Having two babies in diapers can be quite a challenge, but how do you know if your twins are ready for potty training? What happens if one twin is ready and other needs more time? Are there any differences in potty training fraternal versus identical twins? We’ll also break down the basics of potty training so first-time parents know what to expect.
Potty Training Twins: Readiness and Motivation
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DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Are your twins ready to move out of diapers? Are you excited and anxious at the thought of training two at the same time? I’m Dr. Deborah Pontillo, pediatric psychologist, an expert in Child Development, Behaviour and Learning. I’m here to talk about: “Potty Training Twins.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Welcome to Twin Talks. We’re broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Twin Talks is your weekly online on-the-go support group for expecting and new parents to twins. So, I’m your host Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald. Have you heard about the Twin Talks Club? I hope so. Our members get bonus content after each new show plus special giveaways and discounts. So, you can subscribe to our monthly Twin Talks Newsletter and learn about the latest episodes available. Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free Twin Talks app. It’s available on the Android and iTunes Marketplace. So, before we get started, let’s do a quick introduction of our panelists here on the show. I want to turn it over to Shelly.
SHELLY STEELY: Hi, I am Shelly. I’m 30. I’m the producer here at Twin Talks and I’m also a high school history teacher. I have identical twin boys who were just about a year and a half. So, we’ve definitely been thinking about potty training but not doing anything at all about it.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes.
SUNNY GAULT: I’m Sunny. I have identical twin girls who are 2 1/2 months I guess now. I have two older boys; a 3-year-old and a 21-month-old. The three-year-old is pretty much potty trained. He had an [inaudible] on this morning actually. But, usually if it is it’s number two. Number one, he can hit most of the time. I don’t know if he’s scared of the potty or what. So, anyways I’ve already dealt with some potty training issues; obviously, not with my twins yet but yes.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I’m your host. Christine Stewart-Fitzgerald. I’ve got twin girls; identical girls who are four years old, 4 1/2 I guess. Thankfully, we have a relatively easy potty training experience. I also have a singleton who is now 15 months old. So, I’m thinking about breaking out those potty training, those potties maybe in the next few months just to see if she’ll be interested in sitting on them.
Before we start today’s show. Let’s look at one of the headlines. I think Shelly; you’ve got a headline in the news about twins.
SHELLY STEELY: So, we try to keep current with what’s going on in the latest to:
• Twin Research
• Twin Studies
• Twin Information.
It looks like there’ kind of been a conclusion in regards to the issue of whether or not homosexuality is genetics. So, the most recent information as of this past fall I believe is that: “They’ve done eight major studies of identical twins and they’ve all arrived at the same conclusion that: “There is not in genetic factor. In fact at best, it’s maybe a minor factor.” So, identical twins have the same genes or the same DNA. They’re kind of nurtured in the same conditions. So, what would we expect to see according to the study is that: “With identical DNA, if you have one twin who is gay. You would expect the other twin to be gay 100% of the time.” It turns out according to the study: “They only find it about 10 to 15% of the time.” So, what research is telling us is that: “We really have no idea still.” But, we can’t really identify a specific genetic factor.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, Lady Gaga was completely wrong.
SUNNY GAULT: Is that what she said?
SHELLY STEELY: Born this way.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Born this way.
SUNNY GAULT: I know identical twins have the same DNA. But just to play devil’s advocate here, that doesn’t mean that identical twins don’t always look exactly alike. I act as if I’m a twin but there not a hundred percent alike. So, I know the DNA is the same but I still feel like there are enough differences. So, I’m not a scientist or whatever.
SHELLY STEELY: I guess the scientists are saying: “It’s not the genes but what else.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes.
SUNNY GAULT: Environment if it’s not you know
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I have to say – to me, this is always an on-going question. Gay or straight just even from a personality stand point, I’d look at my girls and they’re identical. But, I just see the personality difference; one is just very analytical. She’s just more reserved. The other is very expressive. I think: “Okay, they got the same genetics.” They’re in the same womb. They’re being raised in the same household. How do you account for that?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I’ve thought a lot about this too in terms of what we know now as a hundred percent genetically based. We actually have a very few qualities I think or diseases or disorders that we know that our 100% genetic things like height seem to be strongly based on genetics or eye colour; but, other than that like you said:
• Interests can be quite vary
So, there must be something either have a gene expresses itself. I’m not a geneticist of course. Something either prenatal or otherwise that changes the way identical gene information is expressed.
SHELLY STEELY: I mean it’s another example of how little we really do know about how people become people right? You have identical twins, it was just one egg and one sperm and then it turns into two manifested itself two completely different people. We really have no way of knowing why or how.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes, I think as twin parents; it just really emphasizes the fact that: “We really can’t treat them the same.” I think it’s so easy to look at just twins. I think: “Maybe they were fraternal twins’ boy-girl.” They’re going to be a little bit alike. Even for identical, I think that’s just saying: “We cannot assume that they’re going to have the same interest and wants and even you know behavoral milestones that there still some differences in there that we don’t know where it comes from.
SUNNY GAULT: I wondered too if sometimes and maybe this is even a cognitive thing but I wonder sometimes if identicals are searching to be a little bit different from one another. So, like you were talking about Christine, your ying to your yang with your girls. They’re different. I wonder how much of that was kind of their choice that they wanted to be a little different.
SHELLY STEELY: Not something they have done on research and also that your experiences shape the experiences that you want to have and reinforcement for that. So, a lot of times people really want to enforce differences between their twins. So, if you constantly encourage that one twin who is just attached more adventurous to be adventurous and offer them more adventurous experiences; it actually kind of affects their pathways and causes them to seek those out. So, you as parents maybe just trying to foster the differences can actually make the differences bigger between them.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think that’s two where those interesting studies come from twins separated at birth and adopted to different families where you at least know to some degree that the environment isn’t quite the same and then, how much of a genetic pull is there to certain likes, dislikes despite the different environment is really interesting.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I think Shelly you raise a good point that I think sometimes maybe as a parent, we may subconsciously treat them differently. One of my girls – she was born, everything was fine, the other one was in the NICU just for a few hours. So, not significantly long; she was fine. But, I think at a subconscious level, I almost think of her as being maybe more delicate. So, I wonder what does affect the way that I interact with her.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I’m sure it does.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Today’s topic is: “Potty Training Twins.” So, we’re talking with Dr. Deb Pontillo who’s here to give us a scoop on taking on this big daunting task of potty training twins. So, thanks for joining us Dr. Pontillo.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Thank you.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I know one of the biggest questions we always hear in twin parents like: “How do you know if your twins are ready for the potty training?”
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think to your point before that each twin might be ready at a different time. So, I’m going to just go over really briefly some of the readiness signs. Of course, it’s not a black and white thing. These are signs to look for obviously, the more signs that you see in your child, the more likely that he/she is ready. But, it’s not an “all or none” thing. One day, they might look more ready than the next. In general, as our kids; what we’re looking for physiologically, we want to see that the child is able to stay dry for at least two hours so that they have the bladder control to be able to learn the potty training process. We want to see a certain level of our communication language development such as they can at least they can comprehend potty words, whatever potty words you choose to use in your house, whether it’s a pee-pee or wee-wee if they can understand it – that they can communicate to you. So, when I say communicate as oppose to language traditionally we use to like to say: “Well, children should have the ability to at least with words a single word or a two-word combination communicate with you.” But there are lots of kids who have speech language to let you do that nonverbally by pointing or showing. But they should at least be that ability for a two-way communication to occur. A social factor that is very important but often does not get recognized is that we really want the child to be interested in pleasing you mom because if he/she is still in that one-year-old phase of:
• I want a cookie
• I want a drink
• Get out of my way
• I want that ball
There isn’t going to be as much social motivation to learn potty training because if you think about it, potty training really is a social behavior. We do it not because our body tells us too because socially that’s the expectation. So, that’s where we get the motivation. That’s where we want to be mommy and daddy. It’s a social imitative process. So, you might see kids starting to pretend with their dollies or pretend things. So, if that milestone isn’t there. It’s going to be a really tough time potty training because there’s not going to be a lot of internal motivation to potty train.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, basically they need to be able to acknowledge that mommy and daddy want them to perform and they want to be able to please and follow.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s right.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Okay. Now, I’m kind of touched it. So, twins there are not the same. If only one twin is showing these signs of readiness about the physical and the social aspect or even if you have got one component, the other twin has the other; what do you do? Do you start with one twin?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Absolutely. Don’t penalize one because the other one isn’t ready and hold him/her back. Often times when one starts, there’s modeling that occurs for the other one where the other one might want to follow suites. So, you got two benefits now. I kind of think of it in a way if you generalize too like a preschool environment where there’s 6 or 8 or 10 toddlers. They all could be very young stages of potty training. It’s a process. So, if two or three are ready to go to the restroom with the teacher and the others aren’t, does the teacher do that? Absolutely, so I think the same case at home. Following the lead of your child is the best way to go.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, if everyone was ready, so just go to the program and then the other one just watch and observed while you’re going through the process. Now, I’m wondering – again, I kind of talking about these differences between identical and fraternals; is it common to see differences and readiness between fraternal twins compared to identical twins or girl-boy twins?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think the overall sort of generalized assumption is that girls tend to be slightly earlier than boys overall. It doesn’t really pertain to twins per say. But just because girls overall tend to have earlier language milestones and slightly earlier in terms of their social development. But, that’s a broad sweeping statement and every individual child can be different. So, too can your twins; even identical twins as you point it out can have vastly different developmental trajectories and personality types which may land itself well or not well to potty training.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Do parents need to take a different approach with kids?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s a great question because I talk a lot about “no one strategy” will work the same for each child or even one strategy, one month with one child might need to be changed for the next month as they developed and mature. So yes, I think it’s important and you may talk about this at some point: “The personality type of your child and their temperament and what strategies might lend themselves well for that particular child.” So, yes if you have a twin sibling that’s not quite the same something else might work better for him or her.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, if you’ve got let’s just say – two boys and as in Shelly’s case and maybe one is very expressive and very active and maybe the other one is a little bit more reserved. So, the temperaments are different so you might take a different approach to that.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes, I think what you’re doing as a parent is: “You’re really paying attention to your child’s cues as much as possible.” What interest him or her? What motivates him/her? What part of the potty train process is exciting? So, for a lot of kids who are more reserved and a little bit more tentative, they might spend more time – they might enjoy spending more time with what I would call kind of the early stages of potty training which is the reading the books about it. The following you to the bathroom or daddy to the bathroom or helping you or helping big brother and sister – and kind of in that play mode that as educational but not necessarily forcing them to perform; whereas the child that just volunteers and is excited and wants to do it and you’re doing it and I’m doing it and here I come. They’re right out of the gate. Those are the kids that might – you kind of have to follow their lead and get them right on the potty right away. That might be beneficial to their temperament and motivational for them.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, really some motivation and incentive is really has to change depending on their temperament. I just want to ask the both of them. Sunny and Shelly, do you find that certain motivations work? Do you see some differences?
SUNNY GAULT: Candy. Right, now that didn’t tell us looking like: “No.” No, we’re doing this now. My oldest son; my three-year old likes Red Hots, little candies – he gets five Red Hots if he poops in the potty. If he doesn’t poop in the potty, he doesn’t get five Red Hots. So, it’s working. I don’t know if I’m hurting myself in other ways but talk about incentives and stuff. Candies are working for us. But other than that, we actually did use a product to help kind of get him to know that: “Okay, I’m not going to pee or poo in my diaper anymore. I need to go somewhere else.” It was a diapered where like a little it called an alarm like a little song went off. It sensed wetness.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: High tech.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Kind of.
SUNNY GAULT: It senses wetness and then it would play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. So, the idea was that: “I would sit down. I would play with my son and he was like: “He wasn’t quite two and a half right yet but he was kind of right around that age.” When we heard the song we get all excited, the song’s playing. We would go over to the potty. Even if he didn’t have to go anymore, it’s still that he’s associated the song with the potty and then eventually going potty with the toilet. So, it only took a day and a half for that.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That’s fast.
SUNNY GAULT: Again, we’re 3 1/2 almost three and a half now. We’re still working on the poop. But, the pee was quick.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That is really great. Okay, well we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about: “The actual process of potty training and some of the different components that we might be using.”
Welcome back and today we’re talking about: “Potty Training Twins” with Deb Pontillo. Our discussion continues as we discuss kind of that the whole process of potty training. So, how do we kind of start out? Let’s just say: “The twins, they’re both ready ideally at the same time.” So, how do we, is it the face approached?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, I think you know a couple of things to consider when you say they were ready. I presume that means you’ve already been doing some of the pre-stuff like:
• Reading potty books
• Taking them with you
• Showing them
• Talking about it.
Now, you’re feeling like you’re ready for them to try. Then, I would say: “Part of it is really in terms of how much structure that you put in place is really dependent on your child’s temperament.” I’ll give you just a couple of examples just to sort of make sense of it. But, you know some kids – they can be very active, very excited to go and then they very quickly forget about it and very quickly don’t care and they’re busy with other things. So a child like that, you might want to start them more structured approach. So, something like part-of-your-routine right before you leave the house or right before you sit down to eat or right before you go outside or whatever. Sometimes kids even like timers. Those kinds of kids really appreciate the structure and the routine: “It’s time to go to the potty.” That means if you’re still playing; you’re doing something fun but you’re a really active kid. You’re not going to be the child that sort of learns self-regulation really quick. Having that structure in place can really help you. That being said though, not all kids will like that in the fact that lot of kids may refuse that and may be kind of feeling a lot of pressure. You’re telling me to go 6, 8 times a day? You’re talking about the sort of introverted, shy and not so ready to take a big leap child. That’s a child that you may want to let them control more, decide and prompt them throughout the day.
Do you have to go? Do you want to try or I have to go? Do you want to try it with me? You may get a yes sometimes or a no other times. Just go to saying: “Okay, looks like you’re not ready to go now. I’m sure you’ll try again later. For that child, that kind of approach might help a little bit. So, again I think and then of course, we can spend hours on do I go to straight to undies? Do I use something like you just talk about Sunny or to help a child learn their cues? I think the first thing we’ve focused on is really just the success of putting pee, your poo in the potty. But then what comes after that is really the recognition of the body cues. There are a lot of kids who figured out: “Okay, when I need to feel the wee-wee coming, I need to get myself to the potty.” But, that’s a whole other of bowl of wax from being three and in a preschool environment, being really excited and playing outside and saying: “Hang on. I also need to pay attention to my body. I also need to decide that going to the potty is more important than going down the slide right now. That’s a whole other
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: It’s a decision yes.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Yes, decision making judgment, priorities, motivation – well
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Let me know if we’re quite there yet.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I consider that advance. You can think of it beginning potty training isn’t black and white. It’s a bunch of shades of gray.
Towards the later stages, you get into:
• How do you make good decisions?
• How do you pay attention to your body cues when you’re busy doing something exciting?
• How do you even leave?
• What about when you are in a park or a restaurant or an airplane? For that child that needs routine and saneness it’s not my potty. It’s a foreign potty
That can be a whole other thing to address.
SHELLY STEELY: So, in terms of like I know there’s a million different ways than whatever. So, my husband and I – we worked opposite schedules. So that the boys are in the daycare but that means: “When dad two boys home all day and then mom two boys home all evening, should we get the same book that dad reads and I read? Shall we get two little potties? Should we get something? I mean where because over here, we want to say zero.” It’s the first step you would say if somebody should take.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, yes. I think the very first step would be to: “Figure out what equipment you’re going to use.” So, if you have little potties – some of them are the ones that children like because they can get on and off themselves versus some kids really kind of the seats that you put down on the toilet.
SHELLY STEELY: I see that. I’ve been thinking: “My kids always go to the bathroom at the same time.” I don’t know if it’s an identical thing or if my kids are weird. But, if one is wearing diaper; the other has a dirty diaper. I’m not even kidding, many times out of 10.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: You don’t even guess.
SHELLY STEELY: So, I’m thinking: “I’m not going to send one to the bathroom by himself. I don’t have two toilets per bathroom.” That would be great.
SUNNY GAULT: So, there are two potties would be in your case.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Help them make it their own. Give them their own stickers to decorate it or something to make it special and unique for them. I usually say: “Take them to the bookstore or something and have them pick out an Elmo Potty Book or something that they like or enjoy that’s there.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: We love that, the sounds.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: The sounds are huge. Then, I would talk to dad about what the routine is going to be. So, for an example – do you ask them if they want to sit and if so, what do you do when they’re sitting? I brought this little I can’t see it but I’ll just describe it to you; a little picture schedule that I made which basically is four squares and each one has a little picture drawn in each square. It sort of gets the child thinking about what is the routine I do when I go to the bathroom. In the first square: “I have a little trigger.” In this case for this particular child, it was an alarm, a little bell that went off and everyone ran to the bathroom but it doesn’t have to be. In your house, it might be when mommy goes to the bathroom, everybody goes.
Then, number two: “We have like a little picture of a book.” Kids are very visual. They like to see what’s coming next. Number three, obviously after you sit and read the book, wash hands and this little guy like to sing a little washing hand song. We have a little picture of a little face singing a song. Then, at the end, a little picture here in the fourth square of sticker time or in Sunny’s case Red Hots. You may not stick to this schedule initially but in a toddlers mind, it gives a sense of predictability, routine, consistency and control that you and your husband can both follow. If you’re not home with the same time, it doesn’t matter who’s there or the nanny; it’s just always the same. It’s very safe and very comforting. It’s part of the learning process.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: This learning process, it really does involve a lot of stuff. So, you go these physical components and then you got – I need to anticipate. Here’s the next step in this. I would think; this would take a long time to do this. Now, I mean we hear about these potty training boot camps. What are your thoughts on that?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, it’s funny. It’s a question that comes up almost every potty training that I ever been given. Does it work? It does work certainly in the short term. I think a lot of kids – if you have time just take three days off work and do nothing but work on potty training like a drill sergeant. It probably will work although the longevity of it, I’m not sure. As you’ve mentioned, it’s not just about physiologically learning how to self-monitor and get your body to do what you needed to do. But, when you get out into the real world and you come back into preschool and daily life and siblings and family dynamics. There are a lot of social, emotional factors that can play a role as to whether a child’s really is ready for all that independence source or responsibility or not.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, in these boot camps they may get the physiological part of it but the other aspects may not have sort of settled in.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Right. For example, I just got an e-mail from someone on my blog. Yesterday, who actually I don’t know if they called it boot camp but there was a clear indication, the child had been potty-trained successfully for quite some time. Now, at age three and a half or four was deciding pooping on a rug was a good idea. So, who could have predicted that? On a successful potty training were done, wet the hands and move on. There are other factors.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Definitely. As far as rewards go, I think we kind of touched on earlier – Sunny’s got the Red Hots going. What are your thoughts on rewards? Is that positive using candy as example or is that negative?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think it can be positive. I think for two reasons. One is: “When a child isn’t motivated internally to do what’s expected of them. It is important to show them from a social perspective, what makes mom or dad happy or what mom and dad’s emotional consequences are.”
So, for example, if this child that's four decides pooping on the rug is a good idea. There needs to be a clear signal that this is what we are expected and this is just what the family does and what adults do and this is what I’d do to show you that I’m proud of you. So, I think it can be good where you get into a little bit of the danger zone is: “When parents are really toilet-training pretty heavily a young child that maybe not ready for it.” So, what they’re stuck in now is this bribery where the child does not really want to go. They are resistant. They are at the very least inconsistent. The mom is rocking her brain while I gave him stickers then he didn’t want that and now looking for M&M’s. Now, he doesn’t want that. The prize just keeps getting bigger and grander and it’s really clear, the child’s not stable.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, the only reason that their doing it is to get that reward.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: The way I think of prizes and stickers is kind of much like winning a contest or winning a gymnastics trophy. You win the gymnastics competition because you want to have the honor of having the first prize. That motivation comes from inside you. You really aren’t doing it to get that little trophy although the trophy is a symbol of your accomplishment. So, for a child, the sticker chart is a symbol for them to refer too. Hey, look what I did. I feel good about me. I earned that and that is something that I did because of me. But, they shouldn’t really be working to get that one thing when everything else is really not important to them. So, that’s kind of how I think of that.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I’d like that idea of having a chart where there’s the kind of visual representation. Wow, look at all those stars; you got the stickers that you got for sort of this progress that you’re making. Personally, we use candy as well. We use Jelly Bellies.
SUNNY GAULT: Jelly Bellies.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: I think our reward is if they sat down at all, they got a Jelly Belly and if they peed, they got two. Then, the poo-poo eventually gets a three Jelly Bellies. But that worked for us. I observed it with my girls, they would sit down. This is why probably girls like to go to the restroom together in their school years. It all starts at home. My girls, they love to just sit down in there and they were to look in the two little potties in the bathroom and it was a social time completely. But, how does that factoring? Especially, I’m talking about twins that the social aspect of – is it cooperative? Can you also use friendly competition in encouraging the training?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I might change the word competition to modelling behaviour just because I think the word “competition” may imply one child wins, the other loses and of course you never want to get into that because of [inaudible 00:29:41] reasons just to make the other child not feel very good especially if you’re truly not as ready. I think modeling can be okay. It’s accepted that one child isn’t ready or not wanting to go; but it’s also we might need to accompany for example in a mall – we might need to accompany the other twin to the bathroom because she wants to try. Good for her, she gets her sticker. We’re proud of her. When you’re ready, we’ll be proud of you too. That can be just a healthy social modeling experience – because like I said: “Potty training is a social learning process.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Absolutely. As far as the process is concerned, how much time should parents plan on committing to this? Are we talking days, weeks, months?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, there are those potty training geniuses for whatever reason at 24 months; it took them a couple of weeks. So, those are the vast minority I think. I think the majority of families find that from the educational phase of starting to talk about it and read about it to actual completion done is anywhere between 6 and 15 months. I think that the families that spend towards the tail into that 15 months are families that start with fewer of this readiness signs. So, I actually the more ready your child is, the quicker it should go.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: Yes, in our case it did go pretty quickly. We did start at around 18 months just having them sit on the potty. They were into their daytime trained by two years old.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: That’s exciting.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That was wonderful. How about Sunny in your experience with boys? I’m sure you have a different experience.
SUNNY GAULT: Yes, I’m kind of debating to what to do with my 21-month-old because he likes to imitate his brother a lot. So, he’s usually in the potty room in the bathroom with us when my older son is going potty. So, he’s seeing this a lot. He looks inquisitive. I think he does. So, I mentioned to my husband before the twins were born, maybe we should really at about 18-month work; maybe we should try and see if Urban’s ready to be potty trained. Well, Sayer didn’t do it until this time. I’m like: “That’s true but we were actually having a discussion about diapers and the cost of diapers and all that kind of stuff. It’s a good plan, seriously.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: That’s a big incentive.
SHELLY STEELY: My gosh
SUNNY GAULT: So, I said: “Well, one thing would help is getting one out of diapers.” We can just diaper the twins. So, I have the same potty training diapers I was referring to before – the ones with the alarm. They were sitting there. They just stare at me every time I go to get a regular diaper because those are just one of those things that obviously, the twins are still really young and we’re still trying to figure out what it’s like to be a family of six; two parents and four kids. So, it’s one of those things that I keep thinking I’m going to do because I think he has more of an interest but I just haven’t done it yet.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well you know what? Here’s a thing just to make you feel better. When I’ve got two children, I’ve got a 6 1/2-year-old daughter and a 2 1/2-year-old son who’s riding the thick of it. I don’t think of it as doing it or not doing it or are you on or you’re off. I kind of feel if he’s going with his older brother and he’s watching; he’s already doing it. So, whether you to stick a little potty in there that’s just his, maybe stage 2 or 5 – so he’s already in the process and you might pull up the alarm, diapers one day and not the next if he doesn’t seem ready for that. But, he’s in it.
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, we should count on that. I mean if they’re watching, they’re observing it maybe more passive but they are engaging within the process.
SHELLY STEELY: That’s good because mine won’t let me go to the bathroom alone ever. Yes, so definitely they come in with me every time I go to the bathroom which I don’t know if I mentioned earlier but I’m nine weeks pregnant. So, it’s every five minutes. When I go to the bathroom –well, as my concern the boys are going to be 25 months when we have this; so just turned two. So, my concern is... do we start now and try to set a lot of examples or do we just say: “Our whole life is about to turn upside down and let’s just table it until we’re sleeping again.” You know what you do with them, another sibling on the way?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: I think you still proceed as if another sibling were not on the way. So, you follow their readiness signs and their interests and their motivation and think of it as a process from the stage 0 to 6 or 0 to 5 and follow them along. Expect some regression probably or some just stalling completely when the baby comes, lack of interest or having mastered something and then totally deciding not to go with it, wanting a diaper back again. All sorts of funny things can happen but then within a couple of months; they should be able to go right back to wherever they were before the baby came.
SHELLY STEELY: Then, my other question is: “So, we cloth diaper. I know there’s switching state to underwear or to trainers or night time and then what is the gear different? Do we have to build the pull-ups or night time?” What’s the transition there?
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO: Well, it’s interesting. I think every parent will have a different story to tell you about work for their child because I think that some kids going back to our talking about temperament, they need to really feel wet in order for that process to take place.
So, for some kids going the underwear straight away is a necessity and we happen to live in a warm climate where we can send kids outside and do that. For other kids, it might be a little bit more anxious or not ready. The feeling of being wet is just too much especially if they’re having several accidents the first time they want the safety of the diaper, the safety of the pull-up and just want to try at their own pace to go potty. So, I don’t know if there’s a black and white in order to potty train. You need to do X. I think you probably need to have some trial and error and see what your child’s interest is. If you feel that something is just not clicking, change your tack.
If pull-ups, they’re absorbing too much. You can care less that is pull-up as wet. Maybe switch to that alarm diaper or underwear. If you have a child in underwear and he just keeps wetting himself over and over again and you’re doing 15 loads of laundry, maybe go back to pull-ups and just try to help him recognize his body cues better, is that make sense?
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: It sounds like we’ve got a lot of two steps forward and maybe one step back. It’s not always a continuous movement forward. We’re going to talk about that in our bonus content a little bit. So, right now we’re going to say: “Thanks so much Deb for joining us today.” For more information about: “Potty Training Twins” or more information about any of our experts or panelists, visit our episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of our Twin Talks Club. After the show, Deborah will give us some tips for dealing with toddlers who resist training. So, for more information about the Twin Talks Club, visit our website www.TwinTalks.com
SUNNY GAULT: Here’s a question posted on our Facebook Page from one of our listeners. It comes from Danielle in Organ. Danielle says:
“I’m in my third trimester, pregnant with identical twin boys. We have two children already ages three and 18 months both boys as well.” I’m a little concern that our older boys are going to be jealous of all the attention our twins will receive especially since they are the same gender and easier to compare.” -Danielle
Do you have any ideas on how to reduce jealousy or sibling rivalry between twins and singletons?”
NATALIE DIAZ: Well, hey Danielle. This is Natalie Diaz from Twiniversity, Multiplicity magazine and the author of: “What To Do When You’re Having Two.” First of all: “God bless you chick.” Four boys under the age of three, you deserve definitely a special medal. So, I think we should make you a trophy.
I’m going to suggest that to the team at New Mommy Media that perhaps we should start making trophies for people like you. But, it’s great. I don’t want you to be too-too nervous. The good news is that: “It’s all boys.” So, you’re going to save quite a bit of money on toys. So, just get some a bunch of footballs and trucks and maybe a random doll here or there and you’re going to be okay.
But, I hear you. It’s always an issue with sibling rivalry and making sure that your twins and your other boys feel like they’re getting enough mommy time. One of the best tips that I can give you is: “Choose a day.” Choose a day whether each week, each month, each year and whatever you could do and just give a child one whole day.
So, in our home because we have the twins; we do it by week. So, every week one kid gets the hot day. It’s not like we’re excluding everybody else from the family which is having that person make a little bit more choice than usual. So, what do you want for breakfast? Where do you want to go today?
If you can, start spending more time with one child. We had a golden rule at Twiniversity and it is: “Never leave the house without a child.” So, if you have to go to the post office. If you have to run to the grocery store, take one kid with you. Having one kid with you is going to be exponentially easier than taking your entire brood of boys with you to a grocery store.
So, you may want to start thinking about how can I spend time with one kid. Don’t worry about being equal. I know that that sounds horrible and I’m not saying that all your boys shouldn’t have the same amount of time but I am just trying to say: “Be fair.”
If you spend this one kid today, try to do that for the next one tomorrow. But, don’t get overwhelmed and don’t focus too much on one-on-one time with each kid. Just really be the best mommy that you can and just to try the best that you can. But, I won’t stress too much.
I’m just so envious because the love that you’re going to feel for those boys, you have no idea how many hugs and kisses are in your future and I’m jealous. I love my little dudes so much that I can’t even begin to tell you. So, I’m envious of your situation whereas the majority of people will probably say: “My god, four boys?”
I’m saying: “Four boys, God bless you chick. You’re one of the luckiest people I know. So, good luck.”
CHRISTINE STEWART-FITZGERALD: So, that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Twin Talks. Join in on the discussion by posting your comments on the Twin Talks Facebook page or by calling our voicemail it’s at 619-866-4775.
Don’t forget to check our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals; it’s for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies
• Parent Savers; it’s an online support group for the new parents.
Next week, we’re going to be talking about: “Speech and Language Development.” This is Twin Talks, parenting times two.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.
SUNNY GAULT: New Mommy Media is expanding our line-up of shows for new and expecting parents. If you have an idea for a new series or if you’re a business or an organization interested in our network of our shows through a cobranded podcasts, visit www.NewMommyMedia.com .
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