I have been wanting to write this post for quite a while. I believe that one of the more difficult things to understand about our kiddos is how and when we will be able to get them using the toilet independently and of course how to teach them in a constructive, caring way while still firmly pressing forward to get them to be able to use the bathroom without constant supervision and trepidation.
As many of you know, I speak about these concepts from experience with my son so certainly my child will undoubtedly have a different experience than your own.
I say with immense pride and jubilation that at a 5 years old, Teddy is now 100% potty trained and is completely in control of his body when it comes to using the toilet; proud dad indeed.
It was not an easy process by any stretch of the imagination. Teddy was resistant at first; the diapers were definitely a crutch and he simply wasn’t ready to undertake the hard task when we began early on in the process. Rebecca and I were VERY conflicted and we had strong disagreements about the approach and timing. That said, Rebecca was the one who really got the ball rolling by attending a seminar given by Bridget Murphy , the Board President of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City,Â about how to potty train a child with Down syndrome. The things Rebecca learned provided a framework and acted as a catalyst for us biting the bullet and moving ahead.
The method that was taught centered basically on an intensive induction to the world of self sufficiency in the bathroom. The method called for a week long commitment which in many respects is just as difficult for the parent as the child.
Day one prescribes a day in the home until the point that the child independently uses the toilet for both urination and the other. The child must remain in the bathroom until he/she goes.
(Author Note: This took Rebecca approximately 2 hours but it is important that you understand that each child will respond differently so it is important for you as a parent to gauge the mental state of your child during this process and ensure they are ready.)
This is the phase that sets the expectation that it is no longer acceptable to go to the bathroom outside of the toilet.
Per Rebecca, the first few hours ofÂ day one is
miserable not pleasant!
Update: Teddy was aware enough that he understood the concept of going to the toilet but has been very resistant. We worked with him in the past. Given he was cognoscente about the concept, it was an appropriate technique for Teddy but it may not be for kids who don’t understand what is going on and are confused by what is happening to them. Please beÂ conscientiousÂ about your child’s capabilities and be sure that you are not negatively impacting your child’s mental health by putting them in a confusing situation.
Day two is also completely focussed on the potty; the child must remain sequestered in house with total focus on the objective. Again, this is not in anyway punitive, but is intended to help the child understand that it is time to learn about the toilet. Please use your best judgement about the mental state of your child during any phase of this commitment. There is always time to work with them in the future if you feel they are not quite prepared for this process.
If the child makes a mistake, she must clean up themselves; take their clothes to the laundry room, get dressed, etc. Just as you would expect any child to do if they have an accident.
Day 3 and beyond all share the same intense focus and have the same expectation of child self sufficiency. Although you can now leave the house to attend other activities. If there is an “accident”, the child must stop immediately, go home and take care of themselves as described above.
A couple of other thing to note is a going to the toilet is no longer a celebratory event. It is an expectation. The process above should be done during a week off, when full focus can be applied to the initiative. Also, the term toilet is now introduced to the vernacular in lieu of the term potty. Toilet is a more mature phrase and is more widely acceptable and understood in many societies. Given some of our children’s limited vocabulary, we need to introduce and repeat words that they will take going forward; potty is not a word we want a teenager using so let’s make that change now.
Now, that said — we are all going to have slightly different experiences and execution and although Bridget’s method is fantastic, Teddy’s experience differed from the prescription a bit. Rebecca did do the day one induction and followed up during the remainder of the week but Ted was more stubborn than expected. We kept on him but he occasionally, purposefully had accidents. We were persistent though and what should have been a week process actually turned out to be more like 3 to 4. We also broke down and were effusive with praise when he was successful and of course were always positive with him when he had accidents.
It is important to note that this is always a positive prescription and NEVER contains negativity or any punitive /deprecating elements.
Nothing warms our heart more than to see a great big grin when he comes out of the bathroom saying “Mama, dada .. I peed and pooped” followed by clapping and hand shaking and pure joy.
This was, is one of those life events that make it all worthwhile. I am so proud of Teddy and I believe that we waited until the right time for him. He will be much more self assured now and this will possibly lead to other accomplishments in the future. I hope to be able to share some of the dates for Bridget’s seminars in the future as she is now a member of DownSyndrome.com.Â Feel free to reach out to her directly for more expertise and details.
How have your experiences been? I would love to hear stories about your methods and successes/challenges. If you have any techniques that you think are good, please share them as well.
Last Author Note: I received a comment from a very concerned individual who was upset about the process that I described in my prior post — I want to alleviate any concern that one may have about this in that this is choice for a parent and I believe, just like typical children, that we need to use techniques that help our children reach objectives. All parents differ in how they approach things like potty training and this method worked for us. Again, this is a positive method and does not contain any negativity whatsoever. We found it successful but you need to gauge what is right for your child and use a method that you are comfortable with.
Good luck to all of you!