Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Parent Review: Toilet Training: A Practical Guide

We've made some progress at home with Jacob's potty training. Finally a treat worthy of Jacob's attention has been found: Hostess Blueberry Mini Muffins. Also, he really likes dried cherries, which we call "super raisin cherries." Both have been successful motivators. He has even peed standing up at the potty. Unfortunately, so far he has only peed at most twice in one day and some days he hasn't peed at all (in the potty, that is). We haven't even started training on the infamous #2 yet.

Toilet Training: A Practical Guide to Daytime and Nighttime Training Revised and Updated by Vicki Lansky. Book Peddlers, 2002, 104 pages, $12.95 US. Paperback includes KoKo Bear's New Potty for your child to read.

The introduction has an excellent aphorism: Remember that there are three things you can never make your child do--eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. [p. 2]

Brief overview of content:

The usual issues are dealt with in the first two chapters: what are the signs your child is ready and what apparatus to use in the bathroom (potty chair, toilet adapter seat, toilet by itself). The advice of experts on potty training is reviewed in the third chapter (see below in Helpful to a Parent). Physical and emotional complications that might make your child uncooperative are explained. The author also looks at special circumstances (two working parents/day care, public restrooms, traveling, etc.). Dealing with accidents and bed-wetting finish the book.

Author overview:

Blurb from the back of the book: Vicki Lansky's invaluable advice and information has helped countless parents through her more than two dozen titles, articles and media appearances. Millions have benefited from Feed Me! I'm Yours, Games Babies Play and Practical Parenting Tips. She is also a contribution editor to Family Circle Magazine. Lansky lives in suburban Minneapolis.


1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

The book is so short, reading cover to cover is far too easy. The index in the back helps if you just want to look at specific issues or ideas.

2. Readability.

The writing is personal and non-technical. Plenty of pictures of toilet training items, along with occasional cartoons, make for a pleasant read.

3. Helpful to a parent?

A lot of the standard advice is in here. Of special note are the chapter on what the experts say and the potty progress chart/diploma in the back. The chapter on the experts reviews the opinions and advice from the big guns like Dr. Spock, Dr. Brazelton, Dr. Sears, and Dr. Leach. The chapter also discusses Toilet Training in Less Than A Day by Nathan Azrin, Ph.D. and Richard Foxx, Ph.D. Successes and failures of the one day method are presented. The potty progress chart can be used to track a week's worth of potty successes, though there are only four boxes per day for stickers or check marks. Depending on what you are rewarding (checking for dry and clean, sitting on the potty, actually going), that may not be enough. The backside of the chart has a diploma for when the child has successfully completed the program. The author encourages photocopying and enlarging the pages. That is especially important if you get the book from the library!

4. Did we use it?

We got the book from the library; we did not tear out or photocopy the chart/certificate. As noted above, the only material motivators for Jacob have been mini muffins and super raisin cherries, so stickers and stamps have not been of use in our situation. Reading advice from the other major pediatricians was helpful to do further research.

Sample text

On the basics of potty training: You'll probably think about toilet training long before you get into it. One thing you'll want to do is settle any major differences of opinion between you and your spouse (or anyone else who will be involved) about methods and ways of handling things. Some compromise may be called for. Basic consistency is very important. There should be total agreement that there's no place for punishment in any phase of toilet training. [p. 8]

Also, the author mentions hypnosis as a treatment for the over-five-year-old set, just like the last author did.

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