The daunting task of potty training. Everyone dreads it, but it is something we have to do as parents. Potty training is one of those first instances where you have to teach your child something completely foreign to them. Up until this point they have learned to roll, crawl, walk, and feed themselves on their own or with very little assistance. Learning to use the bathroom is something that has to be taught and is a learning curve for both the child and the parent. Every child is also different and learns in different ways.
I am currently potty training my 3rd child. He turned 2.5 years old at the beginning of January. So far he is doing great! While he is the 3rd child I have potty trained I still do not feel like an expert and don’t follow any specific method. Each of my children were also different, especially in their motivation for rewards.
I don’t have many tips or tricks that are different from what you have maybe seen or read about elsewhere, but I will share with you our potty training experience in hopes it can help you in some way.
Many people usually say “wait until they are ready.” To some extent this is true, but not for all kids, especially the stubborn ones like mine. For my kids, it has been “wait until it is their idea.”
My daughter potty trained at exactly 2.5 years old. She basically just decided one day she wanted to do it and that was it. She wanted to be a big kid and didn’t need much motivation or rewards. Thankfully, especially for being my first child, she was really easy.
My second child, my son, wasn’t as easy. I tried to potty train him a little after he was 2 years old and he wanted nothing to do with it. He wasn’t ready, so I backed off and waited a while. Again at exactly 2.5 years old, he started showing some interest. He was super motivated by a sticker chart. Any time he went on the potty he got to put a sticker on his chart. When his chart was filled up he got to pick somewhere fun to go (he choose to go to Chuckie Cheese.)
My 3rd child, wanted nothing to do with potty training also. He is the most stubborn and independent of them all. He is one that waiting until they are ready would not work, or he would never do it. He is very smart and understood what the potty is, so I knew he was ready. So here are the steps I took with him (as well as my others) that worked to help me train them:
1. When you decide to do it, you have to be all in. Once you start there is no going back. You can’t put them back in diapers and try again another time because it gives them the wrong idea.
2. Have them pick out some underwear themselves. Getting ones with their favorite characters on them usually entices them to wear them. Also if you don’t already have a training toilet or topper have them help you pick that out too. (Check out THIS one and THIS one.) Having them help choose these items helps them think it was their idea also.
3. Talk, talk, talk. Talk about what the potty is, how it works, what rewards they would like to get if they go, and even have them watch their siblings as examples if you want.
4. For the first morning we start, we put on a pair of their underwear. Show them the potty and talk to them about it. Ask if they want to sit on it. If they say yes, give it a try, but don’t make them sit too long or they will correlate sitting on it means missing out doing anything else. If they don’t want to (like my son) don’t push it, just say ok maybe we can try again later.
5. Keep the water or juice flowing and let them know to tell you when they need to go.
6. Next I don’t do anything. 😆 I actually let them wet their pants for the first few times. Yes it can be messy, but I have found it beneficial in the end. (Make sure you have towels and cleaning products nearby or just play outside most of the day.) Having them wet their pants gives that first introduction to the urge of having to go, and the feeling of being wet and getting messy. Also be sure to make note of the time they have an accident. Of course every time they have an accident, tell them it is ok we just need to go in the potty and reinforce to them that if they need to go to tell you. The most beneficial part of letting them wet themselves a few times, and making note of the time they go, is seeing how often they go. Doing this I figured out that my son goes almost every 20 minutes and he figured out that he did not like to be wet.
7. After figuring out how long in between times, set a timer. When the timer goes off take them to the potty and have them sit on it. Read some of their favorite books to them or some fun potty training books (linked some great ones below.)
8. For my kids, all it takes is that first time for them to actually go in the potty. When they do, make it the biggest deal in the entire world! All my kids and I clap, dance, shout hooray and give tons of praise! This shows them how exciting and proud of them you are when they do go. Now they usually want to go for the praise and attention.
9. Reward. After they use the potty, treat them with a reward. This could be a candy or sticker on a chart. My 2nd child loved the sticker chart. You can find a fun free printable HERE or HERE and use some fun stickers. Every time he went he got to put a sticker on his chart. When his chart was full he got to pick a fun place to go such as out for ice cream, mini golf, etc. Candy rewards work the best for my youngest this time around. He will do anything for a lollipop. Realizing he gets a lollipop for going on the potty made him start asking to go every 5 minutes.
10. Stay consistent. It is a lot of work, but continue staying consistent when you figure out what works for them.
As we are potty training I still use pull ups, but only for nap times, leaving the house, and at night. If you notice they are dry in the morning or after their nap for a few days in a row, try going without. Limit any drinks an hour before they go to sleep and have them go to the bathroom one last time before bed.
A great tip: grab a bunch of the disposable under pads or puppy training pads and place them under their sheets where they sleep. This way if they do wet the bed, it is a much faster clean up and doesn’t soak into the mattress. You can find a pack of them HERE.
You can also layer their sheets for quicker clean up in the middle of the night. Place a fitted sheet on the mattress, lay one of the puppy training pads down, and place another fitted sheet on top. If they wet the bed, all you have to do is take the top sheet off to throw in the wash, throw out the puppy pad, and you already have a sheet on the bed for them to go back to sleep quickly.
Leaving the house for the first few times is the same, limit their liquids and have them go once before you leave. I always keep an extra pair of underwear and pants in my car in case they have an accident as well as zip lock bags to put the soiled clothes in (so you can seal in the stink. Lol.) I have personally never used these, but if you are in the car traveling often, THESE look like a great help to keep in your car for going to the bathroom on the go.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to potty train. It solely depends on what works best for your family and particular child. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your children also, they will be trained eventually. Some might take longer than others, and that’s ok.
I hope my experiences potty training my children give you some ideas or help you in some way. I have been very lucky to have had 3 successfully train rather quickly and with little frustration. I pray your potty training journey is easy and painless.
We are done having kids, but I still have one more to train in the future. So if you have any other great advice or tips, drop them in the comments below!
Happy Training and Cheers to no more diapers!!
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