Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sleeping, Swimming and Potty Training

These are the three areas of parenting that I am convinced take the most patience... and time. That said, I think that introducing early habits and practice helps speed up the process. The problem with that little theory is that personalities get in the way. Regardless, early habits and consistency are the key with all three...

Why do (most) kids fight sleep? As of late, the answer to that question with regards to my chid is she would rather cuddle than be in bed alone. The problem with that is the cuddle quickly turns into fun time resulting in no sleep. The only solution? Cuddle for a minute, put her in her crib and softly say goodnight. Crying usually ensues (these days) but only for a couple of minutes. She eventually learns to sleep without crying until the next time that we go on a trip and disrupt her sleeping patterns and start all over again.

This one is tough. I see kids close to three years old swimming and jumping in fearlessly. But I don't think that's the norm. Swimming seems to be another one of those things that takes a looong time. Like any sport it takes time for kids to build up the motor skills and ability and strength to play. But I see swimming as a life skill that supersedes any other for safety reasons. For this reason, we've started early. At 8 months we took a diaper fit class which Violet LOVED. It was an hour long class that included a 40 minute workout in which she'd sit in the floating device and the rest was a mini swim lesson. Following that I took her to drop in rubber ducky swim sessions and we went through a period where she'd clutch onto my neck in fear of the water. Something changed in her comfort level in the water. We took a break and changed swimming pools trying a much warmer and brighter pool. The swim instructor gave me some great advice. She said "let her hold onto you, do whatever it takes to make her feel secure". In no time she was enjoying the water again.

We attend a weekly swim lesson to keep up with her slowly developing swim skills.. front floats, kicking, back floats, jumps from the side and blowing bubbles and slowly gaining the ability to reach down and put her head under. I'm super careful to ensure that she remains comfortable in the pool. A few weeks ago, our new swim instructor (who is fantastic) was trying to increase Violet's swim level but instead moved too quickly and scared Violet. It has taken a couple of weeks for the instructor to earn back Violet's trust. We're back on track now.

Potty Training
I have a lot to say about this topic. I'm a big believer in starting early. How early? I think it's important to get a baby used to sitting on a small potty. I know people that started as early as when the baby could sit (5 months). If the baby is regular, why not have them sit and make it second nature right from the start? We started at around 9 months and even more consistently spent A LOT of time in the bathroom at 12 months. We went to the potty first thing in the morning, shortly after meals and after nap time as well as any time she would sign 'potty'. Yes, we spent a lot of time in the bathroom! We used it as a time for looking at picture books and signing what we saw.

By 18 months, Violet was getting the hang of going on the potty for #2's, averaging one dirty diaper a month. Getting #1's on the potty was a slower process. If I get the timing right we're good but like I said, we were spending A LOT of time on the potty. Which also included a lot of sitting, getting up and running around, more sitting etc.

I wavered as far as introducing underwear instead of diapers and decided against it for several months. I felt that it would be better for her to learn through positive reinforcements rather than wetting herself and feeling badly about that. Instead, I wanted her to get used to keeping her diaper dry, then we would transition to underpants.

On the big potty, aka "Violet's potty" at 21 months.

The day of her second birthday, she told me when she needed to go 'pee potty'. The first time was while we were at our first gymnastics class. I held her over the regular toilet and she went! She kept that up for the rest of the day and for a few days afterwards. I think the cold reacting Pampers pull ups helped. Since then I'd say she's 90% toilet trained. I found that I had to get rid of the little potties and use the cushion seat potties on the actual toilet. Otherwise she'd go back to running around. Now at least if she doesn't go right away, she sits captive on the toilet until we establish whether she is done. It's either "more" or "all done" or "finished". She's usually good throughout the day as long as I continually ask her. She still only really tells me she needs to go if it's #2.

The evenings were the times where she'd just go in her diaper so the last couple of nights I've put her in underwear and continually ask her if she needs to go every hour or so. We've also been dragging around the 'magic blanket' (a change pad) based on my friend Marlene's brilliant idea to protect the furniture and carpet! Tonight we ventured out in underwear making sure she made a visit to the bathroom the minute we walked into the store we visited! I had the backup pants, socks and diapers in the space bear backpack - just in case! It's funny what we do to toilet train our children. It was a dry evening!

It's taken A LOT of patience but I'm really glad that she can identify when she needs to go and control her bladder. I know it's common for kids to not be potty trained until closer to three but that saddens* me to think that they go and hide to do their business. I strongly believe that if kids are introduced to the potty early there's no need to bribe or explain or praise. It's just 'what we do'. *Realizing the problem is just that we're a busy society and most people just don't have the time to sit and wait for a child to do it in their time.. which is easily triple the time that we would like.

Now that I've said all, I hope Violet doesn't regress too much over the next several months. I'm sure there will still be a lot of practice and encouragement for her to tell us when she needs to go versus my asking but I'm proud!

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