Potty Training Works When You Break All the Rules


potty trainingWhen it came time to start potty training my son, I think I just about broke all the rules. In my neighborhood, there's pressure to potty train your child early because some of the fancier preschools will not accept children who are still in diapers. But there's also a kind of arms race among parents, a bit of playground competition, like every other child development milestone.

Well, potty training is not a competition. And all the rules are completely useless. Ideal age? Using the right pull-ups? Scheduled potty-sitting time? Forget it. I think you need to be a potty training renegade to get the job done. For me and my son, it was all about waiting until he was ready, watching his signals, and letting him figure it out himself.

Ditch the tricked-out training pull-ups. First of all, they're more expensive. I know kids love the cartoon characters, but I think they just enable your kid to prolong the diaper phase. They're just too cushy, comfortable, and fun. What really worked for me was to make going in your pants as uncomfortable and undesirable as possible. So no Buzz Lightyear flashing-lights trainers for us.

No rewards. I did not bribe my son into sitting on the potty. Well, actually, I tried to at first but then I stopped because it wasn't working. His real issue with sending his bowel movements to the right receptacle had more to do with the freaky sensation of sending it into the void. Existential poo angst! So I watched him for those pre-poo moments when he suddenly got really quiet and contemplative. Then I rushed him over to the potty and just hung out with him, making sure he felt extra comfortable and safe.

Naked time. I kept telling people about this technique and they kept saying, "Mmm hmmm, yeah, that's gross." But I swear, it works. Just roll up your rugs and give your kids some naked time for a few hours every day. They will totally make the connection between what comes out of them and where it goes.

No hurry. My son got phase one of potty training down in a flash at 2 1/2. Phase two (poo) took longer. And I can't even tell you how old he was before he stayed dry through the night for fear that he'll grow up, read this, and sue me. Seriously, it took years. And what's the hurry, anyway? Aside from those preschools who push early training, you're just swapping one inconvenience for another. So you're out of diapers now, hooray. Welcome to the world of constantly finding acceptable public restrooms. Welcome to the joy of public urination.

Are you potty-training by the book or are you a potty-training renegade?

Image via valentinapowers/Flickr

boys, potty training


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rough... roughface22

I love this! great advice for down the road. thank you for being a renegade!

3gift... 3gifts.from.god

I  did the strip 'n drip method: Strip him naked, and let him figure it out. No potty seat, no pullups, no rewards. We had him throw away his diapers, closed the doors to the rooms with carpet, collected up every towel in the house, and pulled out a full bottle of floor cleaner. 3 days later we had an empty bottle of floor cleaner, a LOT of dirty towels, and a potty trained kid. He was 26 months old. 

Jenn Jacobs

I'm a babysitter and I currently am involved in the potty training process. I've read some articles like this and have tried the naked time approach, my feed back on that, it works great. The 2 year old I care for knows not to pee or poo on the floor, thank goodness, so every time she asks me to put a diaper on her I point her to her potty, which has been placed against the wall in front of the TV. I find that letting her sit on the potty while watching TV makes her more comfortable and we empty the potty together (she likes to flush the big potty). Not every trick will work on every kid and there might be some back tracking at times but with positive reinforcement (we always high five each other when she's done the deed) and a few helpful tricks, any kid can do the do.

tinyp... tinypossum

Renegade here, too. We are in the trenches of PT right now with my youngest. When he showed signs of readiness, we ditched the diapers and went straight to underwear. Pull ups are just fancy diapers and kids have to have accidents to learn. No rewards either. I want him to feel successful and do it because he knows he can, not for an m&m. he got peeing down in a couple of days, pooping.....well we're still working on that. It took my older son longer to master number 2, too. I'm not keen on the nakie all over the house, but we don't make a big deal of an accident. We do have him help with the clean up process, too.

Rachel Johnson

I dont know, rewards really helped my son out, he's been potty trained since he was a little over two. We used pull ups for a little bit, such as at night, but I think we only had them for a week. As soon as he started to stay dry,I ditched them. One thing that we did was we skipped the little kid potty, got him a potty seat (one that you put on the big toilet) and a stool, and got him comfortable with the big potty right away. I just don't think there is a problem with offering rewards to children who are learning how to use the potty, it made him feel really proud of himself. :)  every kid is different though.

hutch... hutchfam2007

We have pretty much tried it all. Except the naked time thing, it just wasnt necessary, that was a last resort we never made it to. We tried pull-ups aka fancy diapers and all they do is prolong the procees imo. We still use them when we are going somewhere so we know there wont be accidents in the car or out in public. Now that she has it down, she almost never even wets her pullups when we are out and about. What worked for us WAS rewards. Stickers. Oh how my dd loves her stickers!!!! We did a chart for the first month to get her into the habit and now she just gets her stickers and can place them anywhere on paper she likes. We now have an improved prize system in place for poo's. (we have had a rough time with #2 as she holds it too long and gets constipated... we r talking like she only goes every 3 days or so) so we have a basket of cool prizes and she gets to pick one when she poops on the potty. She finally has it!!! Feeling confident now and thinking about starting to night train her since she is in her toddler bed now too. The independance of a toddler bed made a big difference in her potty habits too somehow.

hutch... hutchfam2007

Rachel Johnson -- Good point with the potty seat and stool combo. We had the seat but recently got the stool and her being able to do the Whole process herself has given her a confidence boost. She can also move her stool over to the sink and wash up all by herself too.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Some of the fancier preschools? I looked at a lot of preschools and there isn't a single one in town that would accept a kid in diapers other than the integrative one which includes kids with some pretty major special needs and developmental delays. My son's preschool complained that he didn't go standing up at age three and they were charging under $200 a month.

SamNS... SamNStefanMommy

I swear by the naked baby method of potty training. 2 days for my 8yo to be fully trained, and 4 for my 4yo. Both were freshly 3 when they trained.

Also, when our 4yo was training, he was afraid of falling in the toilet so wouldn't sit on it. He was too short to stand up and whiz, and refused to use a step stool. So he ended up "hugging" the toilet every time he had to go (like sitting on a chair backwards). After about 6 months, he started using it the "normal" way.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

I'm definitely a renegade, lol. I start the process in infancy. DD first used her little potty at 5.5 months. At that age, there's no rebellion, you just give them the option on a regular basis, and they take it from there. DD was trained at 13 months.

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