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Potty Training Tactics

Potty Training Tactics

Re-post from summer 2016:

I am officially redundant! My 5 year old has taken charge and is absolutely winning when it comes to potty training our 2 year old.

To set the scene, I have always firmly believed in waiting until the time is right for the child and aiming to avoid any pressure, bribery or upset, when it comes to getting out of nappies.

My eldest child woke up after a lunchtime nap aged 22 months and announced that she wanted to “sit on potty” when I went to change her nappy. She immediately proceeded to sit down, do the business and we never looked back. Yes, we had our fair few accidents along the way but I never felt that I had to really do much apart from to remind and encourage.

Forward-wind a few years and when our second child started taking notice of when she was wet and simultaneously began pointing to and saying “now poppy” (aka ‘potty’) at 29 months old, I thought we were ready to go.

Day 1, great success. Day 2, less so. Days 3, 4, 5, 6 were disastrous and then we all drew a sigh of relief and gave it a rest.

From an initial excitement about sitting on the potty (and also on the big loo with a child seat), quickly grew complete avoidance and anxiety about the entire subject. So much for my original intentions. In hindsight I realised that our ‘all singing, all dancing’ approach to praise and attention just didn’t sit comfortably with her and completely backfired.

That was 6 months ago and apart from a few times when she has (blink-and-you-miss it) sat on a potty, she has hardly even wanted to look at one, or go near any loo either (despite the supposedly enticing Peppa seat, the Frozen seat and the completely-inoffensive-plain-white seat). Any attempts to read potty-related stories has been met with much face scrunching and defiant ‘no ways’ as well.

All until today. My 5 year old thought that enough was enough and took matters in to her own hands.

She started by taking 2 potties (No 1: bubblegum pink. No 2: Anna and Elsa. Naturally) out to the garden and set about chasing each other in ever decreasing circles towards the offending items. This then progressed into Musical Potties with her singing ‘Let it Go’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. By this point I was also running in circles around the potties and whenever she stopped singing we had to find a potty to sit on.

Round 1: Mummy on a potty; 2 year old standing and looking dubious

Round 2: Mummy and 2 year old sitting on the same potty (ouch)

Round 3: Mummy and 2 year old sitting on a potty each (much internal whooping by me)

Round 4: More of the same PLUS some teeny tiny wee action (now internal happy crying)

Seeing the unfolding success of the gaming strategy, my 5 year old quietly told her sister that she felt really proud of her and asked her if she was happy. A confident “yes” came back. I couldn’t believe it.

Next, the games-master thought we’d try out Potty Hide-and-Seek. We had to close our eyes whilst she hid the potties in various (not-so-subtle) places in the garden. She then closed her eyes (makes sense, clearly) whilst we found the potties, sat down on them and waited whilst she came to hunt us down.

Cue much giggling AND increasing success in the potty each time. We played these games for about 2 hours, on and off, in the garden. Then again at bedtime, at my youngest’s request, around the bedrooms upstairs.

It’s clearly early days but I really think we might actually nail this one now. She feels safe and relaxed. No pressure. No bribery. Lots of fun. Clearly the games won’t go on forever but they’re absolutely doing the job for now.

If you’ve done something similar or go on to give this a go, let me know!

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