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5 Truths About Potty Training a Toddler

Updated on November 13, 2014

The truth about potty training...

My son turned 3. His vocabulary was finally developing to the point where he consistently said, "I make poop mommy, change me." So I made the decision that it was time to start potty training! That was my first mistake.

Here's the bottom line. It doesn't matter one tiny bit if I was ready; he was not! There was no Diego-covered potty seat, no singing praising tiny potty, no gold-star-filled reward chart that was going to make a bit of difference to my kid. He just was not ready. I formally began the potty training process on June 5th, and by that I mean that I took off his diaper, put him in some undies, and set the timer to put him on the toilet every 20 minutes. Here's what happened: some tears, some successes, some accidents literally minutes after successes, some melt-downs, lots of frustration for both him and me. This went on for about 3 or 4 days before I hung my head in mommy-shame and gave up. Diaper back on. And then nearly 4 months later on October 14th, it happened. It just happened. He looked me right in the face with those big brown eyes and said, "Mommy, I wear my undies today." And the rest is history. Not a single accident since. Now, I fully understand that every child is different and I'm sure there are children out there that have responded positively to the potties and the sticker charts. Mine just wasn't one of those kids. And maybe yours isn't either. And as frustrating as it is to sit around and wonder if your child will be in Pull-Ups at his 8th grade graduation, try to remember these 5 tips:

1) Go ahead and buy the colorful singing potties or the stickers or the rewards-- (my son thought we were going to the toy store after every poop!) But don't be surprised when none of those things magically potty train your child. They are great tools for role-playing, positive reinforcement, and discussion starters. But none are miracles.

2) Training pants are not a bad thing! I read several claims that training pants slow down the potty training process. I disagree. One of the first steps in bringing awareness to potty training is to bring all the bathroom business, where it belongs-- in the bathroom. We began changing diapers in the bathroom where I could explain to my child that pee-pees and poo-poos are done in the bathroom. Along with this, we began going through the motion of pulling up our training pants and pulling them down. Let's be real-- having to lay a 3-year-old down on the floor (or God forbid in a public restroom) is quite cumbersome.

3) Talk about it, read about it, watch the Elmo movies-- do whatever you need to do to get your child thinking about using the toilet. Their little brains need to be submerged with the notion that they too are capable of getting their booties on that toilet seat.

4) Don't force your child. Nothing good will come of a screaming toddler on a toilet. Nothing. Trust me. Save yourself the frustration and use language such as, "Want to try potty on the toilet?" "Ok, maybe next time" or "We'll try again tomorrow" or "I know your will be ready soon." And when that sweet child is sitting and sitting there for what seems like forever with nothing to show for his efforts, try--"Good trying honey!" Keep it together mama!

5) That day will come. I promise. Just be patient. Make small steps like those listed above, and just wait. I guarantee that sometime before 8th grade graduation, your baby will be coming to you saying, "I need to make pee pees mommy."

And soon after that, the next challenge--- How to get your child to use a public restroom without wanting to dip him in rubbing alcohol right after. I'm still working on mastering that one folks. Stay tuned.

Potty Training

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