Motherhood Magic

Potty What!

Here I am, starting all over after having an only child for almost 7 years, and I am totally clueless on how to begin the process of potty training my almost 2 year old. My older daughter was a piece of cake, this little one, not so much. Karter is one of the smartest toddlers I know, with no bias, lol. Did I mention that she will come up to her father and I after soiling her diaper to ask to be changed. As an early childhood professional, I am a true believer of letting your child show you they are eager to conquer a new task naturally. But Karter, has mommy going crazy, as she is showing tons of signs of being ready. I posed a question to my social media mommies asking for some of the best strategies and/or tips on the secrets to potty training, so of course I had to share!

Signs of Readiness

It is important to note that as parents we naturally feel the need to compare children. If it's comparing them to kids at the park, or siblings, it's hard to not want your child to be the best at whatever they do. Children are truly one of a kind. Potty training before 2, or after entering preschool is not more genius than the other. In the same breathe if your'e truly concerned that your child is not interested I would take them to a primary health physician to get more feedback. Also notice changes in environment, and survey all aspects of your child's life that could be impacting their ability to toilet train. Some concerns may be validated by an alternative source, so be aware of your child's capabilities and move forward with that in mind. There are some truth-telling signs that your child is eager to move forward and is possibly ready to begin potty training.

  1. A decrease in wet diapers- if they are capable of waiting hours in between wet diapers, they are more prepared to be toilet trained. This tells you they have the ability to hold it until they can release. 
  2. They can announce it- in my case Karter will directly tell me "Mommy I poop", or will ask to be changed because it feels uncomfortable. She now understands her bodily functions, and the need to be clean.
  3. They have the ability to undress- fine and gross motor skills are necessary. If your child seems ready but cant pull his pants down, there's a problem. Begin to teach the process of pulling there pants up and down. Need more practice in those areas google fine/gross motor activities to help.
  4. They are curious- Nothing is more curious than your child following you to see how it's done. This means they want to know how they could possibly master it themselves. Act on your child's curiosity.  
  5. Predictability- If your child is going routinely after eating and drinking, this can make toilet training easy. As parents you know when your child needs to go and so do they!
  6. And most importantly- they demonstrate wanting to be independent, and take pride in their accomplishments- this is displayed by them having the motivation to want to be toilet trained and feeling the reward of doing so.

Okay are they ready?! Here we go....

Top 10 Potty Training Tips!

1. No Pull Ups- My mommy friends tell me this is a big no no! It feels too much like a diaper. The feel of a diaper allows your child to believe they can still soil themselves and/or are confused on if it is indeed a diaper. Allow them to feel uncomfortable, to encourage them to not want to feel that way again. I received a great tip of something called plastic undies. The idea is that they don't get the clothes wet, but the child can still feel the sense of wetness. Genius!

2. Freedom Reigns- I've heard through the grapevine that 3 complete days of nakedness does the trick. This means delegating time to just allow them to be free to hurry and get to the potty. Allow for tons of accidents. After they have mastered going to the potty naked, begin trying to implement having on clothes.

3. Favorite Undies- If your child is anything like every other kid in this world...they have a favorite character/object of some sort. I am hoping it is a character that can be brought as underwear. Encourage them to not get Dora, Trucks, Elmo wet. My daughter is obsessed with frozen. I'll make a big deal of it by saying "Don't get Anna wet, that makes her sad". Practicing feelings and potty training. Win win.

4.  Bribes- Sticker charts, treats, candy...whatever will kick in the enthusiasm. Nothing like getting an instant reward for pleasing the parentals. Make sure they are motivated by the reward, by it being something they don't get often. Don't feel comfortable giving candy, don't do it. Do what works for you and your child.

5. Special Toys- A mother shared with me, that she purchased a toy that their child only played with during potty time. I thought, GENIUS! What a way to get your child to sit still. I then thought of the massive meltdown once it's over. But hey beggars can't be choosers, pick your battles wisely.

6. Books and Music- Prep is everything. The more you expose your child to the concept of being toilet trained, the more prepared they are to complete the task. Visit your local library, and youtube for songs and books specific about going to the potty!

7. Target Practice- Make a game of it. One game a friend of mine suggested is putting a cheerio in the potty and letting their son have target practice. Sounds safe to me!

8. Big or Little Pot- Some kids prefer going to the adult size toilet, for others this can be intimidating. Find what it is your child fears so they are not super anxious or reserved about going.

9. Praise/Model- Nothing is better than positive reinforcement. You can never give your child enough verbal praise. Kids enjoy pleasing parents, and crave positive attention. The more you bring attention to it, the more likely they will do it. Praise yourself and make a big deal out of it. You go use the restroom, bring them, and tell yourself out-loud "I did it"!

8. Clock Work- Time is everything. Be routine and structured about it. Observe how long it takes your child to digest food, or hold water. Take note of your child's body and use it towards your advantage.

10. Patience is a Virtue- Allow your child to show you the signs that I covered earlier. The thought of not buying diapers is awesome, but you don't want to make for a traumatizing experience. Kids who are often rushed, regress back, or have an increase of accidents.

With all this being said. Karter is just not ready, or at least I didn't conquer it this week. She won and I'm totally okay with that. She is excelling in areas, and reserved in others. I don't blame her for wanting to be my baby for a little longer. I will continue to encourage her without being forceful. I want her to feel proud when she is ready to succeed at going. Often times we as parents rush are children to grow up, and then when they are older we wish they had stayed young. Enjoy your children just where they are. Nothing more precious than time...

Skills should be encouraged, not forced.
— Mommy Wells
 

Guiding Your Child's Temperament

Temperament 

~a person's or animal's nature, especially as it permanently affects their behavior...

If there is one thing that I have begin to understand about my own style of parenting is that my personal attitude and/or biases have a personal effect on how I guide my children. I like to blame my horoscope to provide evidence to why some of my kid's behaviors affect me personally. I'm a fan of horoscopes, slightly because my mother's own biases, but mostly because they are so accurate. Maurice (my husband)  believes it's general information that fits the mold of all people. I like to think that our universe provides a reason for everything, so following my zodiac is a way to explain some of it. So for example, I am a Cancer, emotional at heart, very reactive, and quite tenacious. My eldest daughter is a Gemini, represented by 2 heads to show the prevalence of 2 personalities, so she is up and down. Very expressive, but can often times be very serious. And then there is my youngest daughter, an Aries, who is very determined and courageous, but can be very impatient.  

This was easily played out on the day of our family photo shoot. Here I am trying to work on the advancement of my family, and my children have the audacity to show their most challenging characteristics of their zodiac sign. Of course the OCD mommy in me, has been prepping my children for this day for the past few weeks. Making sure they knew what to expect, and just a little practice of smiling, lol. The day gets here and I wake up  super early due to excitement. Then I was quickly reminded that yesterday Karter didn't nap, and I witnessed Kennedy waking up on the wrong side of the bed (figuratively). I knew what type of day was ahead. It's funny because as a mother, I can innately tell when my children will have crummy days. So, as I run around with excitement, my girls decide to give me the blues. Kennedy dragging, not liking how her hair was done, upset because she couldn't have colored lip gloss. Karter refusing to eat breakfast, begging for a fruit snack instead, and with the energy of a 2 y/o (because she is 2). I wanted to scream. But I pressed forward to continue to make sure we would accomplish the task. As we begin to prep for pictures, I can tell Kennedy's body language screamed that she wasn't happy, all awhile Karter won't smile, and keeps playing a game of cat and mouse with her invisible friend. I keep pushing, but it was getting to be overwhelming. My husband is more worried about his shirt looking wrenkled and was at no assistance, lol, he was clearly excited.  So I started to get frustrated, I begin to address Kennedy, as she cried and ran upstairs. Karter begin to tantrum, and I just felt like I was going to lose my mind. Then in a moment of self reflection, because at my most challenging times, I have to self reflect to get re-centered. I  quickly reminded myself of my children's temperaments and how I needed to use that to get what I wanted.


Tips:

  1. Understand that temperament is biology. There is nothing you can do about it. It's nature's gift to us to show our individuality. There is nothing you can do to change it, so don't try to.  Your child's temperament is not a reflection of you. It's a reflection of their own uniqueness.

  2. Understand your temperament and how it is different from your child's. Use that to understand how to respond to make things more effective or more challenging. Ask yourself if my child is already over emotional, if I scream, I'm sure that is going to make them cry. We are able to tailor our responses from our children, even other adults. Be aware of how your personalities clash and/or compatible.

  3. Just respect it- it is what it is. And don't compare it to another child, as if one is better than the other. No one's temperament is better than the other just because it appears to be more tolerable. There is no competition when it comes to temperament.

  4. Always model what you want to see from your children. If I always go off when frustrated, it's natural for children to learn that same behavior. This is challenging because we are human. But we are our child's first teacher. You have to literally live in the light you want your child to follow.

  5. Avoid any situations that you know are a hazard. Some children are sensory sensitive. High stimulation, too much noise, lots of people, can be anxiety provoking. Find a way to prepare for the moments you know will be tough.

  6. Focus on the present moment. Key in to what is happening now. Don't project things in the future, and don't live in the past. Work on what's in the moment so that you always address things with a fresh perspective.

  7. Try to find a way to appreciate both negative and positive attributes of your child. Being emotional is not a bad thing. Always feed your child positivity, or find a way to refrain it. I also tell Kennedy when she is upset, that it's okay for her to be experiencing an emotion, but what happens if we stay in that emotion for too long? Never label your child as bad. Those thoughts stick in your child's brain, and children begin to believe what it is people they trust is telling them. Once you label a child bad, it can lead them to doing bad things, because they already have the title.

  8. And lastly SELF CARE- find a way to always recenter yourself by spending time apart from your child to be self reflective, and take a break.

We will never get it 100% right. But today I finished my first photo shoot with my crazy family. I don't care that it took 4 hours, I got it done, and that's all that matters. By understanding that my girls are human, and I am human. We cried, laughed, got frustrated, and ran around...but we ended happily. 

A few outtakes before I get the finished product :-)