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It’s Potty Time: Our Path To Success

by Dawn on January 9, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Potty time

dsc08445.JPG For her second birthday, my daughter Lucy received a video: Bear In the Big Blue House, and it was all about potty training.  Over & over we’d watch it, and I had all the suggestions and songs memorized.  11 months ago, that marked the start of potty training in our house.  Looking back, I can see that while it may have taught Lucy a thing or two, it was probably a little soon.  She saw the video as entertainment and showed no signs of being ready for a potty.

Every now & then over the past year, she’d sit on her little potty, but only sporadically would she go.  There were times I thought she was ready, only to find out it was a little phase of interest.  She was still filling up diapers on a regular basis and never talked about the potty.  We incorporated all kinds of incentives, like stickers and candy.  Still, she would never initiate the process.  It took all kinds of urging.

To my relief, about a month ago, Lucy started telling us that she wanted to go.  This was a huge turning point.  At Christmas, when my mom was visiting, I said, “Oh, it’s going to be so much work.”  I was referring to the dozens of times we’d be in the bathroom each day, going through the whole routine, washing our hands.  My mom said, “It’ll be hard at first.  Then it’ll start to get easier.”  Between Christmas and New Year’s, I had a whole week at home with Lucy, so I knew it was time to get it done.  No more excuses. 

Here’s what I did/do.  I went by gut instinct and read no books or blogs on this matter (I’m lazy that way.):

  • I removed all of Lucy’s diapers.  I figured, if they’re not there, we won’t use them.  Time for underwear all the time at home.  Pull-ups for naptime, bedtime, and for away trips.
  • I remind Lucy to use the potty about every 15-30 minutes.  Some people set timers for this.  I tried that, but it wasn’t necessary.  I’m a good nag.  If she hesitates, I’ll remind her of a sticker or candy (or both) as a reward.  Sometimes that works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes she is willing to go.  Sometimes she isn’t.  The more I nag, the less interested she becomes.  So I try to remind her in moderation.
  • I repeat the same phrases so they became a part of her vocabulary.  “I have to go potty.”  “Keeping my undies dry – that is the goal.”  “Now is a time to hold it.” “Only babies go pee-pee in the car.” “I’m so proud!”  “I did it!”  I sing songs about these things before, during, and after.  She sings them too.
  • One time, I knew she had to go, but I didn’t say anything.  I just shut up and watched her.  About a minute later, she got up by herself, didn’t say anything, and went to the bathroom.  Once, she left the room to take care of her business in the middle of watching a video, which was shocking to me.  Success!!
  • I use anything as an incentive now.  If she brings me a book to read, I’ll say, “I’ll read this to you right after you use the potty.”  If she asks for a cup of milk, I’ll say, “Go on the potty and you can have some milk right after.”  Done.  She’s peeing.
  • I remind her to brag about her accomplishments to everyone who’ll listen: Daddy, her pre-school teacher, her friends, my friends, etc.  This garners so much praise for her that she stays motivated.  A couple of days ago, for example, she went 3 times at her friend’s house during playgroup, twice self-initiated.
  • I emphasize how much better underwear feels than a diaper.

The challenge for us now is transitioning to full-time potty usage at other places.  We’ve got it down at home pretty great – what about car trips, visits to church or friends’ homes, and pre-school? (Not to mention overnight!)  I’ll be trial-and-erroring it in all those situations.  Little by little, she’s making up her mind that underwear is better than diapers/pull-ups.  I can see that we’re almost there – and I’ll be so relieved when it’s behind us.

I’ll close with a song from the aforementioned video:

I realize that there is a lot of information available about potty-training, and I just wanted to share a bit of our story today.  What are your potty-training success stories?  Is this the worst part of raising toddlers (it ranks down there for me, because of the energy it requires)?  Any tips or suggestions for the transition to staying dry everywhere? 

3 Responses to It’s Potty Time: Our Path To Success

  • Comment by Amanda
    January 10, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    Thank you Dawn for sharing your experience! I know I really learn a lot from others. I have no idea when I am going to start potty training Annabelle. She is 20 months and I am just now trying to teach her what poo-poo and pee-pee are. I also let her in the bathroom when I go and explain that my pee is going down the potty. All while trying to keep her hands off the toilet seat after I am up!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Amy
    January 15, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

    Our son showed interest at two years old. We spent one month trying incentives, Pull-Ups, and patience (lots of the things you mentioned). But it wasn’t going well.
    Our ah-ha moment?
    We soon found that the Pull-Ups really weren’t that different than the diapers, so it was no big deal to go in them. So we moved on to underwear and had him potty-trained in just a few days!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Sara
    January 15, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

    I am a little scared to actually write this as it may jinx me…..But we just potty trained my 2 year old. He is 2 years and 2 months. I have two older boys and he has been the fastest and eaisest by far. I wasn’t really planning on trying with him for a while but one day he brought me the wipes and diaper and said “Mommy change me”. That’s when I knew he was ready. I ALWAYS do potty training with underwear. We only use pull ups for night time or going out of the house. It took him 1 day!! He had two accidents and freaked out. He did not like having his underwear wet at all.

    I am still amazed at how easy it has been. I think in part because he has two older brothers. But each child is different. My middle son was not ready when I first tried with him and had to wait about 4 months later till he showed signs. What I have learned is: Wait till your child shows signs. It will make it so much eaiser on you and them. If your child is ready it should only take a week or so. If they are not ready both you and them will be in tears.

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