May 22, 2006

Toilet Training, Freedom, And The American Way

We've started the toilet training process, basically following Brazelton's approach.

Last night my wife came across this shoutout to Brazelton in Dr. Spock [the 7th ed.], which mixes praise with a healthy dose of March of Freedom-style American Triumphalism. Guess you can take the baby boomer advice book out of the Cold War...:

Dr. Brazelton's basic principle is that children should become trained of their own free will--without force, coercion, or criticism. In this way, he believes, they can be trained most easily, and there will also be the least likelihood of later soiling and bed-wetting problems. (Of his cases, only 1.5 percent were still bed-wetting at five years of age. This contrasts with 15 percent of adults in one European country noted for its vigorous toilet-training philosophy.) [pp511-12, emphasis added]
While we've been talking through the process with the kid for a couple of months, and she knows the whole thing, it's only in the last week that she's actually put anything into the pot. That's when we offered to buy her some big kid purple underpants if she started using the toilet. Because really, except for a jar of M&M's on the fridge, is there a more American Way of toilet training than shopping?

Previous potty talk on DT, including the Boon potty, the clear potty, the murderous Elmo potty, and more.


Be sure to check out "The Princess and The Potty" by Lewison and Brown ($4.99 from Amazon), which is all about a little girl choosing to use the pottty so she can get beautiful pantalettes. Our daughter is a big fan.

Good luck. I'm still waiting for my son to show any sort of sign that he cares that he's walking around w/a load in his diaper. bah!

At around 21 months, we bought a potty chair and left it in the bathroom. The thought was, she would get used to seeing it, we could talk about it. We even had her sit on it, clothed or not, to get used to it.

One word of advice - while this is a good idea, don't let her put toys in it or pretend it is a sink. The one time she actually used it (number 1, and I still think she just happened to go when we put her on there), she immediately decided it would be a good idea to reach in there.

After the Barbie toothpaste epidosde last week, maybe you should go straight for the pink Barbie underpants. . .

We had potties set up in our living room and in the bathroom. That seemed to help as early on our boy would not have gotten to the bathroom in time. Of course,you may not need to do that in a apartment.

M and M's just weren't cutting it. For some reason the item needed to bribe the boy into using a potty was a cheap multi-colored ceiling fan that he had seen at Walmart. We bought, set the box next to the potty in the living room and with an "eye on the prize" he was potty trained shortly thereafter.

I guess you just have to figure out the proper bait. Perhaps the pink toothpaste?

I have taught preschool for two years now and let me tell you, the Brazelton method does not work! Not at all. We've had so many people let their children decide when it was time and those kids were nearly 4 before they were potty trained. And that's a disadvantage to the child.

The best method is to get them used to going on the potty for a few months (with pull-ups, but don't use those too long) and then just put them in underwear. Tell them it's time now for them to use the potty all the time. This worked with all of our kids. They wet themselves at first, but then they used the potty all the time with no accidents. It's a totally different feeling than wetting a diaper and the child understands the need to make it to the potty.

You can buy regular training underwear by Gerber which work well. Pull-ups are basically diapers and just allow kids to not use the potty. Underwear makes children realise that they are in control of their bodies and can keep themselves from feeling wet and yucky.

[well, the kid's been interested and talking and asking about it for months, so it feels more like we're running to catch up with her. I don't think Brazelton is saying, "do nothing till you hear from me," as if parents are just supposed to sit back and wait for the kid's potty light to turn on someday. That sounds pretty slack, frankly. And you should get extra $ for training all those kids, too. -ed.]

I let my daughter lead on when she was ready to potty train. I'm sure you can train yourself to get your kid to the toilet before they go in the diaper, but I'm just not that kind of mom. I found for us it was much better to wait until our daughter could determine for herself when she needed to go. For that reason we did start "training" later than other kids I know (a few months before her 3rd b-day) but she was sleeping through the night without diapers the same week she started wearing underpants. She's now 4 1/2 and she's never wet the bed or had an accident in public. So, if one case study is worth anything, self motivated training did just fine for us.

Question: Our second child is a boy. Potty train standing up or sitting down? Any ideas Dads?

[my snap judgment is 'standing up, duh," but I have no practical basis for that. -ed.]

Shannon, I 100% agree with you. The beauty of this method is that there is no "training" to do. No books, bribes, or incentives are necessary. You just wait until they are completely ready and then it happens in 3 days. Slacker mom, happy kids.

I'd say standing up. And give him some little targets to shoot at... a Barney sticker or something...

[suddenly those Calvin & Hobbes stickers on the back of all those F-150's make sense -ed.]

Definitely, train little boys standing up. Trust me, the aim issue is even an issue when they're sitting, but then they are more likely to hit the bathtub than the wall.

We let Monster lead the way for training, accompanied by plenty of books, discussions and conveniently located potties and trees (hey, it's not like I live in a city). Pushing the issue just resulted in screaming fits and meltdowns, along with a few stains on the hardwood floors.

daughter just over two, and we have our bathroom upstairs in a two story home (on one b/r).

So my wife had the idea of getting a small potty. We set it up downstairs in a nice corner, my daughter decides to move it to the steps. Since then, i think we have had one or two dirty diapers. She just digs going. We clap sing songs take her up stairs to flush and thats it. We not pushing her that hard, she just did it 'her way'.

So for this one, we lucked out. Stay tuned.

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