Sunday, October 21, 2007

Officially a Big Girl

“At what age were you/your kids potty trained?”

When I talk to people about having a daughter with Down syndrome, ages always factor significantly into the conversation. Although we expected these things to come much, much later- if ever - my daughter talked and walked when she was 1, knew her letters and numbers at 3, and was potty trained . . .

Some of our friends have different approaches to potty training than I do, and that’s fine. Certainly there is room for different opinions here. But until Ellie was able to tell me when she needed to go, walk to the potty herself, pull her pants up and down herself, and go days at a time without accidents, I didn’t consider her potty trained.

In fact, I decided not to put Ellie in big girl underpants until I thought she was ready to be nearly accident-free. She’s been comfortable using the potty since she was 18 months old. That’s 2-1/2 years, folks, that she remained in diapers after learning to use the potty. But consistency has been our big problem: she gets distracted and doesn’t remember to tell us when she needs to potty.

Also, it took a long time for her pull her own pants on and off; unlike many toddlers and preschoolers, she has never been interested in self-dressing or even dressing her dolls, so potty time remained a parent-help-required experience.

Another big hurdle has been parental reluctance. Neither Paul nor I were excited about consistently taking Ellie to the potty every hour for days on end, so we didn’t. There were huge benefits to us in this period. It’s lovely to be told once or twice a day when our daughter needs to go potty (no more poopy diapers!) and we could then change wet ones at our convenience. I got to avoid most public bathrooms and run errands or attend public events without patronizing horrible conveniences like the ubiquitous Johnny-on-the-Spot.

Did I mention that Ellie BM trained herself over a year ago? We've had very few poopy diapers since then, and absolutely no BM accidents at all since we moved to big girl underpants several weeks ago.

Eventually, for all of us, it was time to force progress. I found a book whose system I was comfortable with. It’s research-based, and was designed in the 1970s by psychologists working with institutionalized and severely developmentally disabled adults. (The book is also very much a product of its time, so consider yourselves forewarned.) It was then adapted for use with typical children, with an appendix added on for dealing with children with disabilities (this was the 70's; they use the "r" word). “Success” is measured by a child who recognizes the need to go, takes down own pants, goes, wipes, pulls up pants, empties potty bowl into toilet, and washes hands independently.

Interestingly, this was the same book my mom used to potty train me. She found it enormously frustrating – though it worked – and she pitched it rather than using the same approach with my younger sisters.

I was 2, by the way. Ellie was 3.

It took more than a day, and I still help out as needed, but she meets my criteria for being officially potty trained.

We’re so proud of you, Ellie.

Potty Training in Less than a Day by Azrin and Foxx


Victoria/Beachcomber said...

I'm very proud of her too.

I haven't even begun to tackle potty training with Little Bear. She's 21 months and only just getting enough words to signify what she means. We have a potty and she sits on it when we take her into the bathroom with us. But I've got no interest in forcing the issue or rushing her at this point.

ccw said...

Yeah for Ellie!

I have successfully not potty trained either of my girls. If they hadn't picked it up on their own, they would both probably still be in diapers.

I can't wait to see if I can manage to play a role in potty training Nonami.

Krupskaya said...

Way to go Ellie! (And the rest of you!)

Seasonal said...

I tried and tried to potty train my son, and he finally made up his own darn mind (thank you very much) at 3.5 when he moved into the 'big kid' side of preschool. He also BM trained himself at the same time, he's never had an accident!

With darling little girl (2 today!) we have much interest in the potty on her end, but no visible success! I am now horrendously lazy about going through all the insanity of removing diapers every time she mentions the word potty as I've failed to have any success yet. Ahh, the joys of the second child, no more rushing! :)

Way to go Ellie!!!

Sarahlynn said...

Victoria, if you're lucky, just that exposure will do the trick. It works for some kids! (It worked with Ellie, age 2, on learning to put her BMs in the potty.) Good luck!

CCW, I don't blame you for not pushing it. This is the first part of parenting that I've hated.

Thanks, Krupskaya! Perhaps I should have added your name to the "friends who care" list we were supposed to use to motivate Ellie during training. "Grandma will be so proud of you for having dry underpants! Ms. Emily will be so proud of you for having dry underpants!" ;-)

Seasonal, I think that's exactly how it should work. You show the kid the essentials, and he does it when he's ready. Smart E!

And I am so, so familiar with that "laziness."