Potty Training — What Worked For Me

When asked about potty training, I feel I should groan, sigh, and say, “Aww, potty-training,” as I have heard many do; but my experience so far does not warrant such a reaction. I realized when I started the process that, as with much of parenting choices, the method to use depends on the child/parent and what works for them. My plan was devised by taking snippets of the advice I’d been given, considering that whatever method we chose would have to work at daycare too, and putting it all together. Daycare had already begun to take my son (at two years old) to the bathroom every two hours to “try,” so, I took that idea and an observation that, in a friend’s experience, Pull-ups only delay the process, and formulated my plan. I waited until Thanksgiving break, stocked up on “big boy underwear” for daytime and Pull-ups for night, and bought some mini-M&Ms. I chose a stool and a toilet-seat insert instead of a potty chair because my son was tall for his age and this was actually easier for him (and less mess for me). We started sitting on the toilet right after waking up and then setting a timer for one hour later to try again. Each time he would go potty, he got two mini-M&Ms and the timer was set for one hour. If he did not go, he got a “good try” and the timer was set for 20 minutes. After the third time the timer went off, he had the routine down and even stopped in the middle of playing with Grandma to announce, “Oop, time for me to go potty.”

I was warned that often children catch on to peeing fairly quickly but take longer to learn to go “stinky” and, as such, I may want to rethink the straight-to-underwear plan. However, this was not the case for my son. I can still clearly see the two times that he went “stinky” in his underwear. In both cases, it was clear from the bulging underwear what had happened and, in both cases, he was immediately appalled. I know that this is one argument for Pull-ups – so that accidents are not upsetting to the child – and I can see the validity of that argument if a child continues to have accidents regularly. But for my son, it was exactly the getting upset over accidents that worked for him – he never had a third one. By the time he went to daycare five days after we had started, he was going “stinky” in the toilet every time, and by the end of week one, the timer was gone. Over the course of the first month, the wet accidents got fewer and fewer and by the time the third month past, they were all but non-existent. Seriously, quite easy. Of course, there was some patience required and I at first worried that giving M&Ms would turn into an expectation I would have to fight to break, but the concern was  invalid and after the first couple weeks, my son forgot about the M&Ms completely. We continued to use Pull-ups at night for about six months (until he consistently woke up dry), but I could not have been happier with how this process went for us. In fact, the only thing that didn’t work out was that the word “potty” – a word my husband and I abhorred and insisted we would never use – permanently made its way into my vocabulary and even that of my husbands (I still secretly smirk when one of us says “Do you need to go potty?” because we were once so adamant about never using that word).

I do admit that we probably got lucky in potty-training being so smooth a process, but I certainly won’t complain about that. Now, I’m potty-training number 2. She is a little peanut, so the toilet seat insert won’t work for her and I invested in a potty chair instead. Also, she could care less about the timer at the moment, but she is “trying” at daycare and occasionally at home, so soon I need to start encouraging her a little more – this time I might have that sighing and groaning experience others have had, but, of course, I’m hoping I do not.

About the Blogger: 

Hi! I’m Shawna. I am a married, working mom of two — one boy, one girl, who I love more than I could have every imagined. Parenting has not always been easy for me and my children throw plenty of unexpected surprises, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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