We potty trained Viva last week. In one day. I know. *exhales on fingernails, then buffs them on shirt* <----Did that make any sense? Wife and I both knew how to do what I'm describing here, but neither of us knew how to describe it, nor what that action is even supposed to mean. (Any insight? Also, this entire paragraph might be totally confusing now, which is why it is awesome.)
So yeah, when it comes to teaching the bum-holes in this household where to deliver the goods, we have a no holds barred stance on rewards. In fact, if we made a mission statement for potty training, it might read something like this: In the quest of potty-training at the The Weed household, no reward is off limits if it means we don't have to open a diaper filled with warm, steaming non-baby feces and then clean the reeking toddler-haunch located in said diaper ever, ever again.
So let me get this straight. I have to put my peepee and poopoo in this cold, unforgiving pit of death which I'm almost positive will eat me alive if I sit on it, and in return, you will feed me more candy than I've ever eaten in my life? DEAL.
Because of this, on day one of Viva's potty training, we had enough reward systems implemented to successfully train a team of dolphins at Sea World to do a 30 minute ball tossing spectacular. Seriously. We're a little out of control, but hey, it works, so don't hate.
Viva's showcase included a table covered in all of her favorite candies, arrayed in a display case-style presentation that you might see at your local grocery store at Easter, a progress chart with plenty of empty spaces just waiting to be bedecked in princess stickers, and then, the piece de resistance: the beautiful white princess gown she had been coveting for weeks and the elegant plastic shoes that went with it.
She was very, very excited.
And because she was excited and loves sugar and loves stickers and wanted the dress really, really, really, really, really, badly and was old enough to understand how positive consequences over time can lead to plastic princess shoes, she potty trained very easily. This is not rocket science. It's simply the reason my children will expect to be rewarded anytime they do anything positive like get a good grade or wipe snot off their nose.
(Kinda funny aside: when I was in grad school, we were talking about reward charts for children and how detrimental they are to helping kids find intrinsic rewards for positive behavior, and I started feeling so guilty for the chart I had made Anna for potty-training that I raised my hand and confessed. "I just made a reward chart for my daughter. It involved a prize at the end, prizes along the way, and pieces of candy for every positive step my daughter took." My professor was like "um, that's not good... Oh. Unless it was for potty training. If you're potty training, you get to break every rule. I mean, come on, you're teaching a human to put crap into a cold, uncomfortable bowl.")
I should admit here, though, that we learned the hard way to bring out the big guns early on. With Anna, we did not know this trick. We read a book and naively thought it would guide us to diaper-free bliss. We followed its instructions one arbitrary day when Anna was barely two, and, for good measure, covered every inch of our floor in plastic in case of a "slip up." What that day resulted in was a little two-year-old who got to drink lots and lots of juice and then slide around having a blast on the plastic, totally uncommitted to pooping or peeing in a potty, but really loving all the attention she was getting.
We knew we were done when, for the fourth time that day, Anna walked into the corner right next to the potty, squatted, and then peed on the floor, and instead of being adults, Wife and I got into an argument about it. That's right. We were fighting about a two year old peeing in her underwear in the corner of the living room. Eventually we caught ourselves, and were like "I think Anna has let us know she is not ready." And then we waited until she was ready. A year later.
Yeah, maybe that's the key too.
The The Weed Method of Potty Training Success:
1. Blitz your child's mind with enough candy, treats, stickers, and purchased rewards that he or she literally would be insane NOT to put his or her waste into the toilet.
2. Do not employ the above method until the child is old enough to ask to be potty trained using a full sentence.
3. If your child is going into Kindergarten and still cannot construct a sentence of this kind, buy him or her a permanent catheter. And then rethink kindergarten.
Wow. I'm pretty sure I just made a million dollars right there. Did you see that?
One final thought. Even though a child is potty-trained successfully, and hasn't had a daytime or nighttime accident for days, moments like the following still might occur from time to time.
As wife is putting Viva into her carseat:
Wife: Viva, why is your dress all wet?
Viva: Because I cleaned it.
Wife: Why were you cleaning your dress?
Viva: Because I went peepee in it!
Wife: Uh oh, sweetie. Did you have an accident? Where were you when you had an accident?
Viva: In your bed.
Wife: (horrified look, runs upstairs)
Wife (After looking for the accident unsuccessfully): I don't see it Viva. Where were you when you went peepee?
Viva: (in a voice filled with glee) I was on your pillow!
Yeah. That really happened.
Hey, wanna see a The Weed home video clip? WARNING: you will see a glimpse of a two-year-old's bum bum.
Things of note in this video:
1. Viva is holding a screwdriver. Don't know how she got it or where it came from. We are the best parents ever.
2. I am wearing a shirt that's older than Anna (who is five).
3. Who doesn't have a little potty in their kitchen?
4. Tessa needs a nose-wipe somethin' fierce.
5. Just be thankful this wasn't the other "Viva on a potty" video we saw on youtube (really? there's another Viva, and she has youtube potty footage as well?) which actually shows a toilet filled with toddler poop.