I am not an expert.
We might have just gotten lucky.
We probably wouldn’t have tried if our summer travels hadn’t necessitated it.
BUT, I’m glad we did it!
So here’s what we did:
We decided we’d start at 19 months so they would get a good head start before going to Cuba in early July. My daughter had been showing signs of readiness since around 17 months (an interest in the potty, verbalizing “go pee pee?” when we would go, taking off her diaper), but we didn’t have a good school break until March. We tried for a day with both, had a horrible time, and then decided to travel on the break, so we promptly gave up.
Fast forward to 22 months, and our last school break before going to Cuba (we wanted to do it before Cuba because diapers are $20 for 15, and there’s no way I’m hauling our cloth diapers over the ocean again, then back again to Egypt). We rolled up the rugs in the house, pulled out the potty, and went for it. I kept a log of that day. It was not a good day.
6:30 am- up and chant “No more diapers, no more diapers, no more….” “Potty!” Joseph finishes. This is indicative of the rest of the day.
6:50 am- out of their room and into the living room. Fill up their water bottles. Set a timer to sit on potty every 15 minutes.
7:19 am- first pee… on the floor (Joseph)
7:50 am- first pee in the potty (Kenzie)
8:05 am- quickly make eggs for breakfast, need a 15 minute meal to fit between potty times.
8:34 am- timer rings, but they’re finishing up breakfast so I let them keep eating.
8:35 am- mistake! J starts to potty in the high chair. I sweep him up and get half in the potty. Celebrate anyway. Get the first load of laundry ready.
9:10 am- Mama goes potty. J pees on the floor and is on his 3rd pair of underwear now. He doesn’t like to be wet or dirty, so hopefully the gross feeling will help.
9:35 am- K goes in the potty again!
9:46 am- Buuuuuut then she poops in her underwear.
10:33 am- Mama decides to get breakfast. J screams, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!” I think K is bothering him, but enter the room mid pee. At least he’s warning me?
11:35 am- K pees on the floor. Thank God for lunch and nap time. These timers are even stressing ME out.
4:30 pm- J refuses to sit on the potty…
4:40 pm- …so he pees on the floor.
4:50 pm- K pees on Mommy and the couch after sitting on the potty 5 minutes earlier.
5:10 pm- J starts to poop in his underwear. Catch a little in the potty.
6:45 pm- J clearly needs to poop, but won’t.
6:50 pm- J asks for “New diaper!”
6:55 pm- Then he cries and poops on the floor and down his legs, and cries for a bath.
Y’all, this was a horrible day. The next day was only a smidgen better with K, and worse with J. He cried and cried, “No potty!” My husband wanted to give up mid afternoon. He’d been reading articles online and says that they’re both showing signs that they aren’t ready. I KNOW she’s ready. I know it. But J is really, really unhappy and scared to go. So that afternoon we give up on him. But I forge through with her.
This day was not how we potty trained in the end. This was what I read online and thought would be best. But for us, it just wasn’t best.
So here’s how it went from there. We didn’t set a timer. Every 15-20 minutes was overwhelming for ME. More so for her. We just took her every 30-40 minutes. We watched for her cues. And we went for her jugular- this girl LOVES candy. And we don’t do refined sugar very often. So I bought a bag of gummy bears and showed them to her. She’s got a great receptive and spoken vocabulary, and she understood when I told her that she could have a candy if she peed in the potty. She was motivated. Slowly, slowly, the third day was much better. We took her to school in panties the next day. We picked a time when we had a long weekend, then 3 school days, then another long weekend. Our daycare provider was given 3 outfit changes and a small potty. The first day wasn’t great. The next 2 were great. By the following Monday, day 10, she hadn’t had any accidents at home in 4 days, and she didn’t have an accident at school either. By about day 10 as well, she was starting to tell us when she needed to go potty.
The biggest problems we faced with K were that she was afraid to go poop in the toilet. But somewhere between day 7-10 she went, we cheered, and she realized it wasn’t so scary after all. Now she goes no problem.
J was a different story. He was so scared of the potty that we just left it alone and let him watch her. He was more difficult because he doesn’t really like sweets, he hates the way stickers feel on him and picks them off, and we just couldn’t find a good motivator. But after about a month of watching her, started showing more signs of readiness (interest, hiding when he needed to go poop, telling me “New diaper” after he would pee or poop so I could change him). I decided to try again. He, of course, FREAKED out when I tried to sit him on the potty. So I had K go on the potty and show him her pee (gross, but true). After that, he sat, went pee, and we celebrated out the wazoo! He also decided he liked gummy bears, so although we had mostly weaned her off getting candy for pottying, we started giving them both candy again. The first few days were still hard. He didn’t really want to go. But he had some FOR REAL signs that told me he needed to go pee. He would squeeze his knees together, cry, and/or go hide when he needed to go. So I watched for it, and took him to the potty. He still didn’t LIKE it, but he would go. After working at home the 2 weekend days, we took him to daycare in underwear. Our daycare provider worked on it. The first day wasn’t good, but then it improved. He still cries sometimes when going poop or going in an unfamiliar situation, but after a week of training, he’s doing great! Very few accidents from either one, and we’ve gone out to dinner, gone on longish bus rides, in the car, to the mall…
All that to say, here’s what worked for ME:
- Watch for signs of readiness. When you see them, go for it.
- If your child is physically AFRAID, it’s ok to back off.
- If you try and after 3-4 days you really feel like you’re getting no where, it’s ok to back off. You aren’t quitting! I’ve yet to see an able-bodied college student in diapers.
- Find your kid’s motivator- candy, cheers, stickers, whatever works!
- The first few days will be terrible. TERRIBLE. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to work.
- Put potties EVERYWHERE! We have a potty ring for our main toilet, for the babies room toilet, and a small potty that we can move room to room. Plus we have a foldable seat for the diaper bag. We ask if they want the little potty or the big potty.
- Watch the episode of Daniel Tiger called “Prince Wednesday Goes Potty” together and talk a (Season 2, Episode 1. Included if you have Amazon Prime on Amazon Video). The potty song they sing helped us turn the corner with Kenzie, and now with Joseph. We still sing it a lot. “If you have to go potty stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way.”
- Get potty books. We liked these two, but particularly Duck Goes Potty.
- Pay attention to your children’s cues that they need to go. The more successful they are, the easier it will be.
- Get underwear that your child will like. K has Minnie Mouse and ice cream panties. J has moons and rocket ships. Throw out any “no character clothing” rules with underwear- no one sees them anyway. 🙂
- Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work. And don’t expect one person’s method to work perfectly for your child. Adjust, roll with them, and be positive!
All in all, I’m SO glad we potty trained before 2 (Kenzie at 22 months, and Joseph at 23 months). It will make this summer 10 times easier, and although now we’re in the obsessed with the potty go all the time phase, I’m so proud of my big kids!