I know you're normally here for knitting, but I'm not doing so much knitting right now... because I'm on constant potty patrol. So I know some of you also have young children and thought maybe what I've learned in trying to potty train my overly sensitive youngest son might be helpful or maybe not -stay tuned for more knitting content soon.
My youngest starts preschool soon and he's supposed to be potty trained to attend. He's almost there. Kind of. He's a very determined, independent little boy who does everything on his own schedule (some people like to call this kind of temperment "spirited"). This is a kid who liked nursing so much that he didn't start eating solid food until he was nearly two years old and I had to take him to food therapy. Talking? Only just started in the last six months. Walking? He fought that tooth and nail too so of course potty training has been a challenge.
This is a kid who would throw a fit if you even mentioned the word potty, despite having wowed us all with 80% potty success on his first day! Maybe potty training was a little too much for him. He soon became averse to potty training with big tantrums anytime I tried to get him to sit on the potty. I've had to scratch my head to figure out how to get my spirited introverted boy actually sit on the potty again. Now that we've got the ball rolling I wanted to share what I've learned about potty training the finicky toddler.
Chances are if you're potty training a sensitive and stubborn child that sometimes when you ask them to sit on the potty that they have a giant tantrum and is completely resistant to anything related to the potty. As frustrating as this is it's best to give your child space. He or she might not be ready. Give it a couple of days or weeks before you try again. I find that watching videos and reading kids books about potty training when my spirited child isn't actively toilet training make me feel like I'm doing something towards toilet training. Some kids need ideas repeated many times before they get them and movies and books do a great job of keeping the topic alive.
Find Your Toddler's Potty Motivation
There is one major secret to the boy determined not to use the potty: Find his motivation, the one thing that compels him to start potty training. For my first son, he saw his best friend using the potty and he wanted to do it himself. Not so much for my introverted independent younger son. So if not friends or siblings what are the things that might make your sensitive child start toilet learning? For my kid it was the right combination: the right treat, the right potty and the right underwear
We tried treats and it got to the point where he would want treats for not sitting on the potty and would throw a tantrum if we didn't give them to him so we took a break on potty training. The next time we tried he had learned that he had to sit on the potty to get the treat. The treats that were the most effective were marshmellows, but we also used jelly beans and more frequently, Mott's Fruit Snacks. I didn't feel so bad giving the kids fruit snacks as treats because they weren't as sugary as candy or marshmellows and they have vitamin C.
Videos and Books for Kids
We read stories, we watched videos and they were kind of helpful at building some sort of awareness around toilet learning, but they still didn't necessarily inspire my youngest to go all crazy on the potty training. They were great at informing my kid about toilet learning, but like many things with toddlers he didn't fully understand what was going on in the potty books even if they featured his favorite characters like Elmo or Daniel Tiger.
Potty Training Books
This book is super cute, features a train and gives kids an understanding as to why it's better to use the potty rather than diapers. Better yet it doesn't have a bunch of annoying sounds to distract kids from the task at hand -potty training. The train theme worked really well for my youngest son. It's a great book to introduce the concept of underwear.
Kids love the funny sounds, but I found this book to be a little too vague as to the specifics about using the potty. It's great for kids who either are too young to understand or who already know about going to the potty. The sounds are a great motivation to remind kids about flushing the toilet and washing hands. I prefer The Potty Train over the Elmo Book.
Potty Training Videos
My sensitve son LOVES animals right now. He also loves watching animal alphabet songs on youtube (Five Little Monkeys jumping on the bed, anyone?) and so Go Potty Go was the perfect choice for him. He watches it once a day. I wish they could be a little more specific about going pee pee and poo poo. They focus more on where people go to the potty and using potty chairs and underwear instead of diapers, but youngest still likes to watch it and pretend he is in the big kid parade.
Potty Power is produced by the same folks as Go Potty Go and features more humans and kids than animals. This one kind of bores my youngest, but probably because there aren't any animals in it. I know a lot of kids who LOVE Potty Power and it did a great job of introducing youngest to the concept of a potty chair.
The great thing is that many of these potty training videos may be available at your local library. I'm going to see if the Elmo potty dvd is available there.
Try all of the Potties
We have four kid potties in the house. I've only paid full retail price for one. The others were given to us by kind friends. This has given us the chance to try out all of the potties to review them. Here are a few things I've noticed.
I was really disappointed in the Thomas Potty. It looks cool. It looks like something out of the Thomas and Friends line of toys and it does make a train sound when you go pee, but there aren't enough interactive things about it to encourage the kids to become more familiar with the potty. My son seemed pretty confused about it. I thought because he liked Thomas so much that it would be enough to get him excited about toilet training, but it wasn't. It might work really well for kids who are already motivated to potty train, but not so much for my finicky son.
I thought maybe a very plain potty would be more appealing to Liam because it was simpler and straightforward. It's a nice potty to have around and its tall stature gives this potty a lot of stability.
The Froggy Potty was our potty for our first son and it did the job admirably. Just a simple potty with a little frog on it, but I think it creeped out Liam with the big eyes on the front. To him it might have seemed more monster than froggy.
This was the key to Liam's toilet training progress and we only got it on a lark. My friend was selling hers at a garage sale and she just gave it to us because youngest son was enchanted by it. He played with the flusher that made noise, plus he loved the music and sounds that the potty made when he pulled the seats up or down. This was the first potty that engaged my son to the point that he wanted to sit on the potty all by himself -without any tantrums!
Shake up the Toilet Learning Process
This is why sometimes toilet learning can stall for months. If your kid has been not using the same potty maybe especially for the sensitive ones there's reasons why they don't like it, or there's not enough interesting things about the potty for them to take interest -so of course they don't try it even if it's hanging around. Be sure to take some time in between trying new things so that potty training feels new to them again instead of feeling like they're being pushed to try something new.
Try Different Underwear
For my finicky son, the regular super hero or thomas the tank engine underwear was not motivation enough to sit on the potty. I didn't realize that my son had stopped caring a little bit about Thomas the Tank engine and started caring more about animals, especially elephants and giraffes. Lucky for me I found the Blueberry training underwear, which has a super soft absorbant lining to catch pee just before your kid makes it to the potty, keeping your kid's pants dry. They will only catch a small amount of pee so they're not really an extra diaper. As soon as my youngest started wearing these underwear he seemed to care more about keeping them dry and became motivated to put pee and poop in the potty instead of in his pants.
Here are some other training pants that worked for us:
Have a Back Up Plan
It may be that my son doesn't get fully potty trained and even regresses a bit and in that case it's important to have a backup plan. I'm fully prepared to pull my kid out of this preschool if he doesn't get potty trained in time. Having that backup plan makes me feel like there's no real failure, just a different path, a good path for my son whatever that is. That took the pressure off me to make sure he gets potty trained in time for preschool. Kids can notice when you get stressed so whatever you can do to make potty training stress free will help you potty train faster.