Oh the joys of potty-training…

I recently ran into a friend who has two little ones.  She was trying to potty train child number one and was finding herself very frustrated.

I remember trying to potty train child number one at the age of 2 (child number two came along when she was 27 months old and I didn’t want two in diapers!)  She didn’t do well at all with the whole potty training thing. I worked for weeks with her and I was soooooo stressed.

I tried again at 2 years, 4 months. Still no success. Then 2 years 6 months. Nope.  Then 2 year 8 months…still no good.  It wasn’t until she was nearly 3 that she finally got it!

What I learned in that experience was that when your child is ready to potty train, it won’t take much effort.  Give it 2-3 days and if they are not catching on (and I’m not talking about you catching them at the right times!) then let it go.  Don’t add that to your stress pile…you already have enough stress with one or more little ones!

I found this to be hard-earned wisdom that worked every single time as I potty-trained 3 more little ones over the years.

If you’ve successfully potty-trained, what other wisdom would you share with a mom doing it for the first time?


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15 thoughts on “Oh the joys of potty-training…

  1. Thank you for this post! I have a 3 year old girl and a 4 year old boy that are in the potty training process right now. I am looking forward to reading what worked for others!

  2. I recently potty trained my 3 year old and after much frustration for 3 days, I did not give up, but kept encouraging him when he did get to the bathroom on time and when he didn’t. I had to take him to a friends house for a few hours on the 4th day and he started to tell my friend when he had to go and now he is going all on his own!! We still have problems with bm’s and I have no ideas on how to fix this, other than keep encouraging and reminding him of what is expected of him. It is frustrating, but I can’t let him see that it’s getting to me!

  3. I have 3 kids, and thankfully we are DONE with the potty training stages of life. I learned early on with child #1 that he would potty train when HE made his mind up to it, NOT when I “thought” he was ready. He was almost 3 when baby #2 came into our lives and I “thought” that I would be able to potty train him while I was on maternity leave. I had no luck whatsoever! We tried buying the cool underwear, rewards like m&m’s never worked, sticker charts, etc. Everything I read did NOT work for him!! Finally about 1 week before he turned three, he woke up one morning and announced that he did not want to wear diapers that day. He stayed dry morning & night from that point on. I think mom’s need to keep in mind that there is NO MAGIC AGE when your child needs to be potty trained. It’s a process that they need to want to tackle on their own. Encourage them, praise them, but don’t push them too hard!!

  4. I’m not sure wisdom is what I have to offer, but here’s the scoop from our our household: When training my now almost 5 year old daughter (my first), I had to also make several attempts. Her twin sisters were born when she was 22 mos old, so like Jill I was trying to get her out of diapers before I had to buy a billion diapers. It wasn’t going too badly until I got so big and pregnant that I couldn’t get her to the potty quickly. In short, it all fell to pieces. It took several attempts over the next year for her to get there. I was SO stressed and just a basket case for some time.

    So those twins are now 3 and we’re doing potty training for 2. We’ve been hard at it for about a week. Even though it’s double the fun (or trouble 🙂 this time, I’m not nearly as stressed. I think the biggest change is that I have a really good mommy friend who has taken the issue seriously before God for me. It seems like a silly thing to pray over (unless you’re doing it or have done it), but she has taken it as her duty to cover this matter in prayer for me. And it’s probably because of those prayers that I’ve most likely been able to just decide not to be bonkers. The girls have had a few accidents and most times I have handled it way better than I did with my oldest. (I confess I’ve not kept my cool EVERY time.) And my friend’s prayers are seriously the key I think. Cuz here’s the other kicker… I now also have a 3 month old boy. I really can’t be a basket case… for the sake of the rest of my family. My bit of wisdom for potty training moms is for them to find that devoted mommy friend to be a prayer warrior for/with them during the craziness.

    And just a side note. I had to get Jordan (my oldest) potty trained by the time she started preschool. We’re dealing with the same time pressure with the twins. But I think I’ve decided that if they’re not 100% there by the time Fall rolls around, then maybe it’s just not time for them to be in preschool yet. (I swear I was not this mellow the first time around… and I know it’s because of the prayers of my friend!)

  5. Look for the specific ways your child learns – each one learns differently! My first was actually easy to train – on the 2nd attempt. My second though, was rather difficult. One day as I was thinking through the frustration of training him, other times and situations began coming to mind where I’d had to change my approach to teaching him. My son LOVES the familiar and change is sometimes hard for him. But, I’ve discovered for him that when he realizes there are no other options but to embrace the change he learns magnificently. We’ve had to take away the familiar for him to accept the new thing – we’ve had to do this with switching from crib to bed and with diapers to underwear. In both instances I’ve had to completely remove what he was familiar with. I had to take the crib out of his room and only leave the bed and had to remove diapers completely. Now, I’ve only done this when I know he’s been ready. He showed me multiple times that he understood how and when to use the bathroom but it boiled down to he was familiar with diapers and so he always wanted to go back to them. When I finally told him they were all gone and he only had underwear to wear we had no fights and he switched like a breeze! Obviously every child won’t learn like this so my best advice would be to discover how your child learns best!

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Jill! I recently introduced my daughter (turning two on Monday) to the potty and she’s just not interested. Our second is on the way in October and I really want her trained by then. This post was a great reminder that in the grand scheme of life, there are worse circumstances than having two kids in diapers for a while and it’s not worth the stress (on me or her) to force it. Thanks!!

  7. There is so much wisdom out there about *how* to do it, so I won’t even try. Every child is different and so is every parent. I will say this though: most children aren’t going to college in diapers. And most children, if not homeschooled, will not want to go to school in diapers. Your child WILL want to keep themselves clean eventually. I’m not saying to not even bother, but definitely don’t stress yourself out over what everyone else says is the *time* to potty train. I’ve potty trained 4 children successfully and am getting ready to potty train my 5th. A couple have been easy to train, a couple not so easy. But together we did it, and it was ALWAYS easiest when I let my child show me when THEY were ready. It rarely mattered that I was ready for them to be. 🙂

  8. When they are ready, they are ready. If they are not ready, it won’t happen. The only way to know is to try; and if they are not….wait a few months and try again.
    Don’t stress over it.
    My 1st daughter was potty trained at 2 years old. I thought I was a “brilliant” mother because she potty trained in just 2-3 days. I figured the same thing would happen with child #2. NOT! She was closer to 3 by the time she was ready and there was nothing that that this “brilliant” mother could have done to speed it up.
    Save yourself and your child a lot of frustration and wait until THEY are ready…not when YOU are ready! Then it will be a success story, rather than a frustration!

  9. Totally have to wait until the child is ready!!!! My oldest has Sensory Processing Disorder and didn’t “potty” until age 4, and start doing BM in the potty until age 5. And folks this is still in the range of NORMAL development! Yep, anywhere between 24 months and age 5 is normal for potty training. My second son was 3 1/2, when he started to go pee on the potty. He is now 4 and is just getting the whole BM in the potty now. He still wears a pull-up at night and occasionally poops in that. We tried training the girl I babysit who is 3 1/2 now, she was 2 3/4 when we tried right about the time that baby brother arrived on the scene. No dice. She trained at 3 yrs, 3 months. Even the prospect of school didn’t get her interested…I was taking my son to school 2 days a week and we kept telling her she could stay and play too if she went in the potty. She didn’t care 😉 They will potty train, when THEY are ready! Each child will need a different approach. Some do great with the no diapers anymore approach, my oldest needed to ease into that. We tried only for mornings until he mastered that, then added afternoons, then evenings too. There are lots of ways to try, you gotta figure out what fits your family, and child best 🙂

  10. We have begun putting ours on the potty earlier (like 9 months or so) after meals or naps so they get comfortable there and are often sitting there when they need to go and then forgo diapers for underware around 18 months. Then we have lots of accidents for about 2 or 3 days diminishing to maybe once or twice a week pretty quickly. I’ve really enjoyed having mine quit making dirty diapers so soon and out of them altogether pretty early too. If you start before they hit 2 you don’t get as much push-back. Now, we still do diapers for naps and night until they are consistently waking up dry. I know if you wait until they’re older it’s quicker, but all those diapers between 18 months and 3 years… I’m glad to skip that even if it means a little more effort earlier. It’s actually surprisingly easy to get them comfortable on the potty and just have them there when I’m brushing my teeth anyway. Just my method 😉

  11. Soooo glad to be out of diapers now. We were there for 8 years straight with 4 boys and thankfully each was potty trained right around 2 with just a little overlap. I don’t have any secrets on how to do it because they were all so different. With my oldest buying him special underware worked like a dream. My second, who is much more go with the flow, didn’t care about underware or treats or anything like that. It wasn’t until we were traveling with no where to take him potty at that he went in his pants and got a diaper rash for him to decided being a big boy was a good thing. My third is mr. independent and decided at around 18 months he didn’t need diapers and essentially potty trained him self. The baby of the family had 3 brothers to cheer him on and he thinks he should do everything they do.
    So I think the key is to know your child and what motivates them. If you find it is a battle with lots of frustration and tears (from baby and parents) stop and try again in a few weeks or months.

  12. Michelle sent this wisdom via email:

    The other wisdom I would share with potty training is do not engage nor listen to other friends about potty training. It only adds more pressure to you which you then pass on to your child. No child goes to college not potty trained so it really does not matter that you have a friend whose child just turned 18 months and is potty trained. When I was potty training it felt like that was the hot topic all around me and all it managed to do was add stress. I avoided any talk about potty training. If you need advice, your pediatrician, a trusted friend or the internet are great places to start and stop with the topic.

  13. We are on day 3 of trying the potty with my daughter. She is 22 months old. If she doesn’t act a bit more interested within a few days, I will put the potty away for another time (in a few months) and try again.

    So far, I have been cleaning the living room floor more often than her little girl potty! LOL

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