I’ve had a few inquiries on this topic, and my 2yo will be ready soon. I’m no fountain of wisdom here, but I have managed to potty train 6 daughters so far. We’re not “method people,” but we have gleaned from others’ methods and figured out a few things along the way.
I’ll share what I’ve learned so far and hope everyone will chime in with their own tips.
First, let me tell you I was very nervous about potty training. This was something I never really participated in with my younger sibs – somehow it just always happened.
My experiences with dogs didn’t help:
Before hubby and I had our first daughter, we had our first dog. She was a beautiful little black lab pup. We couldn’t fully housebreak her. Eventually she was dognapped.
Then we had our second dog. We couldn’t housebreak her, and a neighbor who wanted an outdoor dog just exactly like ours adopted her.
Then we had our third dog. We almost managed to housebreak him before he suddenly got sick and died.
Can you see why I was worried? What if my kid still piddled on the floor when she was 15?
But it really does just happen. Believe it or not, we are 6 for 6 with our children. That’s much better than our dog stats.
First we watch for signs of readiness. In our house, these signs show up around the 2nd birthday. In our house, these signs all have feminine pronouns. That should change in about 2 years, but for now just bear with me.
- asking to be changed immediately when her diaper is dirty
- wanting to help with the changing. Our 2yo wants to hold her own feet in the air for me (“I do it, Mommy?”)
- trying to change herself. After she has pooped. Not good, and not tolerated, but it’s normal to try.
- showing true, heartfelt disgust at her own poop
- wanting to sit on the potty
These are all signs that she will be ready soon. I take the toddler in the bathroom when I go so she can see what the toilet is for. I explain what we’re doing, step by step. I let her look in the potty when I’m done, and let her flush.
I ask her regularly if she wants to go potty. I don’t expect her to really go while she’s up there; we’re just practicing. If she’s interested, I set her up there and stall. We talk girl-talk, chat about potty topics, read a magazine, etc. After a few minutes, she’s ready to get down and I put her diaper back on.
Eventually – oh, happy day! – she will tinkle while she’s on the potty. She will get candy and praise and applause and a parade in her honor. Or whatever we have on hand: chocolate chips sometimes become known as “potty candy.” It will be made crystal clear to her that her life will be beautiful and joyful and full of sweet things if she can do that again.
She probably won’t do it again right away, but it will happen soon. Once she “gets it,” it comes quickly. We don’t push to start early for a reason: if the child is really and truly ready, potty training comes easily with few accidents. We find that training takes just a day or two, with an occasional accident for the first couple of weeks.
Once she understands the goal and recognizes the urge to go, we’re within sight of the finish line. We settle down to the training process, which varies a little with each child.
- We like to use the heavy cloth training pants. They catch more than panties, but still let the child feel wetness if she has an accident.
- I spend a day or two pouring liquids into her so we’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice and reward.
- I keep her near me.
- I enlist the help of her sisters, and Daddy when he is home.
- We stay near the potty, and encourage her to try very frequently.
- We praise her for sitting on the potty even if she doesn’t do anything.
- We reward lavishly, with fanfare and treats. We gather round the potty to ooh and ahhh at what she has done. Sometimes we all eat potty candy to celebrate success.
- Depending on the child and the season, we sometimes put her in a long t-shirt and let her go bottomless for a few days.
- When you are toilet training a toddler, don’t get worked up over accidents. Think like a doctor: urine is sterile, and if she’s drinking plenty it probably doesn’t even have an odor. Just let her help clean it up and move on.
- Be especially careful of TV – it’s engrossing, and she will forget to go potty.
- Don’t let her wear anything that keeps her feeling dry. She needs to feel wet if she has an accident.
- If she has too many accidents, reconsider the timing. Maybe she’s not ready. Maybe you are too busy this week. Maybe somebody is too tired or stressed.
- Don’t push and turn it into a battle of wills; parents must win battles of will, and this is a hard one to win. Stay on the same side as your child.
Now it’s your turn – what did I miss? What works for you? I know the Headmistress had a post on this topic, but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps she would grace us with a link?
I read a very recent post on this topic which recommended a New Toothbrush as a necessary accessory. I thought it was by Mary, but couldn’t find it.
If you have posted on the subject, please leave a link in the comments – I would love to hear how others have done it, as every child is different.