Friday, October 7, 2011

Potty Training 107

 I am often asked
How do I potty train my child????????

Maybe it's because I look like I should know the answers?
Maybe because anyone who would do this over and over and over again surely must be able to accomplish such a thing????

The answer:  (And when I say "answer", I'm using the term loosely.)

To start with, I firmly believe there is no magic formula for potty training.
In my experience, every woman who's told me that allll of her kids were out of diapers by the time they were fifteen months old has had, like, one kid--two at most.

What works for one child may not work for another, and what didn't work for one child may just be the thing that makes it click for another.

I'm on my seventh round of trying to get a child out of diapers potty learning.
You'd think I'd have this thing down pat by now.
But I don't.
And neither does Ruby.

I thought about doing the whole go to the store and pick out some pretty underwear thing, but I haven't been able to go to the store, so we haven't done that.
I did find some little undies from when Linnea was little, but there are only four of them.  Some days this is plenty, other days she's back in a diaper by noon because she's out of clean undies. 
(I began this post before her birthday and had it saved in drafts--she got pretty ballerina ones for a gift so now we have plenty!)

It is as much about my ability to focus as it is hers--I have to remember to remind her to go try to use the potty.  Maybe we struggle because I'm distractable, maybe I just haven't used enough chocolate for bribery.

I have used the kitchen timer system; we set the timer for 30 minutes and the child needs to try to use the potty when the timer goes off.
This has been marginally successful over the years.  If nothing else, soiled/wet diapers get changed every 30 minutes.

We have used both the stand-alone potty chair with the cup thing that you pour out and the snap-on kind that goes on the regular toilet seat.
Currently, it is imperative that we have the separate little toilet because it seems every time Ruby has to go, someone else is on the big potty.
One con of this system is when the potty learning individual desires to pour their good work into the big toilet and is only marginally successful. Bleh.
My experience has been that the little potty is good for girlies who are learning and to not even bother with it for a boy--they'll just miss anyway, (remember this post?) even if they're sitting down and have that fancy little shield in place.  I've been better off to have them use a step stool by the big toilet and a snap-on seat for sit-down jobs.
(I feel like I'm speaking in some kind of code while avoiding using all the "bathroom words". Are you following what I'm saying???)

Truth be told, potty training takes vigilance and a lot of time--and I don't have a lot of time to devote to any one thing.  And since we're being honest (or is that just me?) I'll let you know I really don't like this stage of childhood.  This past week I cried out, "All these puddles--it's like we have a new puppy!"  Yuck.  (Yuck about the puddles...I like puppies.)

I would say the hardest part about little ones learning to use the bathroom is for them to take action when they feel the need to go, instead of waiting until desperation sets in. Sometimes the accident is from not honoring that at all, but many times the puddle happens in the bathroom as she is desperately trying to get the step-stool over to the light switch, reach the switch, then move the stool over to the big toilet, put the potty seat on the toilet aaaaaaaaaaaand by now too much time has elapsed and she's crying because she didn't make it and now we have a puddle on the floor and soggy clothes and some linoleum to wash. *sigh*  She tried, but there were just too many steps...

Granted, I don't deliver a treatise such as this to the casual observer in the grocery store.  I do know that each week sees improvement.  She is doing better each day.  I will "only" have two in diapers when the new baby comes.  (If you remember, I've had three in diapers before.)

Maybe when I'm asked about potty training, I should just say this:

My experience has been that when I quit trying so hard to train the child, the child eventually decided to learn.

How is that for an "answer"?


  1. O my goodness, I could have written this post. I know that Elias probably could be potty trained if I focused on him day and night for about a week. That is just not reality. I keep telling myself that he'll get it. He's a smart kid.

    I love the timer idea, though. Nice tip.

  2. This is so much my reality right now, also. Abby LOVES to use the potty, and I am pretty sure that if I really worked hard at it every day, she would be fully trained in no time at all. Unfortunately, that is not happening right now. :) I do also like the timer idea, and I also know that she will not be in diapers forever. :)


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