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A few months ago I shared my first potty training tips, or more like, potty training don’ts.
When I tried out potty training my toddler a few months ago, I truly thought she was ready. She was interested in the potty, took her own diaper off, and asked for diaper changes frequently. To me- that meant she was ready to potty train.
But as it turns out, it just wasn’t the time. I had to take a step back and just accept that she wasn’t ready yet. The whole go in the potty thing just hadn’t clicked for her.
Little did I know, however, that just a few short months later she would be potty trained in 3 days flat!
2-year-old Potty Training Story
I know, 3 days?? When someone would tell me they potty trained their toddler in 3 days I figured they must have been some obsessive monster who just sat their kid on the potty for three days straight and forced it to happen.
But our story is a bit different, and that is why I really want to share these potty training tips with you.
Leading up to the actual dive into potty training, you get SO many potty training tips. From everyone. Oh do this, don’t do this, watch for this, but be careful of this.
But what it all boils down to is YOU know your kiddo best.
The right day doesn’t have to be perfectly timed. The day I decided it was time with Kendall to potty train, I had been up since about 2 am with her twin brother and was in no mood for the day that was to follow.
But I went for it because Kendall was showing me the signs that I felt proved it was just time to go for it. I didn’t have any underwear for her, as she had grown out of the pairs I bought the last time we tried, so we started the day off with pants only and I put in a pick-up order at Target for a few of her favorite characters.
From there, I asked constantly if she had to go pee or potty. I do NOT recommend asking if they have to go “potty”, and we’ll dive into the why of that later. And by constantly, I mean every time I looked at her, thought about it, or realized it had been fifteen minutes. That might sound crazy, but I was trying to get her to connect the words and the actual action. I wasn’t forcing her to do anything and never once did I make her sit on the toilet. Not forcing her into anything is a huge part of why I think potty training ended up being so successful for her.
I made things fun, we put together a simple sticker chart with some recycled cardboard and crafting stickers I found. I let her put a new sticker on the board each time she asked to go potty, tried to go potty, or peed/pooped. I know a lot of families use treats and stuff to reward their toddlers for using the potty, but I don’t want my twins valuing sweets and such as a reward. Food is food and that is absolutely a topic for another day.
So we went for a sticker chart, that we actually stopped using by day two. Kendall enjoyed the satisfaction of using the potty and having dance/jumping parties when she would go and that worked as a motivator enough!
Day one was pretty good. Stressful, because the whole potty training experience is stressful, but it was good none the less. She peed a handful of times in the potty, had a handful of accidents, but was scared to poop in the potty. I could tell she was trying to go, but would say “mommy I’m scared”. I worried a little bit by that, but I know that pooping in the potty can cause a lot of stress for kids so I figured if it lasts a few days I’ll maybe chat with her doctor, but I let it be at that point.
Day two was rough. She didn’t make it to the potty to pee AT ALL until after dinner time. We went through all of her pants by this point and she was upset wearing her brothers shorts. I thought to myself, maybe it isn’t the right time to do this, but she did end up pooping in the potty after dinner time so I figured with that accomplishment I should at least try a few more days.
Then day three came, and this girl woke up a PRO. I asked her if she needed to go pee when she woke up, and she hopped over to the bathroom and went all on her own. She didn’t have any accidents all day aside from forgetting one time to pull down her underwear when she went pee, but I call that a major win. I still asked if she needed to go, and would walk with her to the bathroom, but seriously, I was amazed.
Potty training tips for potty training in 3 days
Okay so I shared a bit of my story, but what did I actually do?
Let me give you a near play-by-play:
- Watch for signs
- Go for it when it feels like it is time, not necessarily what is best for you
- Accept that there will be messes and that is ok
- Examples of what to do during the 3 days
- Wake up, take their diaper off, put pants/underwear on
- Ask constantly if they have to go pee or poop (no POTTY)
- Put together a reward system that works for your family
- If you’re using a toddler potty, use it in the bathroom
- Walk with them/sit with them in the bathroom while they try to go
- Go about your day as normal (staying home of course)
- Get overly excited when they make any sort of progress like asking to go pee, telling you they have to go, sitting on the potty, actually going pee or poop
- A lot of reassurance such as “you can do this!” “I’m so proud of you” etc
- Watch water consumption- I made this mistake and naps ended up not happening because she would ask to go pee every ten minutes and the same thing happened at bedtime
- Last, put a diaper on for bedtime and keep the transition smooth
- By day three, my daughter was taking herself to the bathroom & since I focused more on actual actions to celebrate her going pee or poop, we didn’t need to continue any sort of rewards system which I am very thankful for
That is kind of an overview, here is more of the nitty-gritty from start to finish potty training tips.
Before anything else, demonstrate what using the bathroom actually is
I think this is HUGE for the kiddos. How are they supposed to know what using the toilet is if they’ve never seen it before? I let Kendall get curious by watching me, helping me with toilet paper and explaining what it is, along with letting her flush and wash her hands with me when I was done.
Watch for potty training signs
Now, just because they’re showing some signs does NOT mean they are ready to potty train. Let that be one of my best potty training tips you take away from this post. They will go when they are ready.
A few tips that led me to believe Kendall was really ready to use the bathroom were:
- Letting me know when she went pee or poop in her diaper
- Asking for diaper changes when she was wet
- Trying to give herself her own diaper changes if I wasn’t fast enough
- Waking up mostly dry after naps/bedtime
- & showing curiosity in the bathroom/toilet itself.
Never force potty training
I do not think you can force your toddler into potty training. You just can’t. If they are not ready- they’re not ready. That is it. Some kids potty train earlier than others, and some are just late bloomers. It all comes down to your toddler and what is best for them. Causing them stress and making using the toilet when they are not ready will likely lead to resentment towards the act and could even lead to more accidents or being really hard to train period.
Let them be in control
Seriously, let your toddler take the reigns of the whole potty training thing. You can’t just expect their little brains to click one day because you’re on vacation and it’s convenient for you to potty train. Since when has anything in parenthood been convenient, lol! Let them be in control because then they will be able to feel the satisfaction of DOING something and enjoy it. Just my two cents there.
Preparing to potty train
Now, obviously I didn’t prepare too much but if I were you, I would:
- Read up a bit on potty training (like you’re doing now) but don’t take things too seriously. Keep the tips and ideas in your mind and you’ll figure out what is then going to work best for your toddler and your family
- Purchase a toddler potty. You don’t have to, but it has made the potty training experience a bit easier in that while she is learning I don’t have to help her stay propped up on the big toilet and she is free to go on her own. Also, I plan on using the toddler potty for car trips so, just a good investment.
- Purchase underwear, dresses, and stretchy pants. Those might be something you have plenty of, but come potty training time I quickly realized how few dresses and easy to pull up pants I had for her and we ended up running out of pants!
Day in the life potty training tips
Now when you’re actually in the flows of potty training, I want you to keep some things in mind:
- Let them be independent. You don’t have to follow them every time they go, but ask if they want you there.
- Hand them their tablet or your phone, or read them a book to encourage them to stay sitting on the potty longer than 2 seconds
- Have fun with it! Every time Kendall actually went in the potty, we had a “monkeys jumping on the bed” party and she LOVED it
- Stay home for a few days. You probably hear that from everyone, but it just makes life easier
- I didn’t day & night potty train at the same time. She wets her diaper occasionally at night, but as someone who wet the bed for a very long time (into my teens) I don’t want to force her to do something her body isn’t actually capable of doing. We’ll work on it piece by piece!
- DON’T ask them if they have to “go potty”. I made this mistake, and for the first two days Kendall associated going potty with going into the bathroom. Not actually going pee or poop. We have to remember toddlers are very literal thinkers. Use the phrase “do you have to pee/poop” instead
I know the accidents that happen are frustrating, but remember it is not their fault and this is a big learning experience all the way around. I supported Kendall through her accidents, reminding her that we are learning, it is okay to have accidents, and that we can clean up and try again. I think the key here was remaining calm and encouraging, rather than getting frustrated cleaning up the mess and making her feel like she did something wrong.
Potty training charts/rewards
Like I said earlier- I didn’t really do the whole “rewards” thing. Your child might need the rewards as motivation to try using the potty, but if you do go that route I really suggest using anything other than food. Associating “good behavior” with sweets or snacks can lead to them coming to the conclusion that those “reward foods” rank higher than any other foods and they can become obsessive over them. I believe in treating all food as food, meaning we don’t have special treats for doing xyz and food isn’t a motivator of any kind because one kind doesn’t outrank the other.
If you choose to go the reward route, a few ideas might be:
- A sticker chart
- Dance parties
- Bathroom bubbles
- Bathroom games/books
This is SO common for toddlers and even just young kids. It can be weird for them to have the experience of pooping in a toilet, and it might make them uncomfortable or they experience one difficult time pooping and then they associate that bad experience with pooping as a whole. I’m just taking it as it comes, but I do reassure Kendall, explain myself when I poop, and let her know that pooping is normal and it will be okay.
If you’re struggling with your toddler pooping in the toilet, I suggest checking out this post.
Now, like I mentioned above, I’m not going hard with nighttime potty training right now. And I don’t see myself making it a huge deal for a while. I grew up wetting the bed. I wet the bed until I was a teenager.
My parents tried all of the things. I even had spinal cord surgery when I was 8 years old because a side effect of a tethered cord (that is fixed through surgery) is bedwetting. The surgery didn’t help and I wish my mom knew at the time just how common bedwetting is that it isn’t something you can just magically stop with a child. The part of your brain that allows for waking up to use the bathroom to click develops at different times for everyone. I don’t think forcing it at all is something that will be helpful for your kiddos and will just cause more anxiety around the issue all the way around.
With that, I use judgment whether to put Kendall in a diaper at nap or bedtime. A week following potty training, she stayed in undies around the clock and no accidents and woke herself up to go pee at night time. But then after three days, she slept very hard all night long and I think her starting to pee is what woke her up because she was really sad when she woke up.
It’s all a learning game.
Now, obviously I am no expert. I just happened to manage potty training my toddler in three days. I’m just as shocked as you are. But what worked for my daughter might not work your toddler for no reason other than they are different kids. I also expect some regression over the upcoming months that I will likely share at that point, but while these potty training tips were still fresh in my mind I wanted to get them out there to hopefully help you potty train your own toddler.
Best of luck, mama!