I promised I'd make this post a few weeks ago, but things (life) has been busy at the monkey household including a mouse-oriented vacation. However, the delay helped me come to some more conclusions.
Monkey girl was potty trained around 4 years old. Despite numerous attempts to organize a schedule, setting alarms to remind her to try using potty chair, drinking more water, etc... (you know the normal routine we parents go through come potty training time), she just wasn't getting it. Then one day it was like a light switch went off in her head, as if she just realized what we were going for and from that day on, she used the potty chair (day and night) without much effort. It took a while, caused us much frustration, but in the end it was simple, she just needed to be ready and figure it out for herself.
Not that I'm saying the efforts we put forth weren't worth it, in fact I'm certain that's what helped her understand what the goal was, but I firmly believe she just needed to be physically and mentally ready.
I will say I was getting nervous because of her age. Her Mother's Day Out required them to be potty trained for the 4 year old class (I know others that require it for the 3 year old class) and I had tons of friends who boasted that their 2 year olds were successfully potty trained. As I hung my head and muttered something about 'potty training going well, but not being quite there yet', I envied these friends. Why was it so simple for them?
Then after Bro Bro monkey's 3rd birthday, we decided to buckle down and get the routine going for him. After all, that four year old Mother's Day Out was looming and I knew that meant it had to get done. Talk about pressure! Bro Bro monkey still wasn't getting it as we approached his 4th birthday. Again, the nerves set in, the thoughts that I wasn't doing my best as his parent, the not knowing what I was doing wrong or what I should be doing instead...
He'd sit down on his potty when I asked him, but even when he would go pee pee, he didn't even realize he was going. It was purely coincidence that the timing of sitting on the potty chair and actually having to go lined up.
It eventually became a struggle to even get him to 'try' by sitting on his potty chair.
We started a reward system just for trying to keep the training going. The reward system worked brilliantly for us. Bro Bro loves trains and Thomas engines were relatively inexpensive. With the infrequency of our successes we decided it was worth it for our endeavor. However, the more he tried, the more he'd want a reward for a drop of urine. Simultaneously, I was getting frustrated with both monkeys reluctance to clean their rooms. So we came up with a plan. For Bro Bro monkey, we'd ask him to clean his room and we'd come check on him in a couple of minutes. If he was caught playing instead of cleaning, we'd take a toy away (usually a train). In the beginning, we collected a lot of trains! We'd place them on our entertainment center, near his potty chair, and told him that when he'd try to use the potty on his own, we'd reward him by giving him one of the trains back. Thank goodness, because buying trains was starting to add up, not only in expense, but clutter! This reward system has worked brilliantly, he's been motivated not only to be efficient with his cleaning, but also to use the potty chair on his own.
Back to potty training, Bro Bro just wasn't getting it. Shortly before our trip to Disney World, he started realizing when he had to go and actually USING the potty chair. Of course, as we were about to set off on a 9 day road trip, I was less than enthused about the timing, but of course I was thrilled that things were progressing. As we've continued, we've had our setbacks, obstacles, and continued frustrations, but overall he's doing well. We need to work on using the potty chair away from home, going #2, and night time potty training, but at home, we're having almost no accidents! Plus he's become pretty adept at cleaning his room! :)
By the way, the monkeys and I highly endorse the Baby Bjorn potty chair we've been using for many years now. We have 2 of them (one highback upstairs, and the one pictured downstairs).