"Watch your heads, and sit down over there," said Grandma, motioning to a large trunk beneath the musty slants of the attic eaves. And then the storytelling began....

Antiques were folded into dusty boxes around us, their significance left unlabelled but for Grandma's remembering tales. I listened to the stories of my ancestors from the keepers of their treasures in that damp, dark haven where history and the future came together. And during those childhood hours in the attic, I would hear my calling—the.eternal quest for stories told and untold. I answer it still.
Musty smells and mothballs will take me there again, sitting on a box in my memory, enraptured. I hear knockin' on the attic as voices in my head—whispery phrases that need a turn, stories aching to be told, or simply memories wanting another moment of my time. When I hear that knockin', I know there's a voice to be heard and a story to be told. So, be careful on the ladder, watch your head on that beam, and have a seat on that trunk over there. Lean in, for I have some tales to share...

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kelly's Potty Training Boot Camp (Part 2) - The Recipe


Here’s Kelly’s recipe for Potty Training success. You will need:

     1 week (mostly in-home)
     1 potty seat
     1 toilet
     1 lg. sippy cup
     Water or fruit juice
     1 baggie of your choice of M&Ms, Skittles, or Jellybeans, OR one special toy
     1 ready toddler of your choice, stirred, not shaken*
     1 glut Patience, to taste

     [*Note: Readiness is determined by consistency. If you often find the toddler of your choice retreating to a certain corner to complete their business, if they tell you their wrapping is soiled, and/or the wrapping has been stripped from the bum without your assistance, you may have overdone the diapers, and need to remove the toddler from its wrap. If your diapered child pops up in the bathroom while others are completing their business, or place their dollies and stuffies on the potty, this also indicates your diaper days are nearly done. Proceed to the following steps.]

     As Miss Birnie is the most recent of my successes, I used her as my toddler of choice for this recipe, so will use the term she/her. Obviously, this also applies to all he/his options as well.

     Immediately remove absorbent wrap from bum of the toddler. Set aside wrap for bedtime use only. Fill the large sippy cup with your choice of water or fruit juice (I like water, but fruit juice is good for a thicker potty filler. You can also choose to alternate the two to get both fillings for your potty.). Begin to saturate your toddler with liquids, refilling the sippy as often as necessary. You do not want your toddler to dry out, or your recipe will not turn out properly.  
     Introduce your toddler to her potty. Make sure that they remain in the vicinity of each other at all times this early in the process. It is important that they are properly bonded to each other. Explain to your toddler that the potty is her new best friend, and that her friend loves pee and poo more than anything in the world. Her job is to keep her friend happy, by feeding it all the pee and poo she can.
     Go about her play. Assist her in her endeavors. Watch her for signs that her filling is getting ready to overflow. If she stops taking on liquids, and sets the sippy aside, joyfully, enthusiastically return the sippy to her hands, and encourage her to ingest more. Praise her when she does (I find that first cheering her with a coffee/beer mug-against-sippy cup tap, followed by chanting, “Chug! Chug! Chug!” is a very effective way to infuse your toddler with liquids. Some of you may have used this method in the pre-baby days with some good music and friends, a funnel, er, um, or so I’ve heard…Anyway, I digress…).
     At some point in the morning, your toddler will start refusing the liquid refills. This is an excellent indicator that her filling is about done. Check your toddler often. At this point, you will want to place her on the potty, and sit with her. Tell her, “Put the pee-pee (or poo-poo) in the potty. The potty wants the pee (or poo). Feed your friend the potty, it’s thirsty and hungry.”  Leave the toddler on the potty for a few moments. If nothing happens, the filling is not ready, so release the toddler to play. About every 5 minutes, return the toddler to the potty and repeat previous encouragement. Eventually, your toddler’s filling should overflow into the bowl.

     [*Note:  The first couple of times this happens, the toddler may become very upset and scream or cry. THIS IS NORMAL behavior! Do not worry. Simply reassure the toddler that this is EXACTLY what she is supposed to do and that it is a GOOD THING, a MOST EXCELLENT THING to do! Then move immediately onto the following step.]

     REWARD your toddler IMMEDIATELY! Congratulate her. Celebrate her success. Give her 1 candy treat for a pee-pee, 2 for a poo-poo. Absolutely no more sugar treats than that at any time. While working the bladder so intensely, the excess sugar can and will become detrimental to the outcome of the product. You want a toddler that connects the treat to the release of fluids into the potty in her mind, and does not mistake the treat for any other thing. (I also like to sing songs, clap, and dance for EVERY, SINGLE potty success. If there are other people in the house, this is a great time to do a celebratory parade through the house, singing the praises of the toddler-who-went-potty-and-just-became-a-big-girl (or boy). You can NEVER make too big a deal out of this. It NEVER grows old for them, and many respond more to the praise than the treat. This is THE BIGGEST DEAL OF THEIR LIVES SO FAR. Don’t forget that.

     [*Note: Some people prefer to give the toddler a special toy to play with as the reward instead of a candy treat. This is also effective. The way to use this method is to have a special Potty-Success-Only toy in a place the child can see, but not reach it. Once they have successfully released the fluids into the potty, set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and allow the child to play with that toy without having to share it with any friends or siblings. When time is up, return the toy to the special spot until the next success. No other child is allowed to touch that toy at any time, so that the toddler understands this is ONLY for HER successes.]

     As soon as the treat and parade celebration are complete, refill the sippy and begin infusing your toddler with liquids again. You will complete the above steps repeatedly for the next several days. Only wrap your toddler for sleeps, for going out of the home, and for long distance travel. (I suggest pull-ups for out-of-home excursions only, so that you can place toddler on available toilets more easily. You want to make sure that toddler understands that using a potty is for ALL times and places, not just at home.)

     [Hints: As soon as your toddler has had a day with some successes, you’ll want to start placing her on a Big People Toilet once in awhile. This is VERY important because she must become comfortable releasing the fluids and solids into a larger bowl, as most public and private restrooms do not offer potty seats. Allowing your toddler to flush the big toilets after they've made their contribution is another effective reward.
 The big toilet may be frightening at first for your toddler, so be reassuring and NEVER leave a frightened toddler alone on a big toilet. There are available “toppers” for toddlers that can be placed on big toilets, but again, I prefer not to use them, as they are not available in restrooms in the world-at-large. Though there are some people who will carry such a device with them, I am not of that temperament. I prefer to get the toddler comfortable with real-life options as soon as possible.]

     Another important note to make is that after a few successes, the toddler will catch on to what is happening, and may resist. This is the point where your toddler will actively refuse to sit on the potty. This is the time of the watery eyes and pouty lips. YOU MUST RESIST CAVING IN TO SUCH DRAMAS AT ALL COSTS. Understand that your toddler has simply become bored with the process, and finds diapers more convenient for her busy agenda. Though you may agree with her, this is where you will need to start peppering your toddler from the glut of Patience. You MUST remain consistent, and become even more devout in your toddler-to-potty administrations. Place the child (regardless of watery or pouty consistency) upon the potty every half-hour and encourage them to fill it. If you must, park the potty in front of a television, the lunch table, or give the toddler books to look at. Often the distraction is enough to release the necessary filling into the potty. It is okay to ask your toddler to stay on the potty for several minutes at a time, once they understand you want them to feed the potty pee or poo. Their boredom with this will not last long and they will learn to release the ingredients quickly after a couple of long sits. 
     The flip side to the toddler resisting the potty, is that they may quickly learn to turn it into a game for their advantage. Once they learn they will receive a candy per pee, they will learn to squirt the liquids in increasingly smaller amounts, more often. For the first week, and even for a couple of weeks after, you WILL COOPERATE with your very clever toddler! You will continue to praise and reward your toddler, both for her self-control and cleverness, but also because if the game ends too quickly, they may chose not to play anymore because it is no longer fun or interesting. Trust me, a couple of weeks down the road, you may run out of potty treats and your toddler may not notice, or will give you leave to purchase more at your earliest convenience. The treats will disappear naturally and with less fanfare than you may expect, so continue to reward your toddler as long as necessary.
     That, my friends and devout readers, is my recipe for Potty Training Success. I find that usually by the end of the first week, you can place your child in those coveted undies, and continue with the same steps of the recipe with similar success, simply decreasing the infusion of liquids and extending the periods of mandatory potty-sits as you see the toddler has caught on to the process. The first couple of times your child wears undies (and again, I recommend you start this at home, not out in public), she may mistake it for an absorbent wrap and allow the filling to overflow into it. This may be devastating to your toddler, which is actually a positive sign (Believe me, devastation is preferable to the toddler who doesn’t seem to mind a thoroughly soaked wrap, for those are much more difficult to bring to readiness and present to the world at large.). Gently remove your toddler from the saturated wrap and remind her that the pee and poo go IN THE POTTY now that she’s a Big Girl. It’s not a big deal, she simply forgot to feed her best friend its favorite thing, and assure her you know she’ll remember next time.
     To be honest, every experience with Potty Training will be slightly different. While I firmly believe most toddlers can and will be trained during the day hours within a week or two (nights can take months, or years longer, I've found, depending on how deep your toddler/child sleeps…I find most kids give up their own pull-ups for nights without much interference or suggestion from you), I will admit there is an occasional glitch in the system. For instance, I realized that I had a boy at one point that I believed had been fully trained for about a year and a half. He went to the bathroom every time I suggested it (I had incorporated it into our daily routine), and never had accidents on my watch. What I didn't realize until he was 4 ½ was that he’d had regular accidents with his parents once he was out of my care at night, because they were not on a schedule that included “Go to the bathroom” as part of their routine (i.e. before leaving the house, going to bed, when returning from a car trip, etc.). I had so thoroughly incorporated bathroom usage into our routine, I didn't realize I’d simply trained him to go on command, rather than pay attention to the needs of his body. That was early in my training days, and I have rectified that by not insisting on potty-sits after those first few weeks, and less suggestion to try at the same times each day. I also had the toddler (Oh, Miss Birnie, you are so full of surprises, you little imp!!) who refused to be infused with liquids after that first day. She is, at 21 months, smarter than me (and I say that with immense pride, and just a bit of shame!). She very quickly figured out the cause and effect of my methods, and simply refused to make herself so uncomfortable. When I began to drink more water (“lead by example!”), and chant more heartily (“Don’t stop now! Chug! Chug!”), she’d simply look me in the eye, tip her sippy, and take the tiniest sip of water to get me off her case, and go about her play. She would set her sippy aside as soon as I made (yet another) run to the bathroom to relieve my own bladder. The good news is, I've become very well hydrated and my skin has taken on a very nice, healthy glow. The bad news is, I've needed to tweak my recipe for success, but at least I always appreciate a good challenge!
     I think the important things to remember with any Potty Training recipe is that you need to Know Your Toddler, be Present and Tuned In, and not to be afraid to get creative with your recipe. It’s a lot of work, but always worth the effort. And the other important note is that as much as you want your toddler trained, She is the one who decides. This can become a great power struggle, or this can be a great Empowering opportunity.
    I mean, you can (TRY to!) fill your toddler with liquids, and you can lead her to a potty, butt…

P.S. As I said in Part 1 of Potty Training Boot Camp, I’d be happy to answer questions/give feedback on my boot camp methods and/or potty training via this blog, or Twitter @Kellsyjean. I look forward to hearing from you!


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