This is one of the few milestones that even the most nostalgic of parents don’t seem to mind putting behind them. Years of diapers add up! A child who can manage this phase of his life independently is a blessing indeed! This is not to say that the process is easy, however, or that you can force it to happen before its time.
Most parents will notice a time around two to three years of age when a child begins to get curious about exactly what the rest of the family are doing while on the toilet. This is an excellent time to begin explaining the exciting adventure of pooping and peeing all by oneself in a toilet. WHAT FUN!!! We used Ezzo’s Potty Wise books as a guide. However, the general principles in most potty training circles are the same.
The Big Day Arrives
The big day arrives. Hurray! What fun! Wake your child and remind them what a special and important day this is. Put a super cool pair of underwear on them (no pants). Then explain that the goal is to go pee in the potty, NOT in the cool underwear. Schedule the entire day to do nothing but be with your child. You want to focus on this most important and exciting task.
Start by having your child sit on the potty for about five to ten minutes. It can be either an independent child potty chair or a child seat that fits over the adult potty. Stay there until she goes potty or the timer sounds.
Make it fun while she sits and waits. We had a basket of their favorite books next to the child potty seat. I even doled out M&Ms for time spent sitting there. If she doesn’t go potty, that’s OK. Praise her for sitting there and trying. She also gets a reward for being dry when she heads to the potty.
Check to See if She is Dry
Take the child off the potty. Give her some liquid, and keep an eye on the clock. After fifteen to thirty minutes put a big smile on your face and say, “Let’s check and see if you’re dry!” If she’s dry, she gets a treat. It can be candy, a sticker, or whatever you choose.
Then say, “It’s time to sit on the potty again!” Take her to the potty, and repeat the cycle in this way until nap time. At nap time you can put a diaper on her if you wish. You’ll take it off when she wakes up from her nap.
If the child succeeds in peeing or pooping in the toilet, you celebrate and the child gets another treat. If not, no problem. Just keep the routine going with a cheerful attitude and a smile on your face. If she didn’t succeed, she will probably be discouraged. Your job is to cheer her on. Be encouraging and don’t show any disappointment.
Funny Potty-Training Memories
Potty-training may leave you with some funny memories. We potty- trained Alex, our first born, when he was three years old. We accomplished it in one morning. Abby got the hang of it within two days at the age of two and a half.
When it was time to potty train our third child, Gabriel, I determined to do it all within a day or two. I gave Gabe juice, milk, crackers, and treats. We went to the bathroom time after time until both of us were worn out, and…nothing. I couldn’t believe that almost two hours had passed with me feeding him constantly, and he still hadn’t gone either number one or number two!
It was late morning when the telephone rang. Since I ran a business from my home, I felt I should at least answer the call. I would tell the client that I was potty training my child and would call them back at nap time. It had been less than two minutes when Gabriel ran up to me, thrilled beyond belief with himself.
Gabe Poops on the Carpet
“I did it, Mommy…I went poop!!” he triumphantly exclaimed. I was ecstatic! All of our efforts were going to pay off! I ran and looked in his little potty, but found it empty. As I looked at him quizzically, he looked up at me smiling. “Not there, Mommy! HERE!”
He dragged me into the living room where there was a pile of excrement so large it looked like a horse had dropped it, right in the middle of our nice blue carpet. I sank to the couch, exhausted, and had a little conversation with God.
“God, you know I’m tired!” I moaned. “I give up…I’m done! Why don’t YOU train him, God?” Discouraged, I proceeded to clean up Gabe’s mess, then took a break from potty training for an hour or so. During that time, I gave myself a pep talk, trying to get re-motivated for this potty-training business. But do you know what happened? From that moment forward, Gabe was fully potty-trained!
I’d like to take credit for that, but I’m confident that God had mercy on me and trained Gabe Himself. He is the author of all creation, and potty training His children is certainly not too hard for Him!
Abby “Eats” Her Brother’s Poop
Shortly after potty-training Alex, my friend Marikay stopped by with her kids to play. As the children were playing in the backyard, Alex went inside the house to use the bathroom. Abby, just eighteen months old at the time, followed him into the house. A few minutes later Alex came out with his pants at his ankles, needing me to wipe him. Abby followed close behind, her mouth covered in sticky brown goo.
Marikay and I looked at each other, horrified. “Abby!”, I exclaimed, “what is that on your mouth?” She looked at me sheepishly but said nothing. Afraid of the answer I might get, I gingerly asked, “Abby….did you eat Alex’s POOP?” She nodded ashamedly. I picked her up and ran into the house, my stomach churning and my brain whirring with all of the possible diseases one can pick up from ingesting fecal matter.
As I cleaned her off I demanded, “Abby, where were you when you ate it?” She pointed to the living room. I followed, confused, as she directed me to the corner of the room, and led me behind a large white armchair. There on the white carpet lay a spoon and a bottle of chocolate syrup! Never in my life was I so relieved to find a disobedient child eating chocolate syrup on a white carpet! I gave her a ‘time-out’ for knowingly disobeying, and we are still laughing about that incident today!
These Days Will Soon be Over
The bottom line in potty training is to know when your child is ready. Dedicate yourself to the task. Make a commitment to keep it ‘fun’ and expect it to take several days. That way, if your child succeeds sooner, you’ll both feel like champs! If for some reason your child does not ‘get it’, or gets very discouraged after trying, it’s also okay to wait and try again in a few months. At some point, he will get it. The potty training days will be a vague memory from the past.