At the very beginning of our "Safer at Home" orders, Moms in nearly every Facebook group I am in started declaring that this would be the perfect time for them to potty train their children, and to please send them all the tips. I had no such intention. I furrowed my brows at those moms and wondered why they would add anything else to their already overloaded plate. I was going to put my foot down, and I was NOT going to be an overachiever.
At some point about 7 weeks in, Caleb changed one of Chloe's poopy diapers, and I thought, "Maybe it's time to lose the diapers..." But I wasn't ready. So I pushed it to the back of my mind. A couple weeks later, I woke up on a Monday morning and thought to myself, You know what? Let's try this. I gave myself a morning. I told myself, if she gets it this morning and does okay with it, we'll keep going. If she fights me, we'll try again in a month or two. Well ladies and gentlemen, she did not fight me, so we continued. We're two weeks out and she has done really well. She has had a couple of accidents, but she often catches herself and lets me know that she needs to go.
My approach was really simple. I had no desire to be complicated, and I used the same approach I did with Caleb when he was just a few months older than Chloe is now.
Before I get into the actual steps we followed, I wanted to share a conversation I had with Samantha Lambros of Pottyology about potty training. Samantha is a mom of 3 children under 5. She is a behavior analyst and uses the science of behavior to teach new skills and modify behavior. When it came time to potty train her oldest child, she applied her skills as a behavior analyst to train him at 18 months. Her methods are science based and backed and supported by research and proven to be effective across multiple children. She has created Pottyology, a consulting agency for potty training. She has developed courses and shares tips on her Instagram account. I asked her to share a few tips for a laid back approach to potty training, and here is what she suggested.
So what did we do?
MONTHS ago, I pulled the potty out and put it in the bathroom. (We have one similar to this.) I would sit her on it every once in a while, and tell her, "Soon you'll go peepee in the potty," or something along those lines. I did this before potty training Caleb and it worked really well, too because they were used to seeing the potty and it didn't scare them.
With Caleb, he had started taking his diaper off and would tell me when he had gone in his diaper. Chloe told me a few times, but it was more of last minute decision for her. I honestly woke up one Monday morning and said, "Let's try it." I told myself that if she fought it too much, I would hold off for another couple of months. I didn't place pressure on myself (or on her) to get it done in 3 days.
Because it was a last minute decision, I didn't have any panties purchased for Chloe, so the first day I put her in a dress and didn't put anything under. I used my handy Echo or Siri on my iPhone and set a timer every 15 minutes. I also encouraged her to drink plenty of fluids! Every 15 minutes, I walked her to the potty and we sat there. If she had a successful visit, I gave her a couple of mini chocolate chips. You can use whatever motivates your kids. I figured these were harmless enough. I put her diaper on for naptime, and afterwards she asked to go to the potty (chocolate was a big motivator for her!). We continued this through the afternoon. She had just two accidents the first day and realized it right away. When she had an accident, we said, "It's okay, accidents happen," and walked her to the potty and made her sit anyway.
On Day 2, I extended the timer to every 20 minutes and we repeated the process. She only had one accident on day 2, and she successfully pooped in the potty. We made a big deal about saying bye to the poop as we flushed it down the potty (things I never imagined myself saying #783). We continued to celebrate every success.
By day 3, she was starting to run to the potty on her own, and her big girl underwear came in, so we started using that. I also extended the timer to every 30 minutes. She had a few accidents this day, but we continued with the same praise (and chocolate, duh) when she did go in the potty.
On Days 4 and 5 she had maybe one accident per day, even getting out of the pool to both pee and poop in the potty! Over the weekend she had a couple of accidents as well when we were playing outside and distracted.
During the second week, we continued with the consistency (although we were no longer setting a timer and having her go exactly every 30 minutes), and she did great. By week 3 we were able to leave the diaper off during nap-time, we removed the reward of chocolate chips (we still praise her every time she goes - a high five or a "Yay, Chloe!" does the trick), and at this point, a month in, she is only wearing the diaper to sleep (and no, I have no plans of night training just yet).
We are still reminding her to go to the potty regularly, but most of the time she will let us know when she needs to go. She has accidents once every couple of days, but most of the time she catches herself before she has a puddle underneath her and yells, "Mommy, potty!"
So there you have it, my quarantined potty training experience. If you don't have the bandwidth to do this at the moment, don't try it. If you don't think your child is ready, don't add more to your plate. The key to being successful is consistency. And if you want more tips, head over to Pottyology, because she is definitely the expert in this field!
Have you potty trained a child during quarantine? How did it go for you?
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