Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tips for successful potty training

The day has come. I can now confidently say my child is potty-trained! She is still wearing a diaper at night, just in case, but during the day, she is absolutely fine. She tells me whenever she has to go, willingly attempts to go if I take her (like if we're in public) and is now even pooping in the toilet! We still are dealing with occasional accidents, but they are few and far between.

I never thought I'd be so excited about something so trivial. Motherhood really changes your outlook on the more mundane aspects of life.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some tips that helped ME be a successful potty-trainer. I can't speak for the kids, because let's face it -- what works for one may not work for another. But I can tell you right now, you, as the Chief Potty Trainer, need to be prepared to train your child just as much as he or she needs to be ready, or it just won't work. So, here are some suggestions you might find helpful as you embark on this adventure.

1. Get to Googling. Who knew something so second-nature to us could be so difficult to teach? You can try to jump straight in (eek!), but I'd recommend getting as much information about it as you can beforehand. Search a few parenting forums, go to the library, talk to other parents who've done it. Or, just plug "potty training" into the good ol' Google, and marvel as thousands of results appear. Whatever you do, educate yourself first! That's always a good way to go about doing anything in life, right?

2. Set a date and stick to it. A lot of moms and dads are hesitant to start potty training their child because it has the reputation of being a daunting task. So, they keep putting it off, telling themselves "After Christmas" or "Maybe next week" or "When she turns 3." Those vague time frames aren't really going to hold you accountable. So, set a date. Pick one that will give you at least a week to dedicate to potty training (you may not use the whole week, but it's better to be safe than sorry). Avoid weddings, holidays and big appointments to minimize stress. My date was November 3rd. I wanted to wait until the Halloween festivities passed, plus I had an ultrasound appointment on November 2nd. But my sister is getting married at the end of December, so I wanted Bubs to be really comfortable with the potty by then. So, November 3rd it was. I wrote it on the calendar. I kept a countdown. I told my husband, my mom, my mother-in-law, and anyone who'd listen that November 3rd was D-day (or P-day, I guess). I had to hold myself to it!

Of course, just because you set a date doesn't mean your kid will agree it's the right time. He or she still has to be ready before you'll have success. But again, we're talking about how YOU can get ready to potty train. And if you set a date for yourself, you'll know exactly how much time you have to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare. Which is a good thing.

3. Stock up on essentials. Before you begin, make sure you already have plenty of underwear and/or Pull-Ups so you don't have to make an unexpected trip to the store. Juice, foods that keep things "running smoothly" (prunes, apples, granola bars), paper towels and Lysol wipes might be handy for you. Maybe rent some new kiddie DVD's or buy a new game so you'll have something to do with your child while you're under house arrest for a few days. Borrow a new book to read to distract yourself in between potty trips. Also, do you plan to reward your child for going on the toilet? Get some M&M's another other small treat, or stickers for a sticker chart.

4. Get a cheering section. Find a relative or friend to rely on during this week -- someone you feel comfortable venting to when things get hard, and who you can call when you have joyful successes! My mom was helpful because I knew she trained me to use the toilet once upon a time. She kept telling me, "You can do it!" and reassuring me I was doing a good job. And I'm sure my Facebook friends got sick of the never-ending potty updates, but most of them were happy to cheer me on during the week.

5. Keep telling yourself, "This too shall pass." Because it will! Like I said earlier, lots of people are apprehensive to begin potty training because of how notoriously difficult it can be. You've probably heard everything from "He held his poop in for a month straight!" to "I'm so sick of cleaning up puddles everywhere I go," and these sentiments may have you frightened about potty training. But I promise, it'll be OK. Yes, there will be accidents, no matter what method you choose to use. You will have to use your washing machine at least once. You will likely have to clean smashed-up poop out of the carpet. But it's OK. You know what to expect. Deal with it and move on. Cry if you have to. Soon enough, it will all be a distant memory!

6. Reward yourself when it's all over. Yay! You did it! Time to celebrate. First, shampoo your carpet. Then, feel free to buy yourself something nice with the money you just saved on diapers. Go on a nice date. Get a pedicure. Do something for yourself. You survived one of the biggest challenges of parenting! You deserve it.


  1. Yeah! It seems like you just barely posted about how it was hard!
    So glad it is going so well. My son wore a diaper at night for quite a while after being 100% trained in the day. But that will come too.

  2. Thanks so much for the advice! I tried potty training for one day and failed miserably. He is terrified of the toilet, I think he feels he's going to fall in. So I've taken a week off and now I'm ready to try again, this time with a toddler seat to go over the toilet!


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