After potty training my first two children it almost seems like a bad word! This is a milestone that we, as parents, look forward to, but dread at the same time. Hopefully I have gained some wisdom through these experiences that will help you.
With my first child I made the mistake of potty training too early. We went on vacation with my husband’s family and my 20 month old was so amazed with her 27 month old cousin who was potty training that she decided she wanted to potty train too. Mistake # 1: Never let the 2 year old make decisions for you! She was a very verbal child so I decided she was right and we threw away the diapers. It took 6 months before I was able to leave the house without an extra set of clothes.
I called a friend of mine who is the potty training queen to get some advice and here is what she told me to do. Get the DVD “Once Upon a Potty” for Him or Her (The DVD is gender specific so pay attention to what you are buying) and start letting them watch it at least once a day when they are 18 months old. The DVD helps teach them the process of going potty and the vocabulary they will need. She also told me to start taking them to the bathroom with you so they can see the process. When you are ready to go for it, plan to spend 3 days at home and mostly living in the bathroom. Take off the diaper and encourage them to sit on the potty for a long time until they actually go potty and then do a huge song and dance cheering session about how great they did. There should be some kind of reward system in place such as candy, stickers, etc. for when they actually go potty in the potty. Have some books and games in the bathroom so that you have an activity to keep them occupied while sitting on the potty waiting to go. Going potty takes patience that most children don’t have, so entertainment will be very helpful to you. There will be accidents, so ease in to leaving the house by going for short periods of time. All of this wonderful advice was lost on me because I was already 2 weeks in to potty training a child who wasn’t ready.
You would think that with my second child I would be smarter, but no. He started taking poop out of his diaper and putting it in the potty. All of this is okay accept that he is language delayed and never told us, so the poop left on his hands wound up in places it shouldn’t. So at 32 months potty training started again. We did the movie and taking him to the bathroom with us, but his receptive language delay made all of this relatively useless for him. He was going to have to experience going potty in the potty a few times himself before he understood what we were trying to do. He ran around in his fun new underwear and we tried to catch him going potty so we could run him to the bathroom, we also tried to get him to sit on the potty to listen to a story. After about a week of forcing fluids and running back and forth to the bathroom, he had gotten the point. He learned to go potty, and we learned that in his eyes, one M&M was not enough, but 3 M&Ms felt like a handful and was worth the trouble of going potty. Three and a half months later he still has the occasional accident (a few days ago we were in a great toy store and even though he told us he needed to go potty, he was so excited about the toys that he didn’t make it in time).
I have learned something from each of my older children, and hopefully next time I will be a potty training rock star like my friend!!
Child-rearing is all about learning from our own experiences and experiences of others. What Potty Training tricks and tips have worked for you?