Category Archives: Toddler (18 mos – 3 yrs)

Parenting Book Review: Diaper-Free Before 3

So I never got around to finishing this post about how I potty-trained Noah, but now that Ender’s potty training has begun, I’m ready to approach the subject again. I checked out Early Start Potty Training again from the library to refresh my memory, and I saw this book–Diaper Free Before 3 by Jill M Lekovic, MD–on the shelf next to it. Boy, am I glad I did! I’ve finally found a potty-training book that embodies my personal philosophy of the process.

The philosophy behind Diaper-Free Before 3 is simple: earlier potty-training means fewer diapers. Fewer diapers are better for the environment and mean greater freedom for both the parent and the child. I personally have also found that it is easier to potty train at a younger age because 1) your child is less independent and more willing to respond to direction, and 2) you are more patient because you expect slower progress with a younger child.

Note that I said it’s easier, not that it’s faster. It took me 6 months to train Georgie at age 2.5, and it took me 6 months to train Noah at age 1.5. However, Georgie’s 6 month potty training was filled with yelling, bribery, and tantrums on both of our parts, and Noah’s was a gradual, pleasant, laid-back experience. I know which way I’d rather spend 6 months.

So what is the Diaper-Free Before 3 method of potty training? You’ll have to read the book for the long version, but here’s my cheat sheet:

  1. Learning to sit on the potty – Starting as early as 6 months, set aside 10 minutes a day to practice sitting on the potty. After a meal or before or after naptime are the best times to ensure your child will have some success. Bring a book and comfort your child as he gets used to sitting on the toilet. If something ends up in the potty, great, deal with that, but otherwise just focus on the routine of using the potty once per day.
  2. Increasing potty opportunities for success – Once the child is willing to sit on the potty when asked, increase the your 10 minute potty sessions. I like to introduce a new one every week or so, again after a meal or before or after a naptime. Soon your child will be a pro at the routine of sitting, and even be successful some of the time. Use the phrase, “It’s time to go use the potty” rather than asking your child, “Do you want/need to use the potty?” They don’t know, and the default answer to a parent question is often “No!” Just make it part of your day, like eating lunch or brushing teeth. However, there’s no need to force your child to sit for long periods, just like you shouldn’t force your child to eat if they don’t want to. Just go and try, then finish and be done when they are done.
  3. Training sessions – When your child makes the connection between the potty and what goes in it and is having lots of potty trips each day, add a period in your day when you allow your child to wear training underwear or go naked. (No pull-ups, please!) This will allow your child to realize when they are going in their diaper and hopefully begin to make the association that they need to use the bathroom.
  4. Full time underwear – After your child understands the process and has few accidents per day, transition to full-daytime underwear!

Notice there are no bribes, rewards, or elaborate systems. This is what I love about this system. No coercion, just a normal expectation that they will learn eventually. It’s a slow process, but because you start early, it’s much less stressful because you have all the time in the world.

I also love Dr. Lekovic’s relaxed tone. She takes a very middle of the road approach to many parenting debates (cloth diapers vs disposable, early potty training vs readiness) which makes her a delightfully refreshing voice. I love how she bases her opinions and evidence rather than philosophies and guesses.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to potty train a child. It doesn’t matter if your child is older than 6 months; just start now. I started with Ender a few weeks ago (14 months old). At first, he was terrified of sitting on the potty, but he’s calmed down now and even had a few successes. And he loves washing his hands! I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us.

What are your favorite potty training tips and tricks? What parenting books I should read next?

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Montessori, Potty Training, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Quick Poll for my Mormon Readership/Friends

So some of you have probably heard from me about my enthusiasm for the way our family studies the scriptures with our very young children (5, 3, 1). I’m so excited that I’m in the process of writing a little ebook curriculum with our reading schedules in it.

The problem I have in writing this book is that I don’t know much about the experience of other families in studying the scriptures with young children. So I’m calling upon all the Mormons I know to do a little informal research study for me. If you currently have (or had in the past) young children (say, under age 6), could you answer these questions for me in the comments? (Or via email if you’d rather be private.)

  1. When did you start reading the scriptures with you first child? When did you require subsequent children to be present at family scripture study?
  2. What did you read for scripture study with young children? Did you use the LDS Scripture Stories manuals? The actual scriptures? Other scripture story books?
  3. Did you do any other studying activities (ie memorizing, journaling, etc.) on a regular basis?
  4. How consistent were/are you at reading with your children? What barriers exist to being more consistent?
  5. Any other comments, questions, problems related to studying scriptures with young children would be awesome.

Thanks in advance for your input on my quirky little project.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Early Elementary (6-9), Mormon Parenting Hacks, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Busby Family Rules

Drafted these tonight for Family Home Evening. My kids were so excited to have input on the rules, and to get the rules written down so they know what they are! Georgie has been going nuts because he feels like he never knows when he’s going to get in trouble, even though it seems obvious to me. But I guess not to him. Anyway, there are two sets, general rules and the table rules.

Busby Table Rules
1. No robots (or toys) at the table! – Robots in this context means anything with a screen that turns you into a robot instead of a real, present human being.
2. Try one happy bite of everything before you leave the table. – You don’t have to swallow if you don’t want to, but everyone tastes everything. Everyone also must have everything on their plate.
3. If you want seconds, eat your firsts (all of them). – If you want seconds of a favorite food, you have to eat your veggies. But otherwise, you can choose to eat however much you want to. Or not at all. But no short order cooking here.
4. No crazy noises at the table. – A necessary rule in a family of boys.
5. No interrupting, no talking with your mouth full of food. – We’re working on the basics of conversation here.
6. Leave the table with your plate (or to go potty). – Even a two-year-old can clear his dishes. It’s not that hard.

Busby Rules of Conduct
1. If someone is going to be hurt or something is going to be broken, tell Mom or Dad.
2. Otherwise, use nice words and voices to solve your own problems. – Yup, I don’t make my kids share.
3. If you try two solutions that don’t work, you can come ask Mom or Dad for help. – I will think of ideas for you, or give suggestions, but I will not solve your problem.
4. No screaming at anyone (especially parents at kids!). – This one is especially for me. Guilty, 100%. My kids get to send me to time out for this.
5. No hitting ever. – Rough housing is okay though.
6. Everyone does their chores. – I tried to add “with a smile,” but my hubby said that was pushing it.
7. Everyone gets an opinion, but Mom and Dad get final say. – I want my kids to know I will listen to their complaints about the rules and consider them politely.
8. Love each other. – This covers pretty much everything else, right?
9. Laugh. – About good times, about horrible times, always.

What are your family rules? Anything important we missed?

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Filed under Discipline, Early Elementary (6-9), Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Potty Training the Slow Way: Faster is Not Always Better

I started this post in April when I starting potty-training Sailor, but I’ve been hesitant to post it until we met with success. How could I talk about this stuff if I didn’t know how it would end? This week, Sailor has been almost 100% diaper free with few accidents, and I ‘m ready to declare success. So without further ado, here’s a little mini-series on my new thoughts on potty-training.

I have to admit, when I was potty training Monkey, I was totally caught up in all the “potty train your child in a week/day/hour” methods that are out there.  I loved the idea that I could just be done and not deal with all the messes.  Yuck.

These methods did not work for us for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t have the patience to focus exclusively on potty training for any amount of time.  Most of “instant” methods I read about required a lot of time dedication from the parent. When I tried it, I found that all I could do if I wanted the method to work was watch my child for accidents and babble about the potty. Any distraction led to failures. I felt bored and trapped, and it made me mad and impatient.  Ditto for Monkey. Even a day was too much to ask; we have better things to do.
  2. I had a hard time understanding the real challenge of potty training is not getting them to go on demand, but getting them to understand when they need to go.  Monkey had the first part down in about 30 minutes; knowing when to go took six months or more.  It was baffling to me why he couldn’t put two and two together.  I didn’t help that Monkey is so naturally bright–I expected him to comprehend this as quickly as he had picked up reading. He didn’t.

After all the yelling and crying associated with Monkey’s extended potty-training period (6 months, a year if you count our first few attempts), I was ready to find something else for training Sailor.  I did not want to go through it again, and more importantly, I didn’t want to put my cute little Sailor through it.  In a whim of random library trawling (whoever coordinated our library so that the parenting section of non-fiction lies next to the kids area was a genius), I picked up a couple of books on potty training from the library including Early-Start Potty Training. It’s a very interesting book, mostly focusing on infant elimination control, the idea of potty training babies starting at 2-4 months. (If you thought babies had no bladder control, consider how quickly your child stops peeing during diaper changes. It only takes a few months before your baby learns that this gets a very negative reaction and they have the control to avoid it.)

I don’t know if I’m quite hardcore enough to take on potty training an infant, but their section on training 18-to-24-month-olds was exactly what I was looking for. A few things I liked about it:

  1. Less time consuming – Instead of potty-training suddenly occupying your whole existence, you start extremely gradually and move up, enfolding it into your daily routine. If you’re doing fast potty training, you’re cumulatively taking hours out of your child’s day for this rather boring activity.  After the first novelty wore off, I’d be put out about it, wouldn’t you? Slow potty training solves this by introducing potty time slowly, so the burden is gradually placed on your child.
  2. More patience – Maybe it’s just me, but it was so much easier for me to be patient with an 18-month-old than a 2.5 year old. I didn’t expect him to understand and I felt fine taking it slow since he had so much more time before he hit the age where it was socially unacceptable for him to be in diapers. I treated it like an interesting experiment to see if he could learn, not expecting any results at all, just establishing habits.
  3. Conditioning, not logic – Frankly when we potty-trained Monkey, there was a lot of arguing and reasoning, bribing and rewarding. But in the end, the reflexes involved are a mostly involuntary system and logic isn’t very helpful. Young toddlers are better programmed to learn by imitation and conditioning than 2 and 3 year olds. Early-Start Potty Training frequently uses the analogy of house breaking a puppy versus housebreaking a fully-grown dog: the dog will understand what you want better but be less able to comply because of habit, whereas the puppy won’t understand but is easier to condition. (I take this on faith, since I’ve never had a dog.)
  4. Balance between child-led and parent-directed – Finally, slow potty training isn’t as in-your-face, “you will do this” as some of the fast potty training methods, but it’s not as wishy-washy as the “let your child tell you when it’s time” methods that will have your child still in diapers at age 4.  It’s definitely parent directed, but the demands upon the child are incremental and therefore a lot less onerous and less likely to draw resistance fire from your toddler.

One thing you must have to accept before you go the slow potty training way: there will be accidents, there will be mess, but it won’t be as bad as you think. Since reading Early-Start Potty Training, I’m beginning to think that all of our modern potty training woes stem from our desire to avoid mess. We start at a later age, hoping they will comprehend quicker and reduce mess. We invented “training pants” which are basically still diapers–they work great to avoid mess, but they eliminate the natural consequences that speed potty learning.

Next week: the steps I modified from Early-Start Potty Training to form my new go-to potty training plan.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Potty Training, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 4/17/2012

This week’s library returns and and what we thought of them.

Top of the Pile

Mouse and Mole, Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee
Awesome
I really enjoyed this early reader which won a Geisel Honor in 2010.  The Geisel Award is my new favorite award–it’s for best early reader books.  The books on that list were meant for kids like Monkey who learn to read early and need more content than picture books and less than a chapter book, but something that’s actually a story since they’re done with boring phonics concepts.  So many early readers are hit-over-the-head boring, but everything we’ve read off the Geisel list has been a huge hit.  Even if your child isn’t reading, these books are highly readable! Anyway, about the book: a friendship story with some serious emphasis on nature study (one of my new pet homeschooling topics). Continue reading

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Filed under Early Elementary (6-9), Library Hits, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 4/4/2012

(And we’re back from the dead.)

I’ve recently decided that lists on a blog is no way to keep track of books.  It’s not searchable, it’s not taggable, it’s not organized, gosh darn it!  In fact, given what we all know about me, I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier.  After a failed attempt at creating a spreadsheet (too much by-hand input required and still not searchable), I remembered a lovely book organizing tool I found back in college: LibraryThing!

So now I’ve been busy inputting recommended reading lists into the database (almost done with the Book Crush list, then on the the award lists) along with our recent library hits.  You can browse my database by heading over to my LibraryThing page. I hope this database can be useful to other people as, ideally, it will be made up of only truly awesome picture books without the drivel and the twaddle. (On a side note, “drivel” and “twaddle” are technical terms in my book, “drivel” referring to overly sentimental children’s lit and “twaddle” being overly commercialized pulp lit.)

Since I’m not really including the bad stuff in this database, I’ll limit my library hits reviews to the actual hits. Unless of course there’s something outstandingly bad enough that I just have to share and mock it.  :D

Top of the Pile

Question Boy meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto
Awesome
Our entire family adored this book, and that’s rare since reading picture books is the bane of my husband’s existence. The book is pretty much what the title suggests it is, with superhero costumes for all, even the garbage man.  The plotting is awesome and for once, the ending of a picture book is every bit as satisfying as a novel.  Illustrations are also spot on and hilarious.

The Stacks

Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
Check-out
When this came up on the Book Crush list I was entering, I vaguely remembered the pictures of it from my childhood.  The pictures were just as stunning as ever, but the writing was a little weak.  I mean, it just sort of ends, with no elaboration on this little mythic world it’s created.

Zelda and Ivy by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Buy
The beginning of a good early reader series.  I think the story of two sisters and how they interact and get along is interesting.  Probably would have been even more awesome were there any sisters in our household . . . .

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el
Check-out
Decent alphabet book.  Story in the tradition of each person having what the next one needs, and so they all swap at the end.  The text on the jacket cover is misleading though; it’s not about them working together at all.

A Second is a Hiccup by H. J. Hutchins
Buy
I love a good educational book that’s actually readable.  This book, in a poetic way, gives kids a sense of the scale of different measures of time.

Rating Scale

In homage to Harry Potter, our rating scale contains no simple numbers, but is useful nonetheless, and largely self-explanatory:
Awesome
Buy
Check-out
Filler
Obnoxious
Terrible

Disclaimer: These reviews are not intended to be a review of the overall quality of any picture book, but are totally biased and based on their suitability for this mom and her two children reading together.  Your mileage may vary based on your children’s maturity, attention span, and interests.

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Filed under Library Hits, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Stress-Free Parenting and Conversations About Drawing

Theory Links

Is Stress-Free Parenting Possible? – Yes, and yes.

Reflecting on How I Spend My Days – Amen to this list of ways to keep your days as a toddler parent joyful, rather than sad.

10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Run Smoothly – If you’re not into the homeschooling vibe, don’t be put off. I find that homeschooling blogs are a great source for general, organized parenting tips.  Sure, some of this may not apply, but a lot of these are a huge part of making anyone’s day run smoothly.

 

Activity Links

Making Shapes – Beautifully simple homemade toy (popsicle sticks + velcro stickers) with huge potential.

Kids Art: Conversations About Drawing – I’m at this point with Monkey’s fine motor skills.  This is a good technique for dealing with the frustration of “not being able to do it”.

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Filed under Parental Motivators, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)