When my daughter was 17 months old, I began potty training her and it was actually fairly easy to do. I had originally planned on waiting until she was two years old to start potty training her, because I was a first time mom who treated What To Expect During The Toddler Years as my bible, but I ended up being one of the lucky moms who had an eager child very interested in wanting to use the toilet at a young age. I went ahead and got her a cute little princess potty chair, a book about using the potty, and stickers galore. Much of my days as a stay at home mom consisted of sitting crosslegged on the cold bathroom tile floor reading my daughter If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (I know that entire story verbatim) while she sat on her princess throne and asking her, “Did you make it rain in the potty yet?” My sore butt and back were well worth it though, because by the time she started preschool, she was 100% potty trained.
Fast forward to today and my baby girl is now six years old and in the first grade. Her favorite subject in school is science and she sings in our church’s choir. She is currently into drawing and wants to be an artist when she grows up. She also pees in her pants almost every day! Yes, you read that right. I thought I was done potty training my girls (I also have a three year old who has been 100% potty trained for a while now.), but here I am, re-potty training my six year old. (Oh, the joys of parenthood!)
According to Family Health Online, my daughter is not alone. One out of ten children in the first grade have a significant problem with having accidents. When you add ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) into the mix, those children are ten times more likely to have accidents. Many children with ADHD have a difficult time multi-tasking and so they may not give their full bladder priority over building a really awesome LEGO tower for example. In my daughter’s case, there are two main causes for her accidents:
- She doesn’t want to stop what she is doing. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ADHD, one of the cool “super powers” that comes with it is the ability to hyper focus. If you give my daughter a boring math worksheet to do, she will find every excuse not to do it. “I’m thirsty.” “I need chapstick.” “I need to clean my room.” (Okay, that last one was a lie.) If you give my daughter a cute Shopkins coloring page on the other hand, she will switch gears and go into complete hyper focus mode. She will not look away or put down her crayons until Kooky Cookie, June Balloon, and Dennis Ball are all colored in perfectly. When she is focused like that or busy playing with her friends, she doesn’t want to stop what she is doing to use the bathroom, because she is afraid she will miss something. She would seriously rather pee in her pants than miss her friend telling a joke.
- She is too scared to go to the bathroom by herself. My daughter’s school has what they call the Buddy System, which is when a student must be accompanied by another student when they have to use the restroom during class. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great rule and I’m glad they implemented it, but it’s affecting my daughter at home. Now she feels like someone always has to go with her to the bathroom, because she is too scared to go by herself. Although I have assured her many times that there is nothing to be afraid of and we are nearby, she refuses to go alone. When I can, I do go with her of course, but many times, I’m busy with cooking dinner, doing the laundry, or helping her little sister, so I can’t, which results in her having an accident.
So what now? How do I re-potty train my child? She’s too big for a fancy shmancy potty chair, too old for a potty training book, and stickers just don’t have the same appeal to her as they used to. Punishing a child with ADHD for something they have a difficult time controlling just doesn’t fly, but rewarding them for effort and good behavior can go a long way. In place of stickers, I use other small rewards that she enjoys, like candy, colorful pencils, and even her beloved Shopkins. (Side Note: Did you know there is a Shopkins toilet and toilet paper? I swear, they think of everything!) Although she does still have accidents from time to time, I am happy to report that she is doing considerably better since I restarted a reward system for using the potty, as well as following these tips:
Tips To Prevent Having Accidents:
- As soon as she wakes up in the morning, I make sure she sits on the toilet and tries to go potty. (She will insist she doesn’t have to go, but 99% of the time, she is wrong.)
- Right before we leave for school, I have her sit on the toilet again. (Sometimes, I hear a tinkle and sometimes I don’t, but I tell her it’s important to try and I thank her for trying.)
- I remind her that when it is recess or lunch, she needs to go to the school’s restroom and try to go potty before she can go play with her friends.
- I remind her to tell her teacher that she needs to use the restroom as soon as she feels the urge when she is in class.
- At home, I make sure she takes potty breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours. (She will usually fight me on this, but again, about 99% of the time, she goes potty.)
- At nighttime, we made going potty be part of her Bedtime Routine.
- I talk to her about what some of the consequences could be if she keeps “holding it,” like bladder infections that could spread to her kidneys and cause even more damage to her body.
If you had or have a child you needed to re-potty train, what additional tips worked for your child?