Potty training toddlers with Down syndrome seems to be a common topic on the minds of many of my fellow mamas these days. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I, too, am looking for the secret to making this concept click for Josie.
I began my "soft launch" approach to potty training more than a year ago by setting Josie on the toilet after her meals. Even though she didn't really have all the skills she needed to grasp the idea, I still wanted to familiarize herself with the concept. When we moved into our current home, we asked the builder to install a special preschool-sized potty in the girls' bathroom:
While the pint-sized potty was a great idea, it required a few tweaks including a new, narrower seat, and a special ramp as it was still a little too high for Josie to reach considering her gross motor delays (to read more about the potty ramp, click HERE).
It became clear that my "soft launch" approach wasn't going to get the job done for either of my daughters so I purchased a book that came highly recommended from a friend ("Toileting Without Tantrums" by John Rosemond) and I did a potty training weekend. The advice in the book worked brilliantly for Merryn. At 2 and a half, she is fully potty trained and does not have to be reminded to go, nor does she need to be accompanied to the restroom. Josie, on the other hand, still requires full parental assistance.
Of course my mom has offered her two cents while boasting that Leanne was potty trained by age 3, and being the obedient daughter that I am, I simply rolled my eyes and chalked it up to another one of my mom's hazy memories that glamorizes motherhood. That's about as convincing as her vowing that "Childbirth doesn't really hurt! You don't need drugs. As soon as they put that precious baby in your arms, you forget about any minor discomfort you may have had." Um, okay Mom. Sounds good.
Then I found this photo and many more like it showcasing my sister, as a toddler, in "big girl underpants":
And as much as it hurts my fragile ego, I was forced to unroll my eyes and enlist in my mom's sage advice. After receiving additional inquiries for Mama Hop's assistance from fellow blogosphere mama's, I asked Mama Hop to turn her wisdom into a lucrative business venture and I'm happy to announce that Mama Hop is now accepting applications to:
That's right. For an affordable fee of $199.99 per day you can send your child to Mama Hop's Potty Training Academy where Mama Hop will see to it that your chromosomally enhanced child is sporting big kid underpants faster than Leanne can say "F+" ! That is, unless, of course, said child exceeds his/her quota of F pluses as issued by Aunt Leanne and is consequently dishonorably discharged from Potty Training Academy.
We figured it would be easier just to have Mama Hop do a guest blog post about the topic. By popular demand, heeeeeeeerrrrrreee's Mama Hop:
By Request: Leanne's Potty Training by Mama Hop
Exactly 35 years ago, Aunt Leanne began potty training at 18 months. The first time she sat on the potty seat, she did #2! It was purely coincidental, but a thrill. She did not have the necessary muscle control, but was introduced to the procedure. She could not walk independently so not a lot was expected, but familiarity with the routine.
To familiarize her with it, I modeled and sat on the commode across from her. Her potty chair looked like an adult toilet without all the bells and whistles like today.
Leanne stayed in diapers for over a year beyond that time. Back then, diaper tabs weren't resealable and pull ups were not invented. (I often thought of inventing them and wish I had put a patent on them,). Many dry diapers were wasted, but consistency was the key. We stuck to a 4 hour schedule with the cooperation of pre-school teachers and care-givers. When we traveled, the potty seat was in the trunk and business was done on the roadside.
Leanne began walking independently and sleeping in a "big girl bed" at age 2. That is when serious potty training really began. She required assistance with removing diapers, wiping and hand washing. It was done with hand-over-hand. Eventually she was able to do it all.
She did use overnight diapers until age 3. We would use the potty right before bedtime and the first thing in the morning. She eventually stayed clean and dry overnight.
In addition to patience, much praise and reinforcement took place with much cheering and clapping. We had a potty chart taped to the wall and put a sticker star on it with each success.
Of course, occasional accidents happened, but Leanne was basically trained by age 3. That was a good thing, because Elizabeth came along and it was time to start over!
Things that worked:
--cooperation from care givers
--assistance as needed
--praise and reinforcement (potty chart with stickers and stars)
Merryn holding one of Mama Hop's famous potty charts