We have an excellent little potty chair. That’s not the problem. We have a very useful (and much easier to clean!) toilet seat insert chair-topper as well. Also not the problem.
The problem is that you can lead a kid to the toilet, but you can’t make him pee.
Shortly before having Milo, when Holden was about 18 months old, we introduced the little potty chair to the bathroom to see if he had any interest on his own. I think that very first day (or maybe the second), he peed in it. We were shocked and amazed and hurt our arms patting ourselves on the back. But it was not to be repeated for a long time.
Fast forward a few months. We introduced a newborn into the house and I found myself saying things like, “you’re wearing a diaper, use it.” Now the kid is two years old, he knows what the potty is for, but he doesn’t really care to use it. Alec and I each spent 20 to 30 minutes at a stretch sitting on the bathroom floor not pressuring Holden while he sat there and Did Nothing.
Fast forward a few more months. He started a preschool — luckily not one that requires potty training — and I let them take the reins for a while. I expected that the communal mini-toilets and the peer pressure of his little buddies would do the job where I had failed. I was partly right.
The preschool did about 97.5% of the job for us, but it still took most of the year. At each diaper change, his teachers would give him the choice of diapers or undies (or sometimes both). I think he liked figuring it out on his own. This is around when I created the sticker chart. I was afraid that bribing with candy would send the wrong message (his teacher told me, “you don’t get candy when you use the toilet, so why should they?”) so I used a combination of stickers and new toys. Then again, I don’t get stickers or toys when I go to the bathroom…
I made the chart (I tried to do it with him but he kept putting his decorations in the wrong places and negating the logic that I invented) and awarded one star sticker for peeing in the potty, two star stickers for pooping in the potty, and then one large Thomas sticker when he got to the large spaces on the chart. For each large sticker earned, Holden could also choose a (not-very-expensive) toy.
Some days he would fly through earning stickers. He earned two little Thomas vehicles for the train table before we all lost interest in
my his sticker chart.
Round about his third birthday — when we had already given up and were content to have two in diapers for the rest of our lives — Holden declared he was “done with diapers.” I remember being quite terrified the first time we went to a restaurant and he was in undies, like he was a ticking time bomb. The question was when and not if he would pee all over the place. I’m relieved to report that he did not urinate all over a restaurant, but I did carry him several times to the restroom for false alarms.
As for training the next kid… we just dragged out our little potty chair to see if Milo has any curiosity. Nope. And he’s already at the preschool where they have those adorable mini-toilets. Plus he has an older brother who can pee in a toilet standing up. If all that’s not motivation, I may just bust out the M+Ms. Talk to me in about a year when I start to panic.
- Notes on potty training a 21-month old (yep, Scarlett’s trained!)
- 99 balloons and 99 poops (how Whitney bribed Julian with wall art)
- The one where I wish we could stop doing underwear at night