Tuesday, September 4

How We Potty-Trained The Sprite In One Week

Yep, you read that right. ElectricMommy and I, with our infinite parenting skills, potty trained our little tinkling-toddler The Sprite in seven easy, effortless days. All those reports we read about three years in and out of diapers, little progress, frustration and failure led us to believe we would have an eleven year old still wearing desperately tight Huggies. But no. That kind of nonsense is obviously for loser parents with no skills.

Well that is the story we are selling. That's what we would like to believe, and for you to believe. But truth be told we had very little to do with it. His Spriteness being the single-minded, determined and persistent child he is, got it into his head he wanted to wear underwear and he pretty much potty-trained himself. He was done with diapers, they are for babies, and he would be damned if he was going back to them.

It went down something like this:

Upon return to the homestead from our Family Jaunt we decided it was time to make a 'concerted' effort to get The Sprite out of diapers. That would be in stark contrast to the half-arsed effort we had made to date. We had bought a potty seat some time ago but other than sitting him on it fully clothed once, we had not really pushed the agenda. You know, like this:

"Dude, ya wanna piss in the porcelain yet?"

"Nope, now sod off I'm watching Nemo!"

"Oooookay then. We'll try again next month"

So, with a week before The Sprite was due back at school (and for those that don't know, the schools charge you more for a kid still in diapers. Incentive enough right there) we made a bee-line for the local Target and added these fine items to our shopping cart: three 5-packs of 3T underpants, a big step for the sink, a little step for the toilet, and a box of 'pull-ups' training diaper/underwear things.

Acting upon the advice of his pre-school teacher, we decided to go cold-turkey on him. No more diapers, no messing around with pull-ups (except at night, we cut the kid a little slack) and no more waiting for him to be ready. If we didn't get this ball rolling and incentivise him to make the leap, he would likely head straight from diapers into Depends around 18 or 19 years.

So that first weekend The Sprite wore his first undies and he was really excited. Diapers were for babies and he did not want to be associated with those carpet-crawling losers. Until he realised he had to 'go' on the toilet. False start number one. Back on with the diapers. Feeling like cold-turkey was going to be way tougher than we imagined, we struggled through the weekend on and off the potty seat, in and out of diapers. Monday was more of the same, but Tuesday I received a call at work that The sprite was on the potty and had just taken his first poop! Blowing off my monthly trek up to Hollywood for MGLA, I rushed home to congratulate my boy. When I arrived, I relieved a tired and stressed Mommy who for the last hour had sat with our lad in the bathroom encouraging him to get it all out. For the next two hours we sat with him giving him all the encouragement we could without putting any additional pressure on him. He couldn't relax enough to let it all out. He didn't want to get off "I don't want to spill it". And he had held it in for so long he was clearly in pain and distress. Eventually he could hold it no longer and gave in to the pressure inside him. He was crying as it came out and he sat for a while longer until he felt safe enough to come down.

With the whole evening exhausting for everyone, we got The Sprite into a pull-up and into bed feeling good about his achievement. Big leap forward, huge progress. Feeling good about ourselves and seeing a path forward, we prepared ourselves for the next day.

Wednesday saw us take several giant leaps backwards. After insisting he wear his undies getting dressed in the morning, The Sprite immediately went and had a little accident on our soft-leather couch. That'll leave a stain! After another rough day on potty-patrol, ElectricMommy had Master-G back in diapers that evening. Scratch that previous progress.

Having listened to mommy motivate him with "Jacob (his pre-school buddy) is going to piss better than you" and "Look at the baby back in diapers again" The Sprite decided that this was it. He was NOT going to be a baby. He was NOT going back to diapers. And was NOT going to let any kid piss better than him. Thursday he woke up determined, and never looked back. In his undies the whole day, he peed on his potty and squeezed out a little nugget or two, motivated by candy treats after each successful potty session. No fuss. No tantrums. No spills. And good old fashioned bribery.

By Saturday he was telling us when he needed to go regularly. We didn't have to continually ask him. We could trust his judgement and let him guide us. We even ventured out of the house, the big test, and no accidents. To encourage his progress we got a big chart book with potty stickers. The chart had 20 rows of 10 blank circles to be filled-in, stuck-on with the variety of stickers. When a row was completed he got to pull a toy from the treat-bag. No more candy from this point forward. The chart was a great find and really helped him focus and keep with the program. He would go potty several times in succession, in an effort to get 2-3 stickers in an hour. He knew when he was on to a good thing. However, the chart only held it's allure until it was half way filled. By this time The Sprite was such an accomplished potty expert there was no challenge to fill rows. For a couple of days he stuck stickers on random circles on the chart until he lost interest altogether, leaving it half-filled and abandoned.

A rare accident at school, where he was unable to point his tinkle into the toilet while sitting on it, lead to the teachers shoes and the floor getting a sprinkling. At this point Master-G realised that peeing like daddy was the way forward, and like his simian ancestors, rose up on to two legs and began peeing standing on his step. We used Cheerios as target practice, to ease the transition to upright urination, but this quickly went the way of the sticker chart. A boring distraction for novices, unnecessary for the expert.

And so, in a very short time, we find ourselves into the next chapter of raising The Sprite. The potty routine is firmly established; he'll tell one of us he needs to go, we'll follow him to the bathroom and help him lower his jeans or shorts and his undies, and he'll stand there and go. When he's done he'll flush, then step up and wash his hands. All without prompting or instruction from us. He knows what to do and just gets on with it. We have a feeling we got off really easy, especially looking back at the shaky start we got off to. We watched as our little expert potty-trained himself right before our eyes, sparing us the ordeal.

No comments: