“It’s potty time…”
Potty Training. The taboo cloud evoking fear that follows parents and children.
Disclaimer: Every child is different, therefore parent discretion is required.
Parents fear forcing their kids into fearing the toilet. Children fear the porcelain toilet bowl and letting go the comfort of the diaper. Who’s under the most pressure – the child or the parents? My guess, the parents.
Everyone always has a tip, trick, or opinion when it comes to the subject of potty training. Even people who don’t have kids have an opinion – “Betcha can’t wait until you don’t have to buy diapers!” When we take on the mission of potty training, we spend HOURS in the bathroom. Initially, potty training is parent training, more than potty training. We check the clock every 30 minutes, hypothesize if it’s time for pee/poop/pee-poop, take the kiddo into the bathroom, and we morphinto a life coach. “You can do it.” “Push.” “Wait for it.” “Great job.” “You did it.” …and the list goes on.
Honestly, do YOU really remember being potty trained? I know I don’t. I guarantee my parents remember potty training me. I know I will remember my hubby and I teaching our son to use the toilet.
So why have we created such a huge taboo around potty training? TOO MANY parents are scared of potty training. That fear is projected onto our kiddos. Yes, parents have to be “trained” first, but the gradual release for most toddlers is natural. Toddlers love the “do it myself” activities. In the trenches, it feels so counterproductive and inconvenient, but the end results are the unmeasurable self-esteem and independence built inside of the toddler.
What are my top 10 fears of potty training?
1. My child will rebel if I push too hard.
2. My child will pass society’s acceptable age of wearing diapers.
3. Having more than one or two kids still wearing diapers at the same time; or regression when a new baby is born.
4. My child is afraid of using the “big” toilet.
5. Using the potty in public.
6. Putting the responsibility of upholding potty training to someone else when at daycare or school.
8. Potty trained but keeps having accidents.
10. When it’s time to go potty, the child says no or throws a tantrum.
All of these fears are legit. These fears still cross my mind. The mind, our minds, are a powerful tool…
If we changed the phrase, potty training to potty teaching, the cloud of fears diminishes.
Parents, we know how to teach. We teach our kids how to love, talk, walk, eat, drink… and let’s add on pee and poop. Phrases like, “Look at momma/dada go to the potty; come try it,” aren’t forcing at all. We’re opening up another door of opportunity.
Using statements versus questions aren’t forcing either. Our tone of voice can be kind, loving, affirmative, AND firm. For example, asking, “Are you ready to go to the potty?” VS “It’s potty time,” may even elicit less oppositional responses.
Teaching our kids new skills brings joy and a sense of accomplishment. When my son beams hear-to-hear smiling and shouting, “I pee-peed mommy,” pride just pours out of my soul. When he has an accident, it’s a teachable moment – Where do you go when you have to potty? What words can you use to tell me you need to go potty? How can mommy/daddy help you? Why do you want to go to the potty?
Many parents ask, I know I did, well what about incentives? Again, that’s up to you because every child is different and may require different tactics. For my son, natural incentives and his desire to stay dry/clean works just fine. For natural incentive examples, we’ll go potty right before outside play or go potty right before snack time. Routine and predictability are also key for my son. He knows there are certain times of the day are potty time. For example, his bedtime routine:
- 4-5 stories
- Brush teeth
- 1-2 bedtime songs
- Goodnight hugs and kisses
- Tuck into bed
Sometimes my son still says no and throws tantrums about potty time, especially when he’s tired or over-stimulated with new toys/people to play with. That’s when I do have to make him go. I pick him up and sit his bum on the potty and tell him to try. (I even throw in the option of standing or sitting so that he feels in control.) We wait 2-3 minutes, giving him words of encouragement the entire time, then give him a break ifhe doesn’t go potty. Sometimes, I use the bathroom during his break lol. Then, let him try again. I use distractions like bringing a favorite toy into the bathroom with us, singing a song, writing on the toilet seat with an Expo marker, and even (sometimes) allowing screen time – it’s not uncommon for adult humans to look at their phones while using the potty lol. When he’s super agitated from pottying, we take a break outside of the bathroom.
Again, it’s all about our mindset: potty training vs potty teaching. We’re teaching him to be patient with himself by displaying patience. We’re teaching him that mistakes are okay by not punishing his accidents, but teaching the steps to do next time. My husband is so great at using phrases like, “Do you a want to stand like daddy or sit on the Kaden potty?” I even started introducing the concept of sequencing since we’ve started potty teaching: First we’ll go to the potty. Second, you can help mama make your noodles. Third, we’ll eat lunch. It’s amazing what toddlers can learn through the hours of potty teaching.
The last staple that has worked for my son is watching other toddlers around his age go to the potty. I have to say – peer influence is powerful. My son started walking by seeing my best friend’s daughter walking. My son wanted to pee standing up after seeing his best friend pee standing up, even after watching his daddy do it. He said, “Stand up like JJ?” I said, “You sure can!”
Potty teaching takes about 3 – 7 days if you and toddler are hyper-focused on it. Lots of parents recommend staying home for as many of those hours as possible during that 3 – 7 days; I agree. It took three separate times to potty teach Kaden because we lacked consistency.
Recap on the tools to behead potty training fears:
1. Mindset: Potty Training vs Potty Teaching
2. Natural incentives
3. Predictable and Routines
4. Peer Influence
Here’s a video resource to see if your kiddo is ready for potty teaching: 6 Signs your Kid is Ready for Potty Training
Good luck and happy potty teaching!