Sunday, June 12, 2011

Child-Lead Potty Learning

When my daughter weaned, it was mostly a mutual choice, but not the child-lead situation I had anticipated.  At 18 months she was pulling on my shirt, throwing fits if I made her wait, and still wanting to nurse 5-10 times a day.  It wasn't a healthy relationship for either of us, and it had to come to a stop.  So I cut her back to 3 times a day, somehow, and after that I would only nurse her if she asked.  The more I kept her distracted, the less often she asked to nurse.  Eventually, we were just done, and after a week I refused when she asked again.  Of course, four months later she's trying to nurse every now and then, but I'm comfortable denying her now and she understands.

Still, part of me feels like we missed out on something that would empower her and make me feel like I wasn't pushing her.  Luckily, potty training has filled that void for me.  Of all the things that I have chosen to let her figure out on her own, I will admit that I didn't anticipate potty training being one of them.

Here's what we've been doing, and how it's been going:

0-3 months:  We began trying to look for "cues" that she had to go to the bathroom almost at birth.  We read about Elimination Communication, and found ourselves feeling frustrated and like failures.

3 months:  As much as we looked for cues and patterns, we finally found one- she started peeing every time we took off a dirty diaper.  So, we started holding her over the toilet at each diaper change.  Hazzah!  Success!  She still had wet diapers often, but she went in the potty each time as well, and seemed to save up her poops for when we took her to pee.

3-5 months:  We had less than a handful of poopy diapers during this time.  She began giving us a look when she had to poop, and seemed to really enjoy not sitting in her own waste.  Pees still happened both in the diaper and in the toilet.

5-21 months:  As she became mobile, letting us know she had to poop became less and less important.  We had a few poopy diapers here and there, but it was still less than once a week or even every two weeks.  Around 10 months she began pointing to her diaper when she needed to poop, and that helped.  Now that she is vocal, she will say, "poop."  We introduced a potty chair, which was okay, but she was still more comfortable with the toilet and a seat on it.  During this period of time, she peed on the floor approximately 1 billion times (it's laminate), but learned to get a towel and clean it up herself.

22 months:  She has begun taking off her own pants and diaper at times, so that she can sit on her potty chair and do her business.  She brings the little insert, and seems to enjoy the independence and privacy of using her potty chair by herself.  We went camping a few days ago and we learned that she would be potty trained if we lived exclusively outdoors (she would also probably be inconsolably happy if we lived exclusively outdoors, but until we find jobs in Hawaii this is not an option).  We were on a hike and didn't bring extra diapers, so we just took off her wet one and hoped for the best.  She watched me pull my pants down and squat to pee once and she was HOOKED.  She kept squatting down and and peeing and not getting any on her pants.  Then one time she walked off the trail a ways, and I found her squatting and pooping!  That's right, just like a dog does, she instinctively knew not to just poop in the middle of the trail!  We wiped with a leaf and moved on to more pees.  It was a great hike.  As soon as we were back in our cabin she immediately peed her pants.  You win some, you pee on some.

At this point, she's really impressed me with they way she has guided this change.  Yes, we support it and give positive feedback, but it seems her biggest factor in change is intrinsic motivation.

Who knows how much longer we have in diapers, or what will be the deciding factor to her making the crossover, but for now we're happy that we aren't forcing it and it's still happening easily and fluidly (like pee running down your leg).  We got You Can Go to the Potty by Dr. Sears and it really reinforces what we've already been doing without pressure or a timeline.  We have been reading that some and she seems to like it.  I feel like this is something that we've all found our way on together, without following any one program, and that's what I like best about Violet's potty learning, it's not something that some book or website had to teach us about, and not something that we had to teach her, it's something that has happened naturally by doing what we all feel makes sense and makes us each comfortable.

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