Potty training. Who knew 2 words, 13 letters, could invoke such TERROR in the eyes of parents?! It’s scary crap, ya’ll. (See what I did there??) When I was a nanny, I potty trained some twins with special needs, so I thought I had it alllllllll figured out when it was time to potty train my toddler. Silly young-me. How naïve you were. Potty training my now-3 year-old was a long process that has finally ended in a fully potty trained small human but boy oh boy, did I earned my stripes. I feel like I made quite a few mistakes potty training my daughter, B (and quite a few non-mistakes!) so I’m definitely going to doctor my approach for when my little dude starts potty training (ugh I don’t even want to think about it. He’s 7 months. He’ll never be 2, right?). So. Here are my
Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training.
DO: Wait until your child is ready.
If your little person has no interest, or worse, is afraid of the potty, your life will be very difficult during potty training.
I’m not sure B was ready when we started. And our process took over a year. We bought her a potty and willed her to be interested in it and even though she liked it ok, she wasn’t all about that potty life. She wasn’t really self-motivated and I think that slowed our process.
DON’T: Make it about you.
I think this was probably our biggest mistake. We were just barely pregnant with little dude and decided we would NOT have 2 in diapers at once. We worried about having to change 2 bums, spend double the money on diapers...you get the picture. We just wanted to get it out of the way and have a potty trained kid by the time the next kid came along, because we thought it would just be easier.
Ultimately I think this backfired on us big time. Since we started probably before she was completely ready, she had a fair amount of accidents if we weren’t constantly taking her to the bathroom.
And if you think having a toddler have an accident is rough, try taking care of an infant while dealing with a toddler’s accident. On the floor of TJMaXX. (OH, THE HUMILIATION!) I firmly believe that if we had waited until it was her idea, instead of making it about us, she would have had fewer accidents.
DO: Reward (read: bribe) for using the potty.
Basically do anything that will make them excited to use the potty, and paint the bathroom like a happy place. If that means a big, colorful sticker chart behind the toilet, great. If it means a great big jar of M&Ms on the counter, cool. Or both.
Don’t be ashamed to put a fancypants toy on the back of the potty to get that motivation going!
DON’T: Let an accident ruin your day.
Obviously this is easier said than done. I was horrible at this. Every time she had an accident it drove me nuts and was a code red crisis. Especially if we were in public. But here’s the deal. Everyone who has kids, has potty trained them before (hopefully..!) and they totally get it. No one will judge you if your kid has an accident on the floor in the store.
It’s embarrassing but TRY to not let it get to you. And PLEASE don’t take it out on your little one or shame them.
It’s not the end of the world. Just make sure you always carry an extra set of clothes ;) Even if you’ve had weeks or months since they’ve had an accident, they may slip up later if they’re distracted or stressed. Just be positive and tell them they’ll make it next time.
DO: Offer a lot of praise.
Every time they tell you they have to go and make it to the potty, every time they go potty, every time they stay dry for any given amount of time, PRAISE THEM!
Positive reinforcement is so much more effective than negative. Conversely, try not to shame them or punish them for having accidents. Chances are they are already beating themselves up about it, I know our little B was. Toddlers are fragile, so make this as positive of an experience as possible.
DON’T: Compare your methods or progress with someone else’s.
There are so many different methods people use for potty training, and people are going to try and convince you their method is best and “My kid never had accidents after we tried THIS” and blah blah blah. Only you know what’s best for your child and what will work for you.
I remember people telling me the three day method would work (it didn’t) or to never use pullups because it would confuse her (they didn’t) or to let her run around naked for a few days (what?) but ultimately, we ended up with our own system (putting pullups on over underwear, no mess but it made accidents very uncomfortable and undesirable!)
and it mostly worked for us.
Remember, it’s a process. It’s not going to happen overnight. (Or maybe for you it will, in which case, may the parent gods curse you.) Be patient. If it’s just not happening, don’t be afraid to pause and try again later. They won’t still be in diapers when they’re 12.
What are some of your potty training tips?? Share them below in the comments!
Written by Caitlin Cummings