Where Are All My Potty People?

April 16, 2010

The potty place in our upstairs bathroom -- pretty, right? But is it pretty enough to put an end to our relationship with diapers FOREVER?

I am so over diapers.  I mean, it’s not like I imagine that many parents actually rejoice in the whole diapering process – being responsible for another person’s elimination of bodily waste isn’t exactly one of the top ten joys of parenting, but this isn’t that.  My mild distaste for the diapering process has recently spiked to a complete and utter disgust.  It could be that my daughter is now refusing to lie down to have her diaper changed, instead standing atop her changing table with her bottom facing me, her hands pressed against the wall as though I’ m about to pat her down and perform an illegal search.  It could also be that I’ve had to ask aloud more than once in the past several days, “Um, guys?  Does my hair smell like poop?”  Whatever it was, diapers and me – we’re breaking up. 

Now, someone has to tell my 21-month-old daughter about it, and I’d like that person to be you.  All kidding aside, this is one of those child-rearing tasks for which the available information is too overwhelming to begin to process.  It seems like there are thousands of potty training books, magazines, and websites, each with a panel of experts who have elaborate, brilliant thoughts on the matter.  I just don’t have the energy to sort through all that information.  Plus, as my grandma would say, “Who are they to me?”  What do I care what they think?  I want to know what you, beloved readers, think I should do.

Please, use the comments to give me your very best potty training advice.  I’ll take anything, no matter how wacky, except if you toilet trained your five children using only a bit of pixie dust and the motivational glow of your motherly love.  (I’m talkin’ to you, Sandy Sorensen.)  Other than that, anything goes.

To make it extra fun, and show you just how desperate for your help I am, get this:  there’s a prize!   The reader who offers my favorite piece of advice will win $5.00 in Goose cash, just for being willing to help out.  Remember, this is me we’re talking about, so the winning piece of advice doesn’t necessarily have to be the one I think has the best chance of success — it might just be the one that makes me laugh the hardest.  You never know.  I’m a loose cannon.  

-Meryl at the Goose



12 Responses to “Where Are All My Potty People?”

  1. jamie quinn Says:

    the best advice i have is to completely get rid of diapers (since she associates pee and pooping IN them) let her run bum free….when she pee’s teach her that pee/poop goes on the potty NOT the floor. sounds kinda gross, yes i know, especially if you have carpet, but if you dont…and have tile…
    give it a couple weeks…and she’ll get the hang of it. bring the pee/poop to the potty…show her where it goes. have the potty be in the living room/play area to avoid more accidents. this is what worked for my rambunctious now 4yr old boy who would NEVEr sit still for a diaper change.

  2. Vanessa Says:

    Have her pick out some Big Girl underwear to show her what she has to look forward to when she uses the potty. If she loves stickers that can help too with a potty chart. After she has used it a certain number of times (you determine the magic number) let her pick out any item she wants at the dollar store!

    My daughter’s prized potty book was the one by Karen Katz and what I liked about it was that it emphasized that she will do it when she is ready and accidents happen so don’t be worried…mommy understands.

  3. I AM NO EXPERT in this topic – we are JUST achieving potty success and he’ll be 3 in a month BUT I can do my best to share what seems to be working for us:

    1. Take the pressure off – she can probably sense that this is getting to you and that gives her a little power chip to use. We found that by backing off for about a week (not one mention of potty anything) Leif suddenly started wanting to use his potty chair. He was in control now and he knew it.

    2. Go diaper free as much as possible at home – Leif still goes in his diaper when it’s on, but switching to underwear or nothing has helped. (As a side note, I love our Mother Ease diapers, but the training pants they make (while great) confuse him into thinking he’s still in a diaper so he just goes in them too)

    3. We’ve been rewarding poops that make it into the toilet with fruity treats. They’re not great for him (we justify it by at least getting organic and natural, but still) and we’re going to have to wean him off of that, but sometimes he’ll go and squeeze one out just to get the treat. This is probably terrible advice, but we were desperate too and it’s working…

    That’s all I’ve got. Good luck, Mama – we feel your pain!

  4. erin Says:

    Now that the weather is warming up, going bare-bottomed is easier than cleaning up the carpet (or couch, for that matter). Stashing pottys around the yard and house, making sure they’re accessible everywhere is helpful–especially for the mad dash. Unfortunately, unless you practiced Elimination Communication very early, potty *learning* is generally acheived when the child can actually feel the sensation of needing to go (which comes for poop first, understandably), understand verbal communication (“The poop goes in *here*”) AND sheer will on the child’s part (that’s right, the *child’s* part). I lost it when we tried to go back to cloth after a brief stint in plastic diapers. I refused to throw away any more diapers–she refused to put up with the cloth that fit her at 2 1/2. Result: potty learning. Because she wanted to and I was willing to give her as many tries as she needed. My tip/advice: wait until all the cues are there, she’ll likely never learn before that and it’ll only end up in frustration. If you wait, it will probably be a much smoother and gentler process for both of you.

  5. Sandra Sorensen Says:

    OK, putting “pixie dust” and 3 week old’s sitting on the potty (EC) that leaves me 3 kids that I have experience with. We used the “How to Potty Train in 24 hours or Less book (there might be a copy at the Goose right now!” However, we ignored the 24 hours thing (who has that kind of devoted time??) We started at 9 months for 2 of the 3 so you can forget that plan. But, for Kelsey, our first, we started at 21 months! Today is your lucky day. 1 out of 5 isn’t bad. Anyway, basically just as Jamie says ditch the diapers. We used training pants with plastic pants over (for out and about) and for home just the training pants. And then did pretty much as Jamie said. However, we also did the doll thing first. In short, you get a doll (one that pees is even better) and together with your calm and patient 21 month old you train the doll how to go potty. (ie. pulling down the panties, sitting on the potty, wiping, flushing, wash the hands, etc.) Then your 21 month old knows the drill and you just have to sit back, be patient, and follow Jamie’s plan. Lastly, talk about it….A LOT! Let her go in the potty with you, talk about the steps, “Mommy is going to wipe”, etc. and show how good you are by showing off the deposits! “Look, Mommy pooped in the potty! Yeah Mommy! Say Good Buy poo poo!” You get it, right? Oh and have her help you clean up any accidents. Rinse the panties, quick shower off, etc. No soft, warm wipes. Pretty much make it as unpleasant as possible in a safe, nice, smiley, friendly kind of way. (If you make the accident clean up process too much fun you will encourage accidents!) Good luck and even though the pixie dust and EC worked pretty well…it was still a process with all of them. When all else fails…whip out the Jelly Belly’s. Elise would do anything for a jelly belly…even poop on the potty. I’ll share how to wean them off of Jelly Belly’s later on if you get that far. 😉

  6. sueinithaca Says:

    with my first, we trained at 17 months. She was taking off her diaper and sliding it down the leg of her pants and off. I, of course, wouldn’t know about this until I either stepped on a dirty diaper or she had an accident. Charming! We’re a very-low screentime family, but we decided to make an exception. Every day, we sat down, on the potty, in front of Sesame Street. For an hour. After a few days, she peed. I threw a big ol’ party in the living room. A couple more times and L got the message. We were another 2-3 weeks before poop really caught on, but all in all, not bad for 17 months.

    My second potty-trained at 17 months, too, but then un-potty-trained at 22 months. He originally trained because he HATES to be wet. Hates it. We were in cloth diapers and he didn’t like it so he peed in the potty. 4 months later, though, he accidentally peed on his hand while positioning his penis and the jig was up. Back into diapers we went, and this time they had to be disposables because the wet-hater wouldn’t tolerate the cloth any more (believe me, I tried to avoid a regression. This resulted in him peeing only in his car seat for about a week. My car still smells faintly of pee). For the next 6 months, I tried everything short of threats- tv, positive reinforcement,m&m’s, cheerios in the potty, extravagant bribes, you name it. Nothing worked. Finally, one day he asked why I had to keep using terrible horrible wet wipes on him (water-moistened washcloths, mostly). We struck a deal: he goes in the potty and I never use a wet wipe on him again. He potty-trained the next day.

    So, my advice is to figure out what motivates your child the most and negotiate. She might not do it for jelly beans, but maybe popsicles. Maybe not for Sesame Street but for a new pack of princess underpants. Who knows what her secret desires are. Find out and use it to your advantage.

  7. Deborah Says:

    Oh fergoodnesssake….I have a 20 month old, I have poop in my hair, on the walls, and probably a few other places I haven’t noticed yet. Based on my experience with the Older Child, wait. Even with the stink and mess… Wait until they’re into the 2nd year, and are more verbal. Wait until they’re a teeny bit more able to reason/process. The payoff? You don’t have to ask them if they need to pee every 10 seconds, you don’t have to exponentially increase laundry, and then the actual potty training will go very quickly when it happens.

    And buy a very good shampoo.

  8. wren Says:

    sueinithaca has some great insight. All I’ve got is another parallel story.

    We’ve been ECing with limited regularity since our boy was 2 months. Its been pretty awesome for poops, and we’ve averaged ~1 poopy diaper per month for the last 1.5 years. Pees are a different story. We’ve now got a quasi-trained 22 month old. There was a period from about 15-21 months where it became an issue of control. He figured out he had it, and we suffered the consequences.

    I’ve done two things to mitigate this situation:

    1) I got a floor potty so he was in more control. Until then we’d exclusively been using the toilet, which he is too small to navigate on his own.

    2) I discovered he performs for treats; or at least he doesn’t resist. We use Trader Joe’s Squishy Tummy Gummies. When we run out I may be willing to drive down to Philly for more if there is no Ithaca substitute.

    Happily, the warmer weather helps immensely as well, being pant-less is an amazing assist.

    Yesterday he went to “school” for half a day and was dry when it was time to be picked-up.

    So, it seems like believing he can do it, and just forgoing the diaper is something I am, right now, discovering might be important.

  9. Asia Says:

    I totally bribed Nuala with popsicles, and let her go commando, for the whole summer. Sometimes she had three popsicles in one day, and there were a couple of embarrassing accidents (including one on her great aunt’s oriental rug and one at Starbucks!) but she was mostly trained by the time she was 2…

    • Anita Graf Says:

      I love all the previous comments and know that probably all that could be said for good 21 mo old potty training advice has been said. I just want to say that next time don’t wait until the child gets this old. I started putting my first child (a boy) on the potty at 2 mos old (right after I read the book Infant Potty Training). He was almost trained at 13 mos, but then regressed. After I figured out that maybe it had something to do with some friends moving out of our house (they had lived with us since he was 3 mos) and I talked to him about it (he showed no sign of paying attention as I talked, btw) he immediately finished with diapers. That was at 15 mos. With my daughter I started as soon after birth as I had the strength and energy, but when she got the muscle control to refuse, she did. But I never stopped showing her the potty and reminding her of her option to use it, always used cloth diapers, and always changed diapers IMMEDIATELY after wetting/pooping. Then, one day, at 18 months, she decided she was ready and that was it. No more day time diapers! (Diapers during naps and at night lasted about another 3 mos.)

  10. Elisha Says:

    Maybe I’m a little late but my 21 month old daughter is potty trained (during the day) and I couldn’t be happier. My advice is consistency and don’t be afraid of accidents. I was very afraid and started putting her in panties just this week. She’s really been potty trained since 18 months, but I just kept her in pullups for my own convenience ahem laziness.

    Method one – eat and sleep
    After every meal time and 20 minutes after a full cup of liquid if you remember… straight to the potty to sit for about 5 minutes. (I’d give mine a toy or book to pass the time.)

    After every nap and as soon they get up in the morning, back to the potty to sit for about 5 minutes.

    Once they are used to sitting on the potty, start leaving them alone (as long as the room is baby proofed) to sit by themselves for the 5 minutes. This is almost the only way my daughter would poop. Kinda takes the pressure off peeing and pooping too.

    This worked great for my daughter. The trick was being consistent (to keep trying even if it didn’t seem to not be working) and keeping the experience stress free. We don’t do punishments for accidents just a reminder that we don’t pee/poop on ourselves only in the potty. And we still clap and yay after every successful pee and poop. And she loves to come inspect what mommy is going on the potty.

    Method 2 – Every 2 Hours: The other method is to do a potty sit every 2 hours like clock work. I may try doing this to help with holding it longer so we don’t have to go every time we get in the store AND in the check out line.

    Stop changing accidents diaper style. Change them standing up yes even for poops if possible.

    Use pullups or training pants/underwear only.

    Do a potty sit immediately if you discover an accident. (They prob won’t go but will definitely start to associate and you can talk about where to potty.)

    Have a specific potty spot (or just a couple of spots).

    Get a foldable seat cover or use papertowels to wrap around public seats.

    Celebrate and talk about their success with others so they can hear how proud you are.

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