Dear Learning Expressions Readers,
Where did the time go? I know I might sound trite, but honestly, it feels like only yesterday that I brought my first son home from the hospital. I remember pushing the stroller through the park shortly after he was born and seeing all the gigantic kids running around the playground. They could catch balls, climb to the top of the jungle gym, and build sandcastles. My little 8-pound newborn nestled and sleeping in his infant seat just seemed like a completely different species from these agile, wild creatures running around us. It felt like it would be just forever until my baby would be big and able enough to do what they could do. I was glad to have my sweet, innocent bundle – a bundle that was far away from talking back or dashing into streets after flying Frisbees.
In a blink of an eye though, my big guy is quickly heading toward his third birthday and can now do
those things I observed those “big” kids doing that day at the park so long ago. My toddler looks hardly anything like that newborn I once held. But, I really don’t have time to be sad about it because we are about to embark on that momentous learning event of early childhood – potty training!
We haven’t officially started (we are waiting for school to be out next week), so as of now my only experience in this field comes from housebreaking my dachshund. So, I’ve enlisted the help of some incredible moms (Thank you, Marissa, Emily, Beth, Lori, Diane, Nicky, Kristin, Betsy, Ellie, Sara, Mary, Hillary, and Christi!) who have each recently potty trained their child. I asked each for their number one potty training tip and compiled a list in their own words. I hope you find this advice as helpful as I do!
1. Don’t Rush It
"If you find that potty training is taking a long, long time, it might not be time. Take a break from it to regroup, and try again in a couple weeks. We tried for months with no success and gave up. Suddenly one day our daughter decided it was time she was potty trained, and it literally happened over night. Let the timing be the child’s decision."
2. Bribery Does Not Work
"Flat out bribery failed for us. We tried all sorts of bribery techniques (stickers, books, toys, videos), but nothing worked. It just kept escalating to bigger and bigger ticket items without success. All it did was get our kid to think, 'Wow, I’ve got them wrapped around my finger, and I’m never giving this up!'"
3. Bribery Works Miracles
"To be perfectly honest, candy was one of the only things that truly worked."
"Find the right currency for your kid – what gets him or her really motivated? For our son, the carrot-and-the-stick wasn’t candy or sticker charts. We had to really up the ante. In the end it was a giant orange garbage truck that spurred our guy to potty train."
4. Utilize Peer Pressure
"There can be a good side to peer pressure! Once our daughter’s friends were all potty trained, she couldn’t stand using diapers anymore, and that was the end of that!"
5. Let Them Sit a Bit in Their Own Mess
Don’t be too quick to change them out of their messy clothes after they’ve had an accident. The discomfort really helps move the process along.
6. Bring Extra Everything If You Must Go Out
"Pack at least two changes of clothes, including extra socks and shoes (yes, the pee gets down that far!), plus plenty of wipes."
7. Don’t Listen to Grandma and Grandpa
"They might try to tell you that in their day, all kids were out of diapers by the time they could sit up. Pay no attention!"
"After every successful toilet episode, I would secretly text my mother-in-law. That was her signal to call
our house and pretend to be Elmo. Elmo congratulated our toddler with great gusto. This did the trick."
9. Let Your Kid Pick Out the Underwear
"Take them to the store and make a really big deal about how they get to choose their own underwear. This gives them ownership and helps get them excited about ditching the diapers forever."
10. Big Praise
"We danced and sang and partied every time our son was successful."
"We called dad at the office after every success, and he helped to sing the praises."
11. Don’t Compare Kids
"There is such a wide range of when kids are ready to potty train, more than any other skill I’ve seen."
"Don’t fall prey to the pressure that everybody else’s kids are potty trained and we should be too."
12. Accept the Fact That You Have No Control
"Realize that going to the bathroom is one of the few things (along with sleeping and eating) that your child has COMPLETE control over."
"We tried everything and nothing worked. Finally, we gave up the power struggle, shrugged, and said, 'Fine, you can be 8 and still not trained, and we don’t care.' Bang, it happened."
I love this list so much but have to chuckle at some of the contradictions in advice. It makes me realize that there is simply not a cookie-cutter solution for every child and every family. I look forward to writing more about this topic once we’re through the other side and are potty-training veterans.
Bye for now!