If there was ever a time I wished I had a parenting handbook, it was when we tried potty training our son, Rylen.
You see we had easily potty trained our first, our daughter, Grace with ease and mistakenly expected the second go-around to be just as simple.
Sometimes you get lucky, and your child just gets it. Grace was able to grasp using the toilet within a weekend. By Monday, she was off diapers. Our first attempt at potty training was a success! I even wondered why I was so worried in the first place.
When it was time for Rylen to be potty trained, it was not so easy-going. He just could not get it. We started and stopped many times over the span of a few months. I was so frustrated, and I’m sure he was too.
Essentially becoming a parent is becoming a teacher. But when the teacher does not have adequate experience or knowledge, well, therein lies the problem.
Unfortunately, there is no official handbook for becoming a parent. We’re just making it up as we go along — at least I know I am. I tried to draw on my experience, but in this case doing that was not the best way.
Our experience with Rylen opened my eyes to why potty training him was so difficult.
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DON’T make assumptions and comparisons
Our first mistake was assuming Rylen’s experience would be like Grace’s. We had preconceived notions. Because we measured his ability based on his sister’s success, we immediately doomed him from the start.
He is his own person, and when we used statements like, “Well Grace did this,” and “Grace did that,” we weren’t setting him up for success.
DO Potty train when your child is ready
This is a big one. In order for all the other tips to work, potty train when your child is ready, not when you believe they should be. I set markers for when I felt Rylen should be potty trained. Never mind that he showed no interest in the toilet. I wanted to stop buying diapers, and I put this pressure on my son, which was not fair at all. I stressed both of us out when he wasn’t ready.
DO watch for signs your child is ready
You’ll know he’s ready when he goes away to hide while he does his business in his diaper. He’ll pull at his diaper not wanting to wear something wet and soiled. He’ll also show interest when you or a sibling uses the toilet. Let’s face it, as a busy mom, we rarely go pee with the door closed anymore.
DON’T listen to outside noise
Our next mistake was listening to everyone else when they made snide comments about how he was still in diapers. Listening to them caused us to overlook that he wasn’t ready. I felt pressured to get him out of diapers.
You know what’s best for your child so don’t feel pressured by everyone else’s comments. It’s okay to listen to their advice, but at the end of the day, your decision is the only one that matters.
DON’T rely on training diapers
I’m not a big fan of training diapers. Now I’m not saying don’t ever try them. I’m just saying it’s another tool in the potty training arsenal, and only you know through trial-and-error if it’ll work for your child. If you’ve had luck with training diapers, more power to you!
To me, training diapers always confused my children. We didn’t use them with Grace and with Rylen. I doubt we’ll use them with Brady, our youngest. Training diapers confuse my children and are no different than regular diapers. It’s also harder for me to monitor when they need to “go” if they’re wearing training diapers.
I do however love using them for nighttime.
DO make use of underpants
Go ahead and buy cute underpants for your child to get them excited about being a big boy or big girl. Our son was a huge fan of Thomas the train, so we purchased Thomas undies for him. He loved wearing big boy undies with his fave character.
Also, if he’s wearing undies and has an accident, you can emphasize the uncomfortable feeling of wearing wet undies. He won’t like that they’re wet and will want to change. And then he’ll be more inclined to use the toilet to avoid another accident.
DO set aside time to potty train
Choose a weekend with no other obligations and hunker down to achieve this goal. Don’t assume you can potty train while shopping or running errands. You’re asking your child to do something they’ve never done before and adding being out and about is not an ideal learning environment.
DO set timers
Make sure you’re putting your child on the toilet every 15-20 minutes so they start getting the hang of it. Use your phone to remind you. If you’re not putting them on the toilet consistently after they’ve had liquids, they’re sure to have an accident.
DO Make it fun
Let’s face it, there’s plenty of other activities your child would rather be doing. Sitting on the toilet every 20 minutes, while you try not to stare at them willing them to pee or poop is not fun. This is a great time to make it fun! Use a chart and stickers to show your child’s progress. Let them put a sticker on the chart when they’ve accomplished something.
Also, give little rewards. I gave Rylen mini M&Ms whenever he finished sitting on the toilet and/or did his business.
DO give praise
No one “gets” how to do something right off the bat. It will take a few accidents before your child “gets” it. Be prepared for this and don’t hold back on the praise when he’s just sitting on the toilet with nothing happening. He’ll attribute your positive feedback with being on the toilet, and it’ll help him to pee or poop sooner.
Like I mentioned above, learning something new is not easy. Yes, this can be a frustrating learning experience, but yelling or scolding is not helpful. You’ll scare them, and they’ll come to think of using the toilet as something bad.
When you’re feeling frustrated (and angry) take a step back, and ask your spouse for help. This is a team effort, and he needs to be involved.
DO celebrate this achievement
When I was sure Rylen was ready and I was prepared by implementing these tips, it didn’t take long before he quit the diapers (daytime at least). All in all, the process was quite enjoyable.
You’ll be so proud when your child successfully pees or poops in the toilet for the first time! Your heart will swell with love for their accomplishment. I was jumping for joy and clapping when my babies used the potty for the first time.
Celebrate this moment, Mom. This accomplishment is as much theirs as it is yours.
Did I miss anything to make potty training even better? Let me know in the comments.
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