Friday, 7 March 2008

Can you really potty train a 6 month old?



I was a psychology major in college.  I loved it too.  One particular thing that I haven't forgotten (my memory is like a steel trap) is the study this guy Maslow did and how he conditioned his dogs to salivate when they heard a ringing bell... er, I think it was Maslow.  Hold on, I'm going to google it... Okay... so Maslow was this other guy who talked about a heirarchy of needs (which of course I totally remember as if I sat in that class yesterday).  Pavlov was the guy with the dogs.  And really, I knew that all along.  I was just, um, I was just testing you guys.  Like I said, my memory is like a steel trap.  Anyway this guy Pavlov started ringing a bell right before he would feed his dogs.  They would salivate when they saw their food, then they started associating the bell sound with food, and eventually they would salivate just by hearing the bell, even if there was no food.  Amazing, huh?  Doggy drool!  So now there's this whole thing called Pavlovian Conditioning which I would thoroughly explain to you because I like know all about it (not really) but I think you should go study that stuff for yourself.

So, back to life in Turkey...

When Elise was a new baby I frequently visited a family down the street.  The mom often bragged to me about how she had potty trained her two youngest daughters by the time they were 5 months old. I would oooh and aaah on the outside and tell her how great that was, but on the inside I was secretly thinking, you're either a big fat liar or you have a horrible memory....  Three years and one baby later, my friend Neriman (who I'm convinced has a good memory and is definetly not a big fat liar) told me that lots of Turkish women, especially villagers who can't afford disposable diapers, potty train their babies around 6 months old.  
At the time, Marie was about 6 months old and I was sick of the potty training process that seems to have gone horribly wrong with Elise.  Neriman told me how they do it and I decided to potty train my 6 month old.  No more of this changing diapers till age 3 for me, I thought, I'm going to have this one trained before she can run away and say no! 

I set my mind to it and for about a week I worked hard to potty train Marie.  Neriman told me it would take about a month, but I only did it for a week.  That's how much determination, perseverance, and will power I have.... when I start something I really follow through and finish it... at least until I get tired of it.
Here's how it works.  Maybe someone out there who has more perseverance than me can try it out.  Maybe one of you can benefit from what I learned.  First you figure out the times your baby goes pee.  It's usually right when she wakes up, right after she eats, and a few other times.  Then you set her on the potty (or hold her over the Turkish toilet) during those times.  Now here's the important part... you have to say "Cheesh" with a long drawn out sh sound at the end.  Cheesh is how you say pee pee in Turkish.  And the word sounds like the sound of peeing, especailly when you really drag out that sh.  The baby hears the sound of peeing and goes pee.

Okay so if you follow these instructions then eventually you'll catch the baby enough times when she actually needs to go that she'll start associating sitting on the potty and especially hearing "cheesh" with going pee.  Then she'll just start holding it until she is surrounded by those pee pee inducing conditions and wah-lah!  She'll be potty trained.  Just like those dogs started drooling when they heard the bell, the baby will start peeing when she hears "cheesh."

So I worked faithfully at this Pavlovian conditioning type potty training with Marie for about a week and by the end of the week you know what had happened?  I held her over the Turkish toilet and said cheesh and she went... even if her diaper was already wet and she didn't have much to give, she would almost always at least let out a teeny little squirt!  She knew that cheesh was the command to pee.  It was really amazing!

Sounds great, right?  Well here's the problem and here's why I gave up.  This method of potty training is not for lazy people.  It's not for those people who like to lay in bed for a few minutes after they hear the baby wake up.  It's not for people who try to feed their toddler and their baby at the same time and linger a little too long in the kitchen after their baby's last bite.  Nope, it's for people who will pop out of bed the second they hear that baby wake up and get her on the potty.  It's for people who pay really close attention to when their baby has stopped eating and might possibly start pooping.  It's for people who immediately notice a little grimace on thier baby's face, or their baby stiffening their body up just a little indicating that the baby's doing some business down below and can immediately get her on the potty.  It takes that kind of determination to train her that the potty (not her diaper) is where she goes pee.  Even though I got Marie trained to go on command, I didn't stick with it long enough to train her not to go when she didn't hear the command.  

 At this point I just put Marie on the potty when I feel up to it.  She is far from being potty trained, but I'm hoping that my more lazy method will at least get her trained a little earlier than her sister (and that shouldn't be too unrealistic a goal since at the rate Elise is going, that will be the year 2048.)

2 comments:

Ethnoquest said...

Playing "Dunk the Cheerios" worked well for my mom, I mean, when she trained me. But, I guess different methods for different equipment. :)

Galtscrapper said...

That baby is just TOO DARN CUTE!

There was an error in this gadget