Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 Easy Steps to Potty Training Success

I never realized how much I loved diapers until I taught my three kids how to use the bathroom. As much as I complained about wiping their bums or trying to find a changing table in the men's room where there were none, there is nothing as frustrating as potty training. It's hard to say after teaching them for two years of their life to just go whenever they please to all of sudden change gears.

Each child of mine was different when it came to training but each of them waited until they were almost three to master it. If this is the case for you, don't worry, it's going to happen. There's a certain motivation that comes with being able to go to school with other kids who have mastered the porcelain throne ; it's a good kind of peer pressure that gets them motivated to become a "big boy" or "big girl" that you sometimes can't provide.

With each kid though, I learned a few things along the way that may help. We parents will try anything to make it happen. You may become desperate and resort to wild tactics. Stick with the five things below and you too will soon be cleaning pee from all around the toilet in places you never knew pee could go.

1. Ditch the Pull UPs

I'm a big fan of the Pull Ups song but I think they only serve their purpose for adults in nursing homes or older people who have bladder issues. A Pull Up is a basically a diaper and I think it confuses kids because it feels the same. The only reason it is different is because it can be taken off like underwear which makes any crap they made in there on accident, ripe for situations where taking it off vertically is not going to be such a good idea. Remember when you changed from nipple to bottle and the kid was confused? It's basically the same concept only this time it is diaper confusion. Ditch the Pull Ups completely and quit cold turkey.

2. Dedicate a week to go Au Natural

This is honestly going to be the hardest part. You may not leave your house for an entire week, maybe more depending on the child. Let them walk around in their birthday suit. Not having something they need to pull down or take off will help them in the long run.

The hard part will be when you HAVE to go out to the grocery store. It will be like carrying a live grenade with the pin pulled and you're just waiting for the explosion. We have a rule in our house - GO BEFORE YOU GO. Do that. Then, when you get to the store, try again. Then, when you fill up your cart you will undoubtedly have to race through the store to the bathroom at least once more. Don't forget to stop there on your way out after checking out either. You will soon know where every public restroom is located in every store in your neighborhood.

3. Get them underwear BEFORE they master it

The old "If you pee or poop in the potty, I'll get you some special underwear" is not the greatest motivation. How about motivating them with awesome underwear that they don't want to crap in? My daughter had a pair of Wonder Woman underwear that she didn't want to see soiled. THAT was motivation to make it in time. Now, she did eventually destroy those and there were many tears but she tried much harder the next time she had to go so the same thing wouldn't happen to Batgirl.

Get the underwear BEFORE they master it to stress the importance of what their body's Bat signal really means. Have them wear this underwear when you go out. Bring a hazmat suit and extra underwear and clothes with a plastic bag with you in case of an accident.

4. Don't get pissed at accidents

Stay calm. This is going to get messy. Your kids are going to pee on your wood floor or your carpet from IKEA like a fifteen year old dog. The difference is, you can't shame them for having an accident, it is going to be a part of the process. They aren't doing it to spite you they just don't understand how to make it to the toilet before sweet release.

This was my biggest frustration while potty training. Cleaning up bodily fluids sucks, just ask any custodian at your local school. Take a deep breath, unless it is a number two, and say something like "Next time, you'll get it in the potty" even if you know that it's probably not going to happen. Staying positive is going to be key. Encouragement will go a long way. Getting angry will not instill motivation and it may have them holding it in because they will associate an accident with you getting angry.

5. Offer some kind of reward

For each of my kids, motivation was something different. Sometimes it was M&M's - Two for a poop and one for pee. Pink M&M's, stickers, a chart, a movie, a toy. There can be something that helps motivate them. We used the Let's Potty board game, Princess Potty book and a sticker chart supplied by Pampers with Disney Princesses to track their success. To be honest, it's going to be a lot of trial and error. Don't feel obligated to stick with one thing as they may become disinterested.

Also, as a word to the wise, don't do your touchdown dance in front of someone that is still struggling. Make sure your kid has it down before you go bragging that they have been dry for two days. All of my kids regressed whether it was because of a vacation or total loss of interest. It's frustrating thinking they have it down and then they forget altogether what was happening in the first place. They will show you signs that they are ready. Don't force the potty training to happen just because of their age. Each child progresses at a different pace just like their learning.

Once you've mastered all of these steps you can move onto the next challenges, teaching them to wipe themselves AND flushing the toilet.

Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below or share it on my FB page.


  1. As a parent finishing the 1st week of successful (mostly) potty training of my 3y3m old son, I agree with everything written here. I just wanted to add that pressure from others, family and friends included, on how best to potty train can be overwhelming. Ignore any unsolicited advice and do what you feel is best for your kid. You know your kid better than anyone, and each kid is ready at different times. We had our breakthrough when our son decided it would be cool to pee in the backyard. A few times he did this and suddenly he went on the potty inside with the same regularity. We got crap from people saying he's too old to just be learning now, or that letting him be naked in the backyard and pee was disgusting, but you just have to tune it all out. We had a 2nd son 5 months ago with a complicated pregnancy, I'm a SAHD and my wife went back to work a few months ago. All this drama affects children, and a child has to be emotionally ready for potty training. Anyway, keep up the good work Chris, and good luck to everyone try to potty train their little ones. It definitely can be challenging on many levels.

  2. We used the M&M's a different way for our sun. They were targets for swords. Additional tactic. Play swords

  3. We used the M&M's to aim at while playing swords!!