On a roll with potty training – what are the next steps? How do you know it’s time to say goodbye to diapers?
I realized Esther was ready for the next step in potty training when she started negotiating more treats for every trip to the potty. She was getting one m&m for peeing and three m&ms for pooping on the potty. We’re not consistent with giving her m&ms (we don’t carry them around with us), but she likes the treat and it reinforces the good potty behavior. When Esther started to ask for cookies on top of her chocolate treats – I knew she was ready. Going potty is not a negotiation and I am not encouraging my toddler to become an extortionist.
The biggest deal to me was the day we got rid of diapers and she only wore underwear. It was really cute to see just her little tush (sooo tiny) without a diaper on it. We made it a big deal and used positive language by telling her we’re saying goodbye to diapers instead of saying there are no more diapers. We also said goodbye to lids on cups. She’s a big kid!
When we “said good-bye to diapers” we talked to the nanny about the next step and decided she would put Esther on the potty every hour. About every few days, the timing would stretch out a little further to 75 minutes, then 2 hrs, and within 1.5 weeks, Esther was able to tell us when she needed to go. The nanny could tell Esther was getting annoyed with her frequent trips. So we talked about it and agreed it seemed like Esther could consistently tell us when she needed to go. We stopped the timed intervals, but at first they were really important. If I missed the hour marker by 15 minutes, she would most likely have an accident. She built up her ability to “hold it.”
We still put a diaper on for naptime and nighttime, but she consistently wakes up with a dry diaper or very little pee. We have her sitting on the potty before and after sleep (nap or at night). We keep the diaper on because her bed is really big and she’s really little. She cannot yet safely climb in and out by herself.
What do you do when you have to go out (food shopping, library, outside activities, etc.), encourage public toilets? Plan to take potty breaks in public?
We learned the hard way. We always “try” to go potty before we leave the house. Esther doesn’t always want to go, but we wait until she’s “ready” to try (ie. kind of give her a timeout – we don’t leave the house until she’s at least sat on the potty).
Regarding public toilets, Esther is always interested in going potty with me or Josh, so getting her on the public toilet has not been an issue. We rarely pee or poop alone as it is, public restrooms are no different. Our lifesaver has been the foldable potty seat.
What is your reaction to accidents?
Getting really upset and making my kid feel bad is not my goal, still I don’t want her to think it’s OK to have accidents all the time.
We rented a Sesame Street DVD called Elmo’s Potty Time. There is a song called “Accidents Happen” with an annoyingly catchy tune. When Esther has an accident she is already pretty upset with herself, so it’s a matter of calming her down. She is usually the one to start singing “Accidents Happen” first. And in true Esther form, there are times she just breaks out into song and sings it for no apparent reason.
When accidents happen, we try to figure out why she missed making it to the potty. For example, we didn’t have the potty ring nearby (we usually keep it in the bathroom, but at a friend’s house it was downstairs while she needed to pee upstairs). Josh went to get the ring but didn’t make it in time. Esther had an accident, she was upset, but we know it wasn’t because she didn’t tell us. She was quick to tell Josh it was “his fault.”
I try to remember to reinforce the behavior I like, going peepee in the potty, and not give too much fanfare to the accidents. After having a few peepee accidents at home, Esther started to get better at telling us when she needed to go. Her trips to the potty are “Peepee parties!” I dance and sing after she pees. My songs and dance moves may change, but it goes a little something like this…
“Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Esther went peepee on the potty today!”
Sometimes she likes the singing and dancing, other times she wants me to leave and “give her some time” to do her business. Whatever works!