Monday, January 18, 2010

Potty-Training 102

There are countless articles out there on how to potty-train your child. Pretty much every parenting magazine you pick up will have one.

They will say something like, “Determine readiness, buy a potty, buy a doll that wets, buy your child underwear, let your child teach the doll to use the potty, cheer wildly when the doll uses the potty, give your child a lot of liquids to drink, encourage them to use the potty, when they do give them a “potty party”.

And that is where nearly every article I've seen leaves you. Assuming you have achieved the chain of events described and your child has actually used the potty, you are still
far from having a potty-trained child.

And so I wonder where is the next course, Potty-Training 102?

I cannot even begin to describe the amount of material that could be covered in such a class! There is so much craziness that goes on between a child's first use of the potty and being deemed "potty-trained"!

I love the preschool form you have to fill out at the beginning of the year with the question, “Is your child potty-trained?” and there is a check box for “yes” or “no”. Preschool administrators ought to know better, we don't need a check box. Moms need an entire paragraph to be able to answer the question of if their preschool child is potty-trained.

There are all sorts of variations I've seen in my own kids, friends' kids, and the kids I've taught in preschool at church.

“He'll go pee in the potty, but not poop.” “She still wears a pull-up but will occasionally use the potty.” “You have to bribe him to sit on the potty, but once there he may go.” “She is potty-trained, but needs reminders to go.” “He's potty-trained during the day, but still wears a pull-up at night.” or “You must sing a song, while running the sink faucet, and bribing him with matchbox cars before he'll go.”

From my experience potty-training 2 children and in process with the 3rd, Potty Training 102 has 3 phases (all involving M&M rewards):
  • 1st phase - Get child very used to going in the potty by having them spend a lot of time there; read books while they sit on the potty, sing songs, even let them watch a TV show while sitting on the potty. With all the time on the potty (and increased fluid intake helps, too) they will become more relaxed about using the potty.
  • 2nd phase - You take the child to the potty at fairly regular intervals, like every 30 min. or every hour. They don't sit there very long, but just try. Accidents become less frequent during this phase.
  • 3rd phase - You stop reminding your child about the potty and he begins telling you he has to go.
During the transition from stage 2 to stage 3 the accidents actually increase. I know very personally, because that is where my toddler is in the potty-training right now.

When you stop reminding them about the potty even though you know they need to go, it is hard, you are letting your child fail, but they have to learn just how long they can hold it before they need to get to the potty. They need to learn to initiate getting to the potty by themselves.

I'll never forget the hilarious email my 1st son's 3 year old preschool teacher sent out to all the parents after some of the parents complained that their kids were having accidents at school when they rarely did at home.

She said, "If you are regularly taking your child to the potty or reminding them to go, you are the one who is trained, not them."

I am grateful my little guy is actually telling me when he has to go now and that we may actually enjoy some diaper-free days (he'll still wear a diaper at night for a while) here around the Chaos House before child #4 gets here, anyway!

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Find more Gratituesday and Tackle it Tuesday.


  1. Yep-I so agree!!! It is so different for every child!

    I have one 8 YO who still has accidents & my 3 YO has had ONE in the last year.

  2. Thank you for the humor of the preschool potty trained questionnaire. I have not signed my 3 year old up for preschool for various reasons, but one being I don't think she is truly potty trained. I was wondering why everyone else's three year old was!

  3. I'm still waiting for my 3yr old to let me know that he knows when it's time to go potty. It was easy training my #1 but training #2 is seems more difficult this time round. I hope to get him trained before #3 arrives.

  4. My youngest is showing signs of being ready. I'm not sure I have enough energy:)

  5. Ha! We are in the middle of potty training and I said I think I saw something about potty training on her blog a while ago. My 18 yo grabs the laptop and what's the first thing we see here??? Ask and ye shall receive!

    Even after training 6 others of my own and several other people's kids as well, I can still say emphatically, "There is no formula to the potty training deal." And your teacher was right, in the beginning it is more about training the parent then training the child.


  6. yes in the beginning we may train our selves but it often leads to training them

  7. I actually miss the diaper days and all that comes along with potty training. My children are 15, 12, 10.

    Great post! Have a gread day!

  8. We're in the midst of stage one and I've been wondering how she is supposed to suddenly get from where she is to using the potty...thanks for the Potty 102 guide!

  9. Oh I love your comment on tick the box - Can any mother tick a box about anything about our children... We are walking encyclopedia's on our kids - Tick the box, I ask you!!!! Great 30 minute post!!!

  10. My 3yo just now finally got out of diapers and has even been doing well at night. I do agree with you, it was a process and no books could make it happen. He was trained when he decided and he started telling me constantly instead of me telling him. He first time on the potty was over a year ago and it took quite some time after that. Great tackle post!

  11. This was a fun read for me, as my toddler is now interested in hanging out on the potty in the mornings. She praises herself every time a little tinkle comes out. The bathroom has become our new "hot spot", but I think we're pretty far from that next phase.


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