To Stand or to Sit, That is the Question: Potty Training My Toddler Son

At thirty three months old, Jack began potty training. I remember this because he was young according to Down syndrome standards and because it was around Valentine’s Day. I was so excited…because Jack wasn’t verbally communicating his need using the words, potty, pee pee or poo poo, rather he’d pat his pull up and that was his way of telling me.

When he started school three months later at three years of age, there were some setbacks as he wasn’t communicating his need to go potty to the teacher or assistant. Or maybe, they weren’t as in tune with his methods of communication as I was. It wasn’t until he returned to school after summer break that I had to do something to change this. He was almost three and a half and was refusing to potty train at school. It then occurred to me to incentivize him. So I said to him one day, “You start potty training at school and I will take you to Chick-fil-A.” Within a week’s time he started potty training.

But wanting to potty train wasn’t our only issue, Jack couldn’t get on the adult toilet safely by himself either and didn’t want to use a child’s potty seat. I looked at various local retailers and couldn’t find a single solution and then I went online. There was a solution to allow Jack the capability of being tall enough to stand and reach the potty and if need be, hold onto the rails so he could turn himself around and sit, hence we got the Potty Stool. When I read about potty training children with Down syndrome, I read that they need additional support due to their low tone. So the step actually allowed his legs and abdomen the support he needed for proper bowel movements. Best of all, the stool gave him the space for balance to get on an adult toilet safely, which at the time he lacked.

With boys, comes the additional training to stand to potty. Sometimes Jack enjoyed sitting versus standing. In order to make standing to potty fun, we threw in a simple cereal cheerio into the toilet for him to aim and watch float at the bottom. When the fun of that was dimished, we used food coloring in the toilet. He got to choose which color we would put in and watched as it changed color upon urination.

Then we came to the milestone of needing Jack to verbally communicate his need to potty. We developed a very simple motivational chart. We divided a small poster board in half and labeled one half pee pee and the other poo poo. We gave Jack stickers for each time he went, one sticker for pee pee and two for poo poo. In order to encourage communication, we gave him a star when he actually said what he needed to do. And so began him saying pah-poo, his way of covering all bases.

After covering the entire poster-board in stickers, we took him to his favorite place, Chick -fil-A where he loves playing on the playground. He quickly began communicating pee-pee and poo-poo effectively and could differentiate between the two each time he went, as we pointed and read the words on the chart that denoted where he would be placing his stickers.

Soon after starting in the Head Start program at school last year, Jack began going potty by himself. But once he switched schools in January, that subsided. We have been trying to encourage independence at home and have found it difficult.

Just a couple weeks ago I asked school to help us with this and after a four day weekend Jack seemingly didn’t want to try. Then Friday came along and we said to him, “you have a great day at school and we will do pizza and a movie.” Not only did he have a fantastic day at school but he actually got up and went potty by himself! Now we are having the pleasure of him going to the bathroom all by himself both at school and home.