How We Were Successful at Potty Training Our Kids
My husband and I have two daughters. They are about 22 months apart. One is 6 years old now and the other is 4. When it was time to potty train my daughters we had no problems at all. Of course, there were some accidents, but for the most part, it was a smooth transition! I’m not sure if we just got lucky or if the techniques we used to train them worked wonders. We started potty training both of them when they reached the age of about 2 years old and 2 months. They both seemed ready at this age. Not because they were telling us they wanted to use the toilet, but because they could talk well enough and understand directions well enough. If your child can express themselves to you, then they will be able to tell you when they need to go potty. If they are unable to communicate well enough to tell you that, then they might not be ready.
In this post, I will go over the steps we took for successful potty training. I will highlight areas of importance that need to be taken seriously. This is what worked for our children, but if you find that your child responds better to something else, that is okay.
- Prepare by having lots of liquids and rewards available
- Have your child throw away their diapers
- Put brand new underwear on your child
- Explain how we are a big kid now and will be using the toilet
- Practice lots of communication
- Give lots and lots of praise and rewards
Prepare before you start
Before you start potting training you have to be prepared. This means going to the store and getting all the essentials needed for success. You don’t want to have started the training and then realize you need to make a run to the store. That could disrupt the whole process. I want to emphasize that you should clear at least 3 days out of your schedule to just stay home with your toddler and focus solely on potty training. Items needed to be prepared include:
- juice boxes
- underwear (lots of pairs unless you want to be doing a lot of laundry in the beginning) 😉
Prepare your mind. Understand that this is a commitment both for you and your child. The parents need to be just as committed. If you aren’t committed, your child will catch on to that and won’t commit either. This means no going back to diapers. We didn’t even put the diapers on at night. All day we are trying to stress to our child to go potty in the toilet, why would we want to go back to diapers at night and say it is okay then? No, it is potty in the toilet all of the time. This is what worked for both of our daughters.
Throw away the diapers
Don’t throw the diapers away for your child. Let your child do it. This is a big step. The morning we knew we were going to start potty training, we woke up, got a big garbage bag and told our child they are going to be a big kid now and wear underwear. We told they need to throw all of their diapers in the garbage because we won’t be wearing them anymore. When the child gets to throw them away themselves, it gets them excited and makes them more aware of what is going on. Throwing the diapers away, not only helps the child understand that we don’t have diapers anymore, but it also helps the parent not be able to give up and go back to diapers. It can be a confusing time for your little one if you sometimes put the underwear on and sometimes go back to diapers. For us, it was all or nothing. We didn’t want to confuse them. It was potty all the time in the toilet now.
My children both were super excited to get new underwear. I think for my youngest daughter it meant she got to be like her big sister. For my oldest, she just always has been the type of kid to get really excited about new things. After throwing away all of the diapers, it’s time to put on that new underwear. When putting on the underwear, we explained to our children that they are a big kid now and it’s time to go potty in the toilet and they need to let us know when they have to go. Tell them it’s icky to get underwear wet. If they have an accident, say “ewe, that’s icky” and rush them right to the toilet, putting them on the toilet while saying we go potty in the toilet, not in your underwear. You cannot get upset about it. You as the parent, have to stay calm and reinforce how we are a big kid now keeping our underwear dry.
Lots of liquids
If you are going to take the time to potty train your child over a weekend like we did, you are going to need lots of practice. How can you get lots of practice? By lots of pee! In order for them to pee a lot, they need a lot of liquids. Luckily it was easy for us because we usually only gave our daughters milk and water to drink. So when we offered them lots of juice boxes over the potty training weekend, they couldn’t resist.
One of the key factors for us in potty training success was communication. Mommy and daddy had to keep the communication lines open by constantly reminding our daughters to tell us when they needed to go potty and to remember to keep their underwear dry. Remember, we started training at 2 years old which means these little girls got sidetracked easily, so that is why communication is very important. I felt like I was saying “remember to keep your underwear dry” and “let me know if you need to go potty in the toilet” like a thousand times a day. It can get tiring, but the constant reminding is what helps it sink into their little brains.
Don’t let your child out of your sight
We took a whole 3 days off from the outside world to focus solely on potty training with both children. We wanted to instill it in their brains non-stop for at least three days so they could really get the hang of it. It was a very long three days, but it the end it was totally worth it. To get as much as you can out of the three days as possible, you have to keep an eye on your child non-stop. You cannot let them out of your site. In order for potty training to work, you have to catch them in the act. That is why I suggest not wearing pants. You want to be able to see when your child starts to go and quickly catch them in the act by picking them up (mid-pee) and having them finish on the toilet. If you let them out of your site and they are over in another room peeing in their underwear without you knowing, then you can’t catch them while they are going to be able to have them finish on the toilet. If you catch them every time start to go and get them to the toilet, it starts to make sense to them and they start to tell you they have to go before getting their underwear wet.
Praise and rewards
The first time and everytime our children told us they had to go potty we couldn’t praise them enough. If they actually went to the toilet and went potty and kept their underwear dry, they also got a reward. In the beginning, both children sometimes thought it was a game and would say they had to go potty just to get the praise, but then didn’t actually do anything in the toilet. That’s okay, we still kept praising, but we didn’t give out any rewards unless there was potty in the toilet. I think the rewards we gave out was a new little book, or a new little toy, or sometimes a couple chocolate chips.
Keep at it
Don’t give up. Pretty much the key is to be patient, consistent, loving and understanding. Remember, these little ones have spent their entire 2 years of life in diapers and that’s all they know at this point. It can be a confusing, difficult time to get them out of diapers, but they are also smart and they can do it with some loving re-enforcement from their parents. Good luck! Comment below with questions or your own tips. 😀