♥ Miss Jen's Potty Training Bootcamp!

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Most of this content can be viewed on my youtube Potty Training series! 

Let's get this POTTY started!

Ok rule number one - I put this first because it is so important to me: It is absolutely paramount to always offer a toddler-in-training positive reinforcement! Never punish or scold (or even scowl) over a potty accident - just say: "its ok - we'll do better potty next time." (and smile) Negative reinforcement will instill fear and possibly discourage a toddler - potentially causing him to regress and give up all together. If an accident happens (and they will…) don't let your child see the look of disappointment on your face. Don't grumble when you're changing his diaper or cleaning up his mess and don't make a big dramatic scene during the clean-up ordeal ie: throwing away the soiled paper towel or breaking out the spray chemicals and rubber gloves if he pees on the floor. FYI - fresh urine is virtually sterile and basically bacteria-free… it wont spread germs or ruin anything. Try clean it up immediately, as it will definitely stink if it sits too long. (I recommend doing potty training on non-carpeted areas.)

Always offer rewards/stickers/treats/candy/cookies! But ONLY give with each potty success! If you EVER (even once) give in and reward "even tho he didn't really go potty" the plan is pretty much ruined. This is not about rewarding him for merely sitting on the potty or just "trying" - heck I know kids that will sit on the pot ALL DAY just to get a sweet treat! We already know your child can "sit" on the potty, that's the easy part. It's now about getting him to "go". Consistency is key here. Repetition is important and follow thru is imperative! Look for yellow in the toilet! If there's no yellow pee pee or we don't actually "hear" the pee streaming - no reward!  I encourage kiddos to sit quietly and "shhhh… listen for the pee pee, here comes the pee pee, can you hear it? Can you feel it?" (acting excited with wide eyed anticipation) If we hear it - we celebrate! Big time! High fives, jumping jacks, smiling happy faces, hugs and praise! Whichever he responds to. (whatever it takes right?)

Positive rewards are golden! Whatever your child likes most. Small candies like m&m's, pez, smarties, skittles, small dum dum lollipopschocolate chips etc. If you don't want your little one to have sugar you can try carob chips or dried fruit, yogurt melts. But it needs to be something rare and special. Not just something he already gets to eat any time he wants or a food he has every day anyway. Oh, and save the "REALLY" good stuff for the poops! My personal fave is mini chips ahoy cookie bites in the little plastic cups for a dollar (aka: "poo poo cookies" ha ha!)  One of my favorite tricks (thank you child psychology 101) is to allow the toddler to HOLD his unopened treat/reward in his hands while sitting on the potty! That way it's "right there"! Visible, tangible. In his face! Within reach! So close he can almost taste it! Feeling the wrapper, hearing it crinkle. All those sensory cues. The temptation alone will be so strong the child will probably "PUSH" to try to pee/poo just to get these cookies! (sounds like torture when I put it that way ha ha!) But it really works! 

The hard part is if they do NOT have a potty success - they cannot open the treat. Awwww... sad I know - (even more devastating to the child) but we cant give in! Tough love here folks! No matter how many pleas or tears. I never say; "Nope, no candy cuz you didn't pee-pee." I only say all positive words like "It's ok sweetie we can try again in a little while" or "good job trying" "it's ok, you didn't have any pee pee ready yet." or "It's ok buddy, when you're ready for a treat just tell Miss Jen and we can come back on the potty and try again"….positive words like that. As long as your child understands he can have that candy ANY time he wants! He's in control. All he has to do is pee-pee on the potty! Easy peasy! Your child will be persistent and say; "I want a cookie. I want a treat." over and over again to try to convince you. He will most likely cry, fuss or maybe throw a fit. You cant let him wear you down. Redirect if you have to. Change the subject and move on! You have to be firm (with a smile) so that he learns Potty = reward. (NOT crying/begging = gets me a treat!) Also in addition to a treat, you must ALWAYS give praise: high fives, hugs, exaggerated happy facial expressions and "YAY YOU DID IT BUDDY! GOOD JOB" with complete sincerity! You need to encourage your child to the point of being so proud that he will want to show you his successes in that porcelain bowl every time he goes! You need to look at his pee pee or poo poo in the potty, revel in it! Point to it, applaud him, exaggerate to the point of dorky-ness, do the happy potty dance. You need to stop whatever you're doing and go in there and look at what he put in the potty for you! (Don't worry - this acting ridiculous praise phase doesn't last too long! ha ha!)

During the week I'm there working with your child I will of course implement whatever tactics and training style YOU are most comfortable with. But having worked with so many toddlers thru the years, I've had great success with the ones who were "resistant" to potty training by using a sort'a 70's hippie naturalistic free-style approach. "Running around pants-free style. (at least for the first few days) Some pediatricians call this the bare bottom method. This technique allows immediate quick easy access to quickly sit on the potty when the urge to pee is sudden or urgent. (when it sneaks up on him) A HUGE part of a toddler's potty learning is the sensation of the bladder and the awareness of on-coming pee and seeing where it's coming from. "Feeling" the urge to go. So there is enough "warning" - otherwise by the time the child 1. realizes "uh oh, I feel the pee coming", then 2. verbalizes out loud "I need to go pee" then 3. actually walks over to the potty, 4. unsnaps, unzips his pants then pulls down his diaper/pull-ups - the window of opportunity has passed and an accident is bound to happen because toddlers just cant hold their tiny little bladders. Kiddos need to practice the timing of it all. How long do I wait between the initial "urge" and finally making it to the toilet in time. (to avoid rushing and panicking) So having a small potty "right there" - in the room with you - within reach at all times is imperative. I usually carry a little potty from room to room with me just so it's always within a few feet of our play zone. 

If you feel comfortable trying the no pants technique you'll want to have supplies handy for cleaning up accidents around the house (such as disinfecting wipes, paper towels, non bleach cleaning spray, and plastic trash bags) Now one little side note here: Depending on a child's personality I might have the child help me clean up his accident puddle. Give them a dry paper towel (no chemicals) or a baby wipe and let them wipe the area after I've done the initial cleaning. This gives the toddler a sense of responsibility for their accident. Accountability to put the pee pee in the potty - not on the floor. Plus the more they have to clean up their messes, they get tired of the chore of cleaning so they try harder make the effort to avoid an accident. But I have to be careful with this strategy because some toddlers who are the more sensitive type might feel like this is a punishment. I choose my words carefully during this clean up. I never say; "bad", or "wrong" or "mess". I just say things like: "oopsie, we forgot to go pee pee on the potty" or "uh oh, we had an accident, we need to clean it up. We need to put the pee pee in the potty next time..."  (in a pleasant voice)

So I suggest you start talking to your child about using the big potty a few days leading up to potty training boot camp week. Talk to him about the exciting adventure on which he is about to embark. Build his excitement by telling him how he is getting to be such a big boy. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of him when he goes pee pee on the potty. (I always say; " You make Jen so HAPPY when you put the pee pee in the potty! Thank you buddy"!) Read him potty training books. Invite him to the restroom with you every time you use the potty and talk to him about how he will be a big boy just like mommy/daddy soon. It's important that your child knows what is coming and that he will be in training in the near future. He needs time to mentally process and prepare. So this process will not be foreign/strange/uncomfortable.

Learning by example is best with mommy in the beginning stages. Watching and mimicking is the fastest, most effective way for a toddler to learn ANY thing! This holds true for sitting on the potty. Boys seem to learn faster when I train them to go potty sitting down. Toddler boys don't need to worry about learning to pee standing up until they are older. (and taller) Toddler boys in training get confused between the standing up to pee/sitting down to poo and the confusion of which one comes from what end -  often causes them to regress. Modeling mommy is always most successful - sitting down! HELPFUL TIP for boys: make sure the "pee spray" guard is attached! It's also good practice to teach a boy toddler to place his hand on the top portion of his male part (just below his abdomen) to push it down so it wont spray. Daddy can help demonstrate this concept.  If Daddy wants to participate in the "learn by example" part of potty training -  daddy needs to sit down when he's being watched by his little dude-in-training.

I like to set a clock timer or alarm on my cell phone for every 60 minutes and when it rings, it’s potty time! (...like it or not!) Make it a potty party - sing songs about it! Woo hoo! A child will usually resist - after all, this is interrupting his play time. This kid is busy! But if we make that "buzzer/ringer" an association with doing something fun and getting a treat - it will quickly remove the negative associate and it will no longer be an interruption but a fun "event" to look forward to - every hour on the hour! Even when we’re out and about, I keep asking every hour to keep him in the habit. Instead of a scary buzz sounding alarm - try to find a fun kid's song your child likes and have it play on his ipad or our cell phone alarm every hour. Like a Thomas Train song or the sound of a train toot toot? A happy sound with a positive association.

While in the house you should provide your child with plenty of water/fluids to drink during the daytime, and snacks that encourage thirst (salty snacks that make him drink a lot, such as goldfish crackers/pretzels and foods/fruits with high water content such as watermelon, grapes and popsicles) We could use a small potty to use in the play areas or kitchen (ideally in the main areas where we spend time playing) 

It's helpful to have a portable potty seat topper to take with you when you leave the house, to use in public restrooms. (library, restaurants etc) This will help you stay on top of your "every hour on the hour" schedule. You can carry it in a plastic grocery bag and put it inside his diaper bag. This is the part where most parents get lazy. They throw on a pull-up when they know they will be out and about for a few hours. Try to see this as an opportunity to work with your child on his public potty training. Using new potties in all his favorite places. Make it a fun thing. An adventure. Just be aware that most toddlers are frightened by the loud flushing! This will most definitely discourage your kiddo from using public restrooms! For this I usually prepare the kiddo for the loud flush, maybe have him cover his ears with you, or simply skip the flush altogether! (seriously, just walk away) Focus on the "time to wash our hands" part!

One thing I have learned is that if a child wears a diaper/pull-ups those things are so dry and absorbent - he/she wont "feel" wetness if he/she has an accident in their diaper. The "real feel" of cloth/cotton underwear  or specific potty training toddler under pants will allow your child to "feel" uncomfortable in the wetness if he has an accident and will allow him to feel what "wet" feels like. We need to buy some "big boy pants" - usually something with a cartoon character he likes... Thomas the Train?? Trains in general? Elmo? I actually had a two year old I was potty training who thought the act of "going pee" was called "Elmo" every time she felt the urge to go pee-pee she said "Elmo?" and we knew it was time to go sit on the potty!

You may want to put a small towel or absorbent potty pad over your child's car seat to protect against accidents. Some parents use products like the Piddle Pad, car seat cover, but I recommend a small sheepskin. Just cut the sheepskin to size, then cut it to fit around the car seat straps and groin buckle, so he'll have an absorbent, washable, (reusable) pad you can just toss in the wash if it gets wet. That and several pairs of loose-fitting pants/shorts for your child to wear - preferably elastic waste for quick pulling up and down. No snaps or zippers to fumble with. That just slows down the pants process and will most likely end up in an accident. Remember toddlers only have a short warning window! This might be a good time to pick up some night time mattress pads too - for bed time accidents.

My observation: Teaching a toddler to flush after potty and pull up his/her own pants is important, but not "key" during the initial phase of training. If we enforce too many steps or make it too arduous and too much "work" toddlers will often think its too much of a chore and may give up. (unless he enjoys flushing and finds it rewarding or prefers to flush it himself because he needs that feeling of control of disposing of his own pee/poo. It is, after all HIS pee/poo) Keeping it simple is more important! At least in the beginning! One step at a time right? Plus again, the loud noise of flushing can be scary and deter a kiddo from wanting to flush. (or go on the potty altogether)

We'll have your child diaper free in no time! We just need to pay attention to his cues. Watch his body language (I call it "potty language" ha ha!) Like when we see him hide in a corner or suddenly sit quietly - or notice his posture when he disappears behind a chair or furniture or around the corner…  we know he's going potty - and HE knows we know he's going potty! We need to catch him BEFORE he starts. We need to happily and enthusiastically tell him "its time to go potty now!" Don't ask him if he needs to go, just tell him! "It's potty time." He will resist (they always do) and your child will most likely say: "Bye Bye Mommy" or "Go Away" to indicate he doesn't want us to be there or to look at him - or notice him going potty in his diaper. Your child's behavior here indicates that he feels embarrassment remorse or guilt. He wants privacy because he knows we want him to be doing this in a toilet! He practically tattles on himself every time he says: "Bye Bye Mommy"! Ha ha! The good news is: this means he has bladder awareness and is therefore ready to potty train!

Side note: for poo poo training: I often change a poopy diaper and bring the soiled diaper into the bathroom and have the child help me "put the poo poo where it belongs" in the toilet. I of course handle it, dump it etc... but let the child be a part of the process, watch the poop landing in the toilet water and allow the toddler to "be in charge" of flushing the poo poo. "Bye Bye poo poo!" I repeat this ritual every day until the toddler is ready to sit on the potty to "put the poo poo where it belongs in the toilet" But that usually comes later... let's get the pee part down first!

I've personally had good luck with potty charts and rewards like stickers or stars, a daily accomplishment graph, something you can hang on a wall in the bathroom as a visual reminder. These can be good for tracking potty successes and I always let the toddler put his own sticker on the chart so they get to feel that sense of responsibility and to feel in control of the whole potty training program.

Books I recommend: Once Upon a Potty. I cannot tell you how many times I have read Once Upon a Potty over the decades to oh-so-many toddlers in training! I know every page by heart. It's kind'a quirky and slightly silly (complete with subtle graphic cartoon anatomy and a little grey haired old fashioned lady with an antique "chamber pot") Yet it seems to be getting the point across since 1975! Daily and regular, nightly readings seem to help. (can you say brainwashing?) It may seem a little blunt and "in-your-face" for a toddler, and monotonous for the adult reading it - definitely monotonous! But repetition and consistent (and persistent) reminders are key, as well as being hyper focused on the topic will help a toddler to keep this potty thing in the forefront of his/her mind - ALL day! (all week) Toddlers grow to think of the book's character (Joshua) as their own little friend! They relate to him, think of him all day, talk about Joshua and want to be like him! (A big boy who poops on a toilet! He's a peer, a role model!) Or there's Prudence the girl role model in the Once Upon a Pottty Girl version. Every little girls "Bestie"!

I also like the book: Everyone Poops  but I change the words a little on the page that says: "while some children poop on the potty - others poop in their diapers"... I change the word to "Babies" poop in their diapers … not with a judgmental tone! I say it very matter-of-factly,  so as to not sound mean or sarcastic.

Kids videos/shows I recommend:
Nina Needs to Go (on Disney Jr)
Nina is a four year old girl who gets so wrapped up in her playing and daily distractions that she forgets to use the bathroom until the very last moment - basically the message is supposed to be "don't wait". Go when the opportunity is offered to you.

Ok! I think that's everything! Are you ready?

♡  Let's get this POTTY started!


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