Since several people have requested potty training advice from me over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d just share my thoughts with you all here. Now, obviously all children are different. What works for some will not work for all. It’s trial and error.
First, let’s talk about what age you should begin potty training. We’ve all heard stories from those mothers who have had their children completely potty trained at 14 months old. My advice: don’t try it. I made this mistake with my first born, Jada. For a year and a half I struggled trying to get her to potty on her own. Finally, when she was three, she got it. Unless your child is amazingly advanced in this department, trying to force him to hurry up and learn will only set you back. If he isn’t ready, no amount of cajoling will make him ready. Seriously, what’s the rush?
When Ty came along I vowed that I would not push him like I did Jada. I realized that he would get it when he was ready. I showed him the potty, I let him see how it was used, I got him used to sitting on it and encouraged him to try to use it. But I didn’t force him to try every thirty minutes. And when he was two years old, he just got it.
My suggestion would be that you at least begin introducing the potty to your child by two years old. Most children are completely potty trained (though you can expect night accidents) at three years old, sometime before their fourth birthday. So, this at least gives you a general time line.
Start introducing them to the act of pottying by making a big deal about it when you (or anyone else in the family) goes. Let your child go with you into the bathroom so that he understands what is happening. When he hears the tinkling in the potty, tell him the words “Pee pee!”, or whatever you’re gonna call it, so that he associates the words with the action. Be enthusiastic about it, so that he knows it’s a good thing to pee-pee in the potty. If you’re working with a little boy, it’s good to let him watch his daddy do this as well, so that he understands how everything works.
Some kids prefer to go in a little miniature potty. My kids hated those. Both of mine were partial to the little potty seat with handles that fits on top of the toilet. Though, once Ty started consistently going on his own, he’d just climb up onto the regular toilet seat, and lean forward with his hands on the tank as he peed. It worked for him. I was always afraid he’d slip and end up in the water, but he never did.
With Jada, I went all out trying to bribe her with potty charts, stickers, and candy rewards. She enjoyed it, but it didn’t hasten her learning. With Titus, I didn’t do any of that. I did reward him with lots of praise, and a silly potty song and dance I’d do with him when he was done. He loved that. Most kids that age thrive on praise alone.
Putting Cheerios in the potty as floating targets can be a fun way to encourage them to “go”.
Though I’ve heard some recommend the opposite, I would say don’t allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup all day long. Having a full bladder may lead to more accidents if your child isn’t ready to potty that often yet.
What worked the best for Ty was to allow him to run in nothing but a shirt all day long for about a week. I noticed that when I put undies on him, he’d wet them as if they were a pull up. But when he was bare bottomed, he’d stop himself from wetting on the floor and run to the potty. Sure, I had to mop up two or three puddles, but it was hardly anything compared to how much he went in the potty. After he really got good at getting to the bathroom in time, I put his undies back on. When he kept those consistently dry, I put his pants on as well. This all happened over a period of a couple of weeks.
When you are in the midst of potty training, and your child is not good at going on demand, or telling you he has to go before it’s too late, DO NOT put him in big boy undies while going out on the town! It will end in disaster. You will be in the checkout line of the grocery store, with half of your cart’s contents already on the conveyor belt, when he will suddenly announce in sheer desperation, “I gotta go PEE PEE!” And you will be left facing the dilemma of either abandoning your groceries right there and running for the nearest rest room, or having your child wet all over the grocery cart seat. Not fun. Pull ups are okay for outings. Your little one won’t be confused.
When your son is able to tell you, “I need to go potty” in time for you to get him there, and hasn’t had an accident in a while, you can gather your courage and take the next step of putting him in undies out in public. Just be sure to bring a plastic bag with a change of clothes (including socks!) and clean undies for him, just in case. Don’t embarrass him if he has an accident. Just quietly change him, and do your very best not to make him feel bad.
When your child has stayed consistently dry overnight for a week, it’s time to start trying undies at bed time. Explain to your child that he is wearing big boy undies now, and to try not to get them wet. Make sure he goes to the potty right before laying down for bed, and limit drinks two hours before bedtime.
If he is wetting the bed again every night, put him back in a pull up and try again in a month or so. He’ll get it eventually. Night wetting can be the hardest part to learn to control, especially if he sleeps hard.
And the most important thing to remember… Never EVER discipline for potty training accidents. No scolding, no spanking, no rebuking or time-outs. Just quietly clean up the mess, or have him help you wipe it up, and do not make him feel bad for what happened. This isn’t an obedience issue. Now, if he purposely pees on his sister… well, that’s another matter, but I think you get the idea.
Oh yeah, one more thing. When potty training your son, please don’t make this silly mistake!
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things. Maybe you experienced Mamas can help me out! What other tips do you have to share with young moms ready to potty train?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.