I remember the first time I handed J a mini marshmallow after he peed on the potty. E looked at me at the ripe old age of 13 and said “You know, he’s going to expect a present every time he uses the bathroom for the rest of forever now.” complete with “lamest parent ever” eye roll. Potty training twin boys was (is) the most challenging milestone I have encountered yet, especially as a neat freak with OCD. It’s just plain nasty. If I had to convince them to use the potty by plying them with 24-karat gold, I probably would have tried it. But E was right. Learning how to graduate from rewards to real life was the biggest piece of the puzzle.
How do you use rewards without setting a precedence for everyday actions? As I often do, I consulted their daycare teachers. They’ve been potty training kids for years! They can practically do it blindfolded at this point, and you all know I’m a firm believer of using your resources and consulting the pros wherever possible. I’m proud to report both boys are 99% potty trained thanks to them and our bank account is 99% happier for it.
The concept is fairly simple. It’s designed as a series of graduations that give smaller rewards over time. As the rewards get smaller, the expectations and excitement of the children get smaller as well, and when the rewards are redirected to another area of teaching, they are none the wiser and continue the learned behavior without the expectation of receiving a treat every time they perform.
Step 1: Pick a toy from the treasure chest any time they pee or poop on the potty.
Step 2: Pick a sticker every time they pee on the potty. Pick a toy from the treasure chest every time they poop on the potty.
Step 3: Pick a sticker every they pee or poop on the potty.
Step 4: Pick a toy from the treasure chest when they stay dry all day with no accidents.
Step 5: Pick a sticker when they stay dry all day with no accidents.
Step 6: Redirect stickers to another activity (i.e. first to sit quietly on the rug).
Step 7: All rewards related to bathroom breaks are removed. Child uses the bathroom independently without expectation of reward.
Simple, right? Yet, I totally had no idea how to approach it and am incredibly grateful for the wisdom of those who have gone before me. My own super simple tips and tricks to potty training?
1. Potties, potties everywhere. We used these awesomely cheap, super easy to clean tiny potties from Ikea. Two downstairs where they could see them, two upstairs where they could see them.
2. Car diaper station. We had extra pull ups for long days away from home, extra sets of clothes, underwear, wipes and fresh smelling baggies to tie up dirty clothes right in the trunk of the car. Always prepare for the worst. Because it always happens. And it’s always messy.
3. Mini car potty. We found this awesome little gem on an online yard sale site (and thoroughly sanitized the heck out of it when we bought it). This enabled us to make quick stops, stay longer at the playground without braving nasty, bug-infested restrooms or porta-potties (AKA OCD Katy instantaneous death) and the boys thought it was darn cool. Win.
What was the potty training item you couldn’t live without? The one tip or trick that was keystone to your success? Your favorite mixed beverage to enjoy on a day of nasty accidents and constant clean ups? Share the love!
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.