One recent Sunday afternoon, after a particularly disgusting diaper change for our 2.5YO son, my husband made the decision that we would be potty training. That day. No going back. I laughed at him and started quoting all my books and articles I’ve read and researched. “We need to be prepared! We have to take him to pick out underwear and treats and involve him in this! We cannot just start on a whim!” He looked at me and vehemently stated “I WILL NOT BE CHANGING A 35 POUND HUMAN’S POO DIAPERS ANY LONGER.”
And with that, we started potty training.
Going All In
For a couple days, it was sheer chaos. R screamed for probably two to three days every time I put him on the toilet. Now—if you were to read any popular potty theory, they would say that is a sign that it is not time, that it is too soon and the child is not ready. However, we chose to power through and by day five, we hit a stride. R not only began to enjoy potty time, but he was telling us when he had to use the bathroom.. There was a slight struggle for a few days when it came to poop on the potty, but with some tangible motivation (ice cream after he successfully went) he no longer feared that aspect. By day 10- he was fully and completely potty trained for both number one and number two.
I cannot tell you the joy that is no longer having to buy diapers for one of my children!
I learned a few things along the way that I think will help those of you thinking about potty training. It is definitely something that you cannot be wishy washy about. It is all or nothing, 100% in, all the time. That can be intimidating, but with that mindset, the chance for success is much greater.
Tips and Tricks for Training
Real, clear motivation
R is a candy fiend. Luckily, we chose to start training right after Halloween, so our Halloween candy stash came in VERY handy. At the beginning, when he would fight me to even just sit on the toilet, I would tell him if he just simply tried for 5 minutes, he could have a small treat. That motivation would calm him down, he would try, and then he would get a small piece of chocolate.
When he stopped fighting me to sit, we stopped giving him a treat just for “trying.” He only got a treat if he went potty. He understood that simple concept. Two days of treats for peeing on the potty, and we stopped rewarding him for that, too. We then moved on to treats for pooping on the potty. Now, 2 weeks later, he will go and not ask for any treat when he is done. It also helps when you stop mentioning the reward every time they go, especially if they aren’t fighting it or giving you trouble.
All or Nothing Approach
For a couple days at the beginning, we had R in pull-ups, but would still bring him to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so. I was simply anxious about accidents on my couch or wool rug. After talking to a friend of mine, she recommended I totally ditch the pull-ups during the day. I had to brace myself for this, but I did notice when he was wearing the pull-ups, he was more prone to peeing in them (since they feel like a diaper). R never had a single accident when we switched him to underwear full time. I don’t know what I was so afraid of! I learned that I needed to trust him more. He was learning, too, and while accidents happen, he was figuring out that feeling of needing to “go” and I had to trust that he could do it.
We also stopped wearing pull-ups out running errands. I have a small portable potty chair in my car for emergencies, and I carry our potty seat everywhere we go now. It’s a matter of going before we leave, going when we get to the store and/or going before we head home. Yes, it is a hassle and makes trips to Target a bit more complicated, but it is simply a sacrifice that has to be made.
I will be honest, this one was the toughest for me. I learned quickly, however, that R would not respond to any frustration or negativity. I think that goes for any child learning a new skill. There were moments that I lost my cool a bit, and it definitely set us back. I had to stay calm, positive, and sometimes just simply praise him for just getting on the toilet.
The positivity and praise for using the toilet was infectious. He wanted to call every person he knew to tell them about his achievements, and it was like he couldn’t get enough! We high five every time he goes poop on the potty now (I don’t want any regressing!) and he is always so proud of himself. That happiness is contagious, and I can see that it is the only way to successfully potty train.
No More Diapers!
These are just a couple things I’ve learned in that week and a half it took to potty train R. He is still in pull-ups at night, but most every morning I am woken up by a tiny voice whispering “Mommy, I have to go peepee”, and it is the most rewarding phrase ever. This toddler season can be tough, but wins like these make all the tantrums and meltdowns worth it.