Parents of small children, potential parents, people who may inherit small children…lend me your ears! I am about to blow your mind. I have successfully potty trained two kids so that makes me an expert* in the field and I’m about to tell you my secrets.
First, let me tell you what I did wrong. When Kamryn was barely 2 years old and I was pregnant with Rory, I felt this need to have my daughter potty trained. I thought it would have been impossible to have two children in diapers. I bought 3 potty seats/chairs, thinking I had to have these little chairs all over the house. The main objective is to get your child to pee/poop in the toilet, right? So why have them go in this little chair and then have to retrain them to go in an actual toilet? Not to mention, cleaning shit out of a plastic bowl is a million times worse than changing a diaper. You are almost guaranteed to get the dreaded “poop finger”. It is what it sounds like. Poop on your finger and it will most definitely get under your nail.
The second mistake went hand and hand with the first. Kamryn never told me she wanted to do her business in the toilet. She had been in the bathroom with me enough times to know what the porcelain throne was for, but it was my decision to start the potty training. The first couple of times I put her on the toilet, we sat there for about an hour each time before anything happened. It was sooooo boring. We read books, watched videos on my laptop and I made up songs which I will share with you later. Go ahead and see if your child is ready. Put them on the toilet and if they don’t do anything for an hour – they aren’t ready. If they scream that they don’t want to go – they aren’t ready. If you are getting ready to smear feces on the wall out of frustration – neither of you are ready. Stop trying and wait a few weeks or months. Seriously.
The final mistake was bribing with M&M’s. This sounded like a brilliant idea, but unless you want a tantrum every time you put your child on the toilet and they don’t “produce” anything, I suggest skipping this step. So why not give a reward for trying? Yeah, I tried that. Suddenly, my child claimed she had to pee every 2 minutes. Kids aren’t dumb.
Try this test. Put a bucket on the floor or a potty training seat (this was the only time it was useful), get your child down to just underwear or preferably, nothing at all. Place it in front of the TV, instruct your child to do their business in the bucket or potty and leave the room. If they manage to do it without a problem, they are probably ready to start potty training. If they end up peeing on the couch or wherever they were sitting. You may want to hold off. I like this test because it shows that the child recognizes the sensation of having to pee even if they are distracted by watching TV. The reason I say to leave the room is to avoid the temptation of you saying “Do you have to go potty?” every 2 minutes.
Assuming your child passed the test, you can continue to leave their bottom half sans clothing for another day or two before putting the underwear on. I did that with Kamryn and she did a pretty good job once we put her in underwear. I didn’t really have that option with Rory so I took a different approach.
I downloaded an app on my phone called iPotty. It was OK, but it kept shutting down my phone, which was more annoying than cleaning up pee. Basically, I had Rory going pee every 30 min to start, then every 45 min for about 3 days. DO NOT ASK YOUR CHILD IF THEY HAVE TO PEE! They are going to tell you “No” and then piss their pants right in front of you. I guarantee it. Instead, say “Time to go potty!” and just take them. Rory likes to race so all I would have to do is say “On your mark! Get set! Go!” and we would race to the bathroom. He thought it was awesome and I never had to argue with him about going pee.
After the 3rd day, I pretty much left him to his own devices. I made sure he had on easy pants to get up and down and threw caution to the wind. He did really well so the next day we went to the zoo. I’m telling you, the anxiety you feel when venturing out into the public with a semi-potty trained kid is like none you will ever feel. You are constantly scanning your surroundings in search of the restroom signs so you can jet into a bathroom should you see a pee holding crotch grab. We made it through the entire time at the zoo with about 5 bathroom breaks, but no accidents!
That was a few weeks ago. Have we had accidents? Yep, but they aren’t daily or even every other day. I say we are averaging about one a week. We got rid of all the diapers last week and are using a Pull Up at night. I’m happy to report that Rory’s Pull Up is dry every morning. I debated on whether I should even put him in the Pull Ups at all, but I’m not very pleasant at night when I get woken up to change sheets.
The bottom line is this. If you try to force your child to potty train early, you are wasting your time. Don’t worry about all of those other parents that are claiming their children were potty trained while still in utero. They are liars and probably lost years off their lives because of the frustration and anxiety that I spoke of previously.
*I am not an expert, but this really is common sense.