Wednesday, March 05, 2014


I get asked by other mothers a lot what did to potty-train our children. I am also trying to write down things we did so that it is easy to share this knowledge with others with simply a link of the blog.

I'm one of these moms who doesn't do a lot of research. I don't spend hours of time digesting data online. Instead, I talk to a few people, find out what works for them, think about what feels like a good fit for us, talk to my husband, and go with it.

I don't have time to scour the Internet and draw up charts and pictures and plans. I think. I pray. I go.

We have now had three simply wonderful potty-training experiences. These were boys and a girl. These were biological and adopted children. All variables were covered with the same result each time. We potty-trained Isaac and Sidge at the same time (2.5 and 2 years old) an Abigail just recently (2.5).

We decided to potty-train the boys when Isaac appeared ready. Sidge was an afterthought. We simply thought we'd try him with Isaac and see if he got it. (He did!) We waited until they were able to be a main player in the activity. I didn't wan to have to take their clothes on and off for them each time. I wanted them to be able to at least take their pants down by themselves.

We opted for naked potty-training. Technically they don't have to be completely naked. You can put a pair of underwear on them. But we simply go cold Turkey, and a key ingredient to this is that they actually feel the pee when they go. We don't do any preparing ahead of time. We just picked a long weekend where JB would be home with us. We picked a long weekend that we didn't have anything to do out of the house. We rolled up all the rugs. And we went for it!

We gave the kids a ton to drink and watched them like a hawk. As soon as they started going that first time and felt it coming down their leg, we ran them to the bathroom, put them on a potty chair, and let nature take its course. Because they had been drinking so much, they really had no choice but to pee in the potty. Then, when they went, we started celebrating and brought them into the kitchen where five M&M's were their reward!

We would ask them frequently if they had to go, but more than that we watched them. We watched for a look on their face that signaled something was happening.

We spent the entire long weekend continuing this routine.

At naptime and bedtime we put them back in a diaper. Naptime and bedtime training come much later. Once they are consistently staying dry at either of these two events, you can start trying to not put them in underwear to sleep. But I don't think you should even cross this bridge until they are very completely daytime potty-trained. There is no hurry when it comes to sleeping.

Not only did we spend the entire long weekend at home, skipping church and anything else that might be suggested during the weekend, I then spent the week that followed very close to home. I limited trips from the house as much as possible. I felt that giving up a week of my life was well worth the money I was going to save in diapers.

Number one was easily conquered during that first week.

Number two varied for each child. Some of them got it quickly. Some didn't. We would often use Miralex during this time. The reason we used is that each of the kids started holding in their number two. Making sure it stayed soft meant that they were less likely to panic when they finally went. Keeping the experience a pleasant one helped assure that constipation (and ultimately refusal to go number two because of this discomfort) would result.

Also, I did use pull-ups when we left the house only after I could tell the child understood what the sensation was and that they were intent on trying not to go in their pants or in their pull-up.

So, in a nutshell, here are my tips:
  • Go cold Turkey.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Explain failures but don't punish or get upset.
  • Spoil with tons of their favorite candy or treat.
  • As successes become more regular, begin cutting down on the treats.
  • Don't even think about naptime and bedtime.
  • Expect it to be a bit messy.
  • Eliminate all other items for your schedule.
  • Use pull-ups only after the child is consistently using the bathroom.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please share! There is definitely not only one way to potty-train, but this is definitely what worked for us!

Here are some links to past entries on my blog that followed our potty-training adventures:

The Pee-pee Diaries Part I
The Pee-pee Diaries Part II

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There, of course, is no right or wrong way to potty traing, but here's another method. Some things are very similar to what you did, Wendi.

I could not go cold turkey with the boys. I was doing in-home daycare at the time and had other kids to watch. I did not have the energy during the weekend either to do the cold turkey method. So, we used pull-ups. I started by putting a potty chair in their bathroom. They were notorious for peeing on the floor or in the tub as I was getting them ready for a bath. Mitchell avoided the potty chair like the plague, but Peter had no problem sitting on it. On a few occasions he'd have success. Mitchell would eventually get brave enough to put his little cheeks on the seat but then stand up instantly (LOL so cute!). They were around 2 1/2 at the time. I really didn't get serious until they were almost 3. Then I armed myself with treats, treats, and more treats. I went out and bought a little tackle box/crafters box - the kind with several small compartments. Then I bought a variety of yummy treats: fruit snacks, colored mini marshmallows, smarties, m&m's, yogurt covered fruit snacks (I don't think they even make them anymore)...anything that was bite sized and full of sugar. Then every time they tried to go potty they would get one piece. If they went potty they would get more. They certainly knew how to work the system though. They had me taking them potty anytime they wanted candy...and when you're potty training can you really say no when they say they have to go? But then I pulled out the suckers. Dum Dum's if they pooped and the finaly reward of staying clean and dry all day - a ring pop (or pop ring to them) sucker. The last day that Mitchell ever (and I mean EVER) had an accident (including during the night) I had promised them ring pops if they made it all day with no accidents. Peter made it. As I was unwrapping Mitchell's ring pop he pooped his pants. "sorry, bud. No sucker for you." Oh the tears. I felt bad for the guy so I caved a bit and gave him a dum dum. He accepted it and sat in his chair to eat it but continued to cry, sticky drool running down his chin, while he looked at his brother with envy. I told Mitchell if he went all day the next day with no accidents he'd get his ring pop. Never an accident again. Peter would continue to have accidents, but they were in underwear full time before they turned 3.

So that was the long version of just agreeing that treats and rewards are key to potty training. It doesn't have to be candy - it could be stickers or little toys. However, if you've rarely given your kids candy prior to potty training, it will be a huge motivator.