Monday, July 27, 2009

Family of Fairies

The other day, while I was flipping through my Parents magazine, my eye caught the first paragraph of one of the articles because it started something like, "my son, Liam, was 3-1/2 when I figured out how to get him to pick up his toys." Obviously, my interest was piqued.

The author went on to describe how she invented the Pickup Fairy, who would swoop in and take away all of her Liam's toys for one week if he didn't pick them up at night. It seemed to work like a charm for him.

I stewed on this for a few days. My Liam would do little more than half-heartedly toss a toy here and there into his own bin at night, or any other time for that matter, so maybe there was something to this.

Opportunity presented itself a few days later, on a Friday evening, as we were headed home from the store. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Liam, when we get home we're going to need to take a bath.

Liam: I don't wanna! Whine, whine. whine.

Me: Well, Liam, you're going to have to take a bath or (pause) or the Bath Fairy is going to (long pause) um, take away you're bedtime snack!

Liam immediately stopped whining. I watched the wheels turning in his head through the rear view mirror, before he finally said: The Bath Fairy?

Me: Yes. The Bath Fairy is going to take away your bedtime snack if you don't take a bath.

Liam: Oh. OK. I will take a bath.

Me (seizing the opportunity): And Liam, the Pickup Fairy is going to take away your toys for one week if you don't pick them up before bedtime!

At this point Liam started asking a lot of questions. By the time we got home it had been established that the Bath Fairy and the Pickup Fairy lived in Wigiland. They are sisters, you see, and they live in a blue house together. They do not fly, but rather they disappear and reappear when they want to go somewhere, like say, my house to take away bedtime snacks or toys for one week.

Liam took his bath, and picked up his toys that night.

While I was shampooing my hair that night, I was congratulating myself on my victory and wondering: how could I parlay this into the dreaded potty training. Oh potty training, a sore subject in my house. Despite fully understanding the concept of using the potty, my son has had absolutely no interest in doing such a thing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I had pretty much convinced myself that he'd be at least 16 before potty training could even begin.

I contemplated for a while. I didn't want the Potty Fairy to be a negative thing. She couldn't take anything away for not going potty, that would be counterproductive, I was sure. But what if, what if, she just got really happy whenever Liam uses the potty?

Yes! That's it!

First thing Saturday morning I took Liam's diaper off and explained to him that the Bath Fairy and the Pickup Fairy had a cousin: The Potty Fairy. (Who, if you must know, lives in a yellow house across the street. In Wigiland.) I told him that the Potty Fairy would just be really, really happy if Liam would go potty in the potty.

He had one accident first thing that morning. I told him that was OK, but next time he should try the potty, and the Potty Fairy would be SO HAPPY!

And that was it, that did the trick. He used the potty for the rest of the day. And the next day. And the following week, he had a few accidents here and there at Grandma's house during the day, but HE WAS USING THE POTTY!

This weekend was the real breakthrough. He doesn't want diapers anymore. He wears big boy underwear, no more looking back. Of course, it may have helped that about midway through the week I informed him that, as an added bonus, once he was completely done with diapers the Potty Fairy would come in the night to take all his diapers away, and would leave cookies behind. I can't be sure, but I think he's just in it for the cookies.

But that, my friends, is how I potty trained my 3 year old in one week. The Potty Fairy and I are new best friends. In fact, I think I'll take her out for a drink sometime soon, she really deserves it for all her hard work.

5 comments:

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Kelsi said...

LOL - that is great! My Mom trained my brother in one day, because she told him for months before his third birthday that "three-year-olds wear underware." On his third birthday, she put on undies and he was potty trained! I like the fairies stories, and will have to use them on my 2 year old once she gets the fairy concept.
Added: mis-comment I had to stop typing because my daughter ran into the bathroom, and started using the potty by herself :o)

Strong Rhetoric said...

GREAT technique. I'm going to employ this for all sorts of things. Jack MAY be too old and call my bluff, but surely it will work on the newbie someday!

King of New York Hacks said...

The Potty Fairy...reminds me of those Captain Underpants books !! LOL

Jessica said...

Brilliant. I'm going to have to remember that when we have children (if all goes well-soon!).