Potty Training joys and woes all parents will have them. No one child is alike. Potty training styles differ from family to family and child to child. My purpose for sharing what helped my husband and I potty train our children is to help those parents that are clueless as to where to begin and how to stick with it when the frustration sets in. I will not tell you the perfect age to begin potty training because it is different for each child. I believe that each parent will know the right time for their child based on their ability to verbalize or express their needs and wants. In Part 1, I shared how we introduced potty training to our children. Can you successfully potty train your toddler in 3 days? Yes, you can. Should that be your goal? No! Potty training your toddler is the goal, not a time frame. This is the fastest way to set up disappointment with yourself and will cause frustration for your child.
You can successfully potty train your child in 3 days if and only if you have already started practicing potty training with your child consistently for weeks or months and I do mean consistently and if your child doesn’t have any physical limitations that may prevent him/her from being able to verbally or physically express their need to use the potty. Each child is unique and that’s what makes them all beautiful.
If you are using consistency with your child in potty training they have already gained the skill of sitting on the potty, getting a reward if he/she uses the potty, they are familiar with the routine and may even have a potty schedule. With this routine, you are now attempting to teach the child to acknowledge the physical sensation of having to poop or pee with the action of actually taking that poop or pee to the potty seat. This doesn’t happen in 3 days. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t. Not without some yelling or a parent stressed out from so much cleaning. Don’t subject yourself or your child to that type of torture.
If your toddler has been going to the potty consistently, has more moments of dry pull-ups versus wet pull-ups you can safely use the 3-day potty training approach without the fear of losing your mind. The goal now is to remove the pull-ups and only use undies. By this point, your child is familiar with your expectation of them staying dry and can express to you verbally or with body language that they need to use the potty. You need to stay as close to your child as possible to watch their body language as they may run and hide to poop or pee outside of the potty. With a schedule or consistency of taking them to potty after drinking or eating you can prevent accidents and they will be more prone to using the potty. Do not limit drinks, meals, or snacks to prevent accidents. Implement a reward each time there is a success on the potty. Make it a really big deal!
Transitioning to night time potty training should not be any different than daytime potty training. Toddlers should be allowed to have a drink if this is what they are familiar with at bedtime. My daughter enjoys drinking a small cup of juice before bed. Instead of giving her the normal serving size that she gets during the day I cut it in half. I encourage her to drink what she wants and then we take one last trip to the potty after we brush her teeth. Expect them to wake frequently during the night. Yes, it’s uncomfortable for your sleep schedule, but it will pay off in the long run. During our 3-day potty training, my daughter went to sleep in her new undies. I gently slipped a pull-up on her once she was fully asleep. I only did this during bedtime, not naptime. With our consistent schedule, she was able to stay dry during naptime and bedtime. If your toddler does have an accident during bedtime or naptime, don’t assume that they are regressing. Potty training and sleep are difficult for toddlers and it takes some getting used to. Stay calm and do a small, but quiet cheer even when they awake and potty at 2 a.m.
During your potty training efforts limit trips outside of the house to the store, activities, etc. This will help you and your child avoid not being able to get to the potty in time and it limits the stress that already comes with potty training. You should expect your toddler to make an accident in their undies a few times during this 3-day training. Use these moments to explain to them that they are big boys and girls now and that big boys and girls only pee or poop in the potty. It’s okay to have a stern voice instead of a passive voice. Toddlers need to know that you are serious and that potty training is a requirement for them even though there should be no physical punishment. You can also express to them that their favorite characters on their undies get sad when they mess them up with poop or pee. This is a personal choice, but it worked with my children.
1. Stay Consistent with Potty Times and after any meal or snack.
2. Do not revert back to pull-ups after an accident. Keep pushing, rewarding, encouraging, demonstrating, and trying.
3. Tell them that they can be like you or a big brother/sister when they use the potty and stay dry.
4. Remind them that pee and poop are gross and goes in the potty instead of our clothes, toys, or floors.
5. Remind them of how brave, smart, and special they are for going to the potty to pee and poop. Cheer them on and make it a big deal.
With my son, there was no hesitation or resistance, but with my daughter, it was totally different. She was just not into learning, practicing, nothing! If your toddler is responding similarly to how my daughter was with no interest in potty training keep reading, as these tips to get him/her interested and keeping them interested may help your toddler.
Maintain your calm. This is new for both of you even if you have done it with an older sibling. This child has his/her own unique abilities and should be treated as such. Instilling fear or threats to your child is off the table and so is physical punishment due to accidents or stubbornness. Just be patient, it’s not a race.
Have potty conversations, all the time and everywhere. Make them up as you go. Ex. When you start using the potty you can get new stickers (or any reward that your child will enjoy). With my son, it was Hot Wheel cars and for my daughter is was pink cupcakes. Building them up with anticipation of a surprise is the goal. It can also be anything that they enjoy doing at home as a special privilege.
Take them with you to purchase potty training underwear. It builds excitement for them and gives them so much to look forward to with potty training.
Create stories about their favorite characters using the potty. Make it believable.
Read stories about potty training. The book that we chose for our son was “The Potty Book for Boys“. In all honesty, I also read this book to my daughter by changing the words boy to girl. The character Henry became Henrietta. It worked! She didn’t know the difference and you can do the same. Ha!
Take them with you to purchase a potty seat or toilet. This will give them something to look forward to and it seems more real for everyone. I originally purchased a potty seat that goes on our toilet and my daughter was simply like “blah”, about it! I took her on a special trip with me to buy a new potty with all of the bells and whistles just for her and she was so excited. It motivated her. I’ll share the details of the one that we chose in Part 3.
Tell them what the plan is. Ex. “After snack time we are going to use the potty.” As the parent, you have to be excited about it…really excited about it!
If possible, begin to change their diaper or pull-up in the bathroom. You can immediately ask them to try and use the potty once it is removed.
Always, always share the good news of potty training successes and efforts with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and preschool teachers. Encourage them to celebrate with your baby girl or boy.
Watch videos about potty training. Here is our favorite, Elmo Potty Time
Allow your child to see you use the potty. Talk to them about why you potty in the toilet instead of your undies and how they can do it just like you.
I truly hope all of these tips that we used to introduce potty training to our children and to get and keep them interested in potty training will help you and your children. Please come back next Thursday for Part 3 where I will share all of our potty training goodies that will not only help you with potty training and toileting at home but also with potty training and toileting in public places with toddlers. Trust me, you don’t want to miss these tips!