I'm an Expert: Potty Training

posted on: Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guys, this is a post about potty training. Enthralling, yes? It's a dirty job, painful to say the least and when it comes down to it, it's a vicious mind game plotting fairly sane grown-ups against equally brash toddlers. Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic, but really, it's no easy feat.

Last November during a particularly dark blizzard that forced us to hunker in for the long haul we decided to potty train Brecken. The signs had been evident for a few months--crying before peeing in his diaper, bringing diapers to me when he wanted to be changed, and hiding in the basement to poo. I knew he was ready and it was my own fears that held us back. The diaper was convenient, almost like a crutch, especially with our chaotic schedule which kept us on the-go quite frequently, it just seemed so much easier to keep him in a diaper. My sister-in-law suggested a three day method which worked with her five children, so I accepted the challenge--I mean if she can do I should be able to as well, right?


 I later morphed to six days because it just seemed to fit my kid best. Here's the breakdown...

Day one and two//In order for this method to work all distractions needed to be removed i.e. television, phones, ipads, this made it easier for me to recognize Brecken's cues and get him to the toilet before having an accident. It also meant staying in the bathroom for four complete days. 

The first two days Brecken sat on the toilet completely naked for  the entire day. Let me say that again, thee enntire dayyy. He would sit on the toilet while I would read stories and sing songs. The first few times peeing in the toilet were alarming for him. He would try to stop himself but with some positive reinforcement he would keeping going. To really knock home the idea of peeing in the toilet I tried to find different types of sensory prizes--clapping, cheering, sticker chart, and treats. To make sure he was peeing frequently he was given lots of sugary drinks and salty foods, not his usual diet but an exception was made for the sake of kicking the diaper.  

It worked so well in fact that getting him off the toilet was somewhat difficult, go figure.

Day three and four//Once I began to notice his cues: prancing around and crossing his legs I knew when he needed to use the potty. So on day three I began to let him wear underwear. We still spent all our time in the bathroom, but I let him sit on the floor and look at books. Every thirty minutes or so I would sit him on the toilet and tell him to pee, sometimes he would pee right away at other times he would sit there for two hours #killme. And because I know someone will ask, yes, he did have an accident in his underwear but after peeing in it once he realized how uncomfortable it felt and it rarely ever happened again.

So to recap: Noticed cue, placed him on toilet, let him pee, reward him for a job well done. simple.as.that.

By the fourth day, he was beginning to recognize his own cues and would run to the toilet. He still needed help pulling down his underwear, but we successfully made it the entire day without an accident. On Day Four he finally pooped in the toilet as well.

Sorry guys. But I have to talk about poop. so don't unfollow me just yet. As my SIL suspected sometimes kids get nervous and don't want to poop and like us they would prefer to do it privately.  so when he finally went by himself I left the bathroom, which made the process easier (I hope) for him.

Day five and six//By the fifth day we were physically pooped (ha!). Brecken was allowed to wear clothes and leave the bathroom, but wasn't allowed to leave the house. I would let him play, but again I would make him go sit on the toilet every thirty minutes or so. By the end of the fifth day Brecken would go to the bathroom on his own, he still needed help pulling down his pants, but he was recognizing the signs of a full bladder all on his own. 

By day six we made our first excursion out to lunch. I still took him to the bathroom every thirty minutes to be safe and I can proudly say we were accident free!

And again, I know some of you will ask, night time was actually the easiest. The first few nights I put a diaper on Brecken to be safe. He had a wet diaper the first two nights, by the third night he woke up dry and by the next week he cried when I tried to put the diaper on so I eliminated it completely. 

Since then we've rarely had an accident after using the six-day method. For a month afterwards I still made sure to take him to the bathroom every thirty minutes-to-an-hour. The only accidents we encountered happened when I didn't get him to the toilet in time. 

Six months later//We haven't had an accident in months. Brecken is successfully going on his own, and will only ask for help if he can't get him pants up or down by himself. At night he is allowed water up until two hours before bedtime. If however in the middle of the night he does need to use the bathroom he is great about getting up and asking  me to take him. Good for him, bad for me. 

Looking back on our potty training experience I learned one valuable lesson. Consistency was the key. Which meant suffering for a few days for lasting results. I stuck to my guns and  eliminated all distractions for a few days so I could focus all my attention on Brecken and it seemed to be the key to not dragging out potty training for months.

Your thoughts? Please tell me you'll keep reading even though I dedicated an entire post to poop....


  1. Good info to know! My niece is just going through potty training and when I talked to her the other night on the phone I asked, "Kendall, what did you do at school today?" to which she replied, "I WENT POOOOOOOPPP!!!" She was so proud of herself! hahahaha.

  2. You are an expert indeed.

    Mine have been dry in the day since well before they were 3 but they're still in nappies at night. At 3 years 10 months

    So can I send them over?

    You don't mind doing night time potty training boot camp, do you?


  3. You rock for writing this. :) I am going through exactly what you described at the beginning...Rajon is ready, but I'm sooooo not! I might be messaging you with a bajillion questions when I get the courage to tackle this beast.


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