Ownership in Potty Training

Dear Dr. Rene,

My almost 2.5 year old decided she wanted underwear 11 days ago. So, we are 11
days into potty training. She goes to daycare and is now fully potty trained at
daycare (at least barring any regression that could happen.) At home, I still
have to take her to the potty every hour or she’ll have an accident. She rarely
initiates on her own and often tells me she doesn’t want to go on the potty. We
had her choose her brand new potty seat and we offer her “potty treats” after
she goes. We tell her she is a big girl and we’re proud of her. Any other tips
to help my very head strong little girl with potty training at home? Or is this
just normal for a young girl and I just need to be patient? (FYI – my older
daughter did the 3 day method when she was close to 3 years old, so this is all
new to me.)

Sincerely, June (mom of two)

First, I would ask for what they typically do and say at daycare.  If this is going smoothly there, maybe replicate what they are doing.  Also take her to the potty there yourself at drop-off and pick-up.  It may be helpful for you to be associated with that success.  If available, maybe purchase a similar potty seat or ring for home.

At home, I would do all the small things to encourage interest including reading potty training picture books, watching the potty videos, letting her observe while others potty and playing potty with doll babies or a dollhouse set.

Bigger things to encourage her to more fully participate include offering her choices, descriptive praise and language of ownership.  Choices include “would you like to use the upstairs or the downstairs potty?” or “do you want to sit on the little potty or the big potty?”  Here is a link to a previous post on choices: https://parentingbydrrene.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/how-choices-work-in-positive-discipline/.  Descriptive praise is being behavior specific when you catch good behaviors.  This sounds like, “you knew you had to go, you got to the potty quick!” or “you were taking care of your body, you put all your poop in the potty!”  Here is a link to a youtube video on descriptive praise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LH6Y-qPnAo&feature=relmfu and the differences between descriptive v. evaluative praise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn2Ddh16xIY.

The language of ownership is saying something along the line of “do you know you are the only one in the whole world who really knows when you need to pee?  I don’t really know that from out here.  That’s your job.” or “You are in charge of when you go potty.  When you feel that pressure on your bottom that you need to poop, it’s your job to go potty.”  The idea is to encourage them to take ownership without adding pressure.  Use this langauge maybe every other day and not around the time of an accident, it shouldn’t sound like discipline.

Sincerely, Dr. Rene

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