August 1, 2013

Alright, potty training my oldest son was one of the hardest moments of my motherhood so far (I know, just wait until he's a teenager, right?). I'd say it ranks right up there with sleep deprivation and breast feeding. I never imagined how a two-year-old, cute little boy could be so stubborn! And when it came to potty training, my husband and I tried almost everything! So, what did we learn from our first-time parents experience with potty training our toddler? Well, many things... And I would like to share them with you, so maybe, just maybe, you can have a much nicer experience potty training your little one. So, here goes:

1. Rewards: Aaaahhh, the rewards... Have to be smart with this one... Stickers of favorite cartoon characters, points and stars on a chart, Thomas the Tank Engine trains (wooden ones, plastic ones, metal ones....), candies... Well, at this rate, we were probably going to go bankrupt before our son would successfully potty train! We didn't apply the rewards concept correctly, so it didn't quite work for us. The problem was that we were rewarding him to just sit on the potty. Now, they may be only two, but they can be so smart!
So they figure out pretty quickly how to get what they want! When my son started to tell us that he needed to go potty, he would sit on the toilet for a long, long, time, and then he would say that he "didn't feel it" anymore... As desperate parents who wanted so much for their son to go potty, we thought that the fact that he was asking to go potty was a big step in the right direction... But he kept getting his rewards and still no results. So, if you want to give your child some kind of reward (which is great and can work), wait until he/she actually goes pee-pee or poo-poo in the toilet, then you give the reward.

2. Pull-Ups: One word: Nooooo! Ok, a little more than one word, for us it turned out to be a terrible idea! While it might work for some moms, some toddlers like my son didn't mind all that much about the "cool feeling" from the pull-ups. It actually confused him even more. We think he started to enjoy the feeling since it was summertime.

3. Signs: When my son was about two, we noticed how he would go to the playroom area and get really quiet. About 10 minutes later, he would return to the living room to play with his toys. I would approach him and smell the stinkiness. I started observing him and noticed that it became his routine when he needed to go poo-poo. It also helped that he was going in his diaper at approximately the same time everyday. So, we tried to direct him to the potty instead. But, this backfired on us because he learned how to hold it longer, not wanting to actually go in the potty, even though he really needed to!

4. Underwear: Close to turning three years old, we decided to take more drastic measures. We took our son to the store and told him that he was going to wear "big boy underpants". We let him choose his own favorite underwear themes/characters. We told him that starting the next day, he was only going to wear underpants. (Note: We did this experiment during a week long Spring Break). He was excited about it, and believing he was the one "in control" of the potty situation (which was a big plus!). For the first three days, we did a lot of cleaning... We never judged him, or made a big deal about it. Using our best "poker face" we would just say, "It's ok, it's just a little accident. Maybe next time you feel it, you can go to the potty." Sometimes we would point out that our cats would go to the litter box when they felt it, and that our dog would go outside when she needed to go, and that we went to the potty when we felt it. He didn't like the yucky feeling of having pee-pee running down his legs, or poo-poo in his underwear. So, after about the third day, we noticed how he would tell us he needed to go and would run to the potty. After about the fifth day, no more accidents! No more diapers! We did have a few bedwetting accidents, but they stopped after a few weeks. In our case, creating a nighttime routine helped prevent bedwetting accidents (brush teeth, go potty, read books, and sleep). We kept the same routine every night. 

5. Second son: We learned not to pressure our youngest son. It just doesn't work. We waited until he was about two years old to begin mentioning going potty in the toilet. At that time, I had already written and illustrated the first edition of my "Silly Potty Story" book, so I was reading it to him, and he loved taking control of the silly questions by answering, "Noo mama, we don't go in the tub, we go in the potty!" Also, our son sometimes observed his dad or older brother using the toilet. Having a mom, dad, or an older sibling show where we go potty, in our opinion, was helpful. However, if you don't feel comfortable using the toilet in front of your child, then, please disregard this strategy.

Enjoy my book and whatever potty training method you choose, remember to be patient, take a deep breath and give yourself a break when frustrated, and by being positive when your child shows signs of readiness, your child will soon be successful! :)
photo credit: <a href="">thejbird</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


Starting to potty train our son. These tips a very beneficial. He likes Thomas the train, maybe we can workout a reward around this.

Lori Goodman


Thank you Lori! We used Thomas the Train as rewards as well. However, be careful and only give him rewards if he actually goes potty in the toilet. Our big mistake was rewarding our son just for trying to go potty. A suggestion would be to create a Potty Chart system where your son could put a sticker on it each time he successfully goes potty in the toilet (1 sticker for #1's and maybe 2 stickers for #2's). After collecting a certain number of stickers (depending on your child and how often he goes potty-perhaps between 8 to 10 stickers), he could win a reward (Thomas book, Thomas stickers, etc). Then, after collecting about 20-25 stickers, he could win even a bigger reward (like the Thomas or his friends wood trains or metal trains). Let him know ahead of time that collecting a certain number of stickers (let's say 10) equals Thomas books or Thomas stickers, and that a bigger amount of stickers (for example, 20 stickers) equals Thomas wood or metal trains. You could even write the amount of points and draw the equivalent types of rewards on the chart (kids are very visual).
I hope this helps! Wish you and your boy success in potty training! I know this stage can be difficult, but in the blink of an eye, your son would be already in the elementary school, doing homework, talking about video games, playing sports, helping you out in the house... It's amazing how fast it really goes! :D


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