This one is a bit long so save it for nap time or bedtime and something to sip may be in order as well. This is a big milestone (the biggest in our house) and there’s a lot to cover. So sit back and enjoy.
I have successfully trained my two girls and am currently ‘in the trenches’ with my little man. I will say the girls were pretty easy, they had their “I’m two and not in the mood” moments but were for the most part on board with the idea and were pretty much ‘trained’ within a few weeks.
As I am writing this we are on our ‘last’ box of diapers with the little man. Upon the advice of my mom (who trained 7 of her own children (3 of which are boys) and countless others as a babysitter) we purposely waited until he was closer to 2 ½. He is now 29 months and can easily go an hour with a dry diaper. We’ve actually experimented here and there and with my help (keeping the time) he has gone the majority of the day with a dry diaper a few times.
I’ve found things that work and things that don’t. These are the most helpful ideas I’ve found and find worth sharing.
Before having my own children I worked for many years in a daycare. It wasn’t until recently I realized I could hardly remember ‘potty training’ many children though I worked in the 2-year-old room for a good part of my time there. Then one day it hit me, due to the design of the building the 2-year-old room didn’t have a diaper changing station, several times a day we would take the crew line them up outside the bathroom with books and puzzles and change all of their diapers. The interesting thing is we would have them sit on the little potties each time, not expecting them to go but just introducing them to the idea and cheering like crazy if a happy accident occurred and one of them actually went. I realized most of them had figured it out almost by accident all on their own. Using this light bulb moment we started putting Mr. B on the potty before baths several months ago just to let him try it out. Every once in a while he would go and a party would ensue. As we got closer to actually training him we’ve been having him sit several times a day during diaper changes. We’ve also enjoyed multiple ‘parties’ because of successful trips! Yay!
Another great tip is to spend a day or so checking their diaper every hour. You want them to be holding it for at least that long so if you’re having more dries than wets then you’re probably good to go.
The jury is very much out on pull-ups but we only use them in the very early stages (when accidents are not uncommon) and we’re out and about shopping, at the park, etc. and a bathroom may not be readily accessible. They look, feel, and act like diapers and more than likely your child will treat them as such. We prefer to use diapers at bedtime simply because they’re cheaper. I would always have them go to the bathroom right before bed and directly to the bathroom upon waking and after a while they start waking up with dry diapers. After a week or so of dry diapers we’d just quit using them.
I’ve never done the whole ‘let them pick their underwear’ thing because in my opinion most kids will forget immediately what is on their bottom shortly after their pants are pulled up, but if you think it will help go for it! I did however pick up a pack (or three) of big kid underwear that they would like and present the recipient with their new clothing item and had a little chat (3-5 minutes) about not wanting to get them wet. They’re usually way excited and then devastated when the first inevitable accident occurs. Having them help take their wet clothes to the laundry room and maybe even start the wash will help them to learn that, while not ideal, the accident wasn’t a big problem and with some work can be fixed.
I have never taken them to the bathroom ‘every 15 minutes.’ They get annoyed, upset, and frustrated. Your research should have shown he/she can make it an hour dry so I would take them every hour and sit for 5 (no more than 10) minutes (books and songs, LOTS of books and songs). If they went I’d wait another hour, if they didn’t I’d set a timer for 20-30 minutes until they would go. After a successful trip I would go back to every hour. You may end up with a few more accidents this way but far less meltdowns and in my book that’s always a good trade.
You should have some type of prize for successful bathroom trips. I have always used M&Ms but things like stickers, animal crackers or popcorn usually does the trick. I’ve even read where someone used Dollar Tree toys (EXPENSIVE!!!) but said as the prizes slowly disappeared their child didn’t expect something each time. Really whatever works for your kid will serve the purpose.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with some wisdom from my Dad that was bestowed upon me while in the very early stages of training my first child. He said…
“Give her a break! How many times a day do you think about going to the bathroom? She’ll get it!”
I was annoyed, probably because I was in the middle of changing the 10th accident of the day but then I settled down and saw the wisdom in his statement. I don’t think about the bathroom at all unless I need to use it, or clean it. We as parents sometimes take ‘potty training’ and rock our child’s world with it. But, teaching them to use the bathroom should not take over their whole world. We need to ease them into it teaching them how it fits into their little life and be their biggest fan in success and failure. Eventually they’ll have more successes than failures and we’ll get to look back on a ‘fun’ adventure and huge achievement in our child’s life. Most importantly, don’t forget to laugh because it is, in fact, the best medicine.
From the Potty Training Trenches,