Oh, potty training. The subject of many debates. When to start? How to go about it? How early is too early?
As a first time mom, I had no idea when or how. By the time Dylan was over 2.5, my mom and sisters put the pressure on me. "Why is he NOT potty trained? GET ON IT NOW~!" Dylan was very difficult. He fought me tooth and nail. He'd have accident after accident. By the time we started, he was in the full out terrible twos, and I realized I started too late. Miraculously, he was trained in about 3 weeks.
With my 2nd son, I was much wiser.
By the time Cam's 2nd birthday rolled around, I had a 3.5 yr old, was breastfeeding a newborn, packing up our house to move and potty training. We hit potty training hardcore. The only problem was that our little potty had so many pieces and parts. It was a pain to clean, and Cam just wanted to keep flushing to hear the music and see the lights. I finally got smart and ordered a Baby Bjorn potty.
This little blue potty was a life saver. No parts to take off and lose, no bells and whistles, just sit, do your business, and let's go.
My 3rd son was by far the easiest. Having 2 older brothers close in age, he wanted to be a big guy, but he also wanted to stand. Enter the Peter Potty Urinal:
3 Days flat, and Kieran was asking to go on his own, and accident free. By my 4th son, I could potty train in my sleep.
It IS very possible to potty train in 3 weeks. It takes discipline, consistency, a lot of praise, and a lot of floor cleaner.
WEEK One, naked week. Plan on devoting a whole week to nothing but a naked toddler and a plastic potty. Let your child go naked, drink tons of juice, and salty/sugary snacks. The more pee, the more practice.
Brace yourself. Today will be the hardest day. Set the potty out in the living room, and set your timer. Every 30 min, they MUST sit on the potty. While they are sitting, turn on their favorite show, let them play w/ a favorite toy or read a book to them. They must sit. Get their favorite drink IE: Chocolate milk, juice etc. and keep that sippy cup full.
Make them sit for atleast 5 min. If nothing happens, set the timer for 15 min, and try again. They are drinking copious amounts of liquid and have small bladders, trust me, they will have to go.
If they get off the potty and pee on the floor, you don't yell, but you sternly say, "No no no! We go pee pee on the potty." Get paper towels, and make them help you. This is cause and effect. Sit them back on the potty.
When they DO pee or poo, they get LOTS and LOTS of praise AND candy! I recommend mini M&Ms! Do not reward for trying. Toddlers are smart. They will continue to sit on the potty for treats and you will not get results.
Week One is the toughest. Your toddler will kick and scream, cry, and refuse to sit on the potty. Here is where tough love comes in. This is not a choice, sit, and stay. They will not be traumatized. I promise you they won't be talking to Dr. Phil in 20 years about how their mean moms forced them to use the toilet. Be consistent. This means minimal trips and errands.
Week Two. By now, your toddler should have the idea of peeing the toilet down pat. Don't worry if they haven't pooped yet. BMs usually come in week 2 or 3. Pay attention to when your toddler usually poops or their signals. The standing and staring/holding onto the coffee table grunting. One of my boys was like clock work right after lunch during naptime. I began having our book time on the potty, and sure enough, we pooped. This week, you begin to wear underwear. Go cheap. I could not stomach rinsing poopy underwear out in the sink by my 4th son. Maybe the pregnancies had weakend my stomach or my tolerance had worn thin, but I tossed poopy underwear. Don't be quick to change accidents. If my toddler had just sat down, and then peed in their underwear, I'd have them sit on the tile floor while I finished whatever I was doing. (15 min MAX!) This teaches them several things: #1. Sitting in wet undies stinks. #2. When I pee in my pants, I have to stop playing and sit. #3. It's much easier just to go in the potty.
Week Three. Leaving the house. By now, your toddler should be consistently going on the toilet while awake. Diapers are still worn during nap & night time. Also, if you're planning on taking a car trip where they could fall asleep, put them in a diaper and pull up. Be prepared for them to be scared of public restrooms. Something about the dark stalls and flushing mechanisms scare toddlers. If you can, bring a potty chair or seat. Expect accidents in new places or out in public. There are a lot of distractions. Don't scold or embarass if they have an accident. It will get better. You are ready to be firm, and start disciplining for accidents. Whichever punishment you chose, it should send a clear message. Your toddler knows what to do, and how to do it. I tend to only discipline for BMs. Pee accidents will still occasionally happen until age 5, especially when a preschooler is pre-occupied with playing, and runs to the bathroom too late. However, BMs are something they have to stop and concentrate on. I remember my 4th son would have no qualms about having a poo in his pants, and would gleefully head to the bathroom for a bath. I began making our post poo bath unpleasant. I made the water colder than lukewarm, but not freezing, and all toys were taken out. We did a quick in and out, and my son was not happy. A few of these quick "car wash" baths later, we miraculously started pooing on the potty.
Do some of these methods sound too harsh? Well, I can promise you, you can potty train with a much more lax system, however, I can also promise you it will take a LOT longer than 3 weeks. Be firm, be consistent, but committed. You cannot start, and then stop mid- pt'ing and say, "My child is not ready." You will throw away all of your hard work and face a much more oppositional child the next go around.
- Always pack 2-3 changes of extra clothes, socks, and 1 pair of extra shoes, because they will pee on them.
- Pull-Ups may or may not work for you. If your child is using them as a diaper, ditch them and go for the underwear.
- Do not ask a toddler if they need to go, make them, they will not go on their own.
- We praise for progress, and are matter of fact about accidents. We don't scold or humiliate, but we also do not excuse and coddle. "We do not pee on the floor, you need to use the potty!"