Potty Power!!

Considering I am on the cusp of having a newborn in my arms in less than a few weeks, I thought it’d be a good time to talk about where we are at with our 2 year old.

When I first found out I was pregnant with my second I immediately thought about how challenging it may be to have 2 kids in diapers.

So, after speaking with my husband we agreed to potty train as quickly as possible to lighten the load, literally. Our Tyler Marie was about 18 months old when we really started the potty training process.

What is the potty training process? Well, I am pretty confident that every parental technique is different and you have to find what works for you and your child. But in our case it is pretty simple…… she goes, when we go. When we wake up, we go potty. Before bed, we go potty. After a meal, we go potty. Before we leave the house, we go potty.

At first we were just trying to talk her through it. We had a small toilet that looks just like an adult toilet. I opted for this one because I wanted her to identify with the toilet for all it’s plain porcelain glory. I didn’t want her to give me any grief about going to the restroom if it wasn’t a decked out fluffy princess potty throne.

It just seemed more realistic. We would put her on the toilet and try to verbally coach her through it. We would tell her to “Go potty” and “Wait until you can hear it.” This worked once in awhile, but I quickly realized that much like anything, she learns by example. Our kids copy us more than we think.

We can tell them all day long what to do, but they usually end up doing what they see.

So instead of sitting in front of her telling her what to do, I just did it myself until she started to emulate what I was doing.

We walk into the bathroom together, take our pants down, sit on the potty, wait for the sound, wipe, flush, and wash our hands. Sure this isn’t exactly ideal for some parents who don’t have to use the bathroom as often as a pregnant lady, but in this case, it worked for us. I generally would go in and help with wiping afterwards for sanitary purposes, but I let her do it first to get the hang of it. I also have a very independent little girl on my hands so the opportunity to learn it for herself was just the way to go.

Eventually we phased out of diapers all together, but it was a process.

We went from diapers to pull ups, then pull ups only when we left the house and over night, to no pull ups when we left the house, until one day I ran out and decided I wouldn’t buy anymore. No pull ups, no choice!! Big girl underwear from here on out.

For the first few months she would complain every so often when going potty interfered with her many plans to play. But eventually she realized that it’s easier to just “go” than to fight it until there’s an “accident”. I don’t think there is a person in the world that’s comfortable with wet underpants. With patience and persistence, we’ve made tremendous strides. Now, when we wake up in the morning I can tell her “Tyler, go potty” and she will without complaint. Again, I go in for wipe recon duty but she does the bulk of the work all by herself.

Now this isn’t a full proof, works 100% of the time type of method. I have washed MANY a bed sheet since starting this journey. Usually she wakes up in the middle of the night, around 4 am. And since we’re not in there to pop up and take her to the bathroom she ends up wetting herself then moseying into our room to cry about it. We’re still working on the “middle of the night potty breaks”, but I’ll take my victories as they come. I do however make sure to make a big deal about it when does go on her own. I don’t reward with candy or prizes like some parents do. To each their own. I just provide lots of praise, hugs, and high fives.

Tyler marie

I think it’s important for parents to understand a few things that I learned along this potty training journey.

#1: It’s up to us to keep disciplined in going to the bathroom often enough.

It’s easy to throw a pull-up on and your children will recognize that it’s easier to just go potty in their diaper out of convenience. I think it’s important to give kids some “air time” also. If there is no diaper to go potty in, maybe they’ll be prompted to actually go to the potty. I had to check myself a few times and remind myself that even if I don’t have to go, I have to make sure we go before and after pretty much any activity in our day.

#2 Realize that accidents are BOUND to happen.

We shouldn’t scold our children for having an accident, we can only coach them through it. Sometimes scolding kids when they have an accident scares them into more accidents. Thus creating a situation that is bound to regress. It’s not our fault if we’re not there when the trigger comes, but if we are there it’s important to recognize your little ones potty dance or body language, and hopping into action so they know to do the same on their own when the time comes. My daughter gets very quiet and stares off into the sunset when she’s having an accident, thats how I know. There is no potty dance, no verbal communication, just a silent realization followed by an unpleasant warmth in her pants if I’m not quick enough to run her into the bathroom.

#3 I don’t ask her incessantly if she has to go potty.

I feel like if we give them the option to say “No” chances are they’ll take it. So instead of “Do you have to go potty?” I just say “Let’s go potty.” or “Time to go potty real quick.” That way there is no room for debate. After all, we have plenty of years ahead of us for all of that. In fact, she is learning how to debate as we speak when it comes to “what to wear” each day. But I’ll save that for another post.

So in essence, this is my advice:

If you are a parent in the midst of potty training, I encourage you to stick with it.

If you are a parent who just doesn’t know how to get started, then I suggest you just start bringing your little one to the bathroom with you and show them what it looks like to potty like a big girl, or big boy. And of course it wouldn’t be our style if we didn’t have a couple of books to go along with this journey. Here are two of her favorites that we read often during this potty training time.

"Potty" by Leslie Patricelli and "Big Girl Panties" by Fran Manushkin

Grab a cup-a-Joey or in this case, a cup-of-patience, and enjoy the small victories! And please do share your potty training stories, methods, or woes in the comments section below. I would love to hear them!

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Joey Livingston