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(Down syndrome) Potty Training Diaries

I suppose you’ve all been there – that place when you look around and scrunch your nose and SWEAR you can smell pee – but can’t place the source and you realize you are at a place in which you feel like your every waking hour revolves peeing and pooping. It’s like, what should be a total unmentionable is now ALL you can mention, because it’s YOUR WORLD.

So, yeah – that’s where I am! Toilandia: where, like clockwork (or because of clockwork), every 40 minutes you think about toileting.

I know a lot of parents of kids with Down syndrome go through this, often for a while, so I thought I’d go public with how it was going on facebook. High Five – that was a good move, because you guys reading on facebook have given me so much support and super awesome tips. Actually, some of the tips were inspiration to write this post, because I wanted to share some of these nuggets:

  • Pour warm water on the child’s thighs, or place child’s hands in warm water, while on the potty to get them to go
  • Some kids go for distractions, some don’t. Some parents use iPads or shows to keep their child occupied while on the potty; some don’t. It was nice to know that it all works for different people.
  • Blow bubbles from the toilet. It relaxes “those” muscles.
  • Make a “toilet box” – with an egg timer, a new book, some stickers, a tube of bubble solution and bubble wand – make the box toilet exclusive (hence new book) to the toilet. Use the egg timer as an aid to give child enough time to relax and do what they need to but knowing they will be off in (5!?) minutes if they don’t go. Plenty of praise when they do, act normal when they don’t.
  • Charts! Charts! Charts! Hand-drawn charts (each child with their own color marker), or charts with stickers to track success and progress. This can be used with behavior as well.
  • Make a “Potty Bucket” – small, inexpensive stuff in it. They can pick out something from the bucket when they go. This can be used in conjunction with the star chart with behavior – when x number of stars are earned, they get a treat. And once the training is going well, taper off on the stars.


 The Potty Book – available on kindle/print – Moxie love it; great toilet book that Melissa recommended (- thank you!)

Once Upon a Potty: cute e-book for girls from Om media. Moxie loves it too.

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Potty Time – app, dvd’s, etc. App is free and it’s awesome. In-app purchases include the whole DVD, but there are plenty of free extras – like charts, Rachel calls, etc. Really fantastic.

Daniel Tiger – here’s the link for all the episodes related to potty training. They never fail to inspire Moxie/Mack to do things like “flush, wash and be on your way” (- hard to work with when you have an outhouse, by the way):

Down syndrome Potty Training Facebook Group: good place for support, tips, inspiration.

For those of you not following the blog Facebook page (and why aren’t you?!), this is for you:

The Complete Potty Training Diaries (from Facebook):

Day One of our INTENSIVE POTTY TRAINING. This is for Moxie and Mack, both. So far: we watched “Potty Time” (Signing Time) and an episode on Daniel Tiger. The kids are chock full of fluids. They should be slushing as they walk. So far, Mack has gone twice and Moxie, not at all.


It got to be around 3pm and I put them in pull ups for a Doc Mc Stuffins show (- I knew they would fall asleep, and sure enough..they are snoring away on the couch now). SO! You want to know how it went? Well, Mack pees in the potty just fine. He likes it. Moxie does NOT. I plied her fluids for hours – to the point in which she was just like, “No!” when I thrust more juice her way. She finally went, but it was outside, and not squatting. Any ideas on how to get to her actually pee in the POTTY?

Day Two of our INTENSIVE POTTY TRAINING. Moxie got up and I brought her to the potty like Chris suggested – took off her diaper and had a go at the potty (- and no go on the go.. ) Put on her underwear per her request. Mack got up and also went potty (and actually went). Moxie still hasn’t gone yet. Mack, on the other hand, WENT POOP!! IN THE POTTY! High fives all around.

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Day Two of INTENSIVE POTTY TRAINING: Well, the Dynamic Duo are napping now – both in pull ups. I am following Chris’s advice in doing everything toileting-related by their potty, and getting on board every hour and a half. That’s going well. Moxie’s not peeing in the potty yet. She peed pretty much everywhere else though! Marking her territory, I guess. Mack is pretty basically potty trained. He tells me has to go, he readily goes, he’s happy to go and go and go. We’ll see how tomorrow unfolds. I was wondering if any of you use stickers? Or rewards? I haven’t so far, mostly because I don’t have stickers or reward-like stuff. Or charts? Are they actually useful?

MOXIE POOPED IN THE POTTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was going so long and so hard with the busta-joy that she was finally like, “yeah. wipes” and handed me the package of wipes. Ok, got it, not a big deal, Moxie. Just ENORMOUS!!! She said “poop”, got on the potty, actually pooped and got up and said “poop” again!!! This was clearly with intention!! Still no pee. But poop! YES! YES! YES!

Update: mom fail, you guys. Major, bad mom fail. Moxie was horsing around, I kept calling her to the table for dinner. Then she wanted to sit on the potty and I thought she was playing and called her back and made her sit and eat. Well…then she was standing in a puddle of pee and poo. frown emoticon I felt bad because I think she was trying to go in the potty before but I was just too TOO tired and stuff to really comprehend that she was doing that. High five though to Moxie! And Mack pooped too! School will be tomorrow; we’ll see how it goes. I’m going to have her sans pull ups…

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE: I just sent Moxie to school with regular underwear on. And 2 spare underwear and 2 changes of clothes. Oh, I’m so nervous and hopeful. Kind of like waiting for an email from a hot guy when I was in my twenties… will he email? is he going to email? does he like me? is it all good? – only now it’s, “will she stay dry? will she remember? will the teachers be okay? will she be okay? is it all good?” The suspense!!!!

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE: Moxie peed at school. Like, in the room, at the eating table… even with The Best Teachers Ever as supportive and awesome as they are, I think I’m going to put pull-ups on over her underwear tomorrow and until the year is out. Have her bottom-free at home though, during waking hours. She has school Tues, Wed and Thurs, so more potty updates on Friday!

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POTTY TRAINING UPDATE! Moxie was in pull-up in school for the past few days, and bottom free at home. It worked out o-kaaaaay. Not okay. She didn’t go in the potty at school. She did at home though – still no pee though. I tried putting her hand in water when on the potty, but nope. Tried the ipad on potty, nope. Tried video on potty, nope. And I mean, “nope” for pee. We’ll keep trying. Mack, on the other hand, is just about potty trained for both. I hope that keeps acting as an incentive for Moxie – she tends to narrow her eyes in steely determination when she sees someone smaller than herself doing things she doesn’t do. That’s how she started walking, actually – she saw baby Zia doing it, narrowed her eyes and was like, I’M GOING TO WALK. Hopefully this will follow suite?? Meanwhile, I feel like my life revolves around bodily waste. And I’m achingly tired of Daniel Tiger’s potty episodes and Potty Time, both. Ideas for other potty-oriented shows? Advice? Good vibes? I’ll take ’em all, with thanks!

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE! I have my iphone back (yes!) and downloaded the Potty Time app, a book on Potty for girls (from om media which I love) and got the bubbles. No struggle at all to get Moxie to try – she LOVES blowing bubbles from the potty, but so far, no pee yet. The Potty Time app is a hit with both kids (- the call from Rachel is especially great). Pull ups when we went out and bottom free at home. No accidents today (knock on wood, day is not done yet).

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE: Moxie squatted to pee outside today which I count as a big win (she also pooped, which… yeah…). Mack, on the other hand, inexplicably thoroughly used his pull ups for both jobs today – I was surprised. Really surprised. Hoping tomorrow is a little more successful than today was.

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Real Time Update:

We started charts (see above) and it’s a hit. They love it. Something about stickers and kids, points and stuff, huh.

Mack got up this morning, walked blearily to the potty, unzipped his footed pj’s, pulled his pull ups down and sat on the potty. I think he’s totally potty trained now.

Moxie, still no pee. But we’ll keep working on it.

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  1. Oh so many thanks for this post! You made me smile. You are such an awesome mom & an inspiration. I’m a mom & grammie who has potty trained 5 kids and working now on number 6 (granddaughter). She is 3.8 years old and has pretty much NO desire to go on the potty. I am going to try some of your ideas. She has a rough home life and is here with us quite a bit so I’m hoping this summer we can have some success. Love all your ideas 🙂

    1. oh, that’s funny that you are calling *ME* and inspiration!! Wow, YOU are amazing. 5 kids, potty trained?!! And on your 6th?! I’d give you a massage if I could.
      I hope it goes smoothly, and by the way, none of the ideas were mine – they are all from friends who wrote them on this blog’s facebook page!

  2. Joann Ward & Brooklyn says:

    I have not done potty training (or much of anything) with a Down Syndrome child. And maybe you already done this 58 times. But, her bro has external genitallia. You have internal. I would save up, and you know you can never get a snack for just you. You can’t make a kid go to sleep. You can spread your legs and show and let Moxie see that you go. Let her watch it up close. As long as she can stand it, do a monologue “So, now I am going to use the potty. You want to watch as my pee comes out of my body?” In your household, you are the only other girl. I suspect she will be looking at you for so long and so close that you will feel like you are birthing!

    You are doing really well with this. You are a great mom. In my limited experience with typical children, you have to reinforce positively, over and over and over. Then one day something in the brain and the musculature, all comes together. Perhaps in the shower, soap-down area, you can show her without barriers, how the pee comes out. Challenge her to make her pee come out too. You never know when it will “click.” I may be “full of s++t” but I don’t think she has isolated the muscles that control the urethra. Put a target down on the pallet in the bathing area, and see if you can hit it and then see if she can hit it, as a game.

    I breastfed my daughter until she was 2.5 yrs. A whole lot of people gave me unsolicited advice about weaning, and I just kept saying, “I feel I am doing the best, most healthy thing for her.” Shut mouth, walk away. Demonstrate stand up pee, squat pee. Pee will be a topic for a while. Sigh. You will get tired of even thinking about pee.

    The fact that she has isolated the sphincter so she can pooh indicates she is learning. I made potty training easy on me. I went and bought some really frilly panties. I told my dau “You can wear these when you want to be a big girl but you can’t wet them.” So make a signal or figure out how she can ask to wear big girl panties. Conversely if she wants to wear a diaper, make it be ok. I had cloth diiapers and my washer was one floor down in a creepy, buggy basement. I kept telling myself that I would wash diapers until She was 20, if I had to. That kept me from wigging out too often. I don’t know Moxie well enough to know if she can see, then at some point do. I know for my typical child, she WANTED to wear the pretty, big girl panties. Get some masking tape so you can reseal the diaper if she goes back and forth. Oh, look! You got your big girl panties wet. Awwww, that makes me sad, because…. I have a big honker of a bell on my door. Ring the bell if she needs help. You will have to find what fits for you and for Moxie. Maybe I am delusional thinking she could do any of this. I think you can set up a new expectation, and reward it. It might take longer than for a typical, but she appears to have poop somewhat figured out. I think your every 40 mins stop and sit on the potty is great. Have a party when she does get it.

    I think if you can show her how the equipment can work, you may be closer to success. And, I know I may well not grasp what she can and can’t do. I know from teaching special teens that they and pretty much everyone else learns easier if you show them how.

    Another strategy, is to put the warm water in her potty, and let it help relax the pee musculature. Every kid is different. Every kid get’s IT in their own way.

    Just keep trying things until you start to see some progress. But don’t stress if she is not getting it. There will be a day when it all comes together. I hope it is sooner, not later, but put together your Moxie success system and believe she will get it. Poop is great! Celebrate that!

    You are a great and creative mom/problem solver. Try other ideas. Maybe ringing the bell to get help is helpful.maybe not. Kids of all kinds like looking. If you haven’t already, show her for the next while. Yeah, I used to lock myself in the bathroom when my hubbie came home. I got tired of the tremendous amout of tactile overload. Pick me up. Hold me. Then I am going to let her into my tiny 30 minute sanctuary! Anhhhhh!

    I believe in both you and Moxie, and it is ok to tell me I am full of it. Virtual hugs.

    1. no – the only thing you are full of is great ideas, experience and a generous spirit! thank you!!

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