We started receiving the "Signs That Your Child Is Ready To Use the Potty" emails months before we were ready, which added to the pressure we felt when other kids Avery's age were jumping on the porcelain band-wagon. Everyone said "She will do great! Just be prepared for accidents. They are okay." So when Santa brought her a potty, princess underwear and an Elmo Potty Time DVD, we knew it was time to bite the bullet.
Sure, she was interested in the potty. This we could tell because she insisted on following Alex or I in there whenever we would, umm, pay a visit. She loved flushing and playing with the paper. She would sit on it whenever we asked her to, but nothing ever ended up in there besides the errant Barbie shoe and the occassional hair clip.
We decided to do our own
We had a jar full of M&M's in plain view and a "treasure box" full of toys, DVD's and coloring books we knew she would love. We were ready to get started!
Day 1: Alex and I were pretty amped up, ready to have our girl potty trained and doing her own laundry by Sunday. Avery was excited too, though she wasn't really sure why. We had her "throw her diapers away" into a bag I stashed in the closet (hey, those things aren't cheap!) and we put her in a shirt and big-girl undies and hung out around the house. Setting the timer every 20 minutes and putting her on the potty was fun for all of us the first 5 times. When she did not put a DROP of pee in the potty, and proceeded to pee several times in the garage and in her room on the carpet, the general ambiance had taken a down-ward turn. Successes: 1 (yay!) Accidents: 5+
Day 2: More of the same. This time, she screamed and cried and threw a fit when we made her sit on the potty every 20 minutes. Clearly, we had to re-evaluate our plan. Of all the things we read, the one point that was stressed over and over was to keep the entire experience as positive as possible. Not only was it torture for her, it was stressful and endlessly frustrating for us. I found myself annoyed and irriated with her every time she had an accident. And I am not entirely sure they were even accidents...she didn't seem to bat an eye or even notice when she would pee in her underwear. She didn't seem uncomfortable and we wouldn't even notice until the timer went off again and we had to take her to the potty. So, by the end of Day 2 we had put her in a diaper and Alex and I each drank a bottle of wine.
Day 3: We took some Advil and decided to just screw the whole idea and try again in a few weeks. We left her naked anyway, but didn't set the timer. Lo and behold...SHE WENT PEE ON THE POTTY 100% BY HERSELF! She simply went over to it, sat, went pee, then got up and came over to us and yelled "Pee pee on the potty!!" We were like, "yeah yeah, you are supposed to put pee...whatever." When she finally took us by the hands and dragged us over to the potty to show us, we couldn't believe it! Genuine praise came pouring out of us and we gave her an M&M and an awesome treasure from her box. She did that all day long. So many successes and zero accidents. We were THRILLED!
From this experience I learned that the most important "sign of readiness" is that your kid feels uncomfortable in a dirty diaper. If they don't, very little else will motivate them to use the potty. I also think that while Day 1 and 2 weren't successes in general, this is when she learned to HOLD her pee, even if she was holding it while sitting on the potty (argh). She now has the muscle control to hold it while she runs to the potty without a timer having to reminder her to go. Which, is CRUCIAL to transitioning the skill of going potty into real life.
Now, where to go from here...stay tuned for Part 2!