Thankful Day 15: The Dreaded Potty Training

Every time I mention potty training, someone comments that they’d like to hear more about what we’re doing. I know bloggers say things like that all the time – “I’m writing this post about my trash cans because I got sooooooo many emails about them!” – but honestly, I never get email. Never. So the fact that even ONE person was interested in potty training advice was a surprise and also gives me a great excuse to write about the how potty training is going.

Short version: Great! Almost! I am being LAID BACK.

Long version: I do not have any idea what I am doing. Like my friend Alena keeps saying, I am not qualified for this. It is partly my fault, since besides reading the potty training blog posts as they pop up in my reader and watching Little Evan’s 2 best friends train themselves almost a full year ago (damn overachievers) I haven’t made much of an effort to learn anything about it. I was a) scared b) really scared and c) so scared I practically forgot my own potty training. If you are just starting or thinking about starting, you are probably scared too.

But I am here to tell you it might not be that bad! Really! I have had to clean up poop zero times! (E has had to clean up poop once, but we’ll get to that.) The laid-back approach means there have been zero tears or shouting over potty times. Here is the outline for my non-method method.

1. We waited until he showed interest to start training. And when I say “showed interest” I mean he was telling me before he had to use the potty, even though he was still wearing diapers.  He could already feel the need and was able to hold it. He has the vocabulary to tell me, loudly, that he needs the toilet so I never miss a sign. I like easing into things rather than all-or-nothing (because I am laid back), so starting slow worked well.

2. He watched other people using the potty. Because the two friends he sees the most ARE potty trained, he’s been going into the bathroom when they go for months. I know that sounds weird, but he was already familiar with how the potty worked before he started using it regularly because other moms let him tag along and I think it really helped.

3. One word: bribery. I have bribed him with the following things: lollipops, m&m’s, candy corn, cookies, tv, hugs, lemonade and hand washing. I don’t offer him something unless I have to or he specifically asks, so I’d say he only gets a treat one out of every three times (obviously he still gets hugs and hand washing, but if offering them as a reward works then I’ll keep doing it).

4. As long as he doesn’t go in his pants, anywhere else is OK. The training potty? Sure! The big potty! Awesome! Pee in the bushes? Fine. Standing up? Whatever. The nice part of being so laid back is he has no trouble going in public, so venturing out without diapers wasn’t too terrifying. The only down side is needing to clean my bathroom extremely thoroughly every day he decids to pee standing up. We’re still working on aim.

5. We aren’t pushing night-time training yet. He’s about 50/50 on staying dry during naps, but he is a very sound sleeper and I know I’d end up changing sheets every single morning. I have heard that boys can be potty trained for years before they are night-time trained so I’m not concerned. There’s an entire KIND of diapers meant for night-time accidents so we are obviously not the only ones.

6. Cool underwear. Diego, Yo Gabba Gabba and Thomas are all options on any given day and if he wants to change them for no reason? FINE. I bought plenty.

It’s been nine days since we first took Little Evan out of the house without a diaper and as of right now, he’s in underwear any time he’s awake. He’s had zero out-in-public accidents and zero accidents when he’s with me.

The reason I’ve expressed frustration with the process in the past is because we had several false starts – I thought we were SO CLOSE but he’d get mad and ask to go back to diapers. He was either holding it allllllll day and having an accident right before nap/bed time or refusing to go for so long it was giving him a stomach ache and then pooping in his sleep. Our other set back is with E coming and going every week Little Evan is having a hard time adjusting and it results in accidents. He isn’t comfortable telling E when he has to potty and E doesn’t remember to ask constantly (something I don’t have to do). I feel bad for both of them. But I am LAID BACK so I’m sure it will get better.

Whew. There you go. 1000 words about potty training you never wanted to read. Basically, my advice to anyone starting or thinking about starting would be to figure out what works for your kid. Don’t think you have to pick a method. Don’t convince yourself there is a “wrong” way. Some kids need structure and absolutes, some kids don’t, so don’t be afraid to try something different if what you’re doing isn’t working. Remain laid back.

Today, I am thankful I haven’t had to scrub poop out of the carpet. I am thankful for every diaper I DON’T have to change. I am thankful he won’t be going to kindergarten in training pants. I am thankful that I am no longer scared of potty training. I am thankful for wine, which helps me to be so laid back.

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26 Responses to “Thankful Day 15: The Dreaded Potty Training”

  1. raincheckmom says:

    I am thankful he’ll be trained when you come visit and when we babysit in the spring!

  2. Robyn says:

    No one has emailed me to request potty training advice, but that’s not surprising, since i don’t have a blog. But i wanted to add something anyways. my daughter trained at 22 mos (not at night though), and i really really think it happened so quickly and so easily because we had been talking about it since she was 1. we had potties out in the house, we read books about pottying, and she watched us go whenever we went. we talked about it a lot, not obsessively, but just like it was no big deal and a part of everyday life. i’d point out to her when the dog went potty outside, too. i really think to her it was just a part of life and not something to get all worked up about. we were really laid back about it too, and that helped. we never forced her to sit on the potty or even “try”. if she said no, then she didn’t have to go. we also didn’t use rewards, but i know that works well for some people. we did a lot of naked time too, which helped her understand what was going on at a very young age. we just did an hour or so at a time, when one of us could be right by her if she started to go and put her on the potty.

    Glad it went well for you guys Suzanne!

    • bebehblog says:

      I am too much of a chicken for naked time, and the only time we tried to read a potty book (on my iPad) he closed it and requested Angry Birds instead. Since we waited so long after he was able to hold it/tell us, there were never any of those rush-to-the-potty situations. Because like I said, I am CHICKEN and I hate hate hate cleaning up pee (and other things).

      • Robyn says:

        My carpets are gross anyways, so no big loss if there’s a little pee added to mess, and the other stuff was never an issue…she seemed to be more aware of that really quickly and would tell me.

        i actually thought the process was of potty training was fun…which means number 2 will be awful, lol.

    • Amanda says:

      I’m so glad to hear that worked well for you. I bought a potty for my 11-month old daughter, and started putting her on it whenever I change her diaper. To my complete amazement, she pees every single time (and even pooped once). I have no illusions about her being trained any time soon, but I’m just hoping that by her being completely used to it, we won’t run into any issues with her being scared about it when it comes time.

  3. Virginia Maul (Ginny Peabody) says:

    Thank you for this! We’ve tried to start potty training too…Ginny Beth is now 26 months old, and we know she can do it. She’s gone whole days. She has a dry diaper when she wakes up in the morning almost every night. She is just choosing not to use the potty. We talk about using the potty, and she says, “No thank you. I don’t want to use the potty. I want have diapers.” Come on girl! If you can clearly say those 3 sentences without any help, YOU CAN USE THE TOILET!

    Her little brother was born two months before her second birthday, and I think she likes the few minutes of extra attention she gets when we’re changing her diaper. Or maybe she’s just smart enough that she’s being lazy on purpose. Whatever her reason, its frustrating, especially when every other facet of her development has been super advanced. I feel like she should have been potty trained MONTHS ago!

    Since I work full time, and she is passed between my mom and my mother in law for care during the day, and I feel bad leaving the whole potty training thing up to them and haven’t tried to force it. I think we might just “disappear” the diapers the day after Christmas, when my husband and I will both be home for the whole week, and see how it goes.

    Has you known anyone who just took away diapers and not gave them back? How did it go?

    • Virginia Maul (Ginny Peabody) says:

      Please excuse my grammar- I typed that quickly and didn’t proof read. LOL.

      • bebehblog says:

        Yes! My friend Emily had a lot of success with the 3-day method (her post about it is here – please enjoy her ADORABLE daughter Poppy while you’re at it http://poppymilkface.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/our-weeksurprise-pottytraining-extravaganza/)

        I think in truth Evan would have been able to handle the switch months ago if I had just used up all the diapers and not bought more (which I said I was going to do but never did) but the thought was stressing ME out so much I gave it up.

        A MAJOR reason this is working for us RIGHT NOW as opposed to just a few weeks ago is Caroline has reached a level of independence that allows me to run to Little Evan’s aid if he needs to potty. She can walk steadily, she doesn’t nurse as much as she used to, and she can be left behind the baby gate when I take Evan to the bathroom.

    • Robyn says:

      we didn’t take the diapers away, but we pretty much just jumped into time with no diapers. we went back and forth for a while, but she would always pee in her diaper if she had one on, but hold it if she didn’t. she seems to understand it was ok to pee in her diaper.

      i do know of people who just got rid of diapers one day and spent 3 days at home doing naked time. they swear by this method. both of the people i’m thinking of did traditional training with their older kids, but said the 3 days went much better. Maybe if you have some extra time off around the holidays you can do this, or at least start yourself on a weekend and then let the Grandmas finish. i hear the first few days are the hardest.

      • merin says:

        This was the same with us-Cora would pee in a diaper if she had one on, or say “go pee” if she didn’t and make it to the toilet (or behind a tree, on the grass, etc). So we just stopped wearing them around the house earlier in the summer and did a lot of naked time too. Poop has been more of a challenge. She has pooped in the toilet, but usually asked for a diaper (and “privacy” and says “bye bye mommy, bye bye” over and over again while hiding in some corner, which is pretty funny!). I’m also trying to be laid back because I still think she’s pretty young (2 1/2) to get it all together. She is waking up most mornings dry but I am so not willing to give up that night time diaper, especially with new baby coming soon.

  4. TMae says:

    YOU READ MY MIND! Seriously. 2 of kidlet’s friends are out of diapers – one his age, one younger than him, and as much as parenting is not a competition, I feel like I should be doing more to make this happen. I actually thought, a few months ago, that he was getting ready because he would tell us when he had pooped, but that ship has sailed. In fact, that ship is so far out of the harbor, it’s not even on the skyline anymore. Now when he DOES have poop, he vociferously denies it in an attempt to avoid a diaper change. Oy.

    If I put him on the potty, he will pee. Almost every single time. But I’m really stressed about the pooping. Because he doesn’t poop regularly, I don’t see how I could ‘catch’ it, and his poops are NOT the nice plop-in-the-toilet kind, so the idea of cleaning him up if he’s in underwear does not appeal to me AT ALL. I do think if we just do it, he’ll catch on. But I gotta do it.

    Okay, so, more my issue than his. Check.

    • bebehblog says:

      Evan went through the EXACT same stages, including the denial while he was obviously pooping. I would recommend just waiting a little longer, unless you REALLY want him potty trained right now. The stressing out about it was so much worse than doing it, once we started. But easing into it – and backing out if it wasn’t working – has calmed me down immensely.

  5. molly says:

    It wasn’t an overnight thing for us. It was a process. When I look back I remember getting really upset when he went on the floor but now I know he did great! Even without me reading tons of books on how to get it done. It just happened overtime. Now he goes pee on his own w/o any help! He’s like a person!

    But he’s not nighttime trained. No, sir. Not even trying it.

    • bebehblog says:

      Without any help?! That’s amazing! I know that will happen SOME DAY but with our baby gate situation (and a baby who NEEDS to be gated) I think it will be a long time before it happens here.

  6. Veronica says:

    Oh good im glad youre doing this come by and handle mine when youre finished. I am dreading this. I have been telling him he can have every thomas toy in the world if he will poop and pee in the potty. its not working and thats about all im willing to do right now. maybe if i offer him another ipad or something.

    oh and the email – i get a few but ya who are these bitches with all the fan mail lol

    • bebehblog says:

      I let him bring the iPad into the bathroom and play while he sits on the potty sometimes. I figure if it’s good enough for my husband it’s good enough for the toddler.

  7. Amy says:

    Wow, sounds like it’s going pretty well! I hope the rest of the process goes well also.

    Mia is 1 month younger than Little E and is not even close to being ready. We talk about using the potty and she always says “sometime”. Oh well, I am LAID BACK as well and not really in any hurry. :)

    • bebehblog says:

      A friend of mine never even potty trained her daughter. They talked about it but she always requested diapers and said she’s wear underwear when she was a big girl. On her 3rd birthday they threw out all the diapers and said “You’re a big girl now!” BAM! Potty trained.

  8. the grumbles says:

    We are ALLLLLMOST there. Not quite. If he asks/remembers he’ll go on the potty, otherwise I don’t worry about it. He can’t quite identify the “urge” yet. I’m totally with you on the no-pressure method. I bet if we crazy buckled down we could force him to do it, he’s close, but I really don’t see all the rush and I think it might backfire and make it a huge ordeal. Plus, potty training and traveling for the holidays? No. I will be waiting until after December.

  9. Denae says:

    I love the laid back approach. I think reading about other anxious ppl made me anxious. Now: feeling much more relaxed.

  10. Holly says:

    I am so glad that you wrote this. Follow my train of thought: the other day i thought I really should get back to blogging and I figured I’d first start reading some of the blogs I used to. Then you posted this link on FB and I was all HELLLLOOOOOO potty training.

    We are just starting to try. Ivy has both successfully peed and pooped on her potty but we are not yet at the telling me when she has to go stage. Complicating all of this is the fact that Ivy is only just starting to walk but not yet at the stage of walking herself to the bathroom, not to mention her father and his ‘I’m gonna decide in the 2 days I have her what you should do those other 5 days’ not very co-parenting attitude. But laid back for the win. If I ask her and she says she doesn’t want to sit on the potty I’m not trying.

  11. Leah says:

    Just be wary of the peeing outdoors thing. It’s all well and good until he drops trou in the middle of a backyard BBQ and pees on your friend’s swing set.

    Hell, Calder has been “potty trained” for almost 1.5 years now and hes still not 100%, or even 70%, good at night. I wouldn’t mind so much but I am getting really jealous of how often he gets clean sheets on his bed.

  12. Kimberly says:

    I think I’m in denial that JD is ready because I’m scared about the whole going out in public thing. We have the underwear- I’ve just never even tried it on him. I think I’m going to pick a day after Thanksgiving & just bite the bullet. I CAN’T WAIT to cut my diaper bill in half!

  13. We aren’t having any problems with Adriana showing an interest in the potty – she has regularly requested to sit on it since she was 15 months old. The problem is that once she’s on there she tends to freak out and not want to stay long, and I don’t want to make it an issue, so I let her hop off as soon as she doesn’t want to be there. She gets a Dora pull-up if she tries, and a diaper if she doesn’t feel like trying that day. That is as far as we’ve gotten.

    I just need to understand what has to happen to get her to actually GO, just once? Luck? I feel like if she tries it she won’t be scared and it will stop being a big deal.

  14. Dinah Vogel says:

    Try TidyTots Disposable Potty Chair Liners they take really take the mess and yuk out of potty training. They save clean up time and water as well.

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