Just to give you some quick background, when it comes to potty training, I am in it to win it right now with my two year old. I have been through this twice before but this time, I am taking my time. I have been slowly potty training the little guy for over a year, just to get him used to the concept without any pressure.
We all know a kid in diapers is SO much easier than potty training, so for convenience purposes (the third is always on the go with me) and the fact that he is my last one, I have waited and not been in any rush. He will be three in two months, so my goal is to have him in undies by his birthday. It’s sad to think I won’t have a baby in diapers and while most parents will throw a party and scream a big “woo hoo” (Vicki Gunvalson style-if you watch Housewives of Orange County, you feel me), it is bitter sweet for me. No more diapers means no more babies. 🙁
For all you parents who are in the midst of potty training, getting ready to potty train or thinking ahead of how you are actually going to accomplish this task, these tips are for YOU!
It’s not just your child who has to be ready:
Make sure you are 110% committed before you start the potty training adventures, because if you are not, it won’t work. Yes, there are the kids that take off their diaper, put on undies one time and never go potty in their pants ever again. It does happen but is rare-sorry to have to tell you that. Potty training is about nagging your child all day long as to whether or not they have to pee or poo. If you get lazy, busy or don’t make it a priority, it will just take that much longer.
Know your child’s signals:
We all know the famous poop face our kids demonstrate, even though they swear they are not making. Got to love that. Their faces are scrunched and red and they are most likely off in a corner telling you to go away. The concept of not sitting in a pile of your own warm poop in your pants can be a challenge to convey so if you think you recognize that face early enough, intervene quickly and intercept that poop!
The pee face is a bit harder to recognize so you need to stay on top of it, pay attention to your child’s liquid intake and be one step ahead of their bladder. If your child is drinking a lot, you need to take them potty more often. Make sure when you ask them if they have to go and they say no, you take them anyway. They may resist but when that pee pee comes out, they will be so excited (and so will you), that they will forget your annoying potty nagging that sounds something like this: “do you have to go potty, do you have to go potty, do you have to go potty…………”.
Focus on daytime signals since nap time and bed time are a whole different animal. Your child (and you) may not be ready for that and it’s doubtful your child will wake you up in the middle of the night to use the potty, especially if they are still in a crib. They simply may not have the bladder control yet. Even though I potty trained my two older boys by the time they were two, I did not get rid of their nighttime pull-ups until about six months to a year later. Potty training is tough enough for our little ones and expecting dry undies both daytime and nighttime right away is a lot of pressure and unrealistic.
Forget about decency or any form of proper etiquette:
Prepare yourself to be embarrassed, get strange looks from people, and potty train in the strangest and most inappropriate places. There is nothing pretty about potty training. You are surrounded by pee, poo, toilets and messy undies, so time to mentally prepare yourself. When your little one says they have to go, game on, no matter what. Don’t worry about who is around, who can see you, what people are thinking and how improper your potty training solutions are. Let them judge while you accomplish a huge feat!
Stay ahead of the game:
Get yourself a portable potty and a lot of plastic bags, i.e. leftover supermarket bags. That’s right, a portable potty. It’s small enough to fit in your diaper bag, large purse, backpack, car, etc. I have had mine for six years and it has saved me every single time. It’s not a pretty accessory but it will become your best friend.
At a public park and there is a line for the bathroom, which by the way is disgusting? No problem, whip out the potty. You are at the store and the bathroom is for employees only? No problem, whip out your potty (it collapses to fit over a standard toilet seat-BONUS!) You are driving and your child has to go potty even though you just asked and left the house 30 seconds ago? No problem, pull on over, set up the potty in the car with the supply of plastic bags you keep in your trunk and your child is good to go.
I am telling you this portable potty is the reason my kids were potty trained so early and the reason I didn’t stress. There was always a solution, wherever I was. I will also tell you I have no shame when it comes to my potty. At my older kid’s soccer practice, you better believe the portable potty is ready to go with a plastic bag inside for easy cleanup, out for the viewing. No one ever judges me and in fact, they are so supportive. Most of the time I am surrounded by other parents and they totally get it. If I had a dollar for every parent that said, “wow, I could have used one of those when I was potty training my kid”, I would be a wealthy woman. Okay, perhaps not a millionaire but picture it raining a few ten and twenty dollar bills mixed in with some nickels and dimes. You get my point.
Is my son embarrassed about relieving himself in public? Absolutely not. He is super proud of his potty. I would rather have a stranger give me a dirty look than deal with a dirty #2 underwear situation…not pretty! I always tell people I hope I am not offending them out of common courtesy but deep down, I don’t know that I care if I am offending them. Sometimes moms have to do what they have to do. I don’t mean to sound horrible but I do know where to draw the line. It has worked for me in the past and is working for me now. No, I don’t whip it out at the supermarket (clean up on aisle 5) or in the middle of Marshalls (love that place) in the shoe department, but at least I know I can use the portable potty as a clean and sanitary option for my son to use. I am not one of those germ freak parents (no offense) but public toilets are nasty and we all know kids put their hands and grasp onto the toilet (yuck). Now my son grasps on to his potty instead which makes me feel better and it’s also more comfortable for his little tushie. I do also like those potty seat covers but sometimes by the time you unfold it and get it secured, it’s too late.
Don’t get frustrated and take it out on your child:
Potty training is not easy. It takes a lot of work, patience and attentiveness. If what you are doing isn’t working, either take a break and then try again soon, try a new method or stop all together. Your child may not be ready and that is okay. Let your child know you are not disappointed but in fact proud of their efforts. Never yell or blame them for an accident or for being off one day. Check your own mood first and make sure you are feeling patient and loving. Check your child’s behavior as well. Are they not feeling well? Upset about something else? Did a classmate make fun of them for not being potty trained yet?
Don’t compare your child to someone else’s:
Just because little Bobby down the street was potty trained in the womb, doesn’t mean your little guy should be potty trained as well. Every child develops at different stages and some kids simply have no interest. Instead of trying to compete with other parents, ask for their advice and use them as a tool.
Take your time and let your child take their time. There is nothing in the parenting handbook that says your child’s diaper expires at a certain age. It will happen when it happens. Wait, you didn’t get the parenting handbook at the hospital when you gave birth? You’re missing out. 🙂
Get on the same page as your child’s school:
Many teachers will swear your child is already potty trained even though you cannot figure out how to make it work at home. Remember that at school, your child is with other kids the same age and stage, watching them use the potty. This is a huge motivator for them to follow along and hop on board the potty train. My son cannot wait to show me the stickers he earns at school when he uses the potty.
If you are having problems at home with potty training, ask your teacher for some advice. What can you do at home that they do at school?
Reward your child:
Some people will tell you not to reward a child for doing something they are expected to do, because they will always expect a reward. True in some circumstances but when it comes to potty training, there has to be some form of bargaining (bribing) tool and well deserved treat.
Whether it’s a sticker each time they go, a larger gift when they move to underwear or simply an extra dessert after dinner, it will motivate them. As a parent, you will feel rewarded when you see their excitement for accomplishing their goal. I love to keep lots of stickers on hand and a few goodies from the dollar store. These are inexpensive prizes for using the potty.
Potty training is a big deal and when it’s over, give yourself a pat on the back. You did it! Soon other parents will be asking you for advice and you will feel like an expert.
That’s right, have fun with potty training. How do you do that? First take your child with you to pick out their potty. It will be like a gift for them, get them excited and you know they will want to use it because they picked it out.
Music is a great motivator and the perfect way to reach and teach children. My children’s CD, “Music is Magical, Children’s Songs with Ellie” (a Parents’ Choice Award winner) touches upon important topics that families experience, such as potty training. In fact, the song” It’s Potty Time” is the number one downloaded track on iTunes. It’s silly, has a great beat and makes potty training entertaining and fun.
Create your own potty cheer with your child and don’t be afraid to use it. We were at the doctor’s office yesterday and my son pooped in the potty for the first time in their bathroom. You better believe we were singing, dancing and clapping. Did the staff and patients think we were nuts? Guess how much I cared? My focus was on my little guy whom I was sooo proud of. It was a big moment for both of us.
I hope these tips help. I have followed them religiously for all of my kids and I am still sane. Well, depends on your definition. Share your potty training secrets with Mommy Masters in the comments section and you could win a copy of “Music is Magical, Children’s Songs with Ellie”.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD™…and potty training!