Sunday, June 22, 2008

Same Ol' Same Ol' (With a Few Surprises Here and There)

I haven't posted much on this blog; there really isn't much to report. I wouldn't exactly consider my boys toilet trained. In fact, I distrust their little bladders so much that when we go on vacation next month, we will be putting them back in diapers for most of the trip (especially the 10 hour car ride). I don't feel like it'll cause a regression because even now if I put them in a diaper for an extra long outing or something, they are sometimes reluctant to pee in their diapers, and will ask for help to use the toilet. And when we get home from those outings, the diapers come off, the underpants go back on, and the schedule resumes without any hitches. All this of course refers to peeing in the toilet. Pooping is still another matter, which is why I don't consider Drew and Owen totally trained. Owen more so than Drew, but still not really.
Owen actually has pooped in the toilet a few times. He has come up to me and said, "Mom, I need to poop in the toilet. Can you help me?" (That sentence in itself is amazing, because usually when he wants help with something he just yells, "I can't do it!") So I help him sit on the toilet, he does his business and then he hops off and touches his toes so I can wipe him (I have reasons--experiences--for not trusting him to wipe himself yet).
At this point in our training, I'm sort of seeing some of the appeal of the little potties. For pooping, the boys have been using the big toilet with a Cushie Tushie, but it isn't really working out for them. The problem is that when they poop a little pee comes out too (and sometimes a lot), and because of how boys are equipped, it sprays straight out. We've been working on "point it down" but the opening in the Cushie Tushie isn't really big enough for that. So I think I'd like to find some kind of seat with a guard. The little potties have them, but even that feature doesn't override the fact that I just don't want to deal with cleaning the thing.
So I feel like we're a little bit stuck as far as this whole thing goes. I know it's time to do something because the other day on a trip to my cousin's house, Owen came up to me and said, "Mom, I need a diaper change." I was keeping an eye on about five other kids, so I told Owen to take the box of wipes to his dad and ask for help. He said okay, and disappeared. Five minutes later I hear, "Mom! I'm changing mine diaper!" I look up and there he is in the middle of the floor, naked-bottomed, feet up in the air, wipes in hand, dirty (and I mean dirty) diaper next to him on the carpet, changing his own diaper. But making a mess at it. He got it in his hair, on his shirt, all over his legs and belly. Somehow the carpet escaped unscathed. The whole incident made me think to myself, "If this kid is going to be changing his own diapers, he should be able to just use the toilet." But we'll see. It'll probably be more gradual than I'm hoping for. It also really does depend on how ready the kid is. Owen seems really ready most of the time. Drew, not so much. He does fine peeing in the toilet, but can't/won't (I'm not sure which) poop in it. He's generally been a little behind Owen developmentally, but not usually very far, so hopefully he'll get it soon, too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Toilet" and "Floor" Are Not Synonyms

I promised that this blog would contain some grossness; this post is not for the faint of stomach!
Drew and Owen have only had one successful BM on the toilet each. They just save up for nap time or bed time when I put their diapers on them (we opted not to spring for pull-ups). Every now and then, though, there will be a surprise in their underpants. I just dump the lump into the toilet and say, "Poop goes here." Then we flush it down and yell, "Good bye, poop!"
Today was different, though. Drew came into the kitchen all excited and yelled, "I poop in the toilet!" When I went to inspect, there was nothing in the toilet. Thus commenced the game of "Find the Fecal Matter." Apparently, Drew for some reason thought it would be a good idea to go into the laundry room (maybe because the cat box is in there?), remove his shorts and poop on the floor. It was easily cleaned; just scoop, dump, flush, then wipe the floor with a Clorox wipe.* But still. Had it not happened at all? Would have been even better.
*During a lesson in church one Sunday, the teacher asked us to think about what items have been invented in the last 50 years that we are grateful for. I don't remember how it tied into the lesson. Anyway, pre-kids, I would have said cell phones, Internet, things like that. I'm still really grateful for those things, but these days at the top of my list are Clorox wipes and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Few Tips For Getting Started

I thought I'd write a few of the things we did to get our boys comfortable with using the toilet (I think only the first tip will apply to training girls. Maybe the second if you find a way to adapt it).
*First of all, we talked about it comfortably with the boys before we even thought about starting training. We also let them watch us use the toilet from early on. It's starting to get a bit weirder for me, now that Drew and Owen are noticing the different body parts and who has (or doesn't have) what. But I'm straightforward and honest with them (without divulging too much, of course), telling them proper terminology, so they don't end up like Elliot on Scrubs, using words like "bajingo" and "hoo-ha." I think letting them watch us helped them see how it works and what the routine is (wiping, flushing, hand-washing, et cetera).
*Find something exciting about it. Drew and Owen like bubbles. When they discovered that pee sometimes makes bubbles when it hits the toilet water, they were all excited to get in there and try. Even now that they've been using the toilet for a while, they still come out of the bathroom and say, "I made bubbles, Mom!" Some little boys enjoy target practice. They actually sell targets, but I think they cost more than they're worth. I've heard of people using Cheerios or other round cereal, and letting the boys try to hit them with their pee.
*Show them how to pee standing up. The boys have seen their dad do it, but when he's at work, it's up to me to teach them, so I just stand them on a little stool in front of the toilet and position their little bodies so the pee gets where it needs to. I used a squirt gun to sort of imitate what would happen. They've adapted their own method, which involves leaning way over the toilet and holding onto the back of it. It works for them. I think standing up helped them because facing the toilet lets them see what's going on and they don't have to feel precariously perched atop the big thing. We've actually had more success since they started standing than we ever did with them sitting on the Cushie Tushie. And it's a lot easier for them to hit their target and not spray the room.
*A neighbor of ours let her boy practice on a tree in her yard. She said he was way more relaxed about it. For a few days, he would only use the toilet for a bowel movement, preferring to run outside to pee. When the novelty wore off, he started using the toilet to pee instead of using the local flora*.
*For bowel movements, I let the boys go in their diapers at nap time for a few days (they seemed to be saving up for that anyway) while they got the peeing thing down. Now, when I notice them making a face like they need to poop, I whisk them into the bathroom and sit them down on the toilet. The first time or two they resisted, but I held their legs, gently pushing them down onto the seat. Then I looked them in the eyes and told them, "You need to sit here to poop. Would you like me to sit next to you or would you like me to leave the room while you sit?" Usually, they'll have me sit on the side of the tub and chat with them while they wait for their bowels to move. We sing songs or talk about cars or whatever, just make it really relaxing, trying not to focus too much on why they're really there. When their grunting and pushing interrupts the conversation, I just calmly say, "Nice work. Almost there," or something like that, then go back to the conversation. Before they know it, the task is done.
I feel pretty lucky that both boys are sort of on the same page with all of this. Generally, the techniques I use work for both boys and I don't have to come up with a bunch of crazy, creative ideas for each boy separately. I'd like to hear what's worked (or is working) for other people.
*Glad this Blogger has an "edit" function. I typed up and published my post, then re-read it only to realize instead of typing "flora" I had typed "fauna." Plug that into the sentence to see what it reads. I'm getting the giggles, picturing the scenario in my head: When the novelty wore off, he started using the toilet to pee instead of using the local fauna.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Poop Success to Poopy Mess

I know that toilet training takes time, but sometimes I wish I could just snap my fingers and *poof* it would be done. I think so far the boys have done really well overall. They each seem to average two accidents per day, but not major ones. Just a little wet spot on the front, then they're able to finish the job in the toilet.
Each boy has had a successful bowel movement in the toilet. Today Owen even ran to the bathroom on his own to sit on the toilet. I find it interesting how each boy reacts to praise. Owen gets a little shy and I can picture him as the boy in high school who says, "Mom, take it easy. You're embarrassing me," then tries to act all nonchalant. This is the vibe he sends when I load on the praise after he drops a twosie in the toilet. Drew on the other hand, claps and jumps up and down and says, "Yay! Drew did it!" then runs around and tells everyone. When we call Grandpa on the phone, the first thing Drew says is, "I poop a toilet."
Each boy has also had a mess in their pants, within 20 minutes of pooping in the toilet. I guess the next thing to work on is returning to the toilet, or staying on it until the bowels have been moved.
I don't know if anyone is still even reading this blog, but if any of you readers have any experiences or tips that might help other readers, feel free to email me and I can turn them into a post.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Number One Pretty Much Done

It seems like Drew and Owen have peeing down pretty well. Drew only had two accidents today, Owen had none. Both boys have gone on their own to use the toilet without being reminded. We aren't being very consistent with rewards anymore. I had been using a chart with seven boxes and when they got a star in every box, they got a cookie. So they could get a cookie (or maybe more*) every day. Now, we still hand out the praise like it's going out of style, but sometimes we don't put a star on the chart. I sometimes mentally count how many times they've gone and give them a cookie (especially on the occasion of them going without being reminded by me), but lots of times we just skip it. The boys don't seem to care much one way or the other, but of course are always grateful for a cookie. It looks as though they're really catching on (hope it sticks)!
Pooping is a different story. It seems to me like the boys are saving up for nap time, because we've been putting them back in diapers "just in case." They usually wake up from naps dry but stinky--if that makes any sense. I think I may have to start sitting them down on the toilet before naptime, and just stay until they get the job done. I've read somewhere, though, that they shouldn't sit on the toilet for too long without success, so I might set a time limit... I dunno. I went to for answers, and found some good ones. Check them out! I especially like the comment about the "hokey pokey," potty style.
*A friend told us that when she was toilet training her daughter she went to the dollar store and bought all kinds of prizes and rewards to dole out every time the daughter used the toilet. The little girl caught on pretty quickly: she figured out that she could hold some in every time, then go again in a few minutes and get more toys that way. Clever!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hope on the Horizon

I decided to try my friend's method after all, but I've altered it a little. Like Lura mentioned in her comment on my previous post, having the kid stay in the bathroom 'til the next time they need to pee could mean a long time in the bathroom.
Today, what I noticed with Drew is that when he wets his big-boy pants, he doesn't go very much. It's like he realizes right away what's going on and is somehow able to stop the stream before it becomes a full-on river. So I have him try to use the toilet before I wash him off in the shower. So far, so good. He's been able to go at least a little bit on each occasion, and for me, that counts! With Owen, he had bigger accidents (including a "twosie," as they call it on 'Scrubs'), but was still able to squeeze out a little tinkle so I didn't make him stay in the bathroom after I cleaned him up.
It's been an interesting day. Both boys have been pretty good about using the toilet (even without me reminding them a few times). If there is an accident, the kid who did it would say, "I don't have to need a shower!" And that's how I'd know to check their britches. Though, at times throughout the day, Drew would randomly say, "I don't have to need a shower!" I'd check him and he'd be dry. So I took it as a hint that he needed to go and he usually did. Other times I'd randomly hear, "Drew needs a shower!" from Owen, or "Owen needs a shower!" from Drew. Luckily those were all false alarms. Silly little tattle tales.
Generally, though, the boys sort of resigned themselves to the shower. They cry when I tell them we have to clean them up (because they know that means cold shower), and Drew will sometimes plead, "I just wanna have wipes!" But I remain firm, telling them, "When we mess our big-boy pants, we have to get all cleaned up." And they will say, through their little tears, "Okay." Then they proceed to wail and cry through the whole shower (which is about half a minute long or a minute for the "big messes" --'cause those take longer to clean up), but act all brave and like they didn't care when it's time to get out.
Another thing I altered (and I forgot to mention this sort-of-important part in my previous post; my friend recommended using a shower hose that attaches to the faucet for kids like Drew who are already really afraid of the overhead shower. That way, you don't get water in their face or anything, you just wash the area that needs washing, and it will still be uncomfortable enough that they won't want to face that consequence again.): I meant to pick up a shower attachment when I went to the store to buy more underpants for the boys, but I totally spaced getting it. In the mean time, I'm just letting the tub faucet run full blast (Drew is also afraid of this--but really, what isn't he afraid of?) with the cold water and sort of splashing/pouring it onto the kid with my hand or a wash cloth, depending on the size and nature of the mess.
I'm pretty optimistic so far, with this method. The boys seem to be catching on to what peeing (and needing to pee) feels like without a diaper on, and they seem to be making the necessary adjustments (going to the toilet). Hopefully things keep going this way! My friend said that two of her boys were trained within two days using this method. Her other boy is quite "spirited" and a little stubborn, and took about a week--mostly because he just didn't want to interrupt his playtime to make a twosie in the toilet or to tell anyone that he'd done it in his pants.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Tough Love Method

I heard of a new toilet training method today. A guy at church told David and me, "You should ask my wife what she did to toilet train our kids." Then he raised his eyebrows and chuckled. I was pretty intrigued just based off that info right there, so today at church I asked her what she did. She replied, "Before I say anything I have to ask: How do you feel about your kids crying? Like, a lot?" I was honest with her: it doesn't bother me at all. I mean, I don't want my kids hurt, but their tears (particularly fake ones) don't throw me into a tizzy. I usually comfort them calmly (except in the case of fake tears, when I just ignore them 'til they calm down). But I gotta say, after this, I was even more intrigued. Here's the method as she explained it (or as I understood her explanation--so it might actually be a little different):

This method is used by Health and Welfare Services to toilet train autistic children. You start by telling your kid that they'll be wearing big boy (or big girl) pants from now on, talking to them about using the toilet when they need to. You have them wear underwear from there on out. When they use the toilet, they get a reward, praise, lots of positive reinforcement. (Here's the tough love part, which is probably the crying part:) If they use their pants instead of the toilet, you talk to them about what happened, and you say, "Now we need to clean this up." You put them in the tub and wash them with a cold shower (not ice cold, but cold). You put them in clean clothes and then you have them stay in the bathroom until they use the toilet. When they use the toilet again, you give them a reward, praise and the positive reinforcement. Repeat as needed. The thing is, with this method is staying positive, even when your kid has an accident. You never make it sound like they are a bad kid, you just let them know that when they have an accident it has to be cleaned up. The cold water shower is not a punishment, but it is a consequence. Even after the child has been using the toilet for a long time, they might have an accident. At this point, you help them clean it up, but you don't do the cold water shower unless the accidents become really frequent, then you'd start the training over.
I'm not sure if I'm going to use this method or not. It sounds pretty effective, but I don't relish the part about letting my kids run around without diapers; it sounds messy. I guess that's something we're really aiming for though, letting the boys wear underpants and not having to buy diapers (it'll be like getting a huge raise when we no longer have that expense), but I'd rather they were a little better at using the toilet and not their pants before we give them that much freedom. So we'll see...