Potty training. DUN DUN DUN.
No really, potty training can be like a horror film sometimes. You never know what you’re going to step in next.
This process can drag on for forever and a day. But that’s why I’m writing this.
My son was completely potty trained before he was 3 years old — and it only took me 1 week.
Yes, you read that right — 1 week. It wasn’t easy. I got frustrated, I cried, he cried, I stepped in…everything. But I toughed it out.
I’m going to tell you the steps I took to get my son 100% potty trained, but before you continue, I want to add — all kids are different, and what worked for my son may not work for your child at all. But don’t give up hope mama, you’ll get there.
Step 1- INCLUDE THE CHILD
This may sound irrelevant when it comes to potty training, but trust me.
Talk to your child EVERY day for a week before you start potty training. Talk to them about the changes that will be happening. Make it sound fun and interesting.
Allow them to make some choices of their own — like taking them to the store and letting them pick out the undies/panties they want to buy. Maddix was super excited being given so much freedom on this step.
Step 2- Find the right potty.
There are so many different potty options — tiny training toilets in all different styles.
They have the ring insert that sits on the big potty so their butt fits on the seat.
They have the insert with stairs connected.
We went through all of these options before finding what worked for Maddix.
He absolutely hated his training toilet. He would sit on it for 2 seconds before he went into a full-blown fit. This caused us to put potty training on hold until we found what worked best for our son.
Once we invested in the ring insert, potty training was a whole different story. My personal favorite option is the ring with the attached stairs. It allows for more independence.
Step 3- Throw out the diapers.
Don’t actually go and throw all of those expensive diapers away, but throw the word “diaper” away.
The day we decided to start potty training, we woke Maddix up and happily told him “no more diapers today!” He clapped and repeated it back to us. We had him pick his undies out for the day…and we were off!
From that day on, we called diapers “night-night undies.” We only put him in diapers at night.
We even took him out in public in his big boy undies. Yes — it’s terrifying but necessary. I would have him go potty right before we left the house and then as soon as we arrived at our destination. From there we would continue with our timers.
This leads me to the next step.
Step 4- TIMERS!
This is one of the most important steps, but probably the most frustrating.
Set timers on your phone or a clock — whatever you have available. We started at every 15 minutes. When the timer would go off, we would say “yay it’s potty time!”
Then we would go sit on the potty and listen to a potty song. Sometimes he would dribble, sometimes he wouldn’t do anything. That’s totally normal, don’t get discouraged!
Sometimes Maddix would be in the middle of something when the timer would go off. This made him very upset about having to sit on the potty. If this happens, just gently encourage them to go, and tell them they can come back to their activity after potty time is over.
Step 5- Motivation
When we started potty training we had to experiment a little bit to see what worked as an incentive for Maddix.
We tried suckers – nothing. We tried a new toy out of a potty toy box – again, nothing.
It was starting to seem that nothing was going to work. Then I remembered his love for stickers. Off we went to the store to buy some stickers!
We got him involved with this decision and let him pick out which stickers he wanted. Now we had something to really motivate him at potty time.
Every time he actually went potty (in the potty) he got to put a sticker on his sheet. When he reached 5 stickers, he got a piece of candy of his choice.
To be clear, he didn’t get a sticker for just sitting on the potty — he actually had to go. We still praised him for sitting on the potty, but he only got a sticker for going.
He responded great to this and eventually started trying to go every time.
Step 6- Do NOT discipline for accidents.
Accidents are a fact of potty training. They are going to happen — and that’s okay.
This is very new to them and they need your understanding through this time. It’s hard for both of you, remember that.
I know first hand how frustrating it can be for your child to be difficult about going potty…not doing anything, then peeing on your living room carpet. There were so many times where I had to pause…and take a deep breath, reminding myself this isn’t forever.
Once I spotted the mess, I would simply say “Uh-oh Maddix. It looks like there is potty on the floor! Where is potty supposed to go?”
Then I would take his hand and walk to the bathroom to talk about going potty in the potty. Then I’d have him help clean up the mess. This really drives home the fact that it’s not supposed to be there.
Step 7- Don’t give up.
I know this can be rough — it can feel like a decade — but don’t give up. They will catch on, but it takes time.
I said at the beginning of this article that it took a week to get my son completely potty trained. That week felt like a month — but we did it.
I still had to remind him to go, and I would ask him periodically throughout the day if he needed to go. Sometimes he would jump up and go, and sometimes he told me no. Yes, he had accidents, but they were rare.
This method might work wonders for you. It might take your child a lot longer to catch on, and it might not even work at all. I just wanted to share what worked for me so that maybe it would help someone.
For the experienced mamas out there – what are some of your best potty training tips? Leave a comment so other moms have a fighting chance!