Let me preface by saying that I was COMPLETELY intimidated by the whole potty training process. I had heard some horror stories from a few friends, and I just didn’t know if I had thick enough skin to get through it, and be as “happy go lucky” as you’re supposed to be throughout the entire process.
We decided that after Christmas would be a good time to train because Dan would be home from traveling and he could help. Plus, we thought Christmastime would be a good time to stick a few potty related things under the tree or as a stocking stuffer to help entice him and make him think the whole “Potty Training” process would be a fun and exciting experience for all of us. We mentioned the week before Christmas that after Christmas that he would not use diapers any more. We reminded him almost every diaper change. We also prepared a few weeks prior by turning his crib into a big boy bed and sang his praises about how he was growing up so big, and told him that he didn’t need the crib anymore. He took really well to that and he was actually proud of himself for reaching this milestone of his new “Big Boy” bed. Other than him doing the happy dance one time during his nap, he never got out and wandered the house, even though he didn’t have a lock on his door. I think he’s just really into his little bedtime and nap time routines, and doesn’t care to venture out, which is fine by me!
So, after a busy Christmas, the day came. We had a great breakfast to start the day off right, and then Dan took over watching Mason. Parker and I headed upstairs into his room and I got down at eye level with him and held his hands, and told him that he was a big boy, and that he didn’t need diapers anymore. Then I told him that Mason was a baby and that he needed diapers. I asked him who the big boy was, and he enthusiastically shouted “Parker!” and then I asked him who the baby was, and he said “Mason!”. I told him that we needed to get rid of the changing table, and all of his diapers, since big boys don’t need them. He enjoyed helping me remove the changing pad from the table and helped me move over some stuffed animals and items to place on top of the newly named chest of drawers. I got a laundry basket and had Parker help me empty all the diapers out of the drawers in his room, and bring them to Mason’s room and put them in his drawers. Through the entire process, I talked to him about how he was becoming such a big boy, and that he didn’t need diapers and how proud I am of him. It made it easy by the fact that Parker and Mason wear the same size cloth as well as disposable diapers.
After the diapers were out, I broke out the underwear that he opened on Christmas day, and he helped me load them into the drawers. The whole time I “talked them up”, saying how they were underwear for big boys. Then I removed his diaper and said it was yucky because it was dirty and wet. I put on the underwear and praised him repeatedly about how big he looked. He LOVED this part. He had a grin from ear to ear. Then Daddy came in and praised him all over again, telling him how he looked like SUCH the big boy! He ate it up!
We followed the three day planned as outlined here. They have a downloadable pdf ebook that is awesome. It’s an easy read, being only 50 pages, and it has some great info! Some of the basics are this:
- Keep the kiddo in a shirt and underwear all day long, no pants
- Mention to them every few minutes repeatedly “Tell me when you have to go to the potty (or tell me when you have to pee or poop. You can insert your personal verbiage here), Okay?”. Their theory is that “tell me when you have to go” vs. “Do you have to go” gives control to the child as opposed to the adult
- No diapers, pull-ups, padded training pants, plastic pants, etc. Only underwear. Their theory is that if they go to training pants or diapers, that they will be confused and that it could cause them to regress
- The plan outlines day training and night training all in one. As stated above, no pull-ups, etc at night
- Praise, praise, praise, and no negative words when referring to potty or accidents. You can say that it is “yucky” when they make a mess, but that is it. Praise them when they are dry and any time they make ANY amount in the toilet. Let them flush and wave goodbye. Make it playful and fun
- …and now that I’ve had three glasses of wine, I can’t think of any more bullet points
Parker did SO well! Seriously, WAY better than I ever anticipated. I bought the jumbo size carpet cleaner expecting to clean up accidents all day, and I cleaned up ONE all day long. The first day he had two pee accidents in his underwear, then by the afternoon he was asking us to take him to the potty. He would get these grins and surge of excitement when I would say “tell me when you have to…” and he would shout YES! and run to the bathroom. We gave him two M&M’s per time he pee’d on the potty the first day, and it switched to one M&M the second day, and on the third day, it was only an M&M if he did #2. We up’d the ante a few days later to cookies and suckers because he began to feel nervous about doing number two on the potty. Partly because he was new at it, and partly because we had company over and he wasn’t very comfortable doing it while they were here. It was nothing a little miralax didn’t fix though, and he was unplugged and going as normal by a week from the start of the training.
He did great through naps, stayed dry and would either wake up early, stay dry throughout, or wake up and go, and then go back to bed. Night time, however, we tried him in underwear for a week, without any progress of staying dry. He would wake up SO upset for peeing, and when we tried to put him on the potty, he would just yell “NO!!”. I don’t really blame him either. I mean, he would pee in his sleep, and then get woken up to bright lights, and us ripping his clothes off and changing his sheets. I’d be pretty pissed off too. So, after a week without improvement, we decided to just put him in pull-ups and call them “night-time pants” and tell him that he should try really hard to keep them dry. We even tried to attach an award to it, if he kept it dry, but that didn’t seem to matter. Even a sucker wouldn’t do the trick. So, we’re going to leave well enough alone. He’s done AMAZINGLY well, and much faster than we could had anticipated. I mean, he’s only 27 months old, and some kids don’t get this until their much older. I’m thinking maybe it’s because he was cloth diapered, and understood feeling wet and messy. We also talked up the whole potty training prior to us actually training, and introduced questions like “Are you wet?” and “Are you still dry” which are used frequently during the potty training. I think that helped a lot.
I feel so lucky that things have gone so well! I am so happy to change only one baby a day. However, one thing that they don’t tell you, is that YOUR BACK WILL HURT! Leaning over, picking your child up and placing them on the potty a billion times a day, pulling down their pants and then pulling up their pants a billion times, wiping, etc. is exhausting! I’ve yet to determine if it’s more or less work than diapers. I’m sure it’ll be much better once he’s more self sufficient and can get on and off the potty alone and can pull up and down his own pants…and wiping his own butt would be fantastic! I know that we’ve got some time before that happens though. I’m okay with that for now.
- Prepare some activities or new toys on the days that you plan to train. That way they feel like it’s an exciting fun thing that they are learning
- Be consistent in your follow-through and try your best not to loose your cool. Remember that this is a challenging new thing that you’re asking them to do, too!
- Encourage them to use the bathroom, but don’t force. When we wanted to go somewhere, and needed Parker to go. I would just say “Do you want to go to the mall with Mom and Dad? He would say “YES!” and I’d say “then you need to go potty first.” and he’d always go without question. If it turns into a battle then just let it go. You want them to think that you trust them enough to believe that they will stay dry. Parker loves to feel like he’s trusted. It makes him feel in control.
- Don’t be afraid to use miralax if they’ve gone several days without going number two and they are scared to do so. It’s a great helper if they’re holding it because they’re nervous or scared. It was a lifesaver for Parker.
I hope this helps those of you who are planning to train your child and were looking for some helpful tips! The potty training experience has been a decent experience for us. I’m hoping that Mason will be just as easy to train!