Written by Casey Mullins for Babble.com
Every 30 minutes during church yesterday, I poked my head into Vivi's class and said "Potty?" We visited the church bathroom at least seven times before having success, a satisfying pee complete with a sturdy wipe, flush and wash. Of all the parenting activities that have tested my resolve, potty training is at the tippy top of that list. Now that I've survived it once, I realize that it's not the end of the world, it's just a somewhat difficult part of the world that will someday resolve itself. Heck, I've been potty trained for 30 years and there's still times (thanks to two kids!) that waiting for a potty seems impossible.
As I venture down potty road with Vivi, the milestones involved in potty training are coming back to me, some of them funny, some of them a little messy, but all of them necessary in order to send a toilet trained human out into the world. Whether you're in the thick of training, well past it, or just beginning, I think you'll relate to some of the following:
(EDITED TO ADD: The first Facebook status update about potty training that absolutely no one cares about but yourself.)
1. First Time They Sit on the Potty
The first time that little bare butt hits the porcelain throne is a big deal, it's the first real life skill you teach them that will last them FOREVER. No pressure, really.
Plus, it makes them look super tiny. Then every once in awhile they'll dip in a little too far and get a panicked look on their face...
2. First Pair of Tiny Underpants
Tiny underpants are adorable underpants, especially when they have little critters on the bum. I can still remember being very sad when Addie outgrew her first pairs of underpants.
3. First Guests Over During Potty Training
We do our best to keep our kids dressed in the presence of company, however during potty training there isn't much time for formalities. If your guests have kids? They'll get it. If they don't? One day they will.
Just apologize for the nudity and carry on with your visit as usual.
4. First Diaper-less Bum Pat
The first time Cody patted Addie's bum without a diaper was also the last time; it's a totally different experience to feel your baby in something other than a big fluffy diaper, they feel so big and human.
5. First Successful Public Potty Stop
This one's a big deal because there are a lot of logistics in public restroom usage. Doors, automatically flushing toilets, bigger sinks and more to navigate. If you can get that first public visit out of the way, your options open up as to where you can take your potty training kid.
6. First Day Without Accidents
You start fantasizing about all the money you'll save on diapers, or all the time you'll save on laundering cloth. Diapers have probably become such standard issue in your day-to-day life that you're blissfully unaware how much freedom lies ahead of you.
7. First Check Out Line "I have to pee!"
Epic grocery store trip, mid-checkout, "I HAVE TO PEE" or worse, "I HAVE TO POOP!"
Tell them to wait until you're done paying and risk an accident?
Hand over your debit card to the cashier and ask them to finish up for you?
Abandon your entire shopping trip after apologizing to the line behind you?
Whatever the final outcome is, know that we've all been there at least once and it's the most terrible game of "Choose your own adventure" ever.
8. First Men's Room Stop
The women's room was closed, the next closest restroom was a half mile away -- I covered Addie's eyes and yelled "POTTY TRAINING TODDLER COMING IN WITH HER MOM! SORRY!" We ran into a stall and averted disaster. The possibility of this one becoming a reality is a rare one, but it's still very much a possibility.
Photo credits: Casey Mullins
A study published in the journal <em>Infant Behavior & Development</em> revealed that the standard "<a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCQQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch?v%3DXTV8bOv3Jhs&ei=0uLBToKrMuPu0gHkmNH0BA&usg=AFQjCNFtutJJhlTFZJ2fm-cmsDo46XMpzw" target="_hplink">You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby</a>" has little to do with reality. When 253 college students were asked to rank photos of the same individuals as infants and young adults (without being told who was who), there was <a href="http://bodyodd.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/08/31/7542626-must-have-been-a-beautiful-baby-maybe-not" target="_blank">no relationship between how cute the students found the babies and how attractive they found the grown-ups</a>.
No, really, it's true. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the shout "Mine!" -- research shows babies can sense fairness at 15 months. During one study at the <a href="http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/babies-show-sense-of-fairness-altruism-as-early-as-15-months-1" target="_hplink">University of Washington</a>, 47 babies observed videos of an experimenter distributing milk and crackers to two people. When one recipient received more food than the other, the babies paid more attention. That means they had expected a fair distribution. The researchers also found that babies who did notice unfairness were more likely to share their own toys.
OK, so they're not exactly psychic. But a <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111101130204.htm" target="_hplink">recent study</a> from the University of Missouri found that babies just 10 months old are starting to follow the thought processes of others. Yuyan Luo, an associate professor of developmental psychology who conducted the study, tells The Huffington Post, "Babies, like adults, when they see something for the first time -- when something is surprising -- they look for a long time. It shows [they recognize] something is inconsistent." It's called the "violation of expectation," she explained. When babies are surprised by something or notice something unexpected has happened, they tend to gaze at that thing longer. In Luo's research, babies watched actors consistently choose object A (such as a block or a cylinder) over object B. When an actor then switched to object B, the babies stared for about five to six seconds longer, meaning they recognized the change in preference.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Treat all people the same. We're all equals. These are sentiments parents strive to teach their kids from a very young age. And they should. Starting, like, immediately. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom found that babies at three months <a href="http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/060212_racefrm2.htm" target="_hplink">begin showing a preference for the faces of people of their own race</a>. But not all hope for equality is lost. The same study showed that babies who are exposed to people of all different races are less likely to develop bias at such an early age.
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that five-month-old babies can <a href=" http://news.byu.edu/archive08-oct-babymusic.aspx" target="_hplink">identify an upbeat song as being different from a series of sad, slow songs</a>. In other words, they are happy. They know it. They will clap their hands. Or stare longer, as the case may be. The experimenters showed babies an emotionless face while music played. When they played a new sad song, the babies looked away. When the music pepped up, the babies stared for three to four seconds longer.
Babies have a sense of morality at six months old, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1275574/Babies-know-difference-good-evil-months-study-reveals.html" target="_hplink">say Yale researchers</a>. During the Yale study, babies watched a puppet show in which a wooden shape with eyes tried to climb a hill over and over again. Sometimes a second puppet helped him up the hill, and other times a third puppet pushed him down. After watching the act several times, the babies were presented with both puppets. They showed a clear preference for the good characters over the bad ones by reaching to play with the good puppet.
Dr. Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia, who studies how babies perceive language, found that if a mother spoke two languages while pregnant, her infant could <a href="http://www.livescience.com/13016-bilingual-babies-brain-language-learning.html" target="_hplink">recognize the difference</a> between the two. And they don't even have to be spoken out loud. Werker's research found that infants four to six months old can <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/health/views/11klass.html" target="_hplink">visually discriminate two languages</a> when watching muted videos of someone speaking both.
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