How I Potty Trained My Kids Early

7 Sep

The scene has been similar with each child: harried mom with disheveled hair and clothes, running around the house, chasing a toddler who has no clothes on (at least on the bottom half), has emptied the entire roll of toilet paper onto the floor, and is running away, fast!  Welcome to toilet training!

Over the years and with the help and support of my mom, I’ve discovered a few things about toilet training.  A few close friends have joked that I should write a book, because I managed to train both of my girls (completely) by the time they were 18 months.  I did it at the encouragement of my mom, who had trained me, my sister, and my brother around the same age.

My mom is a very wise woman and I’m grateful for her advice and encouragement.  A lot of people thought I was completely crazy for training my girls that early.  Then, there were other moms, who scoffed, “Well, just wait until you have a boy!” like somehow training a boy is tenfold more difficult.  And maybe for some it is.  I know every child is different.  They each have individualized traits, idiosyncrasies, temperaments, etc.  The thing is, if you start early enough, you can train them while they are still in the “eager to please” phase and before they reach the “I’m going to do it all by myself” phase!

The following are a list of tips based on nothing other than my own experience with training my three children:

Phase I:

  • Start early, once the child is walking, mimicking your behavior, and has a good grasp on expressive & receptive communication skills (They do not have to be able to speak.  Sign language can be easily taught and learned.)  *Based on my experience and in talking with other mothers, there seems to be a window of opportunity with kids, between the ages of about 14 months and 18 months when they are ready/able/willing to toilet train relatively easily.  It seems once they are about 18 months, their sense of autonomy develops rapidly and it becomes increasingly difficult for you to get them to do what you want.  At that point, they want to do what they want, and based on what my friends report, that does not include going potty on a toilet!  Once they have hit this phase, it seems like potty training comes to a complete stand still until about age 2 ½ for girls and 3 for boys.
  • Once your child is walking, mimicking you, and communicating, you can start by putting a training potty on the bathroom floor where you use the bathroom the most.
  • Take your child with you every time you use the potty so he/she can see how you’re doing it.
  • Initially, your child may explore the potty; want to sit on it with their clothes on, etc.  That’s great.  That’s showing “interest”.
  • Make the potty appealing by putting a basket of books nearby that are only to be read if the child is sitting on the potty.  (Lift the flaps, touchy feely, and search and find books are great examples my kids get excited about reading with me.)
  • Once the potty has been sufficiently explored, have your child sit (unclothed) on his/her potty whenever you go.  If he/she goes great!  If not, don’t sweat it.  At this point, you’re still simply trying to help your child understand the idea of going potty.  Make sure you talk about going potty.  When you go, show your child the inside of the potty.  When you flush, you can both wave bye-bye.
  • When your child finally does go in the potty, make a BIG deal about it!  We chant and do a dance.  The lyrics are simple, “You’re a big boy now, not a baby anymore.” We have the kids give a high five.  We tell everyone about it in front of them.  (Conversely, if they don’t go, we don’t make a big deal out of it all.  We just say, “We’ll try again later!”)
  • Once your child gets the concept of using the potty and has done it a few times and you can see that they “get” it, you’re ready for Phase II!

Phase II:

  • Plan to be home for a few days, maybe even a week.
  • Put your child in underpants.  Give them salty crackers (like Saltines, Goldfish, etc.) and fluid to drink.
  • Set a timer.  Initially, it will literally be every 5 minutes.  Gradually increase the timing by 5 minutes as needed.
  • Be prepared for accidents.  They are going to happen.  Each time you take your child to the potty, make a big deal out of it.  Use your sign or word for potty.  Read to your child or do finger plays to keep them entertained.  If they do not want to stay on the potty, let them get off.  Try again a few minutes later.
  • If the child has older siblings, get them involved!  By the time my second and third children came around, we only used the “baby” potty in the back of the car for on the go emergencies.  Once the younger two saw the older using the “big” potty, that’s where they wanted to go.  (Another tip: Home Depot and Lowe’s sell actually toilet seats you can install on your grown up toilets that have a smaller kid friendly seat built inside of the adult seat, so you can pull that down for your child, and put it up when you have company.)
  • When your child has an accident, talk about how it feels to be wet.  I usually say something like “Oh no!  Uh oh, pee pee in your pants doesn’t feel good.  It’s wet! Yuck!” and I help them change into new clean underwear.  Then I’d say something like, “Nice and clean, and dry!  That feels better!”  If they poop in their underwear, I’d say something like, “Oh no!  Uh oh, poop goes in the potty!  Yucky!  Now your pants are dirty.”  I’d then take the underwear off the child and transfer the poop into the potty, so they can see you putting the poop where it belongs.  They can then help you flush it and wave goodbye.
  • When they have a “pee” accident, I would also encourage them to help me clean it up.  At this age, again they are eager to help, and it shows them how to be responsible.  I’d get a towel for them, and have them help me clean it up.  If they refuse, you just take their hand, hold the towel, and do it with them.
  • During Phase II I would utilize Pull Ups only during nap and nighttime.
  • Phase II can be especially challenging.  I recommend having a support person you can call.  There were several times I had to call my mom, begging her to tell me I wasn’t crazy, that my child really was ready, and why I shouldn’t just give up right then and there.  If you have a supportive spouse, it’s a nice idea to get him/her involved near the end of the day, to give you a break.
  • Stick to the timer schedule.  After a few weeks, you can transition to taking your child potty every 20-30 minutes or so and they should start having fewer accidents.
  • Other tips for the phase including using a towel or something to cover the car seat.  Always have at least one change of clothes for your child and fresh clean underwear.  Even when you do decide you’re ready to leave the home, bring a portable potty for the car and/or a portable toilet seat cover.  I know the iPhone has a toilet training app one of my friends used and it was great.  It had a timer and the child clicks whether he went in the potty or just tried.  When they “go” they get to pick out a virtual sticker and put it on their “wall”

I realize this method may not work for everyone; it’s just what worked for me!

Advertisements

One Response to “How I Potty Trained My Kids Early”

  1. Lisa Martin September 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    This is awesome, Lori! What I love so much is that it’s all based on positive reinforcement. IT seems like an advantage not to be potty training in the 2’s, too. (I did with my son, which went fairly smoothly. But I’d have started earlier if I hadn’t heard so much advice on waiting.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: