Its been almost a month since Christmas, and since we potty trained Johannes. Often times I forget just how quickly time passes. A whole month?
Johannes is 22 months and today he is as potty trained as I would expect him to be at this stage. That means that he wears undies all day and for naps, uses a pull up at night, tells us when he has to go to the bathroom during the day and wakes me up at night to pee as well. He has accidents, I think that’s normal and expected. They happen less often at home, and more frequently at school where he is not one hundred percent comfortable articulating his needs. When he becomes engaged in an activity he sometimes forgets to run to the bathroom until its too late. He can pull down his pants and undies, and pull them back up as long as they have elastic bands and he has enough time to do it. His motor skills in this department are still developing.
Why did we potty train Johannes so early? Well two reasons, one we felt that he was ready and two because by the summer Johannes has to be potty trained in order to move up to the next Montessori class. We knew that it would be a process and that he wouldn’t be perfect overnight. We accepted that and moved forward with our plan.
So how did we do it? Well buckle in for a very long post.
I first heard about potty training a toddler in three days from a close friend. She trained her son this way and it worked for them so we thought we’d try it as well.
The theory is quite easy. For three days the parents are at home with their child. There is a sit down potty in every room or at least every floor of the house. No diapers and no pants for those days, so the child is able to play and go about their daily activities in the buff from the waist down. Day one is expected to be a bit of a disaster. Each time the child pees or poops the parent puts them on the potty and if even a little bit gets in there they cheer and do a little dance. Diapers are used at naps and night time.
Day two is the exact same way, except there is a one hour outing in the afternoon. The parents are to wait until the child goes to the potty before venturing out doors wearing only loose pants, no diaper and no undies.
Day three is again the same as the previous two but on day three there are two outings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon each lasting one hour.
As the theory goes, after the third day the child should be well on their way to being potty trained. They are to only wear loose pants no undies for three months, and go bottomless at home.
For us we applied a modified version of the theory. We did the three days by the book, and by the third day Johannes was running all on his own to the potty, sitting down and peeing.
However, on day 4 he decided he hated the potty and refused to use it. It was as though we’d gone right back to day 1. So during his nap I ran to the dollar store, I purchased markers, stickers, two white boards, and little dollar store presents comprised of cars and balls, J’s favorites. I devised a new plan, somewhat riddled with bribery. For every successful potty pee he would receive a sticker in return, for every successful poop he would receive a sticker and a little present. The afternoon of day 4 was smooth sailing.
Day 5 was NYE. Johannes again decided he wouldn’t use the potty. He knew he should, but refused because after all he is my child and is just as stubborn as I am. Day 5 was hard, I was sick and impatient and felt a little defeated about how we had regressed. Michael and I talked about just ending the training and trying again in a few months. But I felt that Johannes really was ready, that he knew what he had to do and that he was just testing us like he does with everything. So we put a cloth diaper on him for the rest of the evening. We were at my parents’ for the night and made the most of it.
Day 6 was our break through. With my mom and dad’s help in tow, we encouraged Johannes to go to the potty every 30minutes. He wore underwear, because well I just felt strange letting him not wear undies under his pants and it is after all, the dead of winter. By that afternoon he was coming to us telling us he had to pee and going regularly on the potty. No accidents. That night was the first night he woke me up to go to pee, and the next morning he did his first unassisted poop on the potty.
Day 7…downfall and regression. Johannes headed back to school. At home we’d been using floor potties, where as at school he was asked to use a toilet trainer. His teacher had asked me to bring him wearing pull ups, so I did. That afternoon I picked him up with a diaper on and a full one at that. His teacher informed me that he didn’t once ask to be taken to the toilet so they just let him be. Um ok? He is not even 2! Of course he was completely confused, and once he realized he was in diapers again he regressed. We worked with him at home that evening and by the next morning he was once again telling us when he had to pee. That night I bought an identical toilet trainer just like the one I had given him for school and packed away the sit down potties.
Day 8 I took him back to school in pull ups. I told his teachers that he had regressed because it was too confusing to wear diapers at school and undies at home. I asked them to take him to the potty every 30minutes and encourage him to vocalize his needs. I also spoke with his principal, asked her whether it was school policy to bring him in pull ups when he was trained at home and we figured out that we could bring him in undies and there was no need for the pull ups. That afternoon when we entered the house after coming from school, he told me he had to pee and no more accidents the rest of the evening.
Day 9 was a Friday, I decided to keep Johannes home from school to re-enforce the potty vs diapers. I took him to my mom’s and the rest is history. He quickly realized what was expected and by that night he was back on track for peeing in the potty. Poop was another story. After months and months of pooping standing up, the idea of pooping on the potty seemed foreign to him. Johannes began to hold his poop in because he was scared to do it sitting down.
Day 10, no pee accidents but many poop accidents. He was still refusing to go in the toilet, he would either hold the poop in or poop in his undies.
Day 11, Johannes hadn’t pooped in almost 20 hours, and for a child who goes multiple times a day I was beginning to get nervous. So I let him eat a couple of prunes in the morning as a snack, and by that afternoon he had to really go to the toilet. He told me he had to poop, I put him on the potty and voila a little bit came out! I gave him his present, which was a little ball. He continued to stay on the potty and throw the ball at me which became a really hilarious game. As he laughed uncontrollably he also let out a big toot. This toot was the magic trick. The sound it gave off against the porcelain bowl was enough to send J into hysterical laughter, which resulted in a whole lot of poop coming out. After that incident he never held his poop in again, and while pee accidents are still happening once in a while, poop accidents are almost non-existent.
So where do we see this going? I think Johannes will continue to learn and become increasingly independent in the toilet department. I’m hoping Johannes will become more vocal at school with his teachers, but for now we pack multiple undies and changes of clothes to help with accidents. Pretty soon I think we will completely ditch the night time pull up as we are going on over a week of dry diapers and continued wake-ups for toilet use during the night. We are incredibly proud of our little guy, and I can see how much pride he takes in his accomplishments as well. He has even taken to asking me to leave and closing the door when he has to poop…he doesn’t like people watching. They grow up so fast don’t they?