Saturday, August 25, 2012

Big, Scary, Ugly Words - Like Potty Training

Potty training is a scary, scary word. And yes, it should just be one word. One bad word. It's terribly intimidating! I was the weirdo who was worrying about it while pregnant with my first baby. How on earth is it done without everybody melting down into a mess of...our own messes?

I bought the potty chair when Bella was about 18 months and collected what potty books I could. She's got the idea and it's been very intriguing to her until about 4 months ago. I thought surely introducing the potty chair early and getting more serious when that very first sign or two had shown themselves would give me a head start. We talked about it at least once a day and we were always soooo excited about the potty. We were hoping our oozing excitement for pooping in the potty would become so apparent she would decide, 'why yes, I'm going to poop in the potty from now on'.

Nope. She's peed in the potty a few times and our mistake was doing what all the lists and articles said to do, which was get REALLY excited. She's a funny girl; she doesn't normally like a spot light being shown on something she does. An art project, a new word, how high she can jump, anything I ask her to show off for someone else is normally met with a very bashful Bella. I totally respect that and understand it. It does get a little frustrating when you want her to show daddy how ADORABLE it is when she dances to our new song with motions, but I have to remember how embarrassing it is to sometimes be put on the spot. And in some cases, she would get so bashful it would make her upset. And our loud cheering for her pee pee in the potty was one of those moments. On the verge of tears she wanted OFF that potty! She got a Dora sticker and her marshmallow, as promised, but had no interest in going through THAT again. (I should add she pooped in the potty once on accident. For that she got several marshmallows but cheering was also the wrong thing to do.)

So within the past two months we've been really trying to be serious about this. She totally gets it. She's totally able. She just flat out doesn't want to use the potty. I ask her happily, 'Do you want to sit on the potty?' which has now turned into, ' Let's go sit on the potty, sweety!' which Bella responds to with a near emotional meltdown.We read as many books as she wants to and she watches her shows on it only to have her get up to pee on the floor in the next room. After so long it's hard not to get very frustrated. I do my darndest to not let it show, though - I know that would make things worse.

 So we've come to a stale mate. I'm doing "research" on Pinterest but I've not found anything to help me potty train my girl with the will of steel. I can't force her onto the potty, that would be traumatic. So my next idea is to form a sticker chart system. She has loved having a chore token system so I'm hoping that introducing something similar will make her feel responsible and empowered. She's definitely a girl that needs to feel like she has control of something and I strongly believe this is something that she needs to be in control of. So hopefully making a system that empowers her to use the potty will help.

I've also promised a trip to Disney World. Who wouldn't give up diapers for that??


Day 1 of our potty sticker chart: "baby peepee" =  A small success!!! 

This is the potty chart I came up with. It's not nearly as neat and cute as it was in my head, as most things I make turn out, but it worked! (...once)

The idea is that with every time that she goes pee pee or poo poo in the potty she gets a sticker to put on her chart as well as a treat. I was a little overwhelmed with the treat options but I decided her treat options would be either a fruit snack or marshmallow (and the treat is doubled if she can poop in the potty!) A bag of marshmallows and a package of fruit snacks are clipped up next to the chart as a reminder. 

When she gets 5 stickers she gets a BIG treat, which right now is either a trip to the McDonalds with the playplace or ice cream. She gets to choose which big treat she wants by seeing the picture of her options. It was much harder than I anticipated coming up with a great end reward that was inexpensive (preferably free) that she would consistently be interested in or that I can actually promise her. For instance, we went to an inflatable play place last night that I thought would be a great 5 sticker potty reward but they're not open consistently enough for it to work. She would end up having to potentially wait 2 weeks until their next open play to actually see the reward and that can't easily make sense to a toddler. I thought about a trip to the playground being an option also, but what if the weather is bad? I'm still brainstorming better ideas for an end reward, but for now this will work.
She visited the potty every 20 minutes and read one book each time while I had the faucet running next to her. By the 3rd time, it was difficult to get her to follow our rule of sitting on the potty when the timer went off and for some silly reason, all patience I had was hanging on by a thread. The potential I saw was drained completely as she sat on the couch, crying and telling me no potty. I did finally get her to sit on the big potty which, again, led me to believe that she just needs to be given choices in as many different situations as possible. She happily sat for almost 10 minutes and....

...ta da!! She peed! Once! A baby pee pee, as she called it! In the potty! And you know what made all the difference? We didn't squeal and freak out with excitement! Daddy was the one who was in there with her when she was done and he started to say, "Bella! You peed!!" which then made her shrug her shoulders, look down at her feet and 
whine. Daddy realized what was happening and very quickly dropped his tone down to normal level and said, "Great job, Isabella. I am so proud of you. You went pee pee in the potty. High five, baby girl." She smiled and high fived him and, I swear it's the hormones, I fought back tears as I showed her what sticker options she had for her chart. 

She chose a marshmallow treat and happily ate it while in the next room Palmer exploded with enthusiastic praise for the sticker chart. I couldn't not cry anymore, which I felt silly about. But you know what? This is a daunting task. And there are too many "defeats" in parenting. And the day of our first trying it out Bella did it. We all did it. And Palmer was so proud of me - so it's ok to cry.
 Let's hope I'm still crying for that reason by the end of day one...
My big girl pretending to read a recipe for me. :)

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