More than just semantics (using words to get our kids to listen)

January 27, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately. It’s amazing how the same thing said in a slightly different way can yield such different results. Parents nowadays know that using any negative words forever ruins our kids, and so we say things like “Feet go on the floor,” rather than “Stop kicking your sister in the face.” But that’s not the focus of this post.  What amazes me is the other ways word choice matters when raising a toddler.

 

Giving them a choice (even when you’re not):

I used to say, “okay, it’s time to get dressed,” and would then spend the next hour or so running after my daughter fighting to get each item of clothing on her.  That still happens fairly often, but I have found a trick that sometimes works.  I now ask her, “who should get dressed first, me or you?”  She usually says me, so I’ll get dressed, and then ask her who’s turn it is now.  She proudly says it’s her turn, and if I’m lucky, she will follow through and get dressed.  Giving her the choice of which item of clothing to put on first can also work.

Likewise, when it’s time to get ready for bed, I ask her what she wants to do first, brush her teeth or use the potty.  I get what I want (the beginning of the bedtime routine,) and she thinks she is in charge (every toddler’s dream.)

 

Questions versus Commands:

Above, asking a question, giving the child a choice, helps get things done.  But other times, asking a question is the worst thing to do.  I almost laughed out loud when I heard a mom say the following, “Can we get ready to go now,” shortly followed by, “That wasn’t really a question, I was just trying to be polite.”  This short exchange made me realize we can (and should) model polite behavior for our kids, but there are ways to do this other than phrasing every command as a question.  Since I learned this, I am careful when telling my daughter we need to do things.  Instead of saying, “Can you please put on your jacket,” (to which she could reply “No”), I say something like, “It’s time to put on your jacket,” or, “let’s put on your jacket.”  When said in the right tone of voice, these commands come across just as polite and gentle as the dangerous “can.”  Of course, the toddler can still say, “no,” but then you can say with truth that that wasn’t a question.  I think many of us don’t even realize we’re asking a question until we get “no” as an answer, and then we have to back track and let them know it really wasn’t a choice.

 

Sometimes no words work best of all:

I am still learning this one, but after fighting with my daughter, telling her to do something multiple times, I’ve found what finally works is just walking away.  I’ll tell her it’s time to clean up.  I then tell her we can’t read a book (or any other enjoyable activity) until the mess is cleaned up.  I used to keep saying different things trying to get my daughter to clean up, even threatening and then following through with, “If you don’t clean up, I will and then it’s going into my closet.”  She really didn’t care as she watched me clean up her mess and take her things away.  Sometimes she would even say, “Yes, mommy take away.”  Now, after the second attempt, “If you don’t do A, then we can’t do B,” I just walk away.  Within seconds she comes running after me, shouting, “B B B.”  I then remind her what she needs to do, and she usually does it.  I’m trying now to not even offer the reminder, and sure enough, after a moment of silence, she does what needs to be done.  It reminds me of the old teacher trick of just sitting at my desk to wait for the class to settle down rather than lose my voice in disciplining.  Kids really don’t like silence!

 

I’m still learning the ropes of having a toddler, but she really is teaching me as much as I hope I’m teaching her!

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Potty Training Supplies and Tips

January 6, 2016

Potty training my 26 month old daughter

  • Supplies:
    • The potty:
      • What to consider: There are many types of potties out there. The stand-alone kind, ones that go directly on your toilet seat, padded, unpadded, travel potties. Ones made specifically for boys and girls, or gender neutral ones…
      • Update 9/4/16: THIS ONE: child seat that is part of adult seat!!  71rqpxddxkl-_sx425_Below is my original post about potties I used for training.  I wish I had known about this one at the time.  I don’t know how it holds up as far as training since we’re now past that stage, but this seat is so simple, takes up no extra space, and is just awesome.   And now back to the original post:
        • The Stand alone. I normally avoid princess themed things, but ended up with this potty, and it got us through the first days beautifully. Now we plan to use it as a step stool, or extra potty in our downstairs area if she can’t make it up to her bathroom in time.
        • princess pottyPrincess Potty Seat
          • Pros:
            • As a teacher, I love the built-in reward system. It cheers and plays music when something goes in the bowl!
            • Because it is designed for a girl, we don’t have to worry about the splash guard which I’ve read can be disturbing/uncomfortable for girls.
            • It was easy to empty/clean, although having her go directly on the regular toilet is even better, so I recommend making that transition quickly!
          • Cons:
            • The one complaint I have about this potty is the hard seat gave my daughter a painful red mark on her behind for the first few days, so if I were to do this again I may look for a padded seat, although after a few days, she no longer complained about it.
        • Goes on regular toilet: 
          • elmo seat for toiletSesame Street Potty Seat
          • We started with this one above, but my daughter wouldn’t use it for whatever reason. We then tried this one below…seat and step/handle all together. This has been great. She is fully using this seat for all her bathroom needs now. And it folds up so easily to go on the side when not in use. The seat is padded also.seat for toilet with built in stepCombined potty seat and step
        • Travel potty: I had this as a hand-me-down, and I’m keeping it in my diaper bag, and we love it! 
        •   travel pottyTravel potty seat
          • Pros: The legs fold up so this can fit into a diaper bag, and then the legs go straight out to go over a public toilet. Pretty handy. The legs also go down (as pictured above), so I can see it being a life saver for those times when there is no public bathroom in sight.  Just find a quiet corner and attach a bag!
          • Cons: Hard seat, and has the built in splash guard. My daughter hasn’t complained, but there may be more comfortable ones.
    • Flushable wipes:    This brand is a bit expensive, but the packages last a long time since I use only two or three with each #2 occurrence. And I found that a cheaper brand fell apart during use, so the extra money is worth it for better quality. Flushable wipes  
    • Babyganics Face, Hand & Baby Wipes, Fragrance Free, 400 Count (Contains Four 100-Count Packs)
    • Disposable seat liners: Great for travel, to go underneath the travel potty in public bathrooms or potentially directly on the seat as kids get older:
    • potty topper
    • Training pull up diapers (I’m using these for nap time, and right now also for when I’m out.):
      • training diapers
      • Training diapers (A tip you may not know . . . if the diaper becomes too messy, the sides rip easily instead of having to go back down over the legs.)
    • Underwear (I recommend getting a favorite character, color, etc.)
    • Continued use of night time diaper
    • Faucet extender to aid in self-sufficient hand washing: This has been amazing!
    • Step stool for use with regular toilet if you don’t buy the all-in-one.  Also good to aid in hand washing.   Many stand-alone potties serve this dual purpose, but I also bought this one and we like it so far:
  • Time line and process for training:
    • During the summer (around 21 months old) she showed signs of being ready, so I bought the stand-alone potty, set it up, and began explaining what it was. She first sat on it with clothes on, and then just with diaper. I asked her several times if she wanted to pee or poo on the potty, but she didn’t. I tried to ask her at times when I knew she usually went. But I didn’t push it, and decided to wait, leaving the potty in view over the next months.
    • Toward the holidays, she really started to hate wearing a diaper. She would complain it hurt and pull on it. I decided it was time, and I decided we would go cold turkey since I had no plans over the next few days. I’m not going to give every detail, but wanted to share the basics, and what I wish I had known before starting:
  • The first three days:
    • I spent a few days telling her what we would be doing after her nap on Wednesday. Friends also knew and spoke to her about it to get the excitement going.   After her nap that day, we put on underwear with one of her favorite characters, and I told her we would try to keep hi m dry. I asked her throughout the afternoon where she would go if she had to pee, and she remembered. I made a game of it, and we did a few drills where we would “run run run” to the potty.
    • To set the routine, we didn’t go out at all these three days, and she wore underwear during all waking hours (and I explained to her she would still wear a training diaper during nap, and a big diaper for night time). When she had an accident, I told her it was okay, but reinforced what she should do, and I let her pick out a new pair of underwear.
    • There were times during these days where it seemed I was the one being trained…looking for signs of discomfort, or in one case, seeing the pee start to trickle down the leg, and we would run to the potty. If I saw discomfort, but she insisted she didn’t want to go to the potty, I would instead say, “Okay, let’s just go read a book ‘over there’”.
    • During these first days, I expected there to be many accidents, which there were, but I didn’t expect her to be in pain. She would sit on the potty and scream and cry that it hurt. It seemed she didn’t know how to release the pee. It sounds crazy, but I have no other explanation. We read books, sang songs, but she had a lot of trouble those first days. I was on the verge of giving up, thinking I was torturing my poor child, but after three days, everything changed, and I am so glad I didn’t give up. By day 4 or so, she was peeing and pooing on the potty with much more ease, and having just a few accidents.
  • Venturing out:
    • Day 5: I was worried about putting a training diaper on to go out, thinking it would cause regression from all the hard work we had done. But, I think because we had those three days to set the routine, we were okay. Also, the first outing was just to the library, a calm place that was like a second home. I was actually shocked when she chose to use the potty instead of going in her diaper!
    • Day 7: We had great success at the library, but I chose to continue to use a training diaper for soccer class, and I’m glad I did. I tried to put her on the potty, but she just kept saying “kick ball”. She refused to go, and didn’t want to be away from the excitement of where we were. When she does this at home, I bring the item to the potty with us (meals included), or convince her to read a book instead, but I couldn’t really do this in public, so she went in her diaper that day.
    • In this 2nd week, I kind of love this middle stage we’re in. She wears underwear at home, with maybe just one accident a day, and when we’re out she wears the training diaper, and it’s up to her if she wants to go there or in the potty.   At some point, I know I’ll have to venture out sans diaper (and with a few changes of clothes). I’ll probably start this at the library where I know she is comfortable and has had success. But I’m really in no rush. I think the clue for me will be when she consistently keeps the training diaper dry. As of now, she has had only one day like that.

 

I hope you found this helpful. It is really a great time, especially after the first few days.   We’re approaching week 3, and I still clap and say “yay” every time she goes. It’s very exciting!

Best of luck with your own training endeavors!

 

Update: I still recommend all of the above, but wanted to mention that my daughter is now fine using the padded ring that goes on the toilet, and the all in one with the adult seat is even better!  If I were to do this again, I would try with one of these seats, but in the process of training, I was desperate to get what was comfortable for her, and at the time, the one with the step attached is what worked. 

I now only use the training diaper for naps and long car rides, although my daughter will scream that she doesn’t want to go in her diaper.  She also sometimes says she has to go to the bathroom just as an excuse to get out of the car or avoid something she doesn’t want to do.  Gotta love toddlers!


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