Potty training. It sounds so terrifying. I’ve heard so many horror stories from my own childhood, my husband’s childhood, and watching family members go through it with their own kids.
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Potty training is a source of stress for many parents, especially when it’s your oldest child. It’s definitely as much of a milestone for parents as it is for kids. By sharing our experience, I hope it will help other parents who are stressing out about potty training. I won’t guarantee your kid will get it in one day, but I hope to help you get in the right frame of mind to pass this milestone.
My two, almost three-year-old was showing signs of readiness, so I knew we needed to get potty trained soon. I’ve been interviewing my experienced friends on their potty training strategies. Since every child is different, I wanted to hear different perspectives.
There are so many techniques out there but I still had no clue how it was going to go down.
I decided that I would use the first half of my Thanksgiving vacation to potty train, starting on Sunday morning. After all, most of what I had read says it takes about three days for a toddler to get the hang of it.
We were all set to get started when we came home Saturday night to find both toilets were leaking. Talk about timing, right?
Sunday began, and we potty trained and fixed our toilets all in the same day. Oh, and I went grocery shopping and I baked two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. (None of this could have been achieved without my awesome husband. Go team!)
By Sunday evening, our toddler was potty trained. How?
I’m still not sure myself, but I’m going to tell you exactly what we did and what we learned from this parenting milestone.
How We Accidentally Potty Trained Our Toddler in One Day
1 | Wait until your kid is ready.
I didn’t want to potty train our toddler before she was interested. She would occasionally sit on a toilet top seat but I didn’t want to put pressure on her to actually start going until she was ready. I didn’t want to face of the consequences of negative association if we failed the first time.
2 | Build up the hype.
We’ve been talking about going on the potty a lot. We read books about big girls using the potty and talked about how babies wear diapers. Each time we talked about going on the potty we talked about it excitedly. Eventually she started telling our relatives excitedly about how she was going to go on the potty.
I bought this Summer Infant Lil’ Loo Potty and let my daughter sit on it like a chair in the living room while watching a movie. She was excited about her new potty, so I encouraged the excitement.
4 | Choose a technique (or mix up multiple techniques to make your own).
We watched the Daniel Tiger potty training episode 5 billion times, so we sing the song or remind our toddler, “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away.” Needless to say, we’re sick of that song.
On Sunday morning as soon as she woke up, I had her sit on the potty. Every 30 minutes we would sit on the potty for 30 minutes. We entertained her by reading books, watching movies on the iPad, or doing flash cards.
Each time she had an accident (which was four times that morning) we said, “Oh no! I have to go potty! Run! Run! Run!” (This method is courtesy of my friend Katelyn over at Katelyn and Jason). We repeated this three times in a row after each accident. At first she got angry when we made her go back to the bathroom every few seconds. By the time she got to her fourth accident, she was yelling “Oh no!” by herself and running to the bathroom.
That afternoon she announced, “Oh no! I have to go potty!” Running to the bathroom, she insisted she didn’t need my help or that I needed to watch her. What a huge feeling of pride when she made it to the potty and went all by herself!
4 | Use positive reinforcement (bribes).
For months, our toddler’s grandparents told her she could go to the store with her papa to buy a prize for going on the potty. We reminded her often, especially as we got closer to “training day.”
At first the prizes for going on the potty were stickers for #1 and a Dum Dum (her favorite candy from Halloween) for #2.
I had to go to the store amidst all the potty training, so I brought home Gerber Organic Yogurt Melts as another prize. (It’s her favorite snack and for some reason I never buy it.) When I heard she had gone #2 while I was gone, I gave her a bowl of yogurt melts. Her enthusiasm for sitting on the potty increased tenfold after that. She kept sitting on the potty in hopes of getting more yogurt melts.
At bedtime she started using the potty as an excuse to get out of bed. Eventually we had to cut her off when it was 11 PM and she was in the bathroom every 5 minutes. We shut the bathroom door and told her to come tell us if she needed to go. Yes, she cried, but she went to sleep after that.
We waited for a wake up call in the middle of the night but it never came. Miraculously, she hasn’t wet the bed in one week. (That’s not to say I don’t expect it to ever happen. I’m sure it will at some point.)
5 | Don’t pressure yourself or your kid.
It’s really confusing with all those techniques on how to do it. I did not trust any of the ones that stated you can “potty train your toddler in one day!” That’s way too much pressure on both child and parent! Don’t go in with the expectation that your kid can figure it out in one day or even three. You will end up frustrated and your child will probably start to resist.
If you have a positive attitude, the whole experience comes off so much easier. It’s a big change for everyone, so make it as fun and exciting as you can.
It’s been a week since we potty trained. We’ve had many moments of pride in this past week, especially when we’re out in public. She also did go to the store with her papa and picked out her promised prize (a Daniel Tiger doll, go figure).