Let me be the first to say, potty training was NOT my favorite task to tackle with my daughter. I can say with confidence, I dreaded it, every bit of it. Now, I need to clarify here – I am referring to the FIRST time we tried potty training. If you haven’t read my first post about potty training – Potty Training Failure – make sure you do so, to understand how this adventure all began.
I didn’t know I was going to dislike it so much, but I did. As you are aware, the first time around was not successful for us, at all. Aside from a necessary reminder that things with your kiddos do not go as planned, very little was gained during that early potty training experience.
I quickly decided my daughter was not ready, and we put the training on hold for a few months.
Fast forward to the end of April (about 3 months later), the decision was made to start training again.
This time around, my daughter continued to show the earlier signs of readiness, but added a few to her collection. I began to notice, she was staying dry for long periods of time, meaning she was learning how to “hold it” without just letting it go. We also had been talking a lot about being a “big girl” and what that entails. She liked the idea of going on the potty so she could be a “big girl.” Finally, a couple of her friends had been potty trained or were training. She was witnessing them going on the potty and decided she didn’t want to miss out.
Once I finally talked MYSELF into trying this potty training thing again, I decided we were diving all in – no looking back this time. It was now or never!
I still used the same items I had planned to use before (potty, stool, potty chart, and new undies), went in with a positive mindset, and away we went.
Whoa! It was WAY, WAY different this time around. My daughter woke up in the morning and went on the potty right away, what an improvement from the last time! I praised her like crazy, made the BIGGEST deal about it, and we ran downstairs to tell daddy. She was so proud! We put a sticker on her chart, and I continued to say how proud I was and how she was such a “big girl.” The praise was over the top and ridiculous, but I wanted her to feel a sense of accomplishment and a desire to be praised again for her good work.
I wish I had some funny stories to share with you about the second time we potty trained, but I really don’t. She picked it up so fast, with maybe an accident or two. I blinked and my daughter was potty trained.
She still wore a diaper during nap time and bedtime. However, those didn’t last too long either. After a week of waking up dry from nap, I decided to take away the nap time diaper. I made sure she didn’t drink too much too close to nap time, with a trip to the potty right before putting her down.
Eventually, the same thing happened with her bedtime diaper, though obviously, this took a bit longer to achieve. I waited a while before taking this one away. I was afraid of having to change sheets in the middle of the night, definitely not something this 8-hour-a-night sleeper desired.
I am assuming you all want the secret tricks or easy fixes that made the second round go so easy. But, I don’t have any. Sorry! However, I do have some “rules” or guidelines that I would recommend. And I FIRMLY believe in Rule #1.
Potty Training Rules:
- DO NOT START UNTIL YOUR CHILD IS READY!
This is my number one rule. Every child is different! They all learn at different rates and different times, so same goes for potty training. Start looking for cues that indicate your child is ready. But, if you try and it just isn’t working, STOP! Take a break, and try again. If you continue to push it when your child isn’t ready, it will most likely take a lot of time and frustration. Obviously, we aren’t going to wait around until our children are four years old. However, if your child is two and it isn’t working, give it a break. It will happen when your child is ready.
2. Accidents will happen – It is OK
Know that accidents will happen, and continue to happen, and that is OK! Do not make your child feel bad about accidents. They are learning, and like all of us, they will make mistakes. Instead, use accidents as an opportunity for your child to learn. Talk about why the mistake may have happened or what can be done next time to avoid an accident. My daughter has been potty trained since April and she just had an accident last weekend (in August), and it probably won’t be her last. It happens – just make sure you always have a spare set of underwear and clothes. Change them, talk about it, and move on.
3. Make it fun
I needed this reminder myself! I was so concerned about the actual task of potty training, I was forgetting to make it fun for my daughter. The sticker chart helped, but we also started making potty time a “fun” time. While she sat on the toilet we would sing songs, read books, talk about our day, maybe do some alphabet or number learning, you name it – we probably tried it. It worked! These tasks allowed her to relax and potty breaks became more of a desire, as opposed to an annoyance, or interruption of her day.
4. PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE
Go overboard with praise! From the outside looking in, you should sound crazy and be obscene. Haha! You want your child to feel the joy and pride he/she should for his/her accomplishment. Make them feel special! Our children are encouraged when they are praised for something they have worked hard at. If they feel good about something, they will want to achieve it again. And guess what, even if they have an accident, praise them. Sounds weird, right? But, praise them in a way that lets them know you are aware they are trying. For instance, “I am so proud of how well you have been going on the potty! You made a mistake, but that is OK. Let’s try again and make it happen next time!” We never want them to feel discouraged for trying something new. So, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!
5. When you and your child are both ready, dive in ALL THE WAY
Just go for it! Don’t allow your child to wear a diaper when you leave the house, but make him/her stay in underwear at home. It will only confuse the situation. Make them realize this is a permanent change. Some people recommend staying home for three days straight to eliminate the frustration of having accidents outside the home. If that is what you are comfortable with then do it! However, don’t feel like you have to. We didn’t at all. The first day we started (the second time around) we went to the gym, Whole Foods, and out to lunch. I just made a conscious effort to make her go potty once we got to every location and before we left. It wasn’t that annoying and to be honest, I personally would rather that than stay home for three days (my opinion). Just stay consistent and express this is the new normal.
These are just some tips! You know my thoughts – you do what works for YOU!
Please share your stories for making potty training as smooth and successful as possible.