on Day Two, so if your first day is filled with puddles, do not despair!


    As I was saying, Mrs. Owens ramped up the process for me. She encouraged me to get rid of diapers altogether, from the first day, even while sleeping.

    We did.

    During nap time on Day One, she wet the bed. Overnight on Day One, she wet the bed. (Twice, actually.) But, during nap time on Day Two, she stayed dry, even getting up once to use the toilet and then returning to finish her nap. Overnight on Day Two she wet again, though not as bad as the first day, and the jury is still out for the current nap. Mrs. Owens swears this works, and I trust her, so I’m giving this a try.

    If, in two weeks, she is consistently wetting the bed, I might consider nighttime diapering, but for now we’ll see what happens. My older daughter was able to stay dry while sleeping by Day Four, and we aren’t there yet.

    Let’s see…what else is there to say? Oh, yes. Bribes. Every good Boot Camp needs a bribe. I used chocolate-covered almonds. For each success on Day One, she got one little almond. Day Two went much the same. Today is Day Three, and I changed it to only being rewarded for staying dry during nap time, because she has pretty much mastered daytime training.

    We have had one accident today. I am experimenting with how far from the toilet she can get before it is Too Far. She asked to go outside and play with the other children, so I allowed it as a test. Once, she remembered to come inside, but about an hour later she had an accident. So, we cleaned her up and I think she learned her lesson.

    One question remains for me, and that is if girls are easier to train than boys. I mean, how much of this is technique, and how much of this is gender differences? I really don’t know, and I don’t think I’ll have an opinion either way until a year or so from now when I’m training Baby O. Girls definitely seem more “advanced” to me overall. I know for sure that I will approach training O. with the idea that I will need to be more patient with him than I was with Q., and possibly expect it to take twice as long for daytime training {four days instead of two, for instance}. We shall see.

    For now, I say: Take the plunge! If you are going to train, I think my friend Mrs. Owens is on to something: wait until they show signs they are ready, and then ditch the diapers for good.

    Update: She made it through the nap this afternoon completely dry!

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  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Hip hip hooray! Good job little girl!

    Let’s celebrate on Friday night, kay? πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Rebecca October 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I know that potty training is not the most fascinating of topics… so I have come here to share. No accidents yesterday and so far, none today. Little Miss has even managed to tell me that she needed to go. Hooray! Not even attempting naps or overnights yet. Daytime trained will be enough for me to count it as success.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 27, 2009 at 3:18 am


    Thanks for the warning on boys. πŸ™‚

    I think my son stopped wearing nighttime diapers or Pull-Ups or whatever (I don’t remember which) by the age of five. Sounds like maybe that’s completely normal for a boy?

    He happened to have a sensitivity to the citric acid in juice, however (ack…my kids and their allergy sagas!). A friend who had a brother who had such a thing suggested we try removing citric acid from his diet completely and see what happened. We did and like magic he stopped wetting the bed…well, for the most part. Is it just me or do boys sleep heavier??

    Enough about me…

    Ellen, I hope it goes well! You’ll have to give us details after the weekend.

    Rebecca, darlin’, I love you. πŸ™‚ And that ornery daughter of yours is my favorite adopted niece in the whole wide world.

    Is there any chance she wasn’t quite ready when you started? I have wondered that about E., actually. You could try taking a complete break for a couple months if nothing clicks this week. Then try cold turkey or something after the New Year.

    Just a thought.

    I promise that no matter what you do, she will be self-sufficient in this area by the time she’s 20. πŸ˜‰

    One more thing: I do think that having older siblings helps. For a younger sibling, it is totally normal for a child to use the toilet.

  • Reply Rebecca October 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Ok. You are not helping. I want to die… actually, I guess the truth is that I don’t want to die on the hill that is potty training, but I feel like I am going to.

    I cannot get my (sweet, precious, angel, baby) daughter to tell me when she has to go. I am completely trained, but, then again, I was before I put the big girl underwear on her.

    I know part of my problem is that I have the other little darlings and I get distracted. Ughhh…

    We are trying again right now, however, and will see how it goes this round. Pray for me…

  • Reply Ellen October 26, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Thanks, Brandy. I think the book I have is calling for this on the basics. There are some other things, like teaching a doll how to go potty to train them how to do it, but they’re also cold turkey on diapers. However, Seth still takes long afternoon naps, so I think we’ll be diapering him then, and we’ll diaper at night until we get him a big boy bed. He’s still in the crib, and we haven’t switched over yet. But daytime, when awake, is going to be all underwear. Wish me much grace on Saturday…. =)

  • Reply Mystie October 26, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Certainly girls are usually easier and earlier-ready, but I’m sure good technique also makes a difference.

    Neither of my boys were very self-aware about their…functioning. Jaeger, at 3, literally didn’t even realize he’d wet and was standing in a puddle without pants on. Neither of them ever, EVER, told me they needed a new diaper — even if they’d been stinky for hours. Ilse, on the other hand, started telling me when she needed a new diaper — even if she’s wet — at a little over a year.

    We have had no luck with night-time potty training, either. My oldest potty-trained at day time and nap time (although his naps were short when they happened at all) at 3, but wasn’t able to stay dry at night until just before turning 5. Jaeger potty-trained at 3 1/2, is now 4 1/2, and not only can’t stay dry at night, but he wets completely through his diaper overnight. He also falls off his bed (hard!) and climbs back in while staying asleep. He wants to stay dry and wear underwear at bed, and we have a standing bribe, but he’s simply not able. We’ve even tried waking him up in the middle of the night & having him go, but he has always been already wet and wet again by morning. Sigh.

    But, I definitely agree on the boot camp approach once they are ready and able. After waiting until they were ready, both boys trained within a couple days and we rarely had incidents afterward. The trick is figuring out when they are ready.

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