Every mother knows that potty training is a stressful time for parents and children alike. However, with some preparation, the generally traumatic time can be made easier for all. That's how I started this post let's see, um, four years ago! Yes, this topic has remained in my Draft box for 4 years! I guess it's not as easy as I originally thought. However, since number 2 is on his way to going #2 on the potty, I thought it was time to revisit the topic.
My first child was a dream to potty train. Here's the scenario, "DS, you want to go on the Big Boy potty?" DS said, "Yes, mommy." And he went. Of course, we had some minor accidents, but for the most part, he caught on like a pro.
Now, #2, he's an entirely different story.
Me: "#2, want to go potty on the Big Boy Potty?"
OK, so I wait about a week and try again.
Me: "#2, want to go potty on the Big Boy Potty like Daddy and Big Brother?
And so it goes and has been going now for a couple of months. Years ago, my mom warned me not to get into the Pull Ups thing. Thankfully, with my first I listened. She warned that my son would get used to "going" in underpants and that would make the transition harder for both of us.
When I started this post 4 years ago, I was working from home. Now, I'm back in the full-time gig (you know, 9 to 5, Monday through Friday) and I half wonder if that is really what the problem is with #2. Maybe he thinks he not going to get as much attention if he progresses out of diapers. Definitely a scary thought for a two year old who already needs to work pretty hard for my attention. (Not intentionally on my part, of course. But you know, moms, juggling more than one child, a household, and a full-time job is no easy task...)
So while I have only successfully potty-trained one child up until this point, here's what I do know.
1. Potty Training is a Tough Task:
Are you emotionally ready to get rid of the diapers, mom? Everyone is always saying that you have to wait for the child to be ready, and this is true. However, it is equally important for the caregiver to be ready too. If this is a particularly hard time of year for you (i.e. your other kid(s) is/are playing a sport that takes up every moment outside of your job/school), you should wait until their is more downtime for you and your little one to ease into the transition.
2. Potty Training is a Day and Night Commitment:
You are going to lose some sleep during this time, so make sure you can still operate given the hours of sleep lost. (Each child is different, so you might lose sleep for a week up to several months. Your child is going to need some assistance in the middle of the night when he/she needs to go potty.)
3. Don't Hold Back Water:
I've heard many parents have children abstain from drinking water after a certain time at night, so they won't need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. In my experience, it's not worth it. Your child needs to learn to wake up and go to the potty when his or her bladder is full. Also, abstaining from water may unintentionally dehydrate your child. As you already know, dehydration can have terrible consequences for your child. Bottom line, if your child is thirsty, let him or her have a drink.
4. Have Fun:
Our children are smart! Generally, they are much smarter than we give them credit for being. When you turn potty training into a game, your child is more likely going to accept the inevitable and play along. However, if you make potty training a stressful event and seemed "put out" by the process, your child is going to resist the change and fight you every step of the way. I have heard of friends that give their kiddos M&M's for going on the potty; others tell their little boys to "aim" for the Cheerios; still another convinced her child that she could press a magic button and the number 2 would come out! You know your child the best. What would he or she like?
5. Persistence Is Key:
Decide to potty train (when the time is right for you and your little one) then do it and stick with it. How many times have you heard that toddlers need consistency? Well, potty training is no exception to this rule. Your child needs to know that going potty is the new norm and there is no turning back. So, if you send your child to a caregiver for the day, make sure that he or she is following the same routine that you are teaching your child at home. Nothing undermines potty training like expecting that your caregiver is going to do all the work. It is true that your child spends a fair amount of time with the sitter, BUT your child needs to know that you have the same expectations for him or her at home. And vice versa.
Good luck! It will happen when it is right for your family. Please post any ideas that you have for easing a child into potty training in the comments section below. Until then, if you are resigned to still buying diapers for a while, please use this link: