One of the things that has made potty training Gracie very different than potty training Bean is having Bean around. He was sort of hanging out on the fringes for a while, just making sure Gracie wasn’t getting anything that he wasn’t getting. He sniffed around her Skittles jar, and he talked about stickers a lot when she’d put one up on her chart. I knew that it must be kind of hard for him to suddenly have Gracie be the center of attention for a week while we potty trained, so I tried to be sure to spend some extra time with him when we weren’t sitting on the potty with Gracie. I made sure that he got to pick games and activities for us to do, and I tried hanging out with him after Gracie went to bed every night.
One of the best pieces I had of advice for dealing with siblings while potty training came from our friend, Gary, who has no children himself. But he was one of four in his house when he was growing up, and I adore his family. Everything he tells me about them makes me think that I want to raise my family like his parents raised theirs, and potty training was a great example. When Gary’s little sister was potty training, Gary was about Bean’s age. His mom told Gary that if he was in the bathroom cheering for his sister when she went potty, then he got a treat, too. I thought that was a brilliant way to make potty training a whole-family affairs, and to share some of the spotlight with an older sibling.
We have been doing that with Bean, too. If he is in the bathroom and cheering for Gracie when she actually goes potty, then he gets a Skittle, too. They both think this is awesome. Bean loves getting the treat, and Gracie loves having her brother cheering her on.
Unfortunately for Bean, that means he has to endure hours of waiting in the bathroom while Gracie and I put on pretend make up and do our hair until she actually goes potty.
He’s normally a pretty good sport.
But sometimes he gets bored and goes on to play with super heroes or something like that. And then he inevitably wanders back into the bathroom, and starts encouraging Gracie, “Go potty, Gracie!” he’ll coax. “Go potty so we can go outside and play!”
I have also let him be part of all the potty training activities that are slightly more fun than waiting. He likes to help Gracie pick out her underwear. Are anyone else’s children obsessed with underwear? Mine are, and it kind of weirds me out. But they LOVE their underwear. Choosing which pair to wear is critical to the success of their day. Bean asks Gracie which character she wants to wear, and then he picks them out and she gets to choose which ones. They came up with this little system all on their own, and so far it has worked out nicely. Weirdly, but nicely.
Another thing we have done is make sure that if Gracie gets something out of the ordinary because she is potty training, we give it to Bean, too, just to make it fair. So, when Gracie can’t sit on the couches (harsh, but true), Bean plays by those same rules. He sits on a towel pallet just like her. We called them their “TV seats” this week, and they were a big hit. Bean kept saying, “Come on, Gracie, let’s go sit on our TV seats.” And she went happily along…
Sometimes having an older child while you are potty training can cause some hostility and jealousy if you’re not watching for it. I had not even thought about that when I started potty training Gracie, but it was a subtle change in Bean Man. Giving him some tasks and perks so that he was involved with the potty training itself made a huge difference. Gracie was more successful on the potty because her big brother was cheering for her, and he was happy to be involved and even leading the show in some instances.