Potty Training Madie


Photo Credit: Photography by Angel

A Story About Potty Training and Down Syndrome

By Monica Blouin

Signing Time Academy Instructor Monica Blouin, of Lil Miracles Signing Academy, is mom to four year old Madie, a little girl with Down syndrome. Here, Monica shares with us her journey of trials and triumphs as she and Madie work together to potty train.

I have two children. Madie, who has Down syndrome, is 4.5 years old and Jack who is 2.5 years old is typical.  I have been trying on and off since Madie was 3 to try to potty train her. It hasn’t gone well. She would scream and cry when she was on the potty. So, I decided to do as much research as possible to figure out how to make potty training work for Madie.

I focused on asking other moms, particularly those that had older children with Down syndrome, “What did you do to get your child to use the potty?” I was looking for an easy solution to make this journey as smooth as possible. Well, I guess you can say that I was warned.  This was not going to be easy. While I was offered great advice on techniques and potty motivators, none of it was the SAME advice. Everyone’s experience was a little bit different. One thing was the same though. No matter what actually worked, the process took quite a while for it to work and to ultimately be successful.

So, I did my homework and created a hybrid method that was a combination of other people’s methods along with what I already know about Madie’s personality.

The first technique I tried with Madie was to establish a routine. I had heard that children with Down syndrome have great success with a task once it becomes a routine in their schedule and Madie definitely was a “creature of habit” so to take advantage of this, I picked key times to prompt her to use the potty: First thing in the morning, immediately after meals, right before leaving the house, right after a car ride, right after school, and right before bedtime.

Madie signs waterWhile Madie was on the potty, I sat on a stool near her and we used our sign language to talk about what she was doing. We would sing songs from the Signing Time DVD collection and play silly games to make using the potty a fun experience. And if Madie used the potty properly, we would celebrate like the Cubs won the World Series! Madie always likes it when she makes me laugh or makes me happy. She loves to play games and she loves to celebrate. So we capitalized on that.

Along with the routine, I decided to try the “Reward Method”. This method is simple. Find what motivates your child to do the behavior that you want and present it to them. But, do not let your child have the actual reward until they perform. So, for example if your child loves Elmo, or Tinker Bell, or cookies, show your child the item and then put it up out of reach, but in plain sight of your child’s view. Tell them that they can have the item just as soon as they use the potty. Or you could tell your child that she can have the item when she uses the potty all day with no accidents. This is a great method for a lot of people, but it didn’t work for us. Madie tends not to respond well to a reward system involving stickers or toys.  Her only vice is Signing Time DVDs. Day and night, Madie wants to watch Signing Time.

So, you can imagine that when I heard that Signing Time was in production of “Potty Time”, I think I nearly lost my mind with excitement! Could I possibly get this potty training achieved? Could this be the reward item to get Madie to use the potty regularly?

Potty Time was great for us! Madie showed some real improvements after watching Potty Time. She improved during the day and was dry in the mornings now. Baby steps towards our goal, but we still needed more help so we turned to the Potty Watch.

I decided I would need to be responsible for reminding Madie to use the potty at set intervals in order to create a habit of going potty.  The Potty Time watch is just the trick that I needed, and it helps both of us. I tend to get lost in work, making phone calls, answering emails and before you know it, Madie has had an accident. So, the watch is the perfect way for me to remind myself to go and ask her if she has to use the potty. I set the watch for 30 minute intervals and I have to say that this little watch has saved me a fortune in diapers and pull-ups already. And, I just love that the watch is big enough for me to wear and it is so cute that I don’t mind wearing a watch that resembles a potty. What a great way to remind ME that it is Potty Time!

Madie and her mom

Photo Credit: Photography by Angel

At this time, Madie continues to improve with using the potty. Our whole family, our babysitters, and Madie’s teachers work together to help her. Potty training is not easy for a lot of kids or for their parents and for kids with Down syndrome, it takes time, patience and lots of love to work through this journey together. But like any task that is not easy, the rewards are so much more significant with an increase level of excitement when you achieve success. Madie has taught me lot about myself as we journey together and I know that once Madie is 100% potty trained, we both will have a new level of confidence in our abilities to overcome and conquer.

To take sign language classes with Monica, contact her at monicablouin@signingtimeacademy.com or visit her Facebook page: Lil Miracles Sign Language Academy

A special thanks to Photography by Angel for the use of her professional portraits!

3 thoughts on “Potty Training Madie

  1. Pingback: A Potty Training Success Story | Potty Time Blog

  2. What age did you begin with Madie? I have an Addie :). She is almost three…just wondering if it is too soon? She loves signing time too. I have ordered Potty Time. I share your excitement! Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Hi Wendy. Thanks for your question.
      I started at Madie’s 3rd birthday to introduce her to the potty and it didn’t go well. She screamed and cried and was scared. So, I took it slow in the beginning and only did that probably twice a day and only for a few minutes each time. Since actually sitting on the potty wasn’t going so well, I still started talking about it all of the time with her and we read books about the potty. I had her sit with me when I was in the potty and talked to her about how big girls use the potty and not diapers. I always took baby steps with her so that the fear was minimized and so that the potty became a fun event for her. If Addie is almost 3 and loves Signing Time, definetly watching Potty Time and start. Also, if Addie is entering the school system at 3, talk to your teachers and school therapists so that they are all on the same pages as you. Good luck with Addie. I hope she enjoys Potty Time as much as my kids do. It’s a favorite in the daily rotation of Signing Time DVD’s that are constantly playing in my house and car 🙂