Potty training. Every parent does it at some point. It can’t be that bad, right? I mean, my kid will probably be out of diapers by a year old and wiping their own butt perfectly by 2, right? (Insert maniacal laugh here)
I had a lot of crazy thoughts about potty training before becoming a mom. For the record, I never assumed we’d be done with diapers by age 1, but I also didn’t think I’d still be elbow deep in poop after age 3. But here I am. I’ve gotten a lot of advice along the way. So I will put it here in hopes that I can look back on it in the future. Hopefully not too far in the future. I’m obviously no expert in any of it, since my kid still craps his pants and then finds it hilarious to tell me, “There’s poops in there!” but maybe some of the things I have heard will help someone else.
The Naked Method
This potty training method is said to work in as little as 3 days. Sounds amazing. The object is that you keep your child bare from the waist down and encourage them to try and go potty every 30 seconds or so. Ok, maybe not every 30 seconds, but I have heard any time interval from 10 to 20 to 30 minutes. I tried this method when my son was about 2.5. This was my experience:
Made a potty chart, got all the reward supplies (we’ll discuss this later) and was ready to go. Stripped my boy naked (it was summer and he enjoys running around naked so why not?) We had reasonable success. A few minor pee accidents at the beginning. I chose to set an alarm on my phone to go off at 15 minute intervals. I gave an excessive amount of fluids (we’ll discuss this later, too). The morning went great! My boy was excited to be trying something new. Diaper went on for nap time.
After nap, the fun began. My son was still sitting on the potty every 15 minutes. He was going pee too. So at one point he comes running out of his room about 5 minutes after our last potty sit, and he’s yelling, “YUCK! YUCK!” and pointing to his room. If this was a sitcom or tv drama, I’d cue the ominous music now. I enter his room, and sure enough, there is poop on the floor directly next to the potty. UGH! It’s ok, accidents happen. Clean up the mess.
A few potty sits later, I go in again at the alarm and sit him on his potty chair. I’m standing behind the chair he’s sitting on and he asks for his juice. I lean over top of him to hand him the sippy cup. He chooses this exact moment to plant his feet and launch himself into a standing position right into my nose. CRACK! Instant tears. I can’t see. He’s laughing hysterically because I’m sure it looked funny how I was doubled over, swearing profusely, face in hands, with tears streaming down to the ground. I finally managed to blink the tears away and pull my hands from my face just as blood spurted everywhere. My son broke my nose. I ended up at Urgent Care with X-rays to prove it.
Yes, I am crazy and kept going. What can I say? I like to live dangerously. We followed the same format this day as we did the first. However, my 2.5 year old lost interest and we were having a lot more accidents than successes. Getting him to sit on the potty was becoming a huge fight.
No success. All accidents. Way too many battles to sit on the potty. I threw in the towel. He just wasn’t ready. And my nose hurt.
The Underpants Method
This potty training method is where you pick out some cute “big kid” underpants that your child is excited to wear. You chuck the diapers to the side and put the big kid underpants on the child and explain to them they need to tell you when they have to go. If they have accidents, they are supposed to not like the feel of the wet or soiled material, and get motivated to use the potty. This was my experience:
After a couple weeks past since trying the naked method, we picked out the underpants. My son was pumped to wear them. We opted for the cutest little cotton boxer briefs. I quickly learned that my child doesn’t care in the slightest about being wet. I also learned that I strongly dislike scrubbing poop out of tiny shorts. We chucked this method out the window fairly quickly. Again, my son just wasn’t ready.
Other Tips and Tricks
It is recommended by pretty much anyone you will ask to offer rewards for potty training success. Some people choose to do sticker charts. Some offer a candy reward, like an M&M for successes, and some even do small toys from the dollar store. From what I can tell, you need to find what reward will work best for your child. Mine doesn’t give a crap (no pun intended) about stickers, and if I offer him one M&M he’d beat me with toys until I gave him the rest. My house already looks like a toy warehouse. So I needed to find a different reward. My son attends a parent tot class and at the end of each session, he gets a stamp on his hand. He LOVES it. So I used stamps. You can get ink pads and stamps reasonably priced at any local craft supply store.
I have also been told to push fluids while potty training. Lots of fluids equal lots of people and lots of teachable moments. This worked well for us. The more successes we had, the more excited my son got about trying to go potty. The only advice I can offer is choose fluids wisely. A bunch of sugary juice and a spazzed out toddler can make getting them to sit still very difficult. Also, watch your nose when handing the cup over!
Pick the Right Potty
Some kids do better with a small potty chair. Some kids do better with sitting on an actual toilet. In our house, we have a very basic potty chair. They make all kinds. There are character ones, and ones that make sounds, etc. We personally wanted something very basic because we didn’t want our son thinking it was a toy to be played with. Also, though he is not yet fully potty trained, he does seem to prefer going on the big potty to the small one. Its all about what will work best for you and your child
Wait for Readiness
This is something I personally feel strongly about. As moms, we are going to get tons of pressure about this particular topic. Many times the worst of it comes from the grandparents.
“Isn’t that kid potty trained yet?”
“Isn’t he or she too old for diapers?”
“My kids were out of diapers by (insert insanely young age)”
“So-and-so’s kid goes on the potty.”
Sometimes the peer pressure can get to us, especially when it comes to potty training. Our friends’ children are potty trained, so why isn’t ours? What are we doing wrong? Why wont my child get it? Is he or she going to graduate high school in pull ups?
The best piece of advice I have heard is to not make yourself crazy. Your child will get it. In their own time, they will be going potty like a pro. Don’t make it a negative experience for yourself or your child because that does more harm than good. Girls tend to train on average around 2.5 and boys tend to train a little later, around 3.5 on average.
So good luck! And please send me any other tips or tricks you may know.