Becoming a master at recognizing the Pee Pee dance

This blog has been so much fun for us to write so far. Our goals in creating it were to inspire parents to learn about and enjoy their children and to share practical experience regarding early childhood development.  My first few blogs have been more heartfelt and this time around, I’d like to share something pretty concrete and practical — getting your child out of diapers!
I have to say, upon self- evaluation, my husband and I scored pretty average to below average on the parenting report card in the subjects of eating (our oldest paces and bites her fingernails at the sight of grilled fish), and sleeping (they never quite slept on a schedule or got quality naps, but can sleep anywhere (yes even concerts or football games) now – an added plus I must say. Despite these shortfalls (and trust me we’ve paid for them…my husband Brent even slept in the hallway outside one of their rooms on the floor for a few painful weeks), we seemed to do fairly well at potty training.
Our method (if you can call it that) is a combination of advice from our beloved pediatrician (shout out to Dr. Caldwell), our own parents, and trial and error.  In our extended family, we’ve had success with four children (our two and our niece and nephew) all being potty trained between 20 -25 months of age using this method. So, if you have a child left in your home to potty train – here’s hoping these tips are helpful!
Here are a few baseline facts to consider:
~ It is true that part of your success is determining when your child is ready.  When you see a pattern of bowel and bladder control (example: always dirty after nap or a certain time of the day), your child shows interest in the potty and all the fun that goes with it (the paper, flush etc.), and/or your child is letting you know when he/she has dirtied his/her diaper, they are likely ready to start training.
~ It is also true that it is not uncommon for boys to develop the sensation and urgency to void later than girls.
~ The personality of your child matters. If you have a strong-willed child, forcing potty training can turn into another arena for them to assert their independence.  Fighting against this strong will too early, or if your child is fearful of the situation, can result in disaster – including constipation and pain. Try to encourage but not force and let your child’s willingness be your guide.
Here are our time tested tips:
* I remember walking proudly into the pediatrician with my almost two year old. I was eager to let our pediatrician know that I had done my research, created a beautiful sticker chart, and let my daughter help choose stickers. I thought he’d be so proud. I was wrong! He shared that using the potty was a bodily function, just like blowing your nose. Would I reward her for blowing her nose with stickers or candy? Point taken. In his years of experience, he learned operating in this way often sets the stage for a power struggle. The sticker chart hit the recycling bin shortly there after.
* He also shared these other pearls of wisdom which were wonderful in our training. He recommended changing diapers in the bathroom and dumping contents into the toilet if possible. Doing so, will cement the fact this is where “it” goes.  He even suggested verbally reminding our daughter that this is where “it” belongs each time we changed her.
* Placing your child on the toilet at times of the day when success is favorable is a great idea. Immediately after waking up and before bath are often wonderful choices. Provide fun books, silly songs, and conversation, but don’t force your child to sit.  Keep the potty chair available and accessible, even if that means in the middle of the living room for awhile.
* Reward success with hugs and praise. Let your child know how proud you are of their “big kid” behavior.
* We found that training pants made of diaper like material (you all know what I’m talking about, but I don’t wish to publicly disrespect a particular brand) were expensive and not helpful.  They are so effective at wicking away moisture that the child never feels uncomfortable.  Without feeling uncomfortable – there is no urgency on the child’s part to stop wearing them!  Here’s the solution. Put underwear on your child and put a diaper on top. The underwear allows for the “ewww factor” and the diaper protects your floors and furniture.  When your child has accidents (and they will), help clean them up (in the bathroom) and put new underwear on.  Do not scold your child or make them feel guilty – they are learning. Remind your child to let you know that they need help using the potty next time. Rewarding accidents with putting a diaper or training pants on again let’s your child see that if they mess up, they can continue with the comfortable routine they are used to. Sticking to your guns (which isn’t always easy or convenient) lets them know that you are serious in supporting them through the transition to independent toileting.  It is true that at first, training them feels like (and sort of is) training yourself!
* Here’s the most important reminder – BE CONSISTENT. When you start potty training, you have to be consistent each time and all day. Trust me, children see the holes of inconsistency we create as parents and drive through them with their favorite Tonka Truck. Yes, this means you may leave an entire cart of merchandise in the middle of the Target isle running to the bathroom and praying you’ll make it the entire way. Yes, it may mean you don’t make it every time and your cart, your stuff, your child, and yourself will be soaking wet, forcing you to buy a new outfit right then and there. Yes, this may mean stopping 7 times in a 20 minute span on a road trip. The good news is that if you are consistent, this stage should be short and sweet! And you, my friend, will be rewarded with a proud child, a more reasonable weekly shopping list, and the reward of a smaller more fashionable handbag again! (or for those great daddies out there – no bag at all!)
We’d love to hear your tips and experience! After all – this is something we all have in common! Leave your comment below or visit us on facebook at Milestones & Miracles!
Here’s our oldest taking a break from tailgating during her potty training phase! When I look back, it makes me laugh, reminded of all the places that little potty went with us!
2 replies
  1. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are currently trying to potty train our son so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about keeping the potty chair available and accessible. We’ll be sure to do this so it’s easier for him to take initiative and go on his own.


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