Potty Training 101 – A How To

[Note – This is how we are potty training M. It will probably be different with E, and may be a little different with your child as well, because again, each child is different and what works with some children won’t work with others.]

Once M was showing major signs of being ready, I asked her if she wanted to sit on the “big potty” (no potty seat, just me holding her on it) to see if she had any interest. She did, so I held her. The first or second time she sat on it, she peed. After that, she continued to ask if she could sit on the potty. So whenever she would ask, we would go in the bathroom and I’d hold her and she’d try to go.

We then brought in a potty chair and a potty seat (although I recommend doing this before your child is really using the potty), and for awhile she was only interested in the potty chair. We also were still in diapers full time, and we would just take off a diaper, use the potty, and then put on another diaper. I would purposefully time it so we would sit on the potty right after breakfast, lunch, and after nap. Prime times that she would need to go. Remember, you want to set them up for success, not failure. She did really well with this for about a week, going each time she sat on it. She was even asking to go in between the times I was putting her on.

After a week or so, I eventually decided to just take off her diaper and see what happened. I just let her go bare bottom (we were in the house since I dedicated a full week to staying inside and potty training, so it wasn’t a big deal).  There were a few inevitable accidents, but she quickly got the hang of it.

After a few days of being bare bottomed and me taking her to the potty every 15 – 20 minutes (sometimes with success, other times with just an attempt but no success), she started to tell me when she needed to go instead of me having to ask. Gradually we increased the time span to 45 minutes to an hour. If she hadn’t told me she needed to go within the last 45 minutes to an hour, I’d suggest we go potty.

The tough part for M was transitioning into underwear. I assume that she thought of these like a diaper – where she could pee and it would get absorbed. She wasn’t really that bothered by wet underwear. This was honestly a struggle for patience for me. It was frustrating because M would go 2 days without an accident and then the moment I put undies on her, she would pee in them. She also didn’t want to pull them down to go potty. She wanted to sit on the potty wearing them instead, no matter how much we talked about it. I don’t know if it was me telling her and showing her for a few days that the “Potty Time Princess” (see this post about the book the princess is in) pulled down her undies to go, but one day it just clicked. After going 3 or so more days straight bare bottomed (without trying undies at all), I dared to try undies again. And magically, just like that, M didn’t pee in them and was willing to pull them down to go potty. This was a big step because it meant we could leave the house.

I’m not sure if I was more excited or terrified. I know the day is going to come where we leave the house and she pees in her car seat or in the middle of a store, but that first trip I must have asked her 90 times in 20 minutes if she was still dry and if she needed to go potty. Now, we make sure she goes potty right before we leave the house, I tell her she needs to keep her car seat dry as I put her in, I ask if she needs to go potty when we get to the store and once again before we leave, remind her she needs to keep her car seat dry as I put her back in, and then we go right to the potty when we get back to the girls’ house. Knock on wood, we haven’t had an accident outside of the house yet. I’m well prepared though, and carry a full stock of undies, pants, and a shirt just in case.

When M has an accident I take her out of the peed on clothes, tell her it’s okay, accidents happen, but we need to remember to use the potty. Then we go into the potty and she tries. If she’s able to go, then great. If not, no big deal. I tell her we’ll try again next time. Then we move on. M had a day where she would have an accident and thought it was funny. She did this a few times in one day. In order to prevent her from having more “accidents” on purpose, I told her that it was not funny and we needed to make sure we were on the potty. I didn’t use a mean voice or a harsh tone. Just simply stated a fact. We haven’t had any issues with this since then.

Potty training is a process, and M is still learning and gaining more control of her bladder. We’re still at the point where if she says she needs to go, we stop what we’re doing, jump up and go right to the potty. Above all else, remember to remain positive. Even when accidents happen, remember that your child more than likely isn’t doing it maliciously or out of spite. They’re still learning. This is a big deal. They’re changing something in a big way that they’ve been doing for their entire life.  Don’t scold or demean your child for having an accident. Just simply remind them to use the potty next time and move on.

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