My son recently started preschool, and it was clearly established that he had to be potty trained to attend. As a good mother, I began “training” him a month before the school began. My efforts were on and off, because as some of you might know, this is an exhausting and gruelling process. Obviously, the results were not so good.
My husband was totally against it and did not lend a hand to the task. He thought my son was too young and never lost an occasion to let me know his opinion. He did not cooperate. I would bring my son to the toilet first thing in the morning, but come bath time, my husband would let him pee on the carpet (ugh, totally disgusting) and laugh with my toddler.
He never told me why he was so against early potty training, as he hates changing diapers just like any normal human being, but I guess that in a way potty training my son meant that our little boy was not so little anymore. I suppose he wanted to keep his baby forever. But guess what, no matter how much we wish this, it’s not happening. Our toddler is growing and he had to learn how to use the potty.
So, I waited and waited, putting in the efforts only when I felt like it. Preschool began, and he was still not fully potty trained. A few weeks later, after a conversation with one of the teachers at school, I decided enough was enough. It had to be done, and considering everything that was and would be happening in the next few months I figured the timing couldn’t be better.
Daddy was to be working away all weekend long, so with 4 days on end, I decided to make it happen. We began on a Friday.
The first morning went fine, he did pee on the toilet without any accidents, and finally, after 2 failed attempts, did a number 2 on the potty while we were on the phone with my parents. You could tell he needed to go but didn’t want to use the potty. At some point he looked panicked because he didn’t want to do it in his underwear. He finally caved and used the potty, and this was reason to celebrate. The afternoon, though, did not go as planned. My husband left work early to pack his suitcase, and I must admit that his presence distracted me from the task. I’d had a mental timer to remember to go potty, but then thought I had another 20 minutes or so of playtime before he needed to go. Mistake. He ended up having 4 accident in the afternoon and evening. And it was mostly my fault for not being thorough. But just before bath time he asked to go potty, for the first time! The light at the end of the tunnel, or so I thought.
Morning went surprisingly well, doing number ones and 2s like a grown up. The afternoon, though, went bad. He shitted in his underwear, and had a lot of other “accidents”. This was the first day my husband was away, and I felt completely alone and isolated in my misery. I didn’t know what to do, I was exhausted and couldn’t wait until my son went to bed to finally relax. I was a wreck. I figured I would put my son to bed before I dissolved into tears on the living room couch, but honestly, I didn’t make it this far. As if he knew about my state of mind, my son picked a very emotional book for story time. I cried and cried trying to read it. He realized I was crying and I told him I was sad because of all the accidents he had, and that I was disappointed and I hoped he could do better tomorrow. I didn’t think he’d understand, but he did, and I think he made an extra effort the next day.
So not such a successful day, and I was almost ready to throw in the towel. But this was a marathon, and as a marathoner I knew I could not give up, no matter how depressed I felt about the situation.
I bribed my son with the promise of a surprise if he didn’t have accidents until after breakfast. We had no accident, and he even asked to use the potty for a number 2. Yeah, baby! After this was done we went to Toys’R’Us to pick some new underwear for him (I had completely underestimated the number of underwear a toddler needs when he has accidents) and a surprise toy of his choosing. I also bought some bribes to make potty training easier for mommy (hey, I was still depressed about the situation). This was his first day without accident! Congrats, we made it! We picked up daddy from the airport and I was happy to tell him about all the progress we did. Hubby was surprised and I think somewhat happy to know his days of changing his son’s soiled diapers were almost over.
Day 4. Another day without accidents. Yay!! Talk about progress! Overall, it had taken 2 1/2 days to go from diapers to fully potty trained. The last 1 1/2 days were kept as a safety measure. We still have to see how it’ll go when we’re out and about doing errands, but so far I am more than happy we made it!
Here are few tips to help you if you want to potty train your kid.
- Pick at least 2-3 days where you stay home. All the time.
This was a biggie for us as we’re rarely home a full day, let alone 2 or 3. But I had to prioritize, and the moment had come, so I made a sacrifice.
- Timing is best. Make sure your child is ready.
I spoke with the teachers at school who all told me he was ready. I also knew he was ready because of my half-attempted tries. He already knew how to pee standing up, and had had a chance to familiarize himself with the small potty before (although no number 2s happened prior to the potty training weekend).
- Ensure your child understands what’s going on.
My son is 2 1/2 years old. I’m not sure potty training earlier than 2 is a good idea, because I’m not convinced that a child this young can fully understand the concept of peeing in the toilet and all the repercussions it entails.
- Use a special toy.
I won’t lie about it, my son was given daddy’s iPad to play with when on the potty. Bad parenting? Maybe. But it made him associate the potty with something fun and that’s the point of it.
- Make a party out of it.
Every time he uses the toilet, he gets applauses and a high-five. It IS a reason to be happy, and I try to make a celebration out of it (even after the tenth time…). He even got chocolate after his first number 2 (not such a good idea to bribe with food, but at the time I was short on inspiration). It takes some effort on my part, but seeing the smile on his face makes it worth it. Encouragement is what will have him want to repeat the experience.
- Time yourself.
Sometimes it’s hard for a toddler to realize he needs to pee, especially if he’s having fun. One of the hardest thing for me was always remembering to ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom. It’s simplistic, but so exhausting to keep this in mind all the time. Using a timer can help you remember. I tried to ask him about it every hour or so. If he said no I’d ask him again 15 minutes later, but by 1h30 since the last time I’d have him go anyway. More often than not he’d have a good amount of pee, indicating that he probably had needed to go. By the end of the second day, he could let me know if he had to go, but I still tried to ask him myself in case he got distracted.
- Rewards, rewards, bribes.
I don’t know if that’s bad parenting, but I bribed my son into using the potty. The first 2 days were all about learning how to go and use the potty, but after that it was probably the bribes and privileges that made it. Picking his own underwear in the morning, choosing which new ones he wanted to buy in the store, letting him pick a surprise to take home as a reward for learning how to use the potty. All that worked and rewarded his good behaviour. I also had an ace in my game. I bought a Lego Advent Calendar. No, it wasn’t for Christmas. I told him that every day without accident he gets to open a surprise. This helped seal the deal. He really really wants to open the Santa Claus Lego figure (which I suppose is hidden in the 24th day box), so this gives him an incentive to continue his good toilet habit. My hope is that by the time the 24th accident-free day comes up, it’ll be natural for him to use the potty. Then he’ll maybe get a final surprise and that’ll be it.