Monday, January 21, 2013

Potty Training 101

I'm going to share a fun story with you.  If you're pre-potty training, listen up.


In the fall, I attended a potty training conference.  Everything shared within this post came directly from the conference, and none of these ideas are original to me.  
{You can find more information here:}


Guess what?  I have a secret.  I've been waiting to spill the beans until I was really, really, really sure.

Carter is potty trained.

Oh my word.  

I confess that I always just assumed Carter would be 6 - 7 - 8 years old before he was potty trained.  I thought that was the norm for kids with Ds.  And many times, it is.  But there IS a better way.  It IS possible to potty train a 3 - 4 - 5 year old with Ds.  

Want to know how?

As I said - these ideas are NOT my own (Certainly, if I were this smart, I would be cashin' in.  I'm not.)  But I want to share this method here, because I know there are SO many of you who might benefit from this information.  And shame on me for keeping it to myself.  And SO many have asked HOW we did it - now I can just say 'go read the blog!' instead of going into a 20 minute tangent.

So here's what we did.

+ We waited for a 'quiet' time.  For us, the perfect time was after Christmas.  Haleigh was not here for most of the week, and I had no plans, no school for Carter, etc.  I woke up on December 26th and knew that it would be Carter's last day in diapers.  On December 27th, we bought Carter big boy underwear, and we haven't looked back.  

+ The process is intense.  Be warned.  But the results - well, the results speak for themselves.  For us, the process looked like this:

{1} We set up camp outside the bathroom.  I grabbed favorite toys, favorite games, and the one HOT item that Carter can't live without - An iPad/iPhone/laptop and B-I-N-G-O from YouTube.  I also had paper towel, spare underwear, & a not-well-liked toy near by.  I also had him guzzling water.  Because in order to potty train, he actually has to go potty.

{2} Carter spent most of his time standing.  The point is that when he feels he has to go, we don't want any distractions in his way.  Even standing up could be an excuse for him to just have an accident.  So he played standing.  

{3} On the first day, if I thought he had to go I would gently prompt him into the bathroom and sign potty/make him sign potty.  It was important that Carter led himself into the bathroom, instead of being pulled in.  He needs to learn how to do this on his own, without my help.  Once he was in, I would help with underwear (because he's just not there yet) and he would sit on his potty chair.  Each time he went potty, he got a treat WHILE ON THE POTTY.  I think that was the key for Carter.  He knew that as soon as he went, he got the treat.  

{4} When he got off the potty - he would get to watch Bingo and a few other videos (about 10 minutes worth).  The purpose is to show him that going potty ON the potty is fun - rewarding - exciting - etc.  

This was after several days, as you can tell, because he's laying down instead of standing.
{5} Uh-oh, It's an Accident...  :)  Does anyone else listen to Potty Time?  'When you bonk your head, or when you wet the bed...Uh-Oh, it's an accident...'  :)  Okay.  Moving on.  When Carter had accidents, I would make him 'clean it up'.  Usually there wasn't anything to clean, really.  But the purpose here is to reinforce that accidents are NOT fun.  For Carter, the clean up time wasn't a big deal.  He didn't care.  He even laughed sometimes.  But regardless, I made him 'scrub' the floor while repeatedly saying 'Oh no!  You had an accident!  Oh no!'.  I didn't sound angry - but I didn't sound happy either.  I tried to keep my tone somewhere between surprised/shocked and frustrated.  And remember that not-well-liked toy I mentioned in {1}?  After the accident is cleaned up, I would get out that toy.  And that's what Carter got to play with for 10-15 minutes.  Again, reinforcing that going ON the potty is lots of fun - and accidents stink.  

{6} Once Carter initiated using the potty himself (without me prompting him to go in) I stopped prompting.  The way it was explained to me, is that Carter needs to trust his own body to tell him when he has to go - NOT when mom or dad or teacher tell him to go.  When I stopped prompting, there were a few more accidents, but I looked at those as teaching opportunities to reinforce that accidents were not fun.  

{7} We did 'dry checks' every 20 minutes or so.  We would celebrate when he was dry, and if he wasn't, we would go through the accident process.  It was a good reminder for him to stay dry.  

Even sweet Haleigh got to enjoy the benefits of Carter going on the potty :)
+ That's the process, in a nutshell.  We did this process - hardcore - outside the bathroom - for about 4 days.  At that point, we felt he had a very good understanding of what was expected of him and we branched out into the livingroom/play area/etc.  We would still go through the accident process if necessary, and treats for going on the potty.  He went back to school on day 7 and did pretty good, considering the drastic change in routine.  Day 9 & 10 were filled with accidents - and we figured we needed to change things up.  I emailed the teacher from the conference, and she suggested giving minor rewards for dry checks to continually remind him to stay dry.  It worked!  Day 11, 12, & 13 were almost accident-free, and he even made it through a whole morning at church without accidents.  

+ I have to say, when I was sitting at this conference, a part of me thought 'I can NOT do this...'.  It seems a little scary, but it's so doable.  You just have to commit to it, and then DO it.  Don't switch back to diapers - don't put diapers on when you go to the store - it just creates confusion.  Carter still wears diapers at night, but we take him up to bed, lay him right next to his crib, and put his diaper on RIGHT before we put him in bed.  He understands that diapers/'accidents' are JUST for bed.  

+ It helped me to have a been-there-done-that mama waiting in the wings.  I shot her a warning text the day before Day 1 and my phone lit up with things like 'Stay strong!' and 'Call if you need anything!' and 'Good luck!!!'.  I only called her a few times in 4 days :)  Then finally, 'So excited for you!! Congrats, Mama!'.  Sigh.  

I did it.  We did it.  HE did it.  

+++++I cannot say it enough - these are NOT my ideas.+++++
+++++I'm only sharing them with you so that you can maybe benefit from them as well.+++++

That's it.  So proud of our boy.  

One Thing I Know For Sure: Done with diapers!!  Done with diapers!!  


  1. I sooooo need to do this with Claire. We've been on again/off again training forever, but I just haven't bit the bullet and done the underwear, and I need to. Because she knows what is expected of her, and she knows how to ask, but then she doesn't *need* to ask because she is still in diapers.

  2. I'm a little late commenting here, but just had to say "Way to go Carter!" and "Way to go Mama!" So very, very proud of you both!!! :-) No progress here, and def not doing NOW. Maybe spring break, but this new public school mama doesn't even know when that is. LOL Prob not this month or the next! Love ya and thanks so much for your act of kindness today. Rachel is thrilled to have her OJ again. :-)

  3. How exciting for you guys! I got sent here from one of my blog reader's as we're starting the process of "pre-potty" training & really appreciate you sharing your experience. Go Carter:-)

  4. Oh my goodness! How did I miss this post?! Thank you so much for this... We are about to start potty training very soon and I had no clue how to go about doing it. Thanks!!!


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