I have to admit. Potty training has been the hardest thing I’ve done as a mother thus far. It has really tested my patience and my ability to stay calm during difficult situations. It has brought many embarrassing moments and nerve wrecking moments. And many moments where I wondered, Why am I doing this? Diapers are easier to change than cleaning up after poop and pee in carpet.
My Potty Training Experience
My oldest daughter, Kaye, was almost 2 when she started to show signs of readiness of potty training. In fact, the first day I pulled out the potty seat, she pooped in it the first time. Then peed in it the second time. All in the same day. But I held off potty training because we were leaving for a trip to Taiwan.
After our trip to Taiwan, I decided I wanted to transition Kaye into sleeping in a big girl bed before potty training her. I was pregnant with our second and wanted to use the crib for the baby.
Once Kaye turned 2, she still showed signs of readiness of potty training, but took no interest in it. My motivation was I wanted to get her out of diapers before the new baby came. I didn’t want to do potty training while nursing a little one. Plus, it was much cheaper to purchase diapers for one child instead of two. So I went with it. It wasn’t too bad. She was fully potty trained in about 2 weeks.
22 Potty Training Tips
If you have read all the ready signs of potty training, looked into it a bit and decided to give it a go, here are a few tips that might help you in this arduous task. Remember that each child is different. What worked with your friend’s child may not work with yours. What worked with your first child may not work with the second or third. So read up and do what will work best for your child.
- Toilet Training in Less Than A Day. This was the book that answered all my questions. It told me exactly how my child was going to react to potty training and the different tactics they will use when faced with this situation. Then it had all the answers and responses as to what I needed to do as a parent. It’s a short and fast read. Well worth it.
- Wait it out. I have friends who waited until their child told them they were ready. And when they did, it was much easier to have the child be the one who initiated it.
- Be prepared to devote at least 1 whole day without distractions to it. Clear your calendar. Forget about your emails. Ask someone to watch your older kids, if necessary. Devote an entire day or two to this and really get serious about it. Potty training is one of those moments where you need to give your child uninterrupted attention. Once they get the hang of it and know what is going on, then get back into regular routine.
- Be consistent. At this age, they are testing you. They want to know if you are in on this. Because if you are totally into this, and you convince them you are, then they’ll get with the program. And to do that, you have to be consistent. Show them that this is not just something temporary. Or something that you will give up if it doesn’t work the first few days or even weeks. If you give up, they will too.
- Involve them. Take them to the store to pick out their new underwear. Have them pick out a potty seat. Ask them what treats or reward they would like. Have them set a goal to work toward.
- Potties vs. training seats. We had both. Potties are nice because they are kid size. They don’t need a step to get on it. The down side is you have to clean it. Sure it is suggested that you have the child take the poop/pee container and dump it in the toilet. But they don’t actually clean it afterwards. Training seats are nice because they get your child used to going to the toilet in the first place. Although it can be tricky for your child to get on a step, pull down pants and turn around to sit on the potty alone without falling. It will take some getting used to.
- The second day will be the hardest. The first day, they are excited to get with the program. The second day, they have accidents on purpose. The second day will make or break you. Though not all moms will experience this, lucky you if you don’t.
- Balance reminders with trust. In the beginning, you will remind them constantly to go potty, and sometimes taking them to the potty even if they don’t need to go. Then as they start to get a hang out it, back off the reminders. Make them less frequent. That was hard for me because by that time, I was tired of dealing with accidents. But I noticed, the more I backed off on reminders, the more willing she would go on her own. I would only ask her if she needed to go potty when I could tell she was holding it.
- Throw a party. Get them excited about it. I did it on the first day to introduce Kaye to potty training. Since she was into princesses at that time, it was a pink princess potty party. I decorated the living room with little underwear and had lots of pink drinks around (juice, strawberry PediaSure or strawberry milk). I made a special pink breakfast. Her grandma bought her a potty doll. We had a collection of children potty books. Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day is a book with themes, ideas and activities for potty parties. This book is different from the one mentioned above.
- Don’t yell. This will be a hard one, especially when you are dealing the 5th or 6th accident of the day and you are at wit’s end. But if you yell, they will resist or feel being punished.
- Make them accountable. When they have an accident, have them clean it up. Have them undress themselves and put away the dirty clothes. Have them put on new clothes with some assistance if necessary. The cleaning part. They won’t get it as clean as you. But have them clean what they can and you do the deep scrubbing of the carpet. If they are accountable for their mess each time they make one, they will learn that they don’t want to make messes anymore.
- Be prepared to sit there with them for a long time. They will sit on the toilet and tell you they don’t need to go. But as soon as you let them off, they hide in a corner and let it go. So next time you see them holding it, put them on the potty and sit there with them. I sat on the floor while Kaye was on the potty. We sang songs, I told her stories, we read books, she flipped through children magazines or catalogs. Whatever it took for her to sit there until she went.
- Find their motivator. What motivates your child? Positive attitude, support and encouragement? Or nagging, threats and punishments? Motivation can come from outside sources, too. Perhaps they love cars, princesses or dinosaurs. Maybe they have always wanted to go to Built-A-Bear and make a doll.
- Make it come alive. When Kaye reverted after the new baby was born, we purchased a set of little Disney Princess figurines. If she went a few days without an accident, a princess will show up on her pillow before bedtime with a personal note. The note encouraged her and praised her for her success. And once in a while brought up some pointers for things she needed to work on. It was better coming from a “princess” than mom.
- Rewards can come in many forms. There are instant rewards and long-term rewards. Make the instant rewards small. Candy, stickers, a small toy and lots of praise. I wasn’t too keen of candy rewards because I, personally, don’t give my children lots of sugar. That’s just me. So I went all out on the stickers. Make the long-term reward a little more meaningful. A trip to the museum, a sleepover at grandma’s house, a bigger toy they have been eyeing or something else they really want or would like.
- Celebrate with others. When they are successful, make them feel proud of their success. Call dad at work. Call grandma in another state. Have them tell of their achievements. It provides positive encouragements.
- Potty Power. I admit. It was a cheesy movie. But kids love it. I used this as a reward sometimes because Kaye enjoyed the movie so much. She wanted to watch it all the time.
- They are smarter than you think. Haven’t we heard this before? But really. Unless you are potty training at 1 years old or your child has special circumstances or disabilities, they should be able to grasp the concept. I know I thought to myself many times, Does she really understand what I am doing here? Does she know that it is embarrassing to pee on yourself?
- Don’t travel. If you are traveling or moving shortly before or during potty training, you are sabotaging yourself and your child. Stay at home and potty train.
- Drop everything and go. That will be one of the hardest concepts for the child to comprehend. They are used to going while playing. Now they have to stop what they are doing to go? No way! Teaching them this concept takes time and patience. Show them that the quicker they go, the sooner they can get back to playing. Pause the movie if you have to.
- Public bathrooms may frighten them. Be patient. Kaye was frightened by public bathrooms. She didn’t like all the noise, the size of everything, the loud flushing and the fans and hand dryers. I would bring her into a stall, allowed her to get acquainted to this new environment and waited until she was ready. There were times she would try to convince me she didn’t need to go. So I had special rewards or treats in the diaper bag for such occasions.
- Put extra clothes in the car. You will most likely have a set of extra clothing and underwear in the diaper bag or your purse. But also keep an extra set in the car. You never know how long you will be out and about. Sometimes they might go through both sets in one trip. Or you might forget that you used the set in the diaper bag last time and forgot to refill it.
» Tell me… What are your potty training tips? Share your secrets.
Read other potty training articles… back to basics tip for auto-flush toilets, your potty training questions answered, download a free potty training chart, 5 children’s potty books and adventures of modern mom story about when they revert.