On June 22 (2 weeks ago), I decided it was time to potty train almost 3 year-old Ali. I had actually thought about doing it way earlier, like in winter, but decided summer was a better time with dresses and shorts and she could comfortable run around in underwear if necessary. I was trying to cut down on all the laundry I would have to do when she would frequently wet herself. Turns out, I need not have worried. That little lady was a big girl in hiding! On day one, she wet herself once, day two she wet herself once. I think she has been dry every day since! By day three, I was no longer using a timer and she was coming in from playing outside on her own to use the bathroom. Unbelievable! None of my other kids were that easy to train! Not only has she been dry during the day, she is waking up dry at night. Not once, ever, did she wake up with a dry diaper previous to this. Now she is dry at night! However, her being dry at night is causing a lot of tears on the part of big sister RJ because she is still not consistently dry at night. Actually, before training Ali, RJ was always wet at night. Now she will be dry for a couple of nights, then wet a couple, etc. I am really hoping that when we go to Minneapolis in about 2 weeks, I will only have to bring diapers along for baby girl Ari.
So, what is our technique for potty training success? Well, I have used the same method for all the kids and this is what works for me.
- First, you put out the potty a long while before you are planning to train. Get them used to it. Let them sit on it whenever they want. If they pee in it, great! If not, no big deal. You are just getting them used to it and letting them explore it. Our potty has sat out for a long while already and she would come and pee on it every once in a while. We weren't pushing anything.
- Pick a day when you are going to start the training and tell the little trainee all about it. Let him/her know what day it will be and make a big deal of it. Choose a day when you will be home all day. Ideally, choose a weekend when you will be home all weekend. Training a child to use a washroom while you are busy running around from here to there is asking for trouble! I usually wait until the child is at least 2 years old (obviously with Ali I waited longer than that - I didn't feel like training her when she turned 2) because success requires a little less work.
- Gather your supplies. You will need training underwear (it is thicker and contains pees a little better than normal underwear), a timer, a potty chart, lots of fun stickers, a basket of books and some Smarties.
On the morning of the first day of training, put underwear on the child, take them to the potty and let them sit for no more than 5 minutes. You don't want them to hate the potty by banishing them to it all day! Read a book to them from the book basket. If they are successful in peeing, whoop and holler, clap your hands and make a big production about how great it is they peed in the potty! Allow them to choose a sticker to put on the chart. Set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer beeps, repeat the process. If they do a larger job in the potty, whoop and holler, make a big celebration, give them a sticker and 3 Smarties. Set the timer and repeat the process.
Now, about the timer. Some children have larger bladders and pee less frequently. You know your child - adjust the timer accordingly. Some of my kids went pee every 15 minutes when they were training. Ali could go at least an hour, if not more.
If the child wets themselves, don't punish them. Don't get mad at them. Just clean it up. They feel bad already - don't make them feel worse. Most certainly don't call them a bad child for wetting themselves. They are just learning and their self-worth should not be tied to whether or not they can pee on the toilet (this is speaking from experience!). Remember, some days will be better, some will be worse. If you wait until the child is a little older, like I did with Ali (she will be 3 in August), the training will be that much easier. So, you can either fight the battle when they are younger or wait a bit longer and see how much easier it is. Your choice!
Some people give their trainees a lot to drink to encourage the peeing - never worked for me. Some people give the trainee special underwear, like Buzz Lightyear or Princess, as incentive for staying dry. Never worked for me. Some people use pull-ups during the day instead of underwear so there is less to clean up in the case of an accident. Just so you know, kids are smart. They see it is a glorified diaper and peeing in it makes no difference to them. Skip the pull-ups and use the underwear. It works better (in my opinion). Actually, the same is true at night. My oldest son, when he was training, kept calling the pull-up a diaper. We decided to go straight to underwear at night (which meant washing wet sheets) and after 2 wet nights, he stayed dry. I guess I should try the same thing with RJ!! Some people make the child use a potty seat on the toilet instead of a potty on the floor - your choice but my kids couldn't get down from the seat afterwards. So, for us it is a potty on the floor.
Now you know how I have successfully trained 4 of my kids (yikes, that means only one left in diapers! Yippee! Though that makes me a little sad because I do so love those itty bitty babies!). Best of luck to you! And remember this, they will eventually learn how to use a toilet - all successful business men and women, all mothers and fathers, know how to use the bathroom. And your little one will learn,too!