I confess I was very skeptical about this product. I'm not typically one who likes a lot of "bells and whistles" to any teaching technique, but since I was (1) curious as to how this system worked and (2) desperate to potty-train my three-year-old boy, I asked if I could review it. When I got the box home and began to poke and prod at it, my skepticism grew. Was this thing really that effective? Would my toilet-resistant son really benefit from a talking monkey telling him to go potty?
To my very pleasant surprise, yes and yes!
Here’s the rundown on what the kit includes:
One of the things I appreciated about the The Potty Trainer booklet was that it wasn't just another potty training "technique" to follow, but rather a helpful guide that covers a lot of information. It's customizable to the parent and child, based on your child's development and personality, and your parenting style. It explains potty control development, signs of readiness, pros and cons to early training, the first time your child uses the potty, problems pooping, reward systems, kids with special needs and more. It's especially helpful for parents who are potty-training a child for the first time.
- The Potty Monkey with diaper and underwear
- Flushing Toilet
- Monkey Learns to Potty, a sturdy board book that encourages the child to use the potty (in the spirit of “Monkey See, Monkey Do”)
- The Potty Trainer, an informative, 80-page parent's book by a potty-training expert and pediatric urologist
- A link to the "Potty Monkey You Did It Certificate," a customizable certificate that can be printed out when your child completes his/her potty training
The Potty Monkey works by "telling" the child he needs to go potty at regular intervals. When you begin using it, you would set it at 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes the monkey will say, "I need to go potty! Let's go potty!" Whatever your little one is doing, you encourage him/her to quickly come get the monkey, rush him to the bathroom, and set him on his little potty before he has an "accident" (which, for clarification purposes, he does not actually have). A few more increasingly "rushed" cries from the monkey to get to the potty on time will sound if he isn't placed on the toilet soon enough, reinforcing to your child the need to go quickly when the urge strikes. If the child sits the monkey on his toilet before the time is up, a sensor is triggered on the potty, causing the monkey to say, "Whew! Thanks for taking me to the potty! I feel so much better now. Don't you?" If you leave the monkey there, he'll repeat a few different educational phrases that encourage the child to use the potty him/herself. This is when you have your child sit on his potty and try to go. When both your child and the Potty Monkey are done using the potty (or attempting to), the monkey automatically resets to repeat the process 30 minutes later. This is continued for as long as you wish.
Of course, accidents will happen and will vary with each child, but once he/she is able to identify the urge to go and is starting to do so without being reminded, you can switch the monkey "reminders" to every 90 minutes instead of every 30. You can decide how long you want to continue using it, whether several hours a day or only for a few. And eventually, it will no longer be necessary--your child will be potty trained!
Before I share with you what I liked about the Potty Monkey system, I can't leave out the fact that there were some cons. The biggest one was the little toilet for the monkey to be placed on. It was simply too small for the weight and size of the stuffed animal, making it very difficult for my son to balance him on it just right so that he wouldn't tip over. Not only did it need to be balanced "just right" to stay on, it had to sit "just right" in order for the sensor in the toilet to register with the sensor in the monkey and cause the monkey to declare his success. Each time I needed to help with this, which at first was no big deal. But once my son was becoming much more adept at his own potty skills, it was a bit of a pain to have to follow him into our bathroom every time he used the toilet so that the monkey wouldn't fail to register and have an "accident." The other con was that the battery contraption and switch (which allows you to set the monkey at 30 minutes, 90 minutes, or "off") was hard to get to. It's stuffed inside the back of the monkey, closed off with (extra strong) Velcro, and there's barely enough room to fish out the battery/setting box in order to change a setting. There was really no way around it either, as the switches couldn't be accessed unless at least half of the box was squeezed out.
However, despite the "technical issues," my son really loved using it, and it did encourage him to use the potty! We had a rocky first few days at it--not due to the system, just the typical struggles of learning to toilet train. By the third day, he was doing fantastic! I really was impressed with not only how quickly he learned to recognize the signs of needing to urinate, but also with his physical ability to be able to "hold it" until he reached the potty. He had very few accidents after that! By the fourth day, I put the Potty Monkey system away and haven't had to use it since. Within a month, my son started to stay dry during naptime, and now, almost three months later, he only needs a pull-up at night for occasional nighttime accidents. This is not to say that every child will have the same result (some will take less time, some more), but I was very happy with how much the system helped my son with the potty-training process.
By far, our experience with the Potty Monkey was a very positive one! It's a wonderful tool that is adaptable for any method of toilet teaching, and I highly recommend it! It makes something that's typically not a whole lot of fun much more enjoyable for everyone involved. When it comes to potty training, that's a blessing!