Step One: Get someone else to do it.
There. I said it. I hate this phase of parenting so much, I wish I could outsource potty training my child altogether. Control freaks like things done on their timelines. Potty training doesn’t work that way.
I’m so grateful that the peer pressure potty training technique of my sons’ preschool has been so successful. Apparently, nothing can motivate a toddler to whiz in the right place like the opportunity to sit on the potty with his friends — AT THE SAME TIME IN THE SAME ROOM! Placing three little bums on three little potties in a row is genius in my book. If only I had the space for this set-up in my home, but I digress.
While I still don’t love it, I want to share 5 universal truths about potty training I’ve gleaned from my half-hearted participation in the toilet education of my own children.
1. When you ask, “Do you have to pee?” most children will lie to you. I have asked this very question seconds before my child has wet himself in the car seat and on the couch. Ugh and ugh. If the child is in your doorway or — worse — your furniture, you’ll wish you had some strategically-placed piddle pads and spare undies in your purse. Try not to make a Big Thing of it — that won’t help anyway.
2. Sweatpants are your friends. For quick potty runs, it helps toddlers to have pants they can pull up and down on their own– and quickly. Skirts are even better; this is not the time for buttons and latches.
3. Candy and stickers will only get you so far. I am in favor of bribing my child for the desired result (though I do think we need to be careful not to throw a parade for every deposit in the toilet — when does it end? Will they ask their Kindergarten teachers for M&Ms? Their college roommates?). Wishing for a one-size-fits-all approach, I have been disappointed to learn that some personality types love the sticker chart and candy bribes while others could care less. Know your audience.
4. The range of normal is broad. Wondering when your child will stop needing diapers at night? I learned that between age 3 and 7 is considered normal. That’s pretty wide open, but should offer you some comfort if you find yourself tossing a package of pull-ups into your shopping cart for the same kid who correctly read “Gun Show Coming Soon” from a highway billboard. Either way, don’t sweat it.
5. You can lead a toddler to the toilet, but you can’t make her pee. Yes, I have observed that children do it when they’re ready. It will never be on my own time-table, and being a control freak, this one really hurts. In the grand scheme of parenting, toilet training is an area where the control is literally being passed from the parent to the child like a urine-soaked torch. It is necessary.
Pro Tip: Offer ample opportunity and never force the issue. Children can smell your anxiety and pressure and they rebel against it.
Favorite products mentioned here that will not necessarily get you a quicker result:
- Cheap sweatpants – 3 for $9
- Absorbent undies that you can actually decorate with fabric paint
- BabyBjorn potty chair and toilet trainer seat insert that I’ve had for eight years
- To protect your car seat (from liars and urine), try these piddle pads
- Pull-ups. I cannot go on the record supporting pull-ups because I feel like they confuse children learning to use the toilet rather than a diaper. That said, I buy them. Don’t judge me.
Do you have any tips or lessons learned to share?