Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Potty Training

When it comes to parenting my methods are what many may call unconventional but they seem to work overall so I'm going with it.

Like D and potty training.

In theory I had hoped to get her fully trained in pull ups and then when she's totally gotten it move to undies but it's looking like she needs to loose her safety net. She's been doing very good so this afternoon I decided to take the leap and she is now proudly sporting her Sesame Street undies with Zoe in her full ballerina getup displayed proudly across my kids butt.

But even though I am excited to get her out of Pull Ups I'm no idiot. I know there is a very high chance she is going to pee or poo in her new undies. Ok, let's be honest... it's not a chance it's a guaranteed and inevitable fact. So while we are "testing" out the new undies I have exiled my child to the porch. No I am not joking. She is out there playing with her sister. Luckily she has no idea of why I was so eager to have her play with moon sand outside. I am not going to risk having pee (or worse, the dreaded #2) saturate my couch, carpet, bed or anything else until I'm a little more confident in D's ability to stay dry.
While I know my furniture is safe for now I know I have to bring her in at some point and am still debating on what to do about that. I know not to go back to diapers now that I've made such a big deal out of big girl panties but I don't want tinkles and toodles leaking all over the house. (And I'm scared if she goes on the floor my house trained dogs may try to mark over her. This may be an irrational concern but why risk it?) Cellophane seems to be the best option as of yet (kidding). Seriously though I do have those plastic diaper covers that I may stick her in when I bring her in the house but I do want her to feel what wearing just underwear feels like for a but first.
Would most parents put their child outside like a dog while potty training? No, probably not. And if they did they probably wouldn't admit to it. But while those parents are shaking their heads at me in disapproval I will be pointing at laughing as they scrub urine and feces out of their upholstery.

So I potty trained my way.  All three of my kids were different but this is my general method:

How did I potty train?

1. No kid will potty train before they are ready. It's a fact. You've heard it before. They can't be forced or pushed into it or it won't stick. You have to wait for the signs.

2. Look for the signs.
  • Do they stay dry all night?
  • Do they show a curiosity in the potty or what you are doing when you are in there?
  • Do they ask questions?
  • Try to help give you toilet paper or help flush?
  • Can they stay dry for a couple of hours?
  • Do they tell you when they need changed?
If they do most of these things they are probably ready.

3. I am a fan of having kids use the big potty from the start. I don't see a lot of sense in transitioning from diapers to a training potty, training potty to a training seat on a big potty, to the big potty. I just put a seat on the big potty and am good to go. Plus it eliminates a lot of confusion and frustration when going potty in places that don't have training potties.  But if they are scared of big potties do what works for them.

4. Figure out their schedule. You probably already know when your kid is likely to need to go potty. I know my kiddo can hold it all night but will go within 5 minutes of waking up. I also know that she goes about 20 minutes after drinking her juice. If you don't know your kids schedule or triggers already start to look for them. You may need to eliminate letting them have a drink all day in exchange for drinks only at meals and snack times just so you can get them on a schedule. Once on a schedule you can get them a watch or timer. Set it for every hour or two hours or whenever they are likely to go. Make it a game. When the timer goes off see who can get to the bathroom first.

5. You can't force it. You can lead a kid to the potty but you can't make him pee. The longer they sit there the higher their chance of going in the potty. But if they get bored or start to fuss let them get off. If they associate the potty with being unhappy or bored they won't want to go. With my little one we read a book every time we were in the potty. We had potty books but we found longer books worked better since she would want to hop off as soon as the book was over. You could also play a few songs or anything to keep them seated and happy.

6. Don't get mad. That's not to say you have to pretend you are happy when they have an accident. Be honest. "I'm not mad you did pee pee in your pants but I would have been very proud of you if you had gone in the potty".  Have them take their undies or diaper off in the bathroom too. You want them to associate the bathroom with going potty every time. If they poo in their pants you can even dump it into the toilet, have them wipe and flush just to get the hang of it.

7. Don't go backwards. Once you go to a big potty you have to stick to it. Once you move from diapers to pants you should stick to it. Moving backwards is confusing. That's why it's so important to only move ahead when your child is ready. But if you do get a little over zealous and move out of diapers before they are ready do what is right for them.  Just put them in them, wait a while and try again.

8. Never underestimate the power of rewards and praise. Small rewards, a special treat, lots of attention is what your child needs to want to be successful. And praise even small milestones. So the first day didn't go so great. Tell them how proud you are that they sat on the potty 3 times. They went tinkle on the big potty but then had an accident later? Tell them you understand using the big potty is hard but you are proud they did it once and would love to see them do it again.

9. Don't be afraid to do what works for you. In my case I put my kid outside to play while in the undies. You may want to limit her access to the furniture or you may want to cover the sofa with towels. Do it! If you get stressed an upset the potty training will be much harder on you then it will be for your child. You may want to do undies during the day and pull ups at night. You know what works for you and your kid so do it.

10. Know your child. If they can't be trained maybe there is a medical explanation. If you do take my advice do it because you checked other information and you think it is what will work best for your child. If doesn't work keep trying and find a method that does.

As a side not... watch out for automatic flushing toilets. For kids who are a little apprehensive about big potties these beasts of the commode world can be really traumatizing and set you back big time in the potty training process.

It may take a day, it may take weeks, months and God forbid years... but your child will be potty trained and though it may not be easy just think of how nice it will be when you can finally get rid of diapers and that giant diaper bag!


  1. scary....she is an exact copy of a little girl i used to take care of. i thought it was a baby picture of her for a second before i realized the name was nowhere close. she is cute as hell none the less. while my smile can sink a thousand ships, you little ones smile can fix all those ships and send them on their way again.

  2. Awe. Thank you. We like her too.