The book we used for potty learning emphasized the importance of parents sending a clear, confident message to the kid that "You are a big girl/boy and we believe in you! You can do this!" J and I definitely got this message through to Evie and she will adamantly tell you now that "I am NOT a baby." This week we went from diapers to panties. We went from afternoon nap to reading time. We also put her high chair downstairs and went permanently to her booster seat. It's not a big deal since she had already been in her booster 80% of the time, but it sent a clear message. Finally, we rearranged her room and put her crib totally out of commission. She'd already been mostly sleeping in her toddler bed, but again, it added to our "big girl" message.
*sticker charts: she got to put one tiny Dr. Seuss sticker on a sticker chart every time she peed and the charts were numbered 1 to 26, so she got a special reward on #26 (a favorite movie or game). By the end of the weekend, less than a week into training, she'd already weaned herself from the sticker charts by getting bored of them and not asking for stickers every time she peed. Yay!
*naked bottom time: at our house this is "nakey jakey time." We didn't start this until a few days in, but it has worked really well. If I need to get something done and let Evie take more responsibility for her own bladder control, stripping her bottomless with access to a potty has worked really well. She hasn't had any accidents so far when she's going "nakey jakey." This approach has its limits when it's time to go to school or on an errand, but if I need to do the dishes it's very handy.
*the timer: as J said this week "Pavlov's dog!" If we told her to go potty she might obey or she might resist, but when the timer went off she quickly ran to the potty without argument. The timer removes the human relationship from the equation; it's an inanimate object telling her it's time to go instead of her mother saying it...her mother who also tells her to stop walking on her books and to eat her macaroni with a spoon...the bossy mom who must be defied because Evie is 2 and is her own woman now! Anyhow, the timer was great for about 4-5 days, until we all got used to the new routine and weaned ourselves from it. Now we use a combination of parental prompting and Evie responding to signals from her bladder. Yay!
What didn't work:
*hand washing: Evie is prone to eczema and in those first few days of training while she was going every 20 minutes, she started having bad rashes on her hands from washing them so much. We've backed off from the hand washing and are only enforcing it for after poop. Urine is sterile anyhow. We'll re-introduce it when she has more bladder control so that it won't affect her skin so much. And we are enforcing it when we're out and about in public restrooms and guest bathrooms.
*panties at night: the book we used suggested that Evie could learn to hold her bladder at night, so we gave it a (very) brief try. The first night I woke her up at about midnight when I went to bed and took her to potty (and she was dry!), but she cried and asked to sleep in our bed. Ack! The last thing I need is a toddler in big girl panties coming into bed with us...we don't have a waterproof mattress pad! I did get her back asleep in her own bed and I set my alarm for 7 am to wake up before her. I planned to wake her up and whisk her right to the potty, since many kids pee as they wake in the morning. But when I went in to wake her she was already soaking wet and VERY sad to be woken up from sweet dreams to find a stinking wet bed and pajamas. FAIL. So now we are using "special nighttime panties" (pull-ups) for bedtime and will wean her from them when we think she's ready (i.e. when daytime dryness is easy).
*3 day potty training: the book is called "Potty Train in Three Days" and it took much longer than that for Evie. Day 1 and 2 were very stressful as she could only hold her bladder for 15-20 minutes at a time. Day 3 was better, but Evie still hadn't made the brain-bladder connection. Day 4 was hopeful...only 2 accidents! Day 5 was bliss, no accidents! (But we were still prompting her to pee each time and she was taking no responsibility for it all.) Day 6 was only one accident. Day 7 was horrible; we went to storytime at the library and she was terrified by the big, public toilet there. She refused to go on the potty and had an accident at the library, then repeated the pattern 2 more times that day...putting a tiny bit of urine into the potty and saving the majority of her bladder contents for her clothing. By the afternoon I was despairing and in tears, wondering if I needed to put her back in diapers. But we survived, and the next day was her first day back at "school" (parent's day out). She stayed dry through school!!! Since then it's been a breeze; each day she can hold her bladder longer and is more apt to tell us "I need to go potty!" instead of letting us remind her to go.
I can't believe it...I am a mother to a little girl with curly pigtails, skinny legs and big girl panties. There is very little baby left in my Evie Bea. But if I close my eyes, kiss her cheek and breathe in her sweet scent I can still grasp those memories of the chubby infant she was, not so long ago. My baby is only 2 and I'm already sentimental about her babyhood!