Stage One.

Well, I believe we have embarked on some sort of potty training journey.

Go us!

Here are two things I know about potty training both from the class I had to take and past experience (the kid I nannied; I don’t have another baby locked somewhere in a closet): 1) It doesn’t have to be accident ridden and stressful and 2) I don’t decide any of it.

I am not in control of Leah’s bladder. I don’t know when she has to go unless she tells me. I don’t know what she’s feeling. Only she knows those things. And actually, at this point, she is just figuring those things out herself. I am of the attitude “it will happen when it happens.” I have not put a deadline or an age limit on this process – for both of our sakes.

But we had to start – because Leah said so.

She tells me now when she has to/is going to the bathroom. Usually by saying “poo-poo” because her father taught her that phrase. His contribution to the potty training process of which I am most grateful. It doesn’t matter which type of potty she is going… poo poo means something’s going on… or will be going on shortly.

The fact that she is aware of the “potty” sensations is a sign that can’t be ignored. I want to take advantage of the clues that she’s giving me that she is getting ready for the big step. But I don’t want to jump in to fast of hinder anything that she might be learning about herself in the process. This is her body… her experience. Not mine. I’ve already been through it.

So I call this stage one. In stage one, as you might expect, we are just beginning. We do not stop what we are doing and run to the potty at the drop of a hat. In this stage, I am in charge of teaching her the difference between “wet” and “dry,” which is a big mental milestone she needs to reach before we move to stage 2. I explain what’s in her diapers. I tell her when I have to go potty (and she gets excited for me, ha). We are spending more time on her potty (well, I guess only she is, but I sit next to her). She is learning to sit still on the potty and be patient (usually with bandaids or toys or buddies), which is another big milestone to get us to stage 2. She is mega rewarded for going on the potty. She is praised for telling me when she is going, even if it’s in her diaper. There are no underwear involved; diapers have worked for us thus far, and will continue working until we do buy underwear someday. In stage one, she is encouraged to sit on the potty often; but never forced. We adapted our morning routine to include going to the potty right from bed. She will not be punished (ever) for not going on her potty, or for going in her diaper instead. This is the stage where mama can’t screw up. I can’t push, and I can’t get frustrated. I can only be happy and proud of whatever progress she makes. I have to realize that this process takes a lot out of her mentally. It’s not easy for her like it is for me. If I mess up in stage one… we may never get to stage 2. I don’t want her to ever hate it. If she hates it, she will hold it and we will be at high risk for a bladder infection – the worst of all situations during potty training. I don’t want her to get frustrated with herself. I don’t want her to be scared of a negative reaction from me (or Kyle) about an accident. I want her to only think this is fun, and only focus on her rewards of candy and praise (and ridiculous amounts of bandaids – why do kids LOVE bandaids?!). I need her to come out of stage one thinking she is a big girl, and very capable of using the potty. This stage should go pretty smoothly (again, if I do it right) – Leah really can’t screw up. She either goes in her diaper or goes on the potty – she doesn’t have accidents right now. We just do a lot more talking about it and practicing for stage 2.

Mama can’t mess up stage one! That’s a lot of pressure.

I’m actually excited. It gives us something new to work on. I kind of think it’s a fun little process, probably because I don’t let myself think otherwise. But it is – I mean, I’m helping her do a very big girl thing that only she can do herself. If I don’t screw it up, she will come out of this experience learning to be very proud of herself and feeling very big. Kind of cool, right? And at the end of it… she will be a big girl! Ahh!

So that’s where we are this week. And for the weeks to come. Lord knows when stage 2 will start. It would be awesome if we could conclude the training process by the time new baby comes, but that will be up to Leah I suppose.

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