Before I begin mucking about in this topic, let me give you a quick run-down of my potty-training experience:
4 children potty trained (which does not qualify me for “expert”):
Child #1 (boy) – Took 2 full years, starting at age 18 months.
Child #2 (girl) – Took 2 days, starting at age 2.
Child #3 (girl) – Took 2 weeks, starting at age 2.
Child #4 (boy) – Took 1 week, starting at age 2 1/2.
OBVIOUSLY, I had no idea what I was doing with Child #1 (and he has calmly accepted his position as the guinea pig, I mean firstborn.)
Why on earth did it take 2 years to potty train him? 2 words:
I remember well the day I put my screaming son on the toilet, only to be attacked by the family cat because she thought I was hurting him. And the day he pooped his pants 3 times in Hobby Lobby on what was supposed to be a lovely Mother-Son outing. And the time we were looking at a rental and he pooped on the sidewalk in front of the landlord, who still decided to rent the house to us after that.
I could go on and on and on (and my crazy kids LOVE these stories!), but what it all came down to was a mommy who thought she would be an utter failure if she didn’t have her child potty-trained by the time he was 2. Why? Because it would reflect poorly on my mothering skills.
What a waste of energy I spent during those years of on-again-off-again potty training of a child who clearly wasn’t in the mood. I was losing a battle I never should have been engaged in in the first place.
So, my potty-training philosophy has changed since then…dramatically. Here’s what I do now:
*We talk about being potty trained in every day settings. When I change a diaper I mention how nice it will be when they are potty trained and don’t have to be in yucky ole diapers. When an older sibling heads for the bathroom, I tell them that they are going to the bathroom like a big boy/girl. It’s never pushy, but I definitely make it clear that toilets are for big kids.
*We take non-stressful opportunities to sit on the toilet. A good time for this is before bath time or at the first diaper change of the day. I help steady them on the toilet and stay there for as long as they think it is a good idea. Eventually, they start initiating toilet time.
*I push the liquids. When I think they definitely have the idea, I push the liquids so they have ample opportunity to go.
Now, here’s where it gets a little cheesy…
*I sprinkle warm water. I do this more to give them the idea that potty is supposed to come out and go in the toilet the way the water is going in the toilet, rather than the traditional use of this method to try to cause them to begin pottying.
*I make potty sounds. I do this so they know what sound their potty will make and recognize that sound when it happens as the right noise.
*I let them run around in oversized t-shirts and no underwear. Pull-ups and the like are not helpful in potty training. The child stays too dry to care. No undies make for quick trips to the toilet. This isn’t always my method of choice; however, because what you gain in less undies to wash, you make up for in more t-shirts to wash and floors to wipe up. Not the best trade-off.
*If after a few days the accidents do not show a decline in frequency, I back down to the the introduction phase and wait a while before picking back up with actual potty training again. I don’t need to make my day any more stressful than it already is, and I refuse to be the one who is trained, rather than the child.
And that’s it! Pretty simple and stress-free.