Let’s face it. Potty training is the pits. Everywhere you turn, you are bombarded with commercials that make you feel like you are some kind of potty moron if you don’t have your toddlers potty trained by the time they can wobble over to the toilet and flush their Polly Pockets down. Not to mention your iPhone, the keys to your jewelry box and all the family toothbrushes. So in case you are spending half your precious ‘me-time’ worrying about how to get your 18-month-old to train overnight, let me share with you some of the best kept potty training secrets.
Potty time is not play time
If your potty seat has a disco ball and more games than my iPhone, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Don’t buy a potty seat that looks more like an exersaucer than a toilet. We’re trying to get them to take a poop, not have a play date.
Rather than turning your bathroom into a playground, one thing you can do to encourage your exploring toddler’s interest in the potty is to let them watch you (or whichever parent is the same sex as the child) use the restroom. Children, especially young children, learn best by imitation and they are very motivated to try things they see grownups doing.
DITCH THE Potty readiness checklists
Potty readiness checklists will lead you to believe that if your child is walking, talking and mentions the potty even once, you should put them on an immediate regimen of hourly potty appointments. Just because your baby can stand up and say “tee-tee” does not mean he is interested in doing it in or anywhere near the potty. Take it from me and my soiled carpet.
Disposable training pants are a conspiracy
Don’t believe me? Think about it. Do you know anyone whose child actually trained in disposables? I don’t think so. Wanna know why? Because they are diapers in disguise. Kids love to pee and poop in them just as much as they did when they were wearing regular diapers. The only benefit is that you don’t throw out your back by attempting to pull your baby’s diaper up and down 582 times a day.
If you want your child to feel motivated to use the potty, they need to feel the discomfort when they go. This is why it is much easier to train children who are wearing cloth diapers or regular clothes. Which brings us to the next secret…
Buy some underwear and prepare for Potty Armageddon
The best way to potty train is to wait until your child is actually interested (read: asks to use the potty), buy some toddler underwear and prepare for the onslaught of accidents. Sure, it’s going to be a messy week, but it totally beats spending an entire year cajoling your Pull-Up-wearing poop machine to make friends with the potty.
If by the end of the week your toddler has not made any progress and no longer shows interest in the potty, take a training break. It may be too soon. On the other hand, if they are improving and having less accidents each day, hang in there. It took my three-year-old two whole weeks of poop accidents before he finally agreed to poop on the potty. After he did it the first time, he never went back again.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Make sure you don’t scold your toddler or make him feel bad when he has accidents. Remember, for the last three years, you encouraged him to go in his diaper. Now, all of a sudden, you want him to do something totally new. Be kind, be understanding and be supportive. Potty training takes a lot of patience, just like everything else in parenting.
There are no secrets
The last and most important potty training secret is that there are no secrets. Each child is different and what works for my kids may totally go belly-up for yours. So, follow your instincts, keep a sense of humor and may the force be with you in all of your potty adventures.
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