I’m a big girl…

September 8th, 2015

I’m a big girl,
I’m a big girl,
I stay dry,
I stay dry,
I can use the toilet,
I can use the toilet,
By myself,
By myself!

Okay, so Verity’s been singing this little ditty on her rocking horse even though she’s not actually all the way there yet!

But she surely has made impressive progress this past week!




For years, Verity has understood what the potty is for, as she routinely sat for a period of time on her small potty chair after sleeping and after eating.

By this summer, she was predictably waking up dry, only rarely had messy accidents, and quickly mastered the toileting routine.  However, she never self-initiated, with the exception of one single instance back in the winter when she was right next to her potty, about to step into the bath.




The goal for Verity is that she is internally rather than externally prompted to use the toilet and that she then moves independently through the entire toileting and handwashing process with the most minimal verbal prompts necessary.  During this intensive toilet training time, which begins when she wakes in the morning and continues for a minimum of eight hours, or until her bedtime if I can manage it, she has multiple opportunities to practice the entire drill correctly.  This involves as many as twenty-seven steps, which I have listed below in groupings.   So far, she needs only minor verbal reminders, such as an occasional expectant, “Next…” and minor physical prompts to keep her on track.

Closing the bathroom door.
[If necessary:  Opening the toilet lid, placing her potty ring on the seat, and moving her stepstool to the front of the toilet.]
Climbing up, turning around, pants down, sitting down.
Purposefully and readily doing what she’s sitting there to do.
Unrolling the correct length of toilet tissue, using two hands to tear it off, crumpling it in her hands, wiping correctly (obviously needs help wiping after #2).
Standing up, pants up, climbing down, flushing.
Moving stepstool to the sink, climbing up.
Soap into hands, turning water on, washing fronts and backs of hands, rinsing fronts and backs of hands, turning water off, drying fronts and backs of hands.
Climbing down, moving stepstool back to toilet.




We briefly considered starting Verity out with the self-initiation training, but ultimately decided to begin at the beginning, with the first three phases of the Rapid Toilet Training method, for the sake of giving her plenty of opportunities to solidify new skills into automatic habits.  Because of how ready she seemed to be, we expected her to move quickly through those phases before beginning self-initiation training.  And this is exactly what she did during her first week.

Day 1 (Tuesday):  Went from phase one to phase two

Day 2 (Wednesday):  Went from phase two to phase three

Day 3 (Thursday):  Went from phase three to self-initiation training; self-initiated one time

Day 4 (Friday):  Self-initiated six times

Day 5 (Saturday):  Two accidents with none left for toilet; self-initiated nine times; chair moved to 2′ from the toilet

Day 6 (Sunday):  One accident with none left for toilet; two minor accidents; self-initiated nine times; chair moved from 4′ from the toilet to 10′ from the toilet

Day 7 (Monday):  One minor accident; self-initiated fourteen times; chair moved from 10′ from the toilet to 16′ from the toilet




Nearly everyone in the family is having to sacrifice or help in some way to make this temporarily intense schedule possible, which means we are nearly all investing something into her toileting success.  We are all very pleased with her cooperation and proud of her progress!!



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11 Responses to “I’m a big girl…”

  1. Cassandra says:

    Forgive my ignorance here. Does DS , does HER DS, make potty training partiuclarly challenging? I guess I assumed that her global progress, although delayed, happens at a predictable (albeit slower) rate. Seems like Verity is developing nicely just on a different timetable. This artificial timetable somebody, somewhere, somehow, suddenly decided to define as normal. I think God – the Creator of Heaven and Earth – must laugh(or grieve) at how we over value intelligence, as if 10, 20, 30 or 40 more IQ points puts us in to a more valuable category. As if the One who created us in His image really cares. I’m rambling.

    Keep looking vertically rather than horizontally and all will be well. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

  2. Susanna says:

    Hi Cassandra! It’s nice to hear from you again! I hope all is well with you and your family!

    From my experience having toilet trained seven boys and two girls with no developmental delays, yes, in contrast, it is far more challenging training Verity. It is taking a very purposeful, structured, intense (as in TOTAL one-to-one every moment of those minimum of eight hours each day) approach. The others caught on quickly, began self-initiating quickly without any special method, and solidly retained their skill without anything like the amount of effort this approach is taking. This method would have been crazy overkill for my others. All of them were between 19 months and 2 years 9 months when they were completely toilet-trained.

    I have my sights set on Benjamin after Verity is solidly there. He’ll be 2 1/2 years old at the end of October, is very aware and verbal about potty issues, asks to be changed, knows what the potty is for and uses it quickly in order to get treats. He’s at the stage of simply sitting after sleeping and eating. We all think he’s very ready and will catch on fast.

    Hmmmm, that was an interesting exercise. It’s SO rare for me to compare Verity with any other children who don’t have Down syndrome.

  3. Susanna says:

    Maybe this thought should be added to the conversation–

    During the months of extreme pressure when caring for Tommy’s increasing needs before outside help was in place, I didn’t realize that I was honing some valuable skills.  Some of those skills came to my aid as second nature earlier this year when adding Verity’s neurodevelopmental program to our family’s life. In contrast to the former pressure on the family, the ND program was relatively easy, Now I’m appreciating them again during this temporarily strenuous toilet training season. Again, this period of time seems relatively easy for a lot of reasons I could name, including a healthier marriage and family. In addition, I now have a far greater awareness of my limits (paradoxically along with greater willingness to attempt possibly formidable challenges) and greater ability to mentally prepare for great difficulty, to organize needed items in the best possible way for logistical flow, to add in new activities gradually when possible, to stay serene, keep perspective, and even have a sense of humor during otherwise stressful learning curves and disruptions (refusing to be stressed), to break large tasks down into manageable pieces, to reach out for help and to delegate, to prioritize at the spur of the moment, and to mentally let go of what can’t be accomplished in a given day and be at peace about it, while creatively addressing ongoing barriers to reaching the goals. I’m only recently regaining a bit of my former ability to multi-task, but that’s not a skill I want to hone, and I’m finding it’s not as needed as I used to think it was.

    Because of these skills and other gifts, which God knew were needed in greater measure, what would previously have seemed laughably impossible is now happening in a paced manner, not causing mental or emotional stress.

    Gifts from the flood and fire.

  4. Cassandra says:

    I do hope you will expand on your last post when time and mood permits. I’m sort of doing some of the same things and see that the world isn’t crashing without my %100.00 , $%100.00 of the time. But I would be lying if I said i don’t experience bouts of guilt.

  5. Angie R says:

    I used that method to train my “normal” kids and nearly died from the stress of it. haha. But it did work. :) It’s worth it to keep potty training from dragging on forever, but when your in the middle of it!! You need to go out with friends and have some nonpotty related conversations to keep from loosing your mind. :) Best of luck!

  6. Susanna says:

    Angie! Yes! Although it helps not to have any mind left to lose, haha! :) I find myself singing Verity’s potty ditty at random times…

  7. esther paris says:

    Hey! She is surely mastering it all LICKETYSPLIT! I am working with an older student who throws things or punches me because of not being able to understand yet how to self-initiate the process. So V is doing amazingly well. Love from Rhode Island

  8. Julia says:

    Go Verity Go!!!

  9. Heather says:

    Good job Verity!!!
    Thanks for the info, Susanna! I really appreciate the links to this toilet-training method! Hopefully my little one will be as much of a potty superstar as Miss Verity!

  10. Becca says:

    Thank you so much for those links! I’ve done something similar to the slow method for most of my kids so far, but my 3.5yo didn’t make the leap to self-initiating. It’s great to have an idea of how to help that along, as well as reassurance that having a child “trip-trained” is a big step in the right direction.

  11. Esther Paris says:

    I’m kind’a’ envious of V’s progress. I got injured today coz someone doesn’t know (a) how to accept the word ‘no’, and (b) when it’s time to go to the bathroom. Sigh.

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