For most moms (especially new moms) potty training is a dreaded phase. Rightfully so! It can be a long, frustrating, and nasty process. Like most new moms I was faced with this challenge of potty training my son. I had zero knowledge or experience on this topic! To help other new first time moms I wanted to provide some tips and tricks that I learned along the way that helped me.
1. Children Learn By Watching
By nature kids look up to parents and older siblings trying to emulate everything they are doing. As a result letting your child be present in the bathroom while going to the bathroom from a young age is a great way for them to start to learn. While you use the bathroom tell them what you are doing. Just like if you were teaching them to brush their teeth. The hope is that when the time is ready they will have a better understanding of the process.
2. There Is No Magic Age
Some kids grasp the concept at an early age own while others understand the idea but just aren’t ready for it. Before starting this process make sure that your child has a least some interest in starting. There are several ways children tell you they are ready start. To name a few, they might let you know after they poop in their diaper that they pooped, want to try sitting on the toilet, or hiding when they pee or poop.
3. Have A Toilet Seat Ready
As your child starts to gain some interest and understanding have a toilet seat ready for the to sit on. There are a variety of different toilet seats available. Some are stand-alone mini toilets while others are a seat that sit on the toilet that makes it so they can’t fall in. When making a decision on what kind of toilet to get our son we determined that he liked doing things how we do and got him a toilet seat that sits on the seat. Having a place available for them to try or pretend going is a great way to introduce them. Even if they sit on it for a few second.
4. Create A Game Plan
Creating a game plan is a great way to compile the ideas you have found and cater them to your child’s personality and needs. Reading a variety of blogs is one of the best ways to learn the process when it comes to getting ideas on how to start potty training. Pinterest is a great place to research and get several different ideas from blogs on ways to potty train. Along with reading other people’s experiences and tips I also ask every mother I knew and felt comfortable asking that had even the slightest experience potty training to get ideas of what worked and didn’t work for their kids. While doing research make a list of things to try to help yourself come up with a game plan. Here is the game plan I came up with.
- Focus on him all day. Play and do everything with him.
- Have him help clean up the messes
- Give lots of Juice and milk. Set a timer for 20-30 min and take him when the timer goes off. (May need to be more often if he drinks a lot!)
- Give a small reward (candy) for sitting on the toilet and a big reward when the goes (like a small toy)
- Be excited when he goes
- Don’t give up
- Go diaper free for a whole day
- Make going to the bathroom part of his bedtime routine.
5. There is Not A One Solution Fix All
Every child is different and as a result there is not a one fix all solution for potty training. I researched and read a lot of mom blogs to help me come up with a whole bunch of ideas on how to start. Here is a list of things I found helpful.
- Take them to the store to pick out their underwear.
- Stock up on cleaning supplies like carpet cleaner, Clorox wipes and bleach spray.
- Have your child help you clean up their mess so they get the idea it is easier to go in the toilet.
- Start on a week you will spend most of your time at home. Slowly take them out on quick trips and reward them for not having an accident while you were out.
- Have them just wear their underwear for the first day.
- Set aside a whole day to play, monitor, and practice.
- If they have any signs of having to go to the bathroom ask if they need to go or run them in so they can be rewarded for going in the toilet.
- Be prepared with a least 8-10 pairs of clean underwear.
- Have a bucket ready with some hot water and laundry detergent so you can put the dirty underwear in throughout the day.
- Start potty training after going to a parade or Halloween! It is a great way to get free small rewards for when they sit on the toilet. 😉
- Sometimes you know they have to go, but they don’t want to sit there long enough to get it out. For instance try giving them activities they can do in the toilet that will keep them sitting there like reading them a book or let them play on a tablet or phone. Another idea is to take off the toilet seat, sit them on the toilet backwards and give them a dry erase marker to draw on the toilet with. It easily wipes off with toilet paper!
- Have a reward that they can choose after they go. Our son is very interested in construction equipment. I purchased a pack of 40 construction pieces for $15 from amazon.
- Try to only use pull-ups when you are going out for an extended time and during sleep time. Pull-ups are similar to a diaper which can cause your child to revert them to their diaper days. I am not saying pull-ups are bad just use them only when necessary.
6. Potty Training Isn’t A One-Time Event
When a toddler first learns to walk they take a step and fall then take a couple steps and fall. After a while they get to the point where they take several steps and fall. Each time they get back up and try again. Despite all of 3 day potty training solutions out there each child is unique. Potty training is the same concept as learning to walk or ride a bike. The first day or two they may only go in the toilet a few times, but as they learn how to control their body they are more able to go longer without having to go and will know when they need to go. This learning process may com quickly to some, but don’t be discouraged it it doesn’t for your child.
It is also common for children to have some regression. My son would do a good job making it to the toilet for a few days then have a couple days where it just didn’t happen. Keep encouraging them. You are their best teacher and support system.
7. We All Learn From Failure
Shortly after starting to potty train my son I found this quote “Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe. – DrLaura.com” I am pretty sure this quote was not intended to help a mom trying to teach their child how to go to use the toilet, but it really fits! It helped me realize that I can’t expect my son to know how to go to the bathroom from doing it perfectly. He had to have accidents.
It was okay to get frustrated after it seemed like he was finally grasping the concept but still not making it in time. And when it all boiled down it was okay for him to have accidents. The catastrophes or accidents were how he was learning. Even as adults we all fail at things, but learning from mistakes is one of the most essential ways we learn.
8. Sometimes It Takes Reminders
Fast forward to a couple months down the road. If it seems that by this time your child understands the concept of going in the toilet, but for one reason or another they have a hard time stopping what they are doing to go. Or when they are reminded they need to go and do the potty dance while saying they don’t need to. At this point I think it is okay to implement a consequence.
With my son we cleaned him off with a cold shower if he didn’t make it to the toilet in time. After having a cold shower experience a few times it worked perfectly. As a result he is doing the potty dance and saying he doesn’t need to go we can remind him that if he doesn’t make it he will have to have a cold shower. This usually prompts him to quickly go.
9. Night Time Potty Training
Don’t worry about nap time and overnight potty training until your child has mastered the day time. Mastering going to the bathroom takes muscle control and a connection between their mind and body. You can keep using a diaper or a pull-up during the night. After your child has developed the muscle control necessary to hold their bladder they will be more able to do it while relaxed and sleeping. Nap time is a great way to practice a short period of time without a pull-up when they get to this point.
10. Don’t Give Up Hope!
Once you have started keep going. You got this!! As you work with your child you will understand what things work and what things don’t. Just like when they were a baby and couldn’t talk, pay attention to cues they give you to help guide you through this process. Potty training is probably one of the hardest, grossest, and most difficult things you will have to do with our child. As always difficult tasks lead to big accomplishments. It is a big deal when your child goes a whole day, then week, then month accident free! This is a challenge that is totally worth the time and effort!
In conclusion potty training is a big accomplishment for the mom and the child. It takes a lot of time and practice. Potty training isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. As we all know every child is different and what works really well for one child might not work on another. Researching a variety of methods is a great way to have several tools in your belt as you embark on this process.
What things have you learned from potty training your children? I would love to hear your ideas and tips!