How We Potty Trained Our 2 Year Old with a Token Economy

Potty training is a BEAST. Plain & simple. I won’t sugar coat it for you. Our journey with Paislee was a long one & it took a ton of patience to get through it with her. Every kiddo is so different when it comes to potty training. I heard of parents having their littles trained in like 2 days….um what? HOW is that possible?

The answer I’ve gotten is candy. Candy, candy, candy. “We gave our kiddo an m&m or skittle every time they went potty.” I wasn’t totally against the fact as I’ve used candy as reinforcers for clients I work with as an ABA therapist. Plus, I’m a huge candy lover. But I guess I wanted her experience to have some other type of reward. Something more natural. My thought process was that, eventually, the candy will not be given after she goes potty. I felt that the weaning from that might be too much of a headache. I won’t lie, there were a few times she was rewarded with a cookie or gummies after she went potty. But it was not our go-to.

We started her training around when she was 19 months. Her pediatrician told us at her 18 month check up that she could start potty training. So we went out & bought her a little potty. We just started out with her sitting on the potty. We PRAISED her like crazy for sitting on that potty. And she soaked up every little bit. She actually went a few times. But she just wasn’t quite ready. We would still encourage it but we took a little break for a few months.

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We started back up again once she turned two. I tried everything y’all. We sang potty songs, read potty books, dry erase markers on the potty, went & sat on the potty every 30 minutes. None of it seemed to be working for our girl. She wasn’t showing any initiative to go to the potty. She went through a phase for a couple months where she just flat out didn’t want to go. She would start crying when we told her it was time to go potty. We thought that maybe she just wasn’t ready. We did not want to force her & make the experience aversive. So we stopped. Again. We also had a lot of things going on in our lives at this point in time. We were getting ready to move. We had lots of family coming to visit us during the holidays. Too much for her to focus on going potty when she needed to.

Once we moved into our new house I decided that it was time to get really serious about it. I was home every day during the week. We were going to be in this house for about 4 months. I thought now was the best time as any to crack down on this! So I started the every 30 minutes thing. She was starting to do much better. She had some big girl panties I had her wear most of the time during the day but she was still having accidents. Then I had the greatest idea!

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As I’ve mentioned, I’m an ABA therapist. One of the many reinforcement tools we use with our clients is called a token economy. Token economies are used to reinforce very specific behaviors. That behavior can be anything that a certain child is working on. At work, it’s usually when a client gives a correct response to a certain lesson/target being run or it could be reinforcing every instance of them having gentle hands with their peers during play. I thought this would be perfect for Paislee while she was potty training. So I got to work. Token economies that I usually work with are easily portable & can be carried around. But I wanted to make a big one. One that Paislee would notice & be excited to see every time she went potty. Plus we were almost always home, so we didn’t need to take it anywhere [but a portable one would also be helpful if you’re on the go a lot!].

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One thing that I think really helped make this method effective for us is that I included her from the get-go. I had her pick out the tokens she would earn. Of course, Ana, Elsa, Shimmer & Shine were the obvious choices. Including your child in anything really makes them feel important & special. This experience should not be aversive! It should be fun & rewarding! I also had her help me pick out the colors she wanted to use on the board. I put everything together once she was asleep. I wanted her to start this new system on a brand new day. Fresh start.

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After lots of velcro, cutting & laminating, this was the final product! I love how it turned out & I couldn’t wait for Paislee to see it.

She loved it y’all. And I can’t tell you how much it helped. It was like a light switched in her that day. She was 1000 times more motivated to use the potty because she wanted to put her tokens on her board. I still did the 30 minute rule. I did this so she could really associate the tokens with using the potty. I added a few other goals to make it easier for her to start earning them. The goals I set for her were:

“I sat on the potty when mommy or daddy told me to”

“I told mommy or daddy I needed to go potty”

“I went pee-pee in the potty”

“I went poo-poo in the potty”

“I went 30 minutes with NO accidents”

I added incentives for each goal too. Like if she went & sat on the potty every time we told her to for a whole day she could have any preferred item or food she wanted that day. If any of y’all are ABA therapists reading this, I hope you can relate. I totally do ABA with my kiddos at home too! Eventually those goals were made a bit more challenging to reach as she progressed in her training. Like having zero accidents in a whole day, & eventually in a whole week.

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IT WORKED y’all. Don’t get me wrong. She still had accidents here & there. But they significantly decreased when I started this reinforcement system. I loved it because it was still tangible for her & a great visual to motivate her through this huge milestone. One thing that also helped I think was tossing the diapers & pull-ups. When we started the token economy she only wore big girl panties during the day. We put her in pull-ups at night, but after a few nights she didn’t ever go in her pull-ups. Slowly but surely we had her in panties all day & all night. Pull-ups can be a crutch when trying to potty train. Littles are much less likely to go poop in their cute little undies rather than a pull-up that they know will be thrown away anyways.

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Fast forward a few months during our move & this girl rocked it. We drove from California to Texas. Four days on & off the road. Never wearing pull-ups & she had zero accidents! We did have a little setback when we arrived at our new house. There was a lot going on around her & new surroundings. Any big changes can affect the potty training journey for any kiddo. But we have made it to the other side. The entire journey lasted about a year & five months. Once we started the token economy, it was over in 4 months.

All the praise hands for those parents who speed train their kiddos. We were not so lucky. This is what worked for our family, & everyone is so different! I do truly believe that if you incorporate your child’s choices, wants & preferred activities/items you can get them potty trained in less than 6 months! I feel like this is a much more realistic goal rather than trying to get them trained in a week. No matter what big changes might be going on in your lives. Being a military family, it is sometimes hard for us to have a steady routine. Especially when there are moves coming up, husbands or wives are gone, or relatives in town, what have you. There is probably never a “perfect” time to potty train. Just grab the beast by the horns & run with it!

We are so proud to say that our girl is fully potty trained & our awesome token board is no more!

As always, God bless

Brittany

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He’s Not Just a NICU Survivor

Have you ever stopped to think about all of the little things you love about your children? I mean the really little things. Have you ever just stopped to look at them? Study them? Watch them? I’m not a creeper mom I promise! I just get caught up in a moment sometimes. Watching my kiddos. Here the past few weeks I have really been watching my Noah. My sweet boy.

We are big advocates for NICU families, survivors & angels. All because Noah was born 11 weeks premature & spent 12 weeks in the NICU overcoming obstacles most grown ups couldn’t overcome. Given that September is NICU Awareness Month AND Noah’s birthday month, I love to share his story. Even though it’s an amazing story & testimony of faith, struggle, motherhood, & birth that I love to tell- I’m not gonna talk about that today.

Related: The Littlest Warrior: An Inspiring NICU Story

Today is bub’s 2nd birthday. And I just want to talk about him. I want to share the little things that make him special. That make him “him”. God has sculpted this little boy perfectly fitting for our little family. He is so wonderfully made that I felt inclined to share with y’all my favorite things about him.

His smile

Since he came into this world, he was smiling. Always such a happy soul. His laugh is incredibly infectious. I pray you never lose this smile, bub. It has brightened my darkest days.

His snuggles

Noah gives the best hugs. Lately he’s been so busy. He is such a busy body. So I sneak in those cuddles every chance I can get! Snuggle your babies. Even if it’s just a quick hug or head on the shoulder. Soak up those moments. Two may seem young, but I want to look back when he’s 22 & think, “I stole all the snuggles I could!”

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His passion

This boy is so passionate about so many things. Some may call it obsessive, but he knows what he loves & he will talk your ear off about it! He’s so passionate about his blankie, baseball, hats, superheroes & shoes. Just to name a few. All very different things. I think it’s just a tiny look into the passion he will have as he gets older. When he begins to love & maybe play baseball. Or when his passion for Christ overcomes him & leads him down a successful path. I look forward to that time of watching him grow into the man he will be.

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His eyelashes

Everybody always talks about his eyelashes. It’s one of his many characteristics that are so, so precious to me. It just adds to his childhood innocence. Girls will go ga-ga over him & those dang eyelashes. I love them, but they’re gonna drive me crazy one day!

The love he has for his family

The love he has for us is undeniable. He may only be two, but he is the most loving boy. The random “I love you’s” & sweet goodnight kisses. He adores his sissy too. The way he plays with her & follows her every move reminds me of my little sisters growing up. I give Paislee a good bit of credit when I think about all of the things he has learned over the past year. He has learned so much from her it’s crazy. How much he talks & the motor movements he’s learned. All her! I can’t wait to watch their relationship grow as they do ❤

His strength

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about the NICU, but just for this one I’ll mention that that experience was only the beginning of the immense strength this guy has. Throughout his whole two years of life, he has overcome some huge obstacles. Physical & occupational therapy. Possible speech delays, eye issues, hearing tests. Each one he showed how much of a miracle he is. Such a healthy boy. He started preschool this year & that transition was so hard. He had only been home with me most of his life. He had such a hard time at first. But now, when I drop him off he goes in & sits right next to his friends with that big handsome smile on his face. Although it’s hard for me to let go a little bit, it makes me feel successful as a momma to watch my sweet boy be so independent.

I could literally go on & on about this boy. I want to challenge every momma & daddy out there to do this with me. Write down the special things you love about your littles. Big & small. I think these things in my head, but actually writing them down is very therapeutic. Also going through old pictures & memories really makes this momma happy! Other people may think it’s annoying, but I take SO many pictures. And I’m glad that I do. Capturing all of these precious moments that I can have for a lifetime.

So take ALL THE PICTURES. Write down all the memories. You only get this one life to live & remember. This boy of mine is just starting his life, but it has been more full than I could’ve ever imagined. Although it is a huge part of who he is, he is NOT just a NICU survivor. He is a vibrant little boy full of so much joy. There are so many parts to him that we haven’t even discovered yet. Happy 2nd birthday bubba! We love you!

As always, God bless †

Brittany

The Life of a “Younger” Momma

Being a momma is the best job there is. And it helps when your kiddos are the cutest human beings in the world! Since I was little I wanted to have kids. I knew I was destined to be a momma and raise little babies. In my mind I always thought I would be married for at least a year before my husband and I would start trying for kids.

But God had a different plan for me.

I graduated college, and literally two days after found out I was pregnant with our first. Then 7 months after she was born, God was like yeah that’s not enough. I try to think what He was thinking in that point of my life. Like, “You just got the hang of this, so let me throw ya another.” Or, “Oh it won’t be THAT hard, you got this.”

All jokes aside it was probably more like, “I’m going to give your heart twice as much joy, you just wait and see.”

Now that my children are little tots now, I think about how freakin’ awesome it is to be a younger momma. I’m 25 [26 in April!!] and will be in my early 40’s when they graduate high school. So that’s pretty cool 😎. And hopefully my sweet hubby and I will be around for a long while and see our great-grandbabies grow up! Man would that be a blessing!

Also, now that my kiddos are tots, I’m exhausted y’all. I might be younger but I don’t feel like it sometimes. My joints hurt, I can barely hold my eyes open most days and I’m pretty positive I strained my back yesterday stretching in bed…..for real.

We live in military housing so we are surrounded by young families. It’s not considered “abnormal” to see a 20 year with 2 kiddos [side note…you go girl!]. But when we go out into town, I get looks sometimes when I’m trying to calm my babies down in public. Or just taking my littles to the park I see older mommas look at me funny. It’s totally a thing! Even comments like, “Oh wow you have TWO kids?” and “I wasn’t even thinking about kids when I was 25.” Which is cool! Just a tad condescending and a little annoying, but I’m used to it. I’m sure y’all can relate!

Whether you’re 18, 23, or 34, being a momma is tiring. It’s trying on your body and your mind. I feel beyond my years sometimes because of the things I deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not complaining, I wouldn’t trade anything in my life for the world.

People talk about how becoming a parent has “changed you”. Uhh yeah. Of course it changes you! It ages you. You pop out a person and you’re responsible for a whole ‘nother life! It makes you grow up real quick! It also gives you a better appreciation for life. At least, it did for me.

Mommas that are a little older than me used to be extremely intimidating. And I’m not quite sure why. Maybe we put so much thought into age. We think women who are older would be better moms or might know more about motherhood because they’ve simply been on this earth longer. But that’s just simply not true. Any woman, any age, can be an amazing mother. All it takes is that first warm touch from your sweet baby. And it’s like a light switches on.

So I guess my point is, don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to be a momma. A good momma. It’s scary and a little overwhelming but YOU CAN DO IT. Your 20s are the best years of your life right?! Mine definitely are 🙂 I get to spend them watching my beautiful babies grow! God has blessed me in unimaginable ways in my 25 years of life! And I couldn’t be happier! 🙂

Howdy Y’all!

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You can take the girl outta Texas, but not the Texas outta the girl! Howdy everyone! I am so excited to welcome y’all to my new blog! I apologize it’s taken me so long to officially publish my site! With our recent move and getting settled it’s been a little crazy over here! There may be a few minor changes coming soon, but here it is! Finally published and ready for y’all to join me on this journey! I just want to keep this one short and sweet and simply welcome you here and THANK YOU for the overwhelming support I have received as I take this leap of faith! Writing has never been my forte, but I always feel the need to write something down when it happens! And why not share it, right?! Here goes nothin’! God bless y’all!