I have not written about potty training much (ever?) on my blog, which is a little crazy, because I feel like I’ve been in the midst of toilet training for years. Just like the feeling that diapers will never end, I’m pretty sure I will always be training someone to use the toilet. Mark my words, by the time we’re finally done with the toddler and preschool years, I’ll have a puppy or something.
I might just be a lazy potty trainer. Before my oldest turned two, he showed a lot of potty progress at daycare but he absolutely refused to participate in the potty process at home. Eventually I went off on maternity leave with his little brother and the toilet training stopped for about a year – until the thought of sending a kid back to daycare in diapers when the daycare had already done all the hard toilet training work with him was too embarrassing for me to stomach as a mother. So, I found myself determined to potty train this little three year old who still had no desire to sit on a toilet or a potty at home.
I wish I could say that I learned the secret to potty training success with my first child, but that is clearly not the case.
It is hard to write about something personal like this when I don’t have any magic solutions. My kids are people, and no person really wants their bathroom habits talked about. But I tell the stories of my family, so I’m in this odd little space between wanting to write about these trials and tribulations that all parents go through while also respecting my children.
Here’s what I have learned through the toilet training process: kids are different; so very different. One technique which might work wonders for one kid won’t work at all for the next. My littlest guy has no problem understanding how to use the potty. He can go on command. I have never sat around and waited for him to just go on the toilet so that he could understand what that felt like. But while he knows what to do, he doesn’t care to actually do it, which means the toilet training journey with him is going very slowly. We also pulled back any training expectations after our daycare change a couple of months ago because he was working so hard just to transition to a new place.
My potty parenting perspective is that kids will eventually get it, when they’re ready. I try to slowly make the toilet an option without pressuring too much and hope and pray that I won’t forever be buying pull-ups. Again, maybe this is the lazy way to go about it, but I’ve heard so many professionals say that there is no one magical time to learn. Kids will, eventually, get it. So I encourage and praise and expect that I’ll be going through this process until my retirement. (Also, lest you think both of my kids are still in the throws of toilet training, I am able to claim success with this method with one so far…)
My favourite tool for potty training success by far is the sticker chart. If there is one thing children understand, it is that a pee equals a sticker and a lot of stickers equals a toy (we’re partial to Hot Wheels in our house). Sticker charts make success visible and it rewards the good behaviour, instead of punishing the bad. I’ve even designed my own potty chart that works great as a simple chart for younger children new to using the potty (every time you go you get a sticker! Fill out a line of stickers and get a trip to the toy store!) and for older children who need to work on specific issues (colour coded lines allow you to attribute a task to each line such as staying dry all day or pooing in the potty.) Feel free to download and use as you like! (Click the charts below to download).
We’re also a huge fan of Kandoo’s flushable wipes. It makes the messier potty trips less daunting for parents. So while these wipes don’t necessarily encourage more trips to the bathroom, they do help me stay a little calmer and maintain my potty training philosophy of staying calm and positive. And when it is time to teach children to wipe, flushable wipes make it easy to start.
Without getting too graphic or sharing your children’s secrets, what are some of your best potty tips? While you’re at it, check out Kandoo’s tips and tools for potty training success. They’ve got some great resources!