Hello wise mamas,
I need some advice, ideas about potty training our DS. He is almost 4 and has all the "readiness" signs for potty training but I have no real idea how to begin nor how to do it gently.
Some background - DS has a severe language disorder so he is cognitively/emotionally "typical" but his ability to understand language is very behind. His comprehension is basically closer to a 1-1.5 year old so I can't exactly explain things to him. However, he tells me when he needs to go and clearly can control his system. I've tried putting him on the potty on a schedule but he HATES just being sat on the toilet and has never gone that way. He definitely saw it as punishment and generally doesn't sit still for much of anything.
We tried going without diapers and every time he started peeing I quickly put him over the potty nearby but then he would immediately stop and got very upset every time, like I was punishing him for peeing (even though I was trying to be all positive and encouraging).
I've done books, shown him the Elmo potty video, but nothing seems to be helping.
I guess I feel like, if I could just get him to understand the concept, he would try it but I'm having a hard time even helping him understand what is even supposed to happen. I haven't wanted to push anything but I really do feel like everyone would be happier.
Would love to hear what worked for other kids and if anyone has ideas I would be eternally grateful!
Fizgig, your son is very similar to mine. Mine is 4 and can use about 150 words, functioning at less than half his age. The difference is my son is also cognitively impaired and has autism. We are still in the very early stages of potty learning, so I am certainly no expert.
My thought would be to have your son practice sitting on the potty when it's not connected to peeing. I know that seems opposite of what we'd do with a neurotypical toddler, but if he's seeing it as punishment maybe you need to have the potty be a place to sit for awhile so he doesn't resist it.
My son attends a special needs preschool and they got the process started there. We had tried putting him on the potty at home sometimes, but he had meltdowns about it and seemed to fear it. At school, when it's time to potty, they sit on it until the timer beeps that they're done. I bought the same timer for home. He sits until it beeps, then he can get up.
In order to get to the point of sitting on the potty, I wonder if your son could understand some sort of first-then connection. "First we will sit on the potty until we hear the beep, then we will (something he enjoys)." Your idea of using the Elmo book is a good one. Have you seen social stories online? Maybe picture cards would help.
Something I have not done, but should, is to connect potty time to a certain event so my son can start to understand it as part of his routine. Right now we do it whenever I think of it and when my 2-year-old isn't going bananas (so not that often!). But I think if we always sat on the potty after every meal or something, that would help him expect it so he wouldn't want to avoid it so much. Knowing what to expect is big for my son.
Good luck! There are books out there about toilet training a child with special needs. I haven't read any yet, but I did come across a good web site once. I'm sorry I don't remember the name.
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