Two of my least favorite words in the parenting world thus far (right up there with tantrums and biting). If you are looking for someone to tell you how easy it is and how your child will be ruling the world in undies by next week, you have come to the wrong place.
However; if you are looking for a mama with whom to commiserate who has tried it all then I am your girl. In fact, I have been potty training my twin daughters for years (yes, that is years, plural). Our first attempt was when they were around 20 months old and they are now over four and I finally think we are coming out the other side. Just in time to begin potty training my now two-year-old son, oh joy!
Below are some of the methods I tried for my children, along with my two cents.
*These methods and their names are in no way “official”, but rather summarized by me. Searching the web will find similar methodologies and explanations.
POTTY TRAINING BOOT CAMP METHOD
This method is when you pick a weekend/week (a block of multiple consecutive days) and devote it ENTIRELY to potty training. You put yourself child on the potty every 30 or so minutes and don’t leave the house for days with the promise that after this weekend from heck your child will be ready to venture out into the world diaper-free.
If you are a parent of a child who found this method successful, know that I secretly curse you behind closed doors. But in reality I am just envious. This method did nothing for us. In fact, we went through boot camp multiple times with no avail and just ended up hating potty training entirely. I like to think it is because we were training two at once….
THE “LET THEM SIT IN IT” METHOD
Apparently some parents swear by letting their child wet or soil their pants and then sit in it. Eventually they realize how much they dislike sitting in wet underwear or pants and then never do it again. My children didn’t seem to mind the witness at all. Or better yet, they took off their wet clothes, hid them (I’m pretty sure one or two pairs of underwear were actually flushed down the toilet) and then proceeded about their day naked. But give it a whirl; maybe you will be one of the lucky ones!
THE TIMED TRAINING METHOD
Set a timer on your phone, watch, stove, etc. to go off every 20, 30 or 60 minutes. Depending upon how long your child can “hold it”. Every time the timer beeps, sit them on the potty. Then reset timer and repeat. Increase the amount of time as your child begins to catch on and recognize their need to use the toilet.
Better yet – get your child a potty watch!! This is exactly like it sounds. A mechanical children’s watch that can be set as a timer and play a fun song every time the time expires to alert your toddler that it is time to use the potty. My girls LOVED these for about three days, and then the novelty wore up. Then, once they figured out their purpose the watches conveniently disappeared….
The timed training method definitely helped steer us on the right direction, but it was hard for mommy and daddy to keep up. Especially when training two. I would recommend trying this out, especially if you can do 60 min increments!
THE REWARD METHOD
This method seemed to work best for us. There is not much my kids won’t do for chocolate. So, I bought a big bag of M&Ms and every time they peed on the potty they got one M&M and every time they took a two, they got around five M&Ms.
I also printed out some free potty charts to hang on our refrigerator. Every day and/or night they went accident-free, they got to put a sticker on their chart. Once the chart was completely filled, they could pick a “prize” like a new toy or book.
THE CLEAN UP CREW METHOD
If your child pees their pants or has an accident on the ground or somewhere else, require them to clean up the mess. This includes wiping up, throwing away and or scrubbing the mess with or without your assistance. Rumor has it kids don’t like to clean so they will think twice before having an accident in the future.
My kids, not so much. They seemed to enjoy the cleaning and in fact, even used their urine from their little potty to CLEAN THEIR VANITY. They thought I would be so super happy.
THE NAKED METHOD
This consists of letting your child be naked all day long for multiple days. I know some who have even met their child “throw away their diapers” to symbolize their end. Couple this with the timed method. This just led to a LOT of cleanup for us and the need to buy multiple plug-in air fresheners.
THE MAKE IT FUN METHOD
Make up a potty song and dance and sing it while your child is on the potty. Celebrate excessively after a successful potty. Read books about going to the potty. Practice going potty with dolls and stuffed animals. Blow bubbles or watch a show while sitting on the potty. The options are endless. Just do your best to emphasize that using the potty is a good thing.
I’d like to say that any one of these helped me to successfully potty train my girls; but in reality I think it was a combination of ALL of them. There is no “one size fits all” approach to potty training.
I will say, the BEST potty training method (IMO) is timing. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to wait until your child is ready, willing and showing signs of interest. Otherwise you and your child will end up frustrated and resenting the potty. Not every child is ready to use the toilet at two years old. And that’s ok! Maybe they will be four like my girls. Just know that for most, they will eventually catch on. Be patient, mama. You’ve got this.