everybody’s doing it: potty training 101

It’s hard to believe one year ago I was pulling my hair out trying to get Lennon potty-trained.  We used stickers and M&Ms.  We set the kitchen timer for regular intervals.  We bought Pull-ups.   We bought cotton training pants (nicknamed “fat pants” by my mother).  We watched Huggie’s Potty Training video.  Heck, we even “Potty Danced”!  We had our own “Potty Training Boot Camp”.  At the end of the week, Lennon was still just as wet as he was the first day.  And I was ready to lose my mind!

Then one morning, about a month later, Lennon spontaneously came to us and said, “I want to wear a Pull-up today.”  I was skeptical.  My husband was all for it.  He ended up dry most of the day and even used the bathroom at Home Depot.  (Talk about BRAVE!)  That one morning ended up being the turning point in his “potty career”.  Mainly because HE was now ready!

So, for all you Mamas out there who are taking on the ginormous task of potty training, I’ve compiled a list of advice from some of those veterans out there:

  • Don’t push too soon.  They WILL get it (in their own time)!  My favorite quote is, “Start them at 2, they’ll be potty trained by 3.  Start them at 3, they’ll be potty trained by 3.”  Not every baby walks at 1.  Not every toddler potty trains at 2 (or 3 sometimes).
  • Do NOT use Pull-ups.  They are too much like a diaper.  Dive right in with the real underwear.  They need to know what feeling wet is like and this will teach them immediately!  (Gerber’s training pants work great because they offer some absorption but still give them that wet feeling.)
  • And speaking of diapers, once you make the switch do NOT go back.  It causes confusion.  (Exception: some people do still diaper at night and some just use Pull-ups.  I definitely recommend this in the beginning until they can control their bladders at night.  Unless you don’t mind changing sheets EVERY night!)
  • If it’s summer, let them run around naked or with a bathing suit.  We kept wipes in the shed and did a lot of peeing and pooping outside in the bushes.  (Although we never did the nakie thing.  Didn’t want to take my chances with ticks.)
  • We set up a 5 gallon paint bucket for Lennon to practice peeing in before he started standing at the real toilet.  I’ve also heard a lot of people throw Cheerios in the toilet and tell their sons to aim for them!  I’ve also seen something called the Peter Potty Urinal.  Cute idea and it really makes a lot of sense.  I just wish we had room in our bathroom for it!
  • Make it FUN!  There are TONS of books and videos out there about potty training.  And some (very annoying) songs to go with them.  My sister and her friends swore by “Potty Power”.  I found it at our library and Lennon LOVED it!  He watched it like a million times and we kept it out for 2 weeks!    You will have the songs stuck in your head all day and night, but I highly recommend it to everyone!
  • Stock up on your “incentives”.  Stickers, M&Ms, pennies, whatever!  I found stickers lost their appeal quickly.  M&Ms were good, but he started getting crazy about them.  We ended up with pennies (1 for number 1, 2 for number 2) which we saved up to buy a bagel (his choice of prizes).
  • If you or your child are getting stressed or irritated, TAKE A BREAK!  Give it a few days (or weeks) and try again. Kids pick up on your stress, so keep it calm.  And remember, there will be accidents.  Don’t flip out.  It’s all part of learning.
  • Positive peer pressure can go a long way.  Make a point of saying when you need to go to the bathroom.  If your child goes to day care or preschool, they’ll start noticing the kids who do use the toilet and will probably want to start doing it, too.  I joke with my husband that this is one of the few times where it’s perfectly acceptable to tell your kids “Just try it.  Everyone’s doing it, you know!”
  • Teach number 2 first.  That’s the hard part.  Laugh all you want, but I’ve never been so proud of my son as I was the day he first pooped on the potty!  (All you vets – you know what I’m talking about!)
  • Don’t be put off by the mom who brags that her kid was fully potty trained by age 2.  Even if he truly was, that kid is the exception, NOT the rule!  Besides, does it really matter?  I mean, it’s not like it’ll ever go on a resumé or anything!
  • Which brings me to my favorite bit of advice.  When you feel like all hope is gone and that kid of yours is never going to catch on to this toilet thing, remember this.  By the time you have to walk them down the aisle, they will be potty-trained!

And now that we’ve finally gotten Lennon off his Elmo potty it just reminds me…I’m going to have to start going through this again with Ashe in about six months.  Better start saving up those pennies again!!!!

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3 Responses to everybody’s doing it: potty training 101

  1. Erin says:

    Great post, great advice. 🙂

  2. Melissa says:

    What’s the best piece of potty training advice you were ever given?

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