Potty training? Whoohoo! Never fear, this mystical parenting right of passage is one that you will really enjoy. Here is your honest guide to potty training:
Step 1 – Assess readiness
Is your child ready to potty train? If they are currently going in a diaper then the answer is probably yes. I can’t even stand having my kids in diapers after two. Because: cloth. And because two year old poop in a cloth diaper is exactly like adult poop.
Other signs that they are ready include…
Shame: No, I’m not a sadist using guilt to get kids to finally stop soiling themselves. Kids usually become “ashamed” of pooping at some point. It actually happens pretty early. They aren’t filled with guilt, but they do go hide to do their business. When you notice your child sneaking off to take their doodie, this is the beginning of shame. It also means they know they need to go BEFORE they actually go. Yup — training is possible.
If your child is walking up to you and using full sentences to tell you about the poop in their shorts — this is also a sign that they are ready to potty train. Because if they have more verbal ability than your average teenage boy, then they can sit on a tiny potty to do their business.
Oh, and assess YOUR readiness. I don’t know how many parents I have talked to who aren’t ready for the kid to potty train, even though the child is showing obvious signs of readiness. You can do it mama. You can do it. Just spend your money on carpet cleaning and laundry soap instead of diapers.
Step 2 – Bribe
I know, some parenting philosophies decry bribing as a parenting technique. Maybe I should use a different word…the “reward” technique? I prefer to call a spade a spade.
Anyway, you should totally bribe your kid when you are trying to potty train them.
I have used a variety of cavity-inducing motivators including jelly beans and chocolate chips. Two for poop, one for pee.
Some kids you just need to bribe for a week or so and then you can phase it out. For others, they will leave a surprise in their pants if you discontinue the bribe. Those children are always more fun. Enjoy them when they hit six as well. It just gets better.
I have seen parents also try to use stickers and large gifts but that seems pretty complicated to me. I don’t have the time to make a chart or other junk like that. I’m not Martha Stewart.
Though now that I think of it, I would totally read a potty training guide written by her…
Step 3 – Get rid of diapers!
You have to really commit to this or you will fall off the wagon. Consider diapers to be an addictive behavior which you must shun with all your energy.
If you have no diapers then your kids will automatically be potty trained.
NOTE: It is important that you pack lots of extra clothes in your diaper bag for the child at this stage. Maybe some for you too, just to be safe.
Anyway, nothing wakes a kid up like pee in their shoes. Diapers these days are almost TOO effective. After a few months kids become totally unaware of their own bowels. It’s nuts! Being without diapers, helps them re-recognize this.
Some people do the “naked method” where they let the kid just be nude around the house while they figure this out. I don’t recommend the naked method if you are an owner of carpets. But it works great for people with rubber rooms or folks who just let the kids run around outside and have the chickens eat what falls to the grass.
Bonus tip: The pull on variety of diaper that is supposed to help them potty training faster — doesn’t. It just costs you way more money and makes the kid feel accomplished when they are not actually using the toilet. They are useful when you want them to get diapers on themselves for bedtime or something, but they don’t assist in potty training.
Step 4 – Claim victory!
Nothing helps you feel like you are doing a great job like pretending you are doing a great job. It’s best to just consider your children potty trained once they have used the toilet ONE TIME. True. It helps you feel better.
True story: accidents happen. If you have enough kids, they happen to you when you are all grown up with a lax pelvic floor. So don’t be too hard on the kids. You don’t want to get bad karma and end up with the same issue in your forties.
The potty trained kid will have accidents. This is pretty much a given.
Sometimes they don’t make it to the potty in time. Sometimes they get so absorbed in playing or a movie that they totally forget to get up and go. (Let’s just have a moment of sweet silence for Ikea removeable couch covers. We love you.)
And don’t even get me started on nighttime potty training. If an adult takes too much magnesium before bed there are no guarantees of a dry sleep. (Don’t ask me how I know that.)
You can claim victory even if your child still needs a diaper at night or during naps or on long car trips. Seriously. Just do it.
People will be amazed at your child who is potty trained before two years. Whoot!
I have a true confession — I don’t really know how to potty train children. I can say that after four children, they did all get potty trained. The last few just did it themselves. I had a tiny little pink Baby Bjorn potty and they just started using it. It was like the easiest thing in the world. In fact, making the potty at the child’s level should be one of my awesome potty training tips. They can’t do it if you need to help them every time. It just takes too long and accidents happen. Potty must be easily accessible!
It really does make kids feel accomplished to be able to use the toilet by themselves. (Don’t expect them to EVER be able to properly wipe. It just doesn’t happen until the teen years, sadly.)
So, I probably stressed far too much with the first kid about potty training.
But it all worked out and everyone uses the toilet now…and they do so with no help.
Parenting milestones DO happen.