Monday, November 23, 2015

Potty Training Advice with Speech and Sensory Issues

I am the proud mama of two kiddos who happen to have speech delays/disorders and sensory processing disorder and a few other diagnoses.  I've read articles and follow Facebook support groups for parents who have children in either of those categories.  And in both support groups, I see over and over questions about potty training, potty training horror stories, children who are 5, 6, 7 years old and still not fully potty trained.

So, I have to admit, I avoided potty training as long as possible for both boys.  Meaning, I didn't even attempt potty training until they were 3 1/2 years old.  I honestly didn't expect success, but I was determined to give it my best shot.  I found this three day potty training method that I decided to adopt, and determined to stop procrastinating and bite the bullet and see if the kiddos were ready to potty train.  Feel free to read the potty training stories of Kiddo here and Little Brother here.  Spoiler Alert! Kiddo was fully potty trained in three days, Little Brother in five months, using the exact same method.  So it's not a miracle method, but it does work.

Kiddo (left) and Little Brother (right) wearing their big boy underwear during potty torture training.  And yes, that's a diaper on Kiddo's head.  I told him he would no longer be wearing diapers, and he thought it'd be hilarious to put one on his head. :)

So yeah, disclaimer, I'm not an expert in this whole potty training thing.  In fact, I procrastinated on potty torture training as long as possible and was exhausted by the entire process, so blogging about it is not my idea of fun times, but I did want to share what worked with those who are struggling with the process too.  This is just what worked or what I learned working with my own children.  But you of course know your own children best.

So, without any further ado:

1) Wait until they're ready.  If I could only give one piece of potty training advice, this is it.  Seriously. I keep seeing all those posts starting with "My son/daughter is 2 and we're working on potty training."  Starting at age 2 or 2 1/2 is (in my opinion) way too early for a child who can't communicate, even if they can sign 'potty'.  Spend that precious time focusing on their speech.  Starting at age 2 or 2 1/2 for a child with sensory processing disorder is (again, in my opinion) waaaay too early.  It takes a lot of body awareness to know when they are going to the bathroom, when they have to go to the bathroom, etc that a lot of kids with sensory processing disorder just don't have and may not have for years.  And just as a side note, starting at age 2 or 2 1/2 is waaay too early for a child with motor planning issues or hypotonia, as it takes a lot of strength and motor planning to pull up and down pants and underwear.

You may be ready, but if they are not, then no matter how much you try you will not see success.  Seriously, just wait until they're ready and you'll save yourself a lot of frustration.

2) Dedicate a few days to work exclusively on potty training.  Choose a three day weekend, or cancel a few days of appointments and focus on potty training.  They may not be fully potty trained by the end of the three days, but you will lay a solid foundation in that time, if they're ready.

3)  Bare-bottomed seriously does work the best, especially if there is sensory issues.  For both of my kiddos pull-ups/diapers were an invitation to go to the bathroom in them.  They need to see and feel what is happening when they go.  Yes, there will be messes to clean up, but the bonding time and time focused solely on going potty and making it a priority will be so worth it.

4) If after two or three days you are not seeing any progress, don't keep pushing it.  Simply go back to pull ups and wait a few months and then try again.  If they are making no progress, or showing no interest in sitting on the potty, do not push it.  And don't feel like you've failed if that happens.  You did your best, your little one is just not ready.  Just wait a few months and you may experience more success and a lot less frustration when you try again.

5) Make it fun.  Make it special.  For both kiddos, we watched new movies together and ate popcorn while they were potty training.  We played together more than we normally would.  I focused more time and attention on them, 1) because I wanted to be aware of when they were going to the bathroom, but also 2) I wanted them to feel it was a special time and therefore encourage them to use the potty to make Mommy happy.

6) Celebrate every success.  Lots of praise and affirmation. Tell them exactly what they did and how it made you feel.  "Wow, you went pee pee in the potty like a big boy!  Yay!  Mommy is so happy!  Mommy is so proud of you!"  Lots of hugs and high fives.  Call Daddy at work and Grandma and Grandpa and tell them the news and have them praise them as well the first time they go in the potty.  And of couse, a sticker or prize or piece of candy is really helpful too. ;)

7) Have a natural consequence for accidents.  Yeah, I know this may be somewhat controversial.  But it seriously worked for my kiddos.  In my case, I would tell them what they did.  "Oh no, you had an accident.  You went pee pee on the floor/in your underwear instead of in the potty.  I need you to help me clean it up."  I had both kiddos help me clean up accidents (and wash hands after of course) just so they would experience a natural consequence for accidents, but without it feeling like a punishment.  They were willing to help, but missed their reward and praise for going in the potty, as well as their ability to get right back to playing or watching their movie until everything was cleaned up.

8) Be consistent.  I think the reason it took so much longer for Little Brother to potty train than Kiddo is because there were days I'd let him run around the house in a pull-up in-between our appointments because honestly I got so tired of undressing and then dressing him all the time.  This really slowed down his progress, because for him, a pull up meant he could go to the bathroom there, rather than in the potty.  Don't confuse them by mixing things up just because you're feeling tired or stressed or lazy like I did.  If you're seeing progress, keep it going by being consistent.

9) Keep encouraging toward the next step. Once they're going potty consistently, move on to the next step.  Such as add underwear to the mix.  Add pants.  Have them sit on the toilet rather than the potty chair. Have them go potty in public places.  Like I mentioned, I was much better at this with Kiddo than Little Brother.  Kiddo progressed faster, which could have been part of it, but with Little Brother I was content to let him go on his potty chair for a lot longer than he needed to, rather than graduating him to the toilet, because he could sit on the potty chair and do his thing by himself, but graduating him to the toilet meant I had to stop what I was doing and help him.  This meant he was wearing pull ups longer than he probably should have because he would need to wear one when we went places since he wouldn't sit on a toilet yet, and so he was (for lack of better words) house trained, but not potty trained in public yet.   Part of me did this because I was so busy.  And to be honest, I was lazy about it.  So keep steadily moving forward.  And again, celebrate each step.

10) Reward yourself.  Seriously.  This potty torture training thing is no joke.  It's among my least favorite things I've ever had to teach my kiddos.  The kids get praise and a reward for going potty, why can't we get one (or a few?) for working so diligently with them?  So once a kiddo was fully potty trained, Hubster watched the kiddos while I went on a kid-free shopping spree to Kohls and Barnes and Noble to add to my wardrobe and book collection.  Two things that made this tired mama heart refreshed and happy.

Happy potty training!!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this article. We are about to undergo potty training our son with CAS, Dyspraxia and APD. I am going to try your approach and pray for the best.