Potty training. It can strike fear in the hearts of moms everywhere, lol. I’m happy to say that my sixth child is now (finally) potty trained. Over the years, I have tried many different ideas when teaching my children how to use the potty and I would love to share the methods which have worked for us.
First off, this is not a post about how to potty train your child early. I squirm when parents talk about potty training their children before the age of two for a couple of reasons. Reason number one is because the younger potty training begins, the longer the process is usually. I would much rather begin potty training when the child is ready than to spend six+ months working with my child. Reason number two is that I believe the child can start to think, “why am I not getting this?” when in fact, they just aren’t ready. I really try my best to not put unrealistic expectations on my children or to set them up for failure. While a child *might* be ready to begin potty training before the age of two, if they are having frequent accidents this is a sign that holding off would probably be in their best interest. Another sign of readiness is when your child stays dry in their diaper for long chunks of time. (At least 2 hours at a time.) Otherwise, they very well may be running to the potty every twenty or thirty minutes. We usually begin training when our children go several hours at a time with a dry diaper AND usually stay dry overnight.
Before we begin training, I try my best to ensure that no major life events are in the works. Will a new baby be born soon? Will we be moving within the next few months? These types of events can cause our recently trained children to revert back to diapers very quickly. If everything in our lives appears to be stable and the child shows an interest in the potty and signs of bladder control (staying dry for 2+ hour increments), than we begin.
Some of my children prefer training on a small ring which fits into the toilet, and others like their own small potties. While I prefer the small ring (less mess), I offer both options to each child to see which they prefer. My recently trained daughter preferred the smaller potty at first, and then after a week she asked to go in the regular one. We obliged, and so far everything is going smoothly. Also, a child might have a problem with going “one way” instead of the other. (Talking about Number 1 or 2 here.) If I see this becoming a problem, I usually up the reward system.
A reward system is the basis of our potty training. We post a paper or chart on the wall, and each time the child uses the bathroom successfully they are given a sticker to put on their chart. When the chart is filled with stickers, they can exchange it for their toy of choice (within reason) at the store. If I notice a pattern of the child mastering Number 1 or 2 better than the other, than I give the child two stickers when they successfully make it to the potty for the harder of the two.
This system worked beautifully for my first four children, and they were trained within one weeks time between the ages of 2.5 and 3. My fifth child was stubborn and when he was 3.5 and still showing no interest, we upped the reward to a party once he was trained. This finally peaked his interest, and we brought him home a cake and wrapped gifts from Dollar Tree once he was potty trained. Our sixth child followed the same pattern, but is now trained at the age of 3.5 with the promise of a toy being sufficient. She did begin to relapse (as in, saying I don’t want to go in the potty anymore) a few days ago, so I brought back a piece of paper and stickers without the promise of a new toy. So far this has been working, and most of the time she forgets to even ask for a sticker.
Remaining patient is key during this process! There are times when I’ve sat in the bathroom with my child and have read to them, turned on the faucet, basically doing whatever I could to help them along. We do keep the small potties in the bathroom because our goal is for them to use that room, and we keep underwear on our children while training. Basically, we use as few steps as possible when the child is definitely physically ready to leave their diapers behind.
My method definitely isn’t rocket science, but hopefully this has offered you a bit of reassurance if your child isn’t one to potty train early. That is definitely not the way we do things around here!