Monday, April 04, 2011

Adventures in Potty Training

If you've been wondering what I've been up to lately (and more to the point, why I'm not writing more blogs), it's because John and I have been working on potty training. I signed him and Sam up for the same summer camp at the Y, but John can't participate unless he's potty trained. I figured there was no time like the present to get started.

John was well on his way to getting trained--he was just making progress at a snail's pace--and I didn't have the patience for it anymore. He'd go sit on the potty when I asked him to, and would usually produce something. But he was very resistant to getting out of pull-ups, never knew whether he was wet or dry, and only occasionally went to the potty on his own. So I ordered Toilet Training in Less Than A Day, a book that has been around since the 1970s, and a doll that wets, as the authors, Azrin and Foxx, recommend. I hoped that if I used the techniques they suggested, John would make some important connections and start staying drier for longer.

We started on Friday, while Tom and Sam were at the preschool. At first we practiced with the doll, undressing her, giving her a bottle, watching her pee in her potty. Then we'd check her pants. Were they wet or dry? If they were dry, she (John) got a treat. When they were wet, we scolded her and made her practice going to the potty. Once John understood the drill, it was his turn to put on big boy pants and practice staying dry.

The thing that I like about this potty training technique is that when your child wets his pants, you make him stay in his wet pants, running drills to the potty from all over the house. You're supposed to do 10 drills where you say "Run to the potty fast! Pull down your pants fast! Sit down fast! Stand up fast! Pull up your pants fast!" But I'm lucky if John will do three before having a complete and total meltdown. Like I pointed out to Tom--the child hates to be wet. Being wet and running drills to the potty helps him to associate wet pants with extreme displeasure.

The book also makes your child responsible for their accidents. If they wet their pants and make a mess, they have to clean it up (while still wearing their wet pants). Then they have to put their own wet clothes in the laundry hamper and dress themselves. By the time John gets through all of that, he is euphoric at the prospect of dry pants.

I can't say he's 100% potty trained, but he's doing much, much better. The goal is to get your child to spontaneously go to the potty without prompting, and we're not there yet. But with prompting, he only has about four accidents a day--usually in the morning--and usually when the Backyardigans are on. I loathe the Backyardigans anyway. And the way John glues himself to the TV to the point that he disassociates himself with his bladder is just one more reason for my rabid hatred of that show.

Mornings are toughest for John. After several accidents first thing, he tends to stay dry the rest of the day.

I have high hopes that after a few weeks of this, he'll have the hang of it.


  1. yay, john!

    i swear it seems like you just went through this with sam. tempus fugit!

  2. Anonymous8:12 PM

    I'm waiting until spring is truly here and then letting Em run naked outside. But if that doesn't work...although Em will live in a poopy diaper all day. Being wet and messy doesn't bother him, so that system might not work for him. Oh well, they all get there, right?

    Funny, I love the Backyardigans. Emery walks around singing the songs all day and I love that they get exposed to different musical genres. Of the "newer" shows, it is my favorite. Jack's Big Music Show was great too but I don't think it's on anymore.

  3. Jenn, I don't mind the music, but I think the show itself isn't exactly on par with PBS Kids for educational value--plus, the Backyardigans are really bratty to each other a lot of the time--competitive, demanding, mean. Since watching the Backyardigans, who tell each other "Never!" We'll ask Sam something and he'll come back with "Never!" Sam already has attitude so we certainly don't need to give him any more ideas.


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