I'd been told that three days was the magic number, so when I tried potty-training before, I'd give up after three days. I have potty-trained 9 other kids, but my son was different, so I felt like I was in uncharted waters.
At the beginning of June, I decided we were going to potty-train, no matter what. I'd used diapers to try before because I didn't want potty messes all over the house. I think that was a mistake. I tried pull-ups and, for the same reason, I think that was a mistake. He knew he could potty in the diaper, and the pull-up, so there wasn't anything new or different about it.
I put him in underpants and told myself I just had to be willing to clean up messes. I told myself that'd be a small price to pay if it meant getting out of diapers.
Day one, I set him on the toilet. He didn't go. We waited and waited and waited. Finally, I let him off, but put underpants on him. When he had an accident, I whisked him into the bathroom and put him on the toilet. We waited and waited and waited. I'd read that it was important to let him actually go on the toilet, even if it meant waiting. That's what we did. We read books, sang songs, talked about going potty while he sat on toilet. Finally, he went. I did a big dance, clapped my hands, told him he was awesome. He loved all the attention.
I put him on the toilet every 30 minutes or so. If he had an accident, I put him right on the toilet and let him sit there until he went. At first, it took him a long time from sitting on the toilet to actually going, but by the end of the first week, he would go as soon as I sat him on the toilet. I still did big dances, clapped, and told him he was awesome.
The first week, we were probably 50-50 for accidents. A big improvement over diapers. I didn't give up after 3 days, I did not let him put on diapers at all, and I consistently asked him to go potty and put him on the toilet every 30 minutes or so. He knew I was serious because I wouldn't let him have diapers and because we kept going to the bathroom. I spent the majority of my days that week in the bathroom with him.
The second week, we were probably 25-75. He was improving. I sat him on the toilet every 30 minutes or so at the beginning, but lengthened it out toward the end of the week. By the end of the week, he started to tell me when he needed to go.
The third week, we were a little better, maybe 20-80. By this time, I was making him pull up his own underpants, flush the toilet, and wash his own hands. As soon as he started to pee in his pants, he'd run to the bathroom, so even though we still had accidents, they weren't very big and he was taking himself to the bathroom to finish.
The fourth week, we were at 10-90 and we worked on him wiping his own behind. During this week, I didn't go into the bathroom at all with him. He was taking care of it by himself--he did come and get me afterward to show me what he'd done in the toilet so I could give him high fives and tell him he was awesome. (He loves that attention).
We have not gone back to diapers. He's dry all night. He uses the toilet on his own and washes his hands by himself. He still has accidents here and there, but he takes his underpants to the laundry when he does and gets a new pair. We still get excited and do dances when he goes. Hopefully, we won't have to keep doing that indefinitely.
This won't work for all kids with Down syndrome, and it's important to pay attention to your child to see if he is ready and can understand what it means to use the toilet. For my son, he was stubborn. He liked diapers. I had to finally be committed to potty-training when we could stay home all week and I had to be more stubborn about it than he was about wearing diapers. This might have worked for him a few years ago, but I kept waiting for him to tell me he was ready, like my other kids had done, until I realized I had to be the one to insist he do it.
We are a step closer now to going to school. And we don't have to buy or change diapers. After 26 years, we are done with diapers. Wahooooooo!!!!