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how May got potty trained

Posted on: June 8, 2011

I wanted to potty train May much sooner than her 22 month bench mark. As early as 12 months, she already woke up dry off and on. But because her sleep was so crappy, I didn’t dare disturb the order of the universe less it comes back to haunt me. At around 21 months, a series of things happened that led to May being potty trained.

First up was Son’s recurring bouts of eye infections, which earned him the special spot in the guest room for 2+ weeks. While May and I were sleeping by ourselves nightly, I thought, maybe now is the time I should work on night weaning her, as we wouldn’t be disturbing Son’s sleep. So I did. This enabled May to sleep through the night and also put herself back to sleep if she happens to wake up at night.

Then, in February, our car died. We were stuck at home, once again, for 2 weeks+ without a regular mode of transportation. Something came over me, and I was seized with the motivation to potty train May right there and then. A few days after Tet, I put a dress on May, took her diaper off, and gave her 3x the amount of her usual water intake.

The first day I spent most of it mopping the floor and rinsing clothes. Because I couldn’t read her cues accurately. We also spent many languid hours in the bathroom, reading volumes and volumes of board books while waiting for May to either pee or poop. May didn’t know how to control the mechanics of her system at this time, so she could only pee when her bladder loses it. She hasn’t learned how to consciously hold it in yet. She didn’t know how to communicate her potty needs to me. What I had going, then, was the predictability of May’s plumbing. Her easy going temperament, and her desire to please people. She is also very verbal at this point, so it helps facilitate communication between the 2 of us as we progress.

This method of potty training is essentially the Vietnamese way, something ma. Ti’m had used on both of her children: I trained May to use the potty on my cues. After 2 days of mopping copious amount of urine from the floor, I had May’s schedule down on the 4th day. It went something like this:

first thing in the morning, pee
after breakfast of 8 oz milk, pee
15 minutes afterward, pee
and then after that, pee every 1.5-2 hours for the rest of the day. If she drinks more water within any given period of time, her body eliminates after 20 minutes of intake.
after waking up from nap, pee again

For #2, she tends to go at the same time everyday, not on the hour, but more like if she poops after nap today, she’ll poop after nap tomorrow, even if she naps later or earlier. So it’s just the matter of putting her on the potty, and then read books after books after books. Learning how to pee at will is all about learning to relax, that’s why we read lots of books. After about 5 days, May learned to start pushing if she is on the potty without needing to pee.

After rewarding May for peeing in the potty with her favorite chocolates, it totally worked. She didn’t mind me putting her on the potty so many times during the day. She was interested in learning how to pee in the potty so that she could get her reward. At this point, I wasn’t asking May to pee whenever I tell her to, I was timing so that I put her on the potty when I know she’s about to pee if she were in a diaper, and then I read to her to keep her from getting all tensed up and ending up squeezing shut in an attempt to eliminate.After 2 weeks, May learned say “I need to pee” here and there. She also learned to relax and pee if I read a certain book, whichever book she had decided to be the book to help her relax that day. I still followed the elimination schedule that I first noted down when I started to potty train her. I gave up handing out chocolates, she didn’t mind.

After about 4 weeks, May learned to pee upon command. She was also getting good at holding it and telling me she needed to go, but not on regular basis. She was also often waking up more dry that wet from her naps, and sometimes in the morning as well.

After 2 months, May was fully potty trained during the day. She told me when she wanted to go #1 and #2, and would hold and wait until I put her on the potty. Sometimes she would have accidents, but those are far and few in between. I relaxed the elimination schedule at this time, only making sure to put her on the potty within 20 minutes if she drinks a lot of water. She now can pee when she needs to go, and also pees when I tell her to pee.

3 months after I first started to potty train May, I sent her to bed with just a training pair of underwears (these are thicker in the middle to absorb some urine if she has an accident). The first 2 weeks were trial and error. May would often hold it in as much as she could, but if the weather was cold, she was more prone to having an accident. Within the last 10 days, I started to just wake her up gently and carry her to the bathroom about 4-6 hours after she first goes down for night sleep. It has been working beautifully. She takes cues from 1 book that I have memorized. If I say it softly to her in the dark, she relaxes and pees.

I use a small potty seat on top of the regular size toilet bowl at home, but when we go outside, I just put her on any regular sized toilet seat, hold her, and she’ll go. May has used many many public restrooms, including the ones on the airplane, and even a portable. She can use a children potty chair as well, but I only use that as last resort at home, when the toilet is occupied. When we travel outside of the home for an extended period, I carry a mini potty seat with me. It’s just more comfortable for her when she does #2.

All in all, I would say the first 2-3 weeks were somewhat tedious, and then after that, everything was a breeze. Recruiting Son to suffer through the many hours of reading by the potty totally helped, so if you can, totally delegate the task to your partner. I was so stressed out the first week that I kept on complaining “you need to pee in the potty, not on the floor, I’m not happy when you pee on the floor, this is dirty!” I knew I should not have made a big deal out of it, but when I was so pissed after spending 1 hour reading to her to no avail, and then had her peeing shortly after I took her off the potty, I just needed to blow off some steam. Luckily May is extremely resilient, and doesn’t take things to heart, so she just remembers my message, “pee in the potty,” and not my attitude 🙂

Good luck when you decide to embark on this exciting endeavor. It will be very rewarding in the end, and you will see that your child will have grown a lot once she/he learns to master this skill. It will also save you money, as pants and shorts from last year suddenly fit again this year, now that the diaper bulk is gone 🙂 It all depends on your child’s personality and temperament, but for the most part, even more strong headed toddlers can learn to use the potty on cues. It’s about discovering their ability to control their body, so they’ll have fun if you make it fun, and it’s also empowering to them. Kids who thrive on routine will be pretty easy to train.


1 Response to "how May got potty trained"

Thank you so much for the post!
Definitely the Vietnamese way, haha.
May is such a good tempered kid. Mine isn’t. She is easily affected and agitated. We’ll see how this whole process goes.
I only have 12 days left until d-day, i guess i can’t really do it now….
But, the thought is tempting.

Thanks again chi.

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