Friday, November 8, 2013

Next steps for potty independence?

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Hobo Mama: Next steps for potty independence?

Alrik is tootling along the potty learning road, but I feel like I don't know where the next turn is. Maybe you could help me navigate!

We did a very loose form of part-time elimination communication (EC) with Alrik from newborn age, combined with cloth diapering. I was much less active in ECing Alrik than I was with Mikko, partly because of some residual bad experiences we've had with poop withholding in Mikko. As time has gone on and I've researched it more, I've chalked that up to a sensory issue, but I'd had some fears that we'd somehow "caused" it by ECing so wasn't feeling as avid about infant pottying when Alrik was born, for fear we'd spur a repeat.

So, the good news is, when Alrik is pantsless, he's a near-100% potty user. The bad news is, when he's got anything on his rear, he doesn't bother to remove it before going.

What, then, is the next step?

Alrik is currently 29 months old, so nearly 2 and a half. There's no real urgency to have him potty independent, but I wouldn't mind continuing forward on the journey. Mikko was already potty trained by this age. I don't care if they train at different ages, obviously, and there's no rush — but there's also no reason not to keep on keeping on, right?

So, during the day when we're at home, Alrik is successfully nakey-bum. (Or, as Mikko puts it, "Cover his penis!" Big brother's not a fan of our training style.) Alrik reliably walks over to the big or little potty seats to pee throughout the day, and he goes quite frequently. He often ends up pooping when we're out and therefore goes in a diaper, but if he has to poop while we're home, it usually ends up in the potty as well unless there's a stomach bug or some other complication. I get the sense he sort of prefers to poop in a diaper, which I know is common. I, of course, prefer to have his poop in the potty! (Here is an awesome poop song we sing together to encourage this, by the way: "Not on your brother, not on your sis. Not on any family member — you might want to make a list.")

Alrik will stay dry during his naps, no problem. At night, he'll refuse to pee the bed (thankfully) if he's naked, but unfortunately, he also refuses to wake up fully enough to go to the potty. So we've been diapering him at night so he can pee in his groggy stupor and not scream the building down. I'm not too concerned about this — I'm sure it's just a developmental thing where eventually he'll be able to hold it all night and be willing to get up to go first thing in the morning.

We're still using our fabulous diaper service, so we switched things up to be half prefolds and half training pants. They're the kind of padded cloth underpants that can hold a good-size pee while not being waterproof. The problem is, this doesn't faze Alrik in the least. He doesn't seem to notice or care that a diaper or training pants are wet and will sometimes even resist being changed. We've so far not been confident (or courageous?) enough to head out in public with just training pants and no waterproofing.

Maybe a few times changing whole outfits would push him to the next level of awareness, though?

Ideas I've had:
  • Wear training pants at home. I keep trying this and then getting discouraged that he doesn't seem to care that he wets them. This does seem like step one, though, right? Keep changing him, keep reminding him to keep them dry, keep asking him if he needs to go, keep showing him how to pull them down and up, etc. (Note: We have wall-to-wall carpet and plenty of upholstery. Sigh.)

  • Take him out on small outings sans dipes. I read in a review for a potty training method the idea of putting on loose pants only, with no underwear or diaper, for brief walks to the park, say. Some sort of low-stakes outing where you can pee before going, pee on returning, and hopefully stay dry in between. The idea is that kids don't read outer pants the same way as underwear (underpants = diaper to them) and won't be as keen to soil them. Then you can do longer outings where you have a potty break in the middle somewhere out and about.

  • Work on getting him used to the big toilet. Here's what's really holding us back — Alrik is still freaked freaked freaked by being on a big toilet. Even though I'd tried holding him on them from babyhood on, even though we have multiple seat reducers, even though we have travel seat reducers we can use while out. I'm not sure how to finagle this one, although I did get the idea of always having a little potty in the back of the car, as one option. I just have to remember to have him use it before and after entering a public space. The problem is that he rarely will use it — I think it's too cold outside now, for one thing, and it's too public a space. Not having a reliable pottying place really limits our options for how long we can stay out, if he won't ever use a public restroom — ideas for breaking through this wall? With Mikko, we could turn him sideways on the toilets and he was pretty stable, but this kiddo is so petite, he still just falls in unless I'm hauling him up under his arms. I'm wondering if we need to take away the potty chairs in the home and leave a seat reducer on the big toilet at all times for awhile, along with a stool in front for climbing ease, to encourage him to give it a good try. (In case you're wondering, he's way too short to pee standing up.)

    And, seriously, public restrooms are just the worst, aren't they? So loud, with the echoing and the autoflushes and the hand dryers, and then if you try to sit a kid backwards on the seat, you have them reaching out and touching heaven knows what nastiness at the back of the toilet. Blech. I wonder if I need to come up with a pottying kit à la the sort ECers use, like a sealable bottle or plastic container he can pee in as we go. But I'd rather he consent to use the public toilets so we can skip carrying around a pee bottle — I'm just not seeing clearly the steps for how to get there.

So there are our hurdles and ideas. Do you have suggestions or clarity? Where are your kids at in terms of pottying?


Adrienne said...

Your situation was totally us! Burkley was 29 months when we (er, he) started going exclusively pantsless at home after being EC'd since a baby. If he had something, he didn't take it off to go. I finally figured out that it was because he didn't know *how*. He still struggles with it, but we practice. A lot. He went pants-free for about three months and then from then on has been fine. At night, he sleeps naked (same as Alrik, he won't wet the bed if he's nakey) and now that it's getting cold, he wears pajama pants (no more cute zip-up sleepers) with no undies underneath. Because we bedshare only half the night (he starts in his own bed then comes in ours when he wakes up in the night) I keep the little potty in our room and he must use it before coming into bed with us. This gives him practice pushing down (I learned that lingo which really helped: "push down your pants!") and pulling up his pants. He has been accident free now for about 7 months, but *still* rarely tells us when he has to pee, only when he has to poop. Pee he will hold forever and ever so every few hours I just remind him to go.

Soooo that is our story. Not sure how it helps you. But, I'd say keep going pantsless as much as possible and try the loose-pants-when-out idea too.

As far as using the big toilet when out...that's a toughy. Have you tried those portable-fold-up seat reducer things? My son was always afraid of it as it does seem a teensy bit unstable, but that may be an option for you?

Courtney Sperlazza, MPH said...

My little learner is about Alrik's age. She would do the same thing - no pants, no misses. But she'd let loose when wearing something. UNTIL we had her take her own wet clothes to the washer if she messed. She had to stop playing, "wash" her clothes, then go up to get a fresh outfit.

We didn't approach it as a punishment or that messing was a bad thing. In fact, she loves to help with laundry. The process was instead an interruption of playtime which created awareness.

Anonymous said...

I think your ideas sound good. One step forward a few back, more forward, that's how it is with potty training!

Olivia said...

I think your ideas sounds good. Funny story: when my daughter finally light-bulbed on the concept of sitting on a potty long enough to actually pee we were in a port-a-potty. I cheered for her in that hot, stinky john and she said, "Oh, that's what you want me to do?" LOL.

sustainablemum said...

This is such a hard journey to navigate, especially when children do not have the vocabulary to explain what they are thinking. From what you have written I am not sure there is anything you could change. I have no experience of children holding in wees or not wanting to poo.

My youngest was eighteen months when she decided she no longer wanted nappies. She used a potty exclusively for about a year, would not go near a toilet at home or out and about. I took the potty everywhere with me and used it outside and in public toilets. If I had no where to empty it immediately I would put it back in the bag I carried it in until I found somewhere!

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