Potty Training - Part II

Back in the fall, I wrote about our adventures with potty training Noah - let's call it, Part I. As much as I didn't enjoy being home for almost an entire week straight in July, he really did well with it! He has been wearing his under-roos for six months now and had only one accident in the past 3 months. Because he was still so young, I was still having him wear a diaper during his naps and at bedtime. Although he consistently went #2 on the potty the first week of October (rather in a diaper at naptime), he regressed back to going in his diaper at naptime, saying he was afraid to go on the potty. I could never figure out exactly what scared him, but he just didn't want to go on the potty. As long as he was going in his diaper - which he was - I didn't care a bit. I knew he'd get the potty thing eventually. After many battles early in potty training, I learned that you cannot make a child poo on the potty, no matter what you bribe, how hard you beg.

Well, I don't know what got into me the past weeks. Maybe it's being nearly six months pregnant. Maybe it's knowing hundreds of poopy diapers await my future with Baby #2, or maybe I've just lost patience. I just decided that it was time for him to go on the potty like a big kid. So, last Tuesday I took him to the Children's Museum with my friend, Dalia, and her little girl, Ava. He fell asleep on the way home, so I put him down for his nap in his under-roos. He woke up with clean pants, and I thought to myself, "This is your chance!" That night he said, "Mommy, I need to go poo-poo in my diaper." I said, "No, sorry, buddy. You're a big boy now, and you need to go on the potty."

Enter Tantrum #1.

I stuck to my guns through the tantrum and reminded him what a big boy he is now and that he can go in the potty. NOTHING. NO DICE. NO LUCK. He kept his pants clean all night, despite complaining that his tummy hurt. I told him that his tummy would feel better if he just went potty. Again, nothing.

All of the sudden...it hit me. Why hadn't I thought of this before? VIDEO SELF-MODELING!!! I use this to teach kids appropriate/desired behavior at school. Why not do it at home to teach Noah how to go #2 on the potty? Here is the idea behind video self-modeling. People learn certain behaviors all the time by watching others. Research indicates that watching others who are very similar in appearance, age, etc. will help a person learn a behavior even better. However, the most effective way for a person to learn a new behavior is to see themselves actually doing the desired behavior. So, rather than watch videos of cartoons, animals, or other children using the potty, I needed to show Noah a video of himself using the potty.

I quickly got out the new video camera we got for Christmas from my dad and Danette and told Noah we were going to make a fun "video show" (as he calls them) of him. I had him start in his playroom and video taped him playing with his kitchen. Then, I prompted him to stand up and say "I have to go poo poo in the potty!" Then he started running toward the bathroom. Then I stood in the kitchen and videotaped him running from the playroom to the kitchen. Next I stood in the bathroom and had him run from the beginning of the kitchen to the bathroom. In the next shot, I had him sit down on the potty and say, "I'm going potty." I have about 5 out-takes of him saying, "I am NOT going potty!" because he really wasn't going. I kept saying, "No, buddy, but you're pretending. Just pretend and say it." He just couldn't grasp the concept. I still don't know how we got a shot of him actually saying it! Then, we had him stand up and look back into the potty. Last, we had him put his hands in the air and yell, "I did it!" You should see our out-takes from this video taping session. HILARIOUS! Ryan then shot a quick video of some poo (which magically appeared) in the potty.

We downloaded all of the video to our computer, and I started editing using Windows Movie Maker, which is standard on all PCs. This program is very user friendly and makes editing a video a breeze. I began taking all of the separate video clips we had - there were probably 20 - and cutting out all of the stuff we didn't want in our final product. As I edited the pieces together, I realized that we missed a crucial step: Noah acting like he's pushing on the potty. Ryan grabbed the video camera and had Noah pretend to push. We quickly downloaded that video clip, and I inserted a piece of it into Noah's final video. I even added a title page at the beginning of the video and credits at the end.

When it came time for him to watch the video, he was SUPER engaged! I mean, what kid doesn't like to see himself on TV? When it came time for him to stand up off the potty and look back, his eyes got as big as silver dollars when he saw that poo in the potty!!! You could tell he was like, "WOW! Look what I did!" or maybe "Wow! How did that get there??" Either way, he was so excited and begged to watch it again and again. It's only 55 seconds long, and I think we watched it 5 times that night. I went to bed praying that tomorrow would be the day it would click.

The next morning, he woke up with a clean diaper, and Ryan took him to Dalia's for the day. He complained of a tummy ache again but still did not go at her house. On my way home from picking him up after work, I started second guessing myself. Was I expecting too much? Was he just not ready? Is there even such a thing as "not being ready?" I decided we would give it the rest of the week, and then we could reevaluate. I showed him the video 3 times when we got home because we were heading to our friends' (Leah and Joe Matis) house for dinner. We had all been hanging out, watching the kids play and visiting with each other for about an hour when Noah said, "Mommy, I have to go poo poo." He started running back to their bathroom (which was a HUGE deal because he didn't ask for a diaper), and I followed him. He wasn't on that potty more than 10 seconds before HE DID IT! I seriously could have cried tears of joy. In fact, I'm surprised I didn't. He said, "I want to show my daddy." So, I called Ryan back to the bathroom. We were both so proud of him!!! Noah got a round of applause and cheers of praise from Leah and Joe, too, when we walked back into their living room. I finally felt relief that maybe we were really heading in the right direction. I began thinking of all my friends' kids who could benefit from VSM, too, when they are ready for potty training. It was the only explanation for why he would go so quickly and easily after not going on the potty since October.

BUT...the next two days I felt defeated again. I was at work both times when it happened (yes, this is me being the control freak here), but he went in his diaper at naptime. I was really bummed out! So, on Saturday I put his mattress cover back on his bed and told him that the naptime diapers were all gone. He was a big boy, and he would need to keep his pants clean during his naps. Noah didn't go on Saturday despite our best efforts of encouraging him and having him watch his video. Then on Sunday, we were at his friend's birthday party, and he went upstairs to play. After a few minutes I went to check on him and knew as soon as I saw him that he had had an accident.

I was SO disappointed. Noah hadn't had an accident like that since at least October. He apologized several times, so I know he felt bad about it. Thankfully, Ryan was there to help clean him up, and our friends had an extra set of clothes. I felt defeated all over again.

On Monday I was home with Noah all day. I showed him the video first thing that morning before we met up for a playdate with my friend Allison and her little ones. After a full morning of playing at Trader's Point Christian Church, we drove back home. Noah started complaining that his stomach hurt, and I told him that he needed to go potty. He tried several times when we got home but would just get too scared. Finally, out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, I brought his potty out to the living room near where he was playing and told him to just run over and sit down when he felt the urge to go. It wasn't 60 seconds later that he ran over, sat down, and went. THANK THE HEAVENS! Our prayers for poo were answered once again! :) He earned his 5th sticker toward going to Chuck E. Cheese and only needed one more to finally go. We had been working on this chart for months.

Today, I was home with Noah again because he was sick with a cold and a fever. We watched his video this morning, and I crossed my fingers. Then, this afternoon, Noah pulled his little potty chair into the living room again where he was playing. It wasn't two minutes later that he went and sat down and went again! I am proud of him! Finally, he is getting the hang of it, and he earned his last sticker. Chuck E. Cheese, here we come (as soon as the fever subsides)!

Noah proudly cheesing it up with his sticker chart (don't mind the Goodwill donations behind him)
No, having him go in the living room doesn't really match the way we live our lives, but I'm bending here. He finally doesn't seem scared to go, and if this is what he needs to bridge the gap between going in a diaper and going on the potty in the bathroom consistently, then so be it! He's keeping his pants clean every day during his naps, and he really seems to be more comfortable with going on the potty. I call that a win!

We will see how the next week goes. I'm praying for more success! This post turned out MUCH longer than I intended, so if you're still reading, bravo! It's a little therapeutic to write about everything. Plus, when I turn my blog posts into books, I'll have these memories forever that I would have otherwise possibly forgotten as more important issues arise over the years. Hopefully, Noah will continue to do well with this second stage of potty training, and I will only have one set of poopy diapers to change come Spring.

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