Sunday, February 17, 2013

Potty Training Readiness..!?

My son's godmother is a Behavioral Interventionist who is waiting to sit for her Behavior Analyst certification exam this spring. She has worked with autistic children for many years and amazes me with her creativity and knowledge of childhood behaviors. Although my son is only 14 months old she suggested we start working on potty training readiness. I am all for getting rid of diapers ASAP but I don't want to set my son up for failure. Here is a great article she sent me on Potty Training readiness and the skills your child needs to be successful. Since there are many benefits to these skills there is no harm in developing them and the added benefit may be that my son potty trains with less stress and in a timely fashion.
In my search for more information on potty training I came across several articles about the potty training habits, or elimination communication, in other countries. I was rather surprised to learn that in many countries children are potty trained by 2 years of age. 

However, these articles sparked a memory for me. I remember when I was a teenager working at an animal clinic I had co-worker from the Ukraine. She had a baby shortly after arriving in the US and came into visit one day with her new baby. I remember being shocked at her casual manner of stripping the infant naked and holding him over the examination table in the back room. The table was also a sink and  she began telling him to go to the bathroom. She stood there having a conversation with us until his business was done, wash him up, and then redressed him. She did this as if it was a normal occurrence while we all looked on with shocked expressions. At the time I didn't stop to think this might be the norm in other countries rather than the exception. 

The information I found today and the memory of this experience was all very encouraging.

Here are some articles I found in my research of the topic:
In thinking rationally about this, it is easy to put a kiddie potty in our bathrooms and encourage him to identify his actions with words. It doesn't cause any stress to encourage my son to follow me into the bathroom and praise him when he sits on the potty. These are easy things to do and they could have a big pay off. Even if that pay off doesn't come until he is three years old. Ultimately, I do believe this process should be stress free and full of love and encouragement. Revel in the little victories and don't be too hard on yourself or your child. 

Update at 17.5 Months: 
Recently this topic came up at a play date and I thought I would update this post. 






Buying a Potty

After writing this post I did indeed go and purchase two kiddie potties for both of my bathrooms. After polling some of my friends about what kind of potty they had success with I decided to get plain potties (i.e. no singing, nothing fancy, cannot be confused for a toy) which are easy to clean and easy to "dump" the contents. While the "made for play" potties seem really cool, they encourage your child to play with them...for many reasons I want to discourage my son from playing with his potty. I let my son "choose" from a few choices at the store. 
The potty my son picked
The potty I picked out

A "made for play" potty.
Note: I know the toddler potties which attach to the actual toilet (with stairs and a smaller seat) are very appealing because you don't have to empty or move the contents after your child finishes their business. These "toilet attachments" may work well for children who are older and already potty trained but for little guys and beginners they can be intimidating because of the climb, the child may not be able to get to the potty quickly and be more likely to have accidents, and if they fall off it is quite the fall for a little one. This might not be the best way to start potty training and it means you have to keep the "toilet attachment" in place if you want the child to independently use the potty. 
  
Implementing Early Elimination Communication

After bringing the potties home we began simply talking about the action of going to the bathroom. When I change his diaper I talk about what I see (i.e. "You went pee pee" or "You poohed"). He is old enough now that I can see when he is pooping, he often squats and his face gets red. I say things like "are you pooping?", "It looks like you are pooping, you can do that in the potty". Elimination for my son is rather quick so we haven't gotten to the potty before it happens just yet. Some children go and hide or have a place they go to in the house when they poop. I have read that this is a good place to put the potty so that children make the connection. 

He also follows me into the bathroom and I encourage him to sit on his potty while I sit on mine. I then talk to him about what I am doing. We talked about flushing the toilet and we both wash our hands. After a couple weeks my son wanted to flush the toilet for me. It is now his job to flush the toilet. 

At bath time we have naked time. My son spends some time running around naked on the tile. I encourage him to sit on his potty and when he starts to "go" I bring the potty over to him. If some makes it into the potty he gets 1 M&M. Clean up is easy because we are on the tile and if he needs to be hosed down we are already in the bathroom. We make it a game and keep things fun. He is never reprimanded for accidents! He hasn't yet made it to the potty before he starts to go but he is young and we are just getting used to the idea. 

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