Our potty training background
I really didn't expect the amount of issues we would have with potty training. As a family, pee and poo isn't really a taboo subject, and I never seem to get privacy in the loo. I assumed my daughter would see, learn and get it. Potty training was meant to be a few days in the house, nappy free, and she would be a ok.
It wasn't ok.
To add to the mix, my parents look after my daughter a lot. On average, she stayed over 1-2 nights each week before she started nursery (no, I'm not smug. Honest...) ;) We have very different parenting styles, but I didn't (and still don't) feel able to tell them how to look after my child as they are doing me such a big favour. On occasion I have tried, it has ended up in arguments and them saying people have been bringing up children for centuries without parenting books (fair enough). Chinese families are also structured such that you listen to your parents and don't answer back etc (I'm not always like that, but I do try).
What we tried before Kerry
Back in March, my parents decided S was ready for potty training. They took her nappy away, and when she wanted to go, we rushed her to the potty. She did go on the potty a few times. One time S had an accident though, and my parents rushed her to the bidet to wash her. I think that triggered a dislike for potty, and we struggled ever since.
Oddly enough, we continued with nappy free time, and when she wanted to go, I would ask if she wanted the toilet (expecting "no, I want to go in nappy!") etc and I would put the nappy on for her to do the business. It was always my plan to do potty training in Summer months, as she could run around bare bottomed. I had set aside our 3 week holiday for getting rid of the dummy and her nappy. Unfortunately we didn't succeed with the nappy... and we had a deadline! S started school in September and they said all the children had to be dry.
3 weeks before nursery started, a panic swept through the household. Why is she still insisting on going in the nappy? I bought some presents, (another) potty - actually, 2. The Potette and the singing potty! I decorated a box, the nappy fairy made an appearance, I bribed her with Peppa Pig playhouse... nothing worked. There were minimal accidents, but there were tears and screaming when she needed to go. We went on a day trip to Brighton and she didn't go at all from 9am to 7pm (when I finally put on her night nappy).
I wrote about my frustration and asked for help on the mummy facebook groups. I found though that our situation was so unique/odd that none of the mums there could really help. A lot of people swear by the "oh Crap" book, but I couldn't reset with her due to our looming deadline and also because we had already started and stopped. As well as that, my daughter is highly verbal, and she evidently can control her bodily functions as we had minimal accidents (even after holding it in for 10 hours). Bribery didn't work, crazy praise didn't work, sticker chart didn't work, chocolate treats didn't work...
Our small collection of pottys/toilet seats.... she also had different versions at both sets of grandparents' homes.
How Kerry helped with potty training
So when Kerry Secker contacted me, I thought... what could I lose? She offered a free phone call, so I went through what we have been doing with S. As you can tell from the above, it was all rather convoluted, but Kerry stuck with it. She gave me some tips to try. Some of them were really quite obvious, but I was missing it didn't seem it at the time. I think sometimes when you are in the thick of it, you just need someone to point some things out and let you see more clearly.
Say, for example, I would also ask S "do you want to go to the toilet?" whilst rephrasing it as "let's go to the toilet" is much more authoritative and likely to work (it did work to a certain extent - she would go to the bath room, but not actually go go). She also wrote up the notes during the phone call and emailed it to me so I could refer back to it easily.
Kerry kept up with our progress, and texted me frequently. I would reply and give an update via text. When I thought Kerry really came into her element was when we had a particularly bad day. My daughter was crying on the floor, clearly distressed, really wanting to go, and really really wanting a nappy. I don't exactly blame her, as that's all shes really known for the first 32 months of her life. If someone came up to me now and asked me to wee in a nappy, I probably would not be able to do it.
A few days later, we were in a similar situation, with both of us close to tears and I ended up ringing Kerry. Again, she managed to calm me down and talked me through my options.
(I should add that we had a set back as my daughter had a runny tummy, and perhaps stupidly, I didn't put her nappy back on, and she had a few number 2 accidents...)
At this point, Kerry suggested a face to face meeting as there is only so much she can do over the phone. I agreed, as it seemed to make sense for Kerry to meet S and really see what she is like and why she has an aversion to the toilet/potty. We booked the appointment in for the following week (as I couldn't do any sooner), but by that time S was more or less potty trained. (I am NOT recommending this, but my husband knew she was busting so tickled her whilst she sat on the toilet. I absolutely would not have done that for fear of any associations, but it worked for us in this instance, and S was sooo happy and proud of herself when she went).
Kerry's home visit.
When Kerry came, my daughter instantly bonded with her and started showing off her toys. We were able to talk through the potty training, and it felt good to draw a line under it. Sure, we haven't got rid of the night nappy yet, but I'm just happy now that she is potty trained during the day time.
In some ways, S was quite text book when I checked through the developmental stuff, but in this instance she wasn't. As we struggled so much, it made such a difference to have a professional at the other end who would listen, not judge, and give practical advice.
Kerry did not pay me to write this blog, and I did pay to use her services. I just wanted to write about our potty training experience as it was, in recent memory, the worst part of parenting I've experienced in a while (apart from the newborn sleep regressions, but at least I had hormones to help me bumble through that!)