My husband and I now have a fully potty trained 2.5-year-old toddler in our midst! And oh does he look so cute in his Mickey Mouse or Lightning McQueen big-boy underwear! The money saved on not having to purchase diapers is nice, finally. Even better, was the ease of it all. No stress has been my philosophy!
Ain’t nobody got time for that. Seriously.
Potty training can usually be a stressful time for parents and kids. You’re ready, they’re not. You ask them “Do you have to go potty?” and they fervently answer, “NO!” Their stubbornness kicks in. Your frustration boils. You may drag them kicking and screaming to sit on the toilet. You feel like you’re acosting your own child just to get their pants down, only for them to, seconds later, run out of the bathroom the moment your grip untightens, and there they are, back to what they were doing when you interrupted. Only now, they’re half naked. The battle often looks like an MMA brawl in your own home. And you’re the one who feels beaten and is disheveled. You lost.
Or maybe your child’s resistance isn’t felt as strong, but it’s there. It’s present enough to make it stressful.
I think a lot of parents make the mistake of trying to train their child too early, when they simply aren’t ready. Pushing your child into this means things are already starting off badly. Now, I’m normally a fan of “The parent is the boss” philosophy. Don’t want to clean up your toys? Too bad! Do it anyway. You made the mess. You want to continue playing with your cars while we eat dinner? Sorry, it’s dinner time and we’re sitting together.
The other mistake is just stressing over it all. That what my mistake in the very beginning.
There are certain circumstances when we have to allow our child to reach milestones when they’re willing, open, and developmentally ready. You didn’t force your child into walking. Most likely they surprised you one day by first standing, then months later, they took their first steps toward you.
Why isn’t potty training treated the same way? There is an added benefit to saving money on diapers. But I honestly think the main reason we stress over this so much is the comparing society that we live in. Your friend has a kid around the same age as you and HER child is fully potty trained. Your kid must be behind. You clearly haven’t been working hard enough to potty train yours. Everyone keeps asking you and you hang your head and say “We’re working on it.” Even though it’s a fight every time you try. You may have even give up.
Or, if you’re like me, then your answer was more lengthy and nonchalant: Life is stressful enough as it is, and I just don’t have time to add the stress of potty training to the long list. He’ll be trained when he’s ready, not when I’m ready. I’m not even pushing it.
I did get some looks when I’d say that. *Gasp* “You’re not even trying???!!!”
Ugh. Moms are so rude sometimes. Get over yourselves, people.
Own up to your decision to give up, or to not even start. Laugh it off. “I gave up. He isn’t ready and I’m over fighting him about it.”
Blake has been the last one among his friends to be potty trained. It is what it is.
Call it lazy-parenting-syndrome, if you like. I’ll take it.
I’m not a mommy expert, nor am I a potty training expert, but I do know what worked for our No Stress Potty Training. And if you’re on this crazy roller coaster ride of parenting, and you’d like to attempt to scratch one milestone off your list that doesn’t have to be stressful, try the
I Don’t Care Potty Training, I mean, No Stress Potty Training approach.
- Personally, we didn’t start out with rewarding Blake. Honestly, I’m not a fan of giving rewards for doing things like going to the bathroom. It just goes against so many things I believe in! (This is also the reason I do not do Treasure Box in my classroom) There are things in life that are an expectation, and I don’t believe there should be an extrinsic reward. (Read on to see how we did later implement a reward. But I’m so glad we didn’t start off with this. I didn’t want to BRIBE him into getting into the routine. It helped later on when he was more ready.)
- Once Blake got the peeing down okay, we started rewarding him for pooping in the potty with dum-dums or marshmallows. But ONLY for pooping. (I was initially against this but my husband started it and it was working, so I kept it up. He has good ideas.) 😉
- We never punished him for going in his pants. I don’t think punishing for accidents is effective AT ALL. You don’t want to scare them into potty training through fear. When he did have an accident, we would just say “You have to tell mommy or daddy when you have to go. Big boys go on the potty, and you’re such a big boy!”
Types of Toilets:
- We started out using a toddler potty. It was the biggest pain! Cleaning it out was so gross the first few times he ever used it. It was in the way. And I was just over it very quickly. I found a Tot Potty seat on Amazon that goes over the regular toilet and is the perfect size for their little bottoms. I was much more on board with this because there was no clean up required, and I liked the idea of him using the same toilet like he saw us using. I thought this would make the future transition, or when we were out in public, a lot easier. Here’s the seat we used: (Click on image to view item in Amazon.)
- I know some people carry the toddler toilet around in their vehicle so they have it handy if their kid has to go to the bathroom when they’re out of the house. We didn’t do this. We just put him in a diaper when we went out. Eventually, during the training process, he learned to hold it. That’s what it’s all about to me, learning to hold it in. Now he wears underwear all of the time and just tells us when he has to go. No diapers in the car and no toddler potty to carry around and clean out. I just don’t have the stomach for that. Remember, this is all about no stress. For me, the thought was too stressful that I may have to pull over on a whim, grab the toilet, and hope he makes it in time just went against what I was trying to accomplish.
- This is the part that you start “early”. Way before the potty training stage even begins, start having conversations with your child about bathroom terms. Allow them to watch you. Use terms like underwear, toilet, potty, bathroom,and other “toileting terms”. Explain to them what you’re doing. Even if they don’t want to hear it. (Kids are always listening, even when you think they aren’t.)
- Once you feel they are getting toward the point of getting ready to maybe begin their training, ask them if they have to go. If they say no, that’s okay. Ask, and ask, and ask, and ask. Sing a song!
- When they’re on the toilet, talk to them about using the bathroom. Tell them their toy will be SO PROUD of them! (Mimicking voices of toys is an added and hilarious bonus, apparently)
- He had a few accidents where he peed onto the sofa, despite us trying to put towels down so it wouldn’t soak through. That’s when we made the decision to buy him his OWN chair, that was easily washable. We bought an IKEA kid’s chair for $39.99 and if he leaked onto we just threw the cover in the washing machine. Totally easy! No stress for me about getting upholstery cleaner out to quickly get rid of the liquid before it soaked through.
- We didn’t make the initial cold-turkey transition into underwear. We would often let him walk around in only underwear just for a small part of the day, in small doses, just to get him accustomed to the feeling of underwear and what happens when you pee with underwear on. Honestly, the first few times peeing on himself didn’t even phase him! We would notice before he did. Whatever!
- Allow them to pick out the kind of underwear they want!
Consistency & Communication:
- Talk to your spouse about how you are going to implement the training. Listen to one another. Your toddler is going to be very confused if you both aren’t implementing in the same manner, and your training will not go smoothly.
- Make certain times of the day a part of your potty routine. For instances, we made it part of the bath routine that he HAD to sit on the potty before getting in the bathtub. I told him he couldn’t have his toys in the bathtub if he didn’t at least sit on the toilet and TRY (this is a great time to introduce them to the word TRY–hard concept, apparently). Eventually we added a few other mandatory potty times during the day: When he woke up, etc. Add them one at a time, about a week or two apart. Don’t’t make it an overwhelming mandatory list though. I’d say 2-3 mandatory routine times is enough.
- Make sure school is being just as consistent as you are at home. If not, all of your efforts are worthless! Likewise, if school is doing it, then you should be as well. Communicate with them and ask them how they’re doing it. Also, don’t be shy about getting daily updates on how he did with the potty training. It’s important you know your kid’s habits throughout the day.
- Find shows or books that are potty related. There’s a great Daniel Tiger episode where Daniel and Prince Wednesday learn to go potty. We love Daniel Tiger in our house because every concept has a little song, and we often sing them to Blake. The show is no longer available on Netflix, but it is on Amazon Prime! It’s Episode 111. We used the song “If you have to go potty STOP, and go right away” a lot as we went throughout our day.
- Allow your kid to bring in their favorite toy with them on the potty. For us this meant Lamby (our beloved stuffed Lamb), or a few cars. We stayed away from electronic devices while sitting on the toilet. Otherwise, I think kids tend to sit there for ages knowing they can spend longer on the device if they just sit. They’re smart little buggers!
- When you think they’re fully ready, start putting them in underwear for longer spurts during the day. When I thought Blake was ready, I just made the decision to do underwear all day, and he did great!
- If you have to be gone for a huge chunk of the day, don’t be shy about putting them in a pull-up. This kind of contradicts the “consistency” aspect, but eventually when they’ve learned to hold their bladders it’ll all make sense and fall into place. We went to Disney last weekend and I didn’t know how things would be if we were standing in line for a ride and he suddenly had to go. Do we lose our spot? So, we took the no-stress approach and put him in a pull-up. Cool fact: He didn’t go in his pull-up all day! We just consistently asked him if he had to go when we WEREN’T in a line, and when he said “yes”, we went. Disney is a day to have fun, not worry and stress over pottying routines. I wanted our family to enjoy the day. So we did! Just, in a diaper.
When you’re just starting, do not to stress too much during the week when they’re just getting the hang of it. You’ve already had a long day at work (most likely), and they’ve had a lot day at school. The few hours you have with your child in between picking them up and bedtime are few. Try to make them positive! If the training is a fight in the evenings in you’re home, just let it go. Continue to ask, put those pottying time routines in place that you’ve begun (bath time, etc) and let it go at that.
Breathe. They will get there eventually.
There’s no magical formula. I feel this method is just very organic. That’s such a hot topic word right now. Trendy, even. (Which are things I try to stay away from, but it’s so fitting here).
There are so many things we can’t control about parenting when it comes to our kids. But I think we take for granted all the things we CAN control. The best way to take control, sometimes, is to not let the situations control US. Sometimes we need to choose the easy road. Even if to save our sanity. Choose less stress.
Whichever way you potty train, be sure you have more time spent with your little one that doesn’t involve meltdowns. There are enough of those as it is!
Lastly, just DON’T.STRESS. It isn’t worth it.
If you have any other non-stress potty training advice, please do share!