I was sitting there thinking the other day (dangerous, I know) about my potty training journey with Logan. I say journey but I’m thinking maybe I should refer to it more as an adventure. We started about a year ago this month. He’s my only child, so this was a first for me as much as it was for him. When it comes to this particular parenting/child milestone I really didn’t know what I was getting my self into.
I thought I would share with you our potty training journey. Plus, I figured I should probably document this experience incase I ever have another child. I need to remember that I did survive this adventure with the first and he turned out okay, so far. Let me just preface all of this by saying that I was pretty sure that Logan would be going to kindergarten in pull ups.
The 3 Day Potty Training Method
I am a reader and I like to google everything! So I made sure to read as much as I could about potty training before we started. Let me just put this out there. Reading parenting books is not the same thing as actually doing what they suggest. It’s so much harder and nothing ever turns out or seems as easy as they make it seem. I made up my mind when we started potty training that I was going to try the 3 day method. (If you are unfamiliar with the 3 day potty training method, you can read about it here.) It’s just three days and we are done right?
Let’s just say that I must have been delusional. Everything I read said that ANY child can be potty trained using the 3 day method. HA! They obviously hadn’t met my child. Logan was ready to start, he knew when his diaper was wet or dirty and had started showing interest in the potty. All signs showed that he was ready. However, he is a very stubborn child, and he likes his routine. Any time there are changes in his life, it takes him a while to get used to them. (I’m not sure who he gets that from but I can feel my mom’s finger pointing at me.)
I tried the 3 day method on two separate occasions thinking that perhaps the first time I did something wrong. Nope! I did everything exactly the way it was suggested, and it still failed. He just didn’t care if his underwear was wet or dry and didn’t want to stop playing long enough to tell me he had to go potty. So now I had to get creative and try some other things.
Potty Charts and Positive Reinforcement
After the first failure, mentioned above. I took a few weeks off because I needed that time for my sanity. I stocked up on M&Ms, hot wheels, fun stickers, and other
bribing items little dollar store prizes. Then I took to Pinterest in search of a potty chart that would keep Logan’s interest. I found a couple that I rotated through. (You can find the charts I used on my Pinterest Potty Training board.) Also, I purchased some pull ups. I had grand delusions before we ever started potty training that I was going to be the mom that avoided pull ups and only used underwear. Thinking back on this I laugh, because I really was delusional.
One thing that having a child has taught me, is that I have to throw my ideas and expectations out the window and just learn to go with the flow. I’ve had to do that with Logan since I was pregnant with him. Why should I think it would be any different for potty training?
So, back to the charts and prizes. I put the chart up on the back of the bathroom door. Then I set a timer and made him sit on the potty every 30 minutes. If he didn’t pee I would make him sit again 15 minutes later. Looking back I was crazy! I stuck with this for a while and Logan pretty much just spent all day on the potty. He was comfortable and thought it was fun to just sit on his little potty and get the iPad or my phone. He would sit there so long I was afraid that he would have hemorrhoids at 2 years of age!
Every time he went pee or poop I would give him a prize. M&M’s for peeing and a toy for pooping. As time went on and he slowly started to get it, I modified things. The chart came into play as things progressed. Logan would have to fill up the chart with stickers before he could have a hot wheels and I stopped using the M&M and dollar store prizes (mostly because I ran out). This process seemed to be working, just slow going.
For every step we took forward in potty training it seemed we would take two steps back. I think there needs to be survival box for moms when it comes to potty training. Something with a big bottle of wine and lots of chocolate. (And I don’t even drink wine but I’m pretty sure I was about ready to start.) Logan would do really well for a few days then just stop caring and pee without telling me he had to go potty.
What really helped us after he was getting the hang of things was to use some negative reinforcement. Don’t worry I didn’t spank him or put in him in time out. I would just take whatever hot wheels he had just received, for finishing his chart, and put it up. Then, I let him know that he needed to tell me when he had to go potty and he could get his car back. Quite a few cars were taken and I dealt with MANY, MANY tears before he finally understood.
One day I set him on the potty and he peed. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or just by chance, but he did it and I gave him a car back. Then the light bulb went off and he started telling me he had to go potty just so he could get his cars back. Hallelujah! We were finally making some progress. To put this in perspective for you, I started the whole potty training process in September and this break through moment was in December.
Above I mentioned that I had plans of never using pull ups. I really believed that I could potty train Logan quickly just using really thick underwear. I figured he would be uncomfortable in underwear if he peed or pooped in them. Not true! After going through 5 pairs of underwear in one day, I caved. I had to go buy pull ups and use those. My fear with the pull ups was that he would think he was wearing a diaper and just go in them. It may have been why it took him so long to really get the hang of things but trust me when I say that this was much better for my sanity which means it was better for everyone. Right?
For quite a while even after he mastered potty training at home and would wear underwear around the house, I still put him in a pull up if we went out of the house or for nap times and bedtime. I know a lot of people say that this causes kids to take a step backwards in potty training but it didn’t seem to for us. If we were out at the store, he would still tell me he had to go potty. The pull up just gave an extra layer of protection so that if we couldn’t make it to a bathroom in time, we didn’t end up with a puddle in the store. Keep in mind that even after you think your child is potty trained accidents can still happen. You can read about our experience here.
I did not rush the night time process. My mom kept telling me that Logan would get it and things would progress as he was ready. You know what? She was right. When I finally stopped worrying about him being potty trained by a certain time and stopped pushing, things seemed to be a lot easier. It changed my mindset when it came to nighttime potty training.
He is 3.5 and still not 100% nighttime potty trained. We are still working on it but he has progressed in this area on his own. I have not pushed at all. He still wears a pull up to bed every night but wakes up dry 95% of the time.
We tried it with underwear for a week but it ended with him peeing in the bed twice in one night. I decided that it wasn’t worth the stress for everyone and went back to pull ups. I am pretty sure that Shadrach and I were stressing him out because we made such a big deal about it. Soon we will try underwear at night again but for now, he is doing just fine. He’s not even 4 yet and I think by the time he is, he will be completely trained. Why should I rush him before he’s ready?
My Final Thoughts
My point through telling you all of this is that you can read everything out there on how to potty train your child and it won’t matter. The reality is, you have to do what is best for your child. I thought that because of everything I’d read and the fact that my friends had trained their children, that were under 2, in a week or less, that we had to do that with Logan. I was wrong. Everything had to progress in his time. I couldn’t rush things because, when I do, Logan pushes back.
Just make sure and do what is best for your child and forget about what everyone else tells you and do not pay attention to what everyone else does. Only you know your child. Children do not fit into a cookie cutter mold and they are not all created equal. Thank goodness for that, or this world would be a very boring place.
I survived these days and even thought it’s been a whole year since we started and he isn’t completely potty trained, I’m okay with where we are. If you are just starting out on your potty training journey just know that you will survive. There will be days you’ll want to pull out all of your hair or curl up in the fetal position and stay there until your child is grown (trust me when I say I had these thoughts daily while we went through this process). Just be consistent and listen to your child. I promise, your child will not go to kindergarten in pull ups and even if they do, no judgement here. 🙂
I’d love to hear some of your stories about potty training. Was it hard for you, or did your child ease into wonderfully (in which case I’m terribly jealous but would still love to hear about it)?
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tineke - workingmommyabroad says
We will have to start this in about 6 months, feels still far away but I guess it will be here before we know it! Thanks for linking-up at Working Mommy Abroad Laura, sharing!
Laura Ramnath says
Thank you Tineke! I hope that things go very smoothly for you in 6 months when you start. Potty training has been the hardest thing I’ve done as a mom so far. 🙂 Also, thank you for having your link up and allowing me to join in!
My youngest thinks she is all ready to potty-train but I think she is just trying to hold me hostage in the bathroom and be naked as much as possible. I have had really bad expereinces with some of my older kids, so I am in no rush!
Laura Ramnath says
Crystal, I read your post about your daughter wanting to potty train and it made me laugh. I felt like my son loved to sit on the potty naked for hours too! It’s funny how potty training really teaches one patience and that our children really do have a mind of their own. 🙂 Good luck once you do really get started with your daughter.
Brittany Ferrell says
We are about to officially begin potty training…or so I believe. I can completely relate to having a child that likes her routines. She started showing all the signs and even asked to wear underpants! I bought her a set and she puts them on over her diaper!!!! She wears a diaper, that is what she has always worn, so this underpants thing must be worn in top! Aaahhhh!!! Great post!
Laura Ramnath says
Thank you Brittany! That is too cute that she wants to wear them over her diaper. It’s at least a step in the right direction. 🙂 I hope that you have a smooth transition into potty training. Thank you so much for your kind words!
Oh man, the learning curve!!! I’ve started dabbling into potty training a little with my 18 month old, and I can already tell I’m in for an experience! These truly are some excellent tips, and I love how you used a little of everything to really get your kiddo used to the potty. I really like your child-led approach and think I’m going to use something like that as well! Thanks for sharing <3
Laura Ramnath says
Thank you Savannah for your kind words! Yes, potty training is not for the weak of heart 😉 but I’m sure you will do just fine.. The best thing really is child led. I learned that the hard way. It really takes the stress out of the whole process a little. I hope it all goes smoothly for you and thank you for stopping by. 🙂
Cindy Magee says
Mine are 8, 6, and 4 now but ooooh those potty training days! I was so naive and listened to some well meaning advice from my mother and tried to potty train my 8 year old when he wasn’t even two. BIG MISTAKE. He was not ready and we were miserable and he wasn’t fully trained until 4+ because of the trauma of me pushing him to potty train(I still have mommy guilt over this). My daughter was almost 3 and then just decided in one week she was ready to potty train. My youngest was 3 when we started training but not interested at all until when he was 3.5 yrs, he found out he could go to the “big kids” club (babysitting) only if he was potty trained. Literally a week or two later he was done. They all had accidents every once in a while after potty training though and I think that’s normal.
Love your article and your honesty!!!
Laura Ramnath says
Hi Cindy! There’s something about that first child that seems to take the brunt of our trial and errors as parents. 🙂 I’m glad to hear that it gets easier with each child. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for stopping by.
I, too, am about to start on this journey with my two-year-old son. Thank you for sharing your experience in full detail. I am sure it will be a process, and one which will be controlled by the little man. I think parents brag far too often about how early their children are potty-trained, and it isn’t that big a deal. It isn’t about being impressive as a parent, it’s about listening to your child. Your article gets this point across very well!
Laura Ramnath says
Hi Leah! I agree that parents brag about this and it’s so easy to get pulled into that mind set while potty training. I hope all goes well for you and your little guy! Thank you so much for taking to time to stop and share with me. 🙂
I am just about ready to start the potty training adventure. My daughter has been giving me all the signs – telling me when she is wet, pulling her own shorts down, etc. I loved this post, so detailed. It gave me some good ideas – like stocking up on little toys and pull-ups. I will be sure to check out your pinterest board as well. Thanks for sharing!
Laura Ramnath says
I’m so glad it helped! Potty training isn’t easy, at least, I don’ think it is. 🙂 I hope all goes well. Thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂