There are so many different methods for potty training your little one. The number of ideas, the mess, and the fear of resistance from your child can really cause anxiety and stress. I want to share my experience training my daughter and emphasize some tips that really helped us that can be applied other methods of potty training.
Just before my daughter turned 2 she started to show interest in going potty. I was excited because I thought that she would be ready and train early like my mom says I did. (Spoiler alert, she wasn’t trained until just a few months before she turned 3 because we weren’t actively trying to train that whole time.)
When we saw her interest in the beginning, my husband and I bought a little potty that looks just like a tiny regular toilet that makes flushing noises when the handle is pushed. My daughter showed a little bit of interest and sat on it several times, but then she lost interest. I was terrified of creating bathroom anxiety so I tried not to push anything. She did sit down on the potty to poop and pee a couple of times. However, she did get some of the contents on the floor and the side of the potty and the whole experience seemed to freak her out. After that, she resisted even sitting on the potty with her clothes on for months.
Finally about 4 months before she turned 3, my husband and I decided it was time to actually try a potty training method. So after a recommendation from a co-worker we bought a book that talked about doing a potty training party and really reinforcing the idea of using the toilet in one focused day.
A quick summary of our day
We planned a theme party with just the three of us (my husband, daughter, and I). When my daughter woke up we gave her a present. It was a doll that would “pee” when she drank from a bottle and came with a tiny potty to fit her. We told her that she was going to potty train her new doll. After eating breakfast we started focusing on the potty. Beforehand, I had gathered several different potty-themed books from my mom, the library, and one or two that we already owned. The whole day we read these books, we watched TV episodes about potty training from shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peppa Pig, Baby Signing Time, and so forth. The first half of the day we would make the dolly “pee” or “poop” (we used tootsie rolls) and that helped train her doll with the help of our daughter.
In the afternoon it was time to focus on our daughter’s potty training. We decorated one room of our house in a chosen party theme and snacked on a lot of my daughter’s favorite foods and drinks as we watched and read about going potty. The snacks and drinks were important in helping her be full enough that she had the need to use the bathroom. Just after lunch we gave her some underwear in the same theme as the party and she put them on. She was receptive and by the end of the day we never went back to diapers. She’s most definitely had accidents since, but overall she has been successful and I consider her potty trained.
Some elements that influenced my daughter’s experience:
Potty Books and TV Episodes. In preparation for that day I had been collecting these potty themed books and we had been reading them the whole week before the “potty party” and continued to read them after. She loved the books and I believe they helped her feel like this was something that other kids were doing. It was normal and desirable to be a big kid. The shows were fun reinforcers.
Praise. The book we read encouraged us to be over the top excited and praise our child graciously every time she went potty. We did and still try to do that. This gave our daughter the idea that going to the potty is a good and happy thing. Kids want the attention and approval of their parents and close adults and she received that everytime she tried using the potty and even more when she was successful.
More Frequent Rewards. Every child is different! However, for our young daughter I found that the first sticker potty chart I created at the beginning was not very effective because the prize at the end took too long to achieve and she lost incentive fast. Star stickers were cool, but she really wanted the prize so my husband found another chart that allows for more frequent small rewards and then a big prize at the end. We now offer her small prizes where she can choose between cute little face towels that we buy at the dollar store, a 1 oz playdough that we bought in a large pack of 1 ounce inexpensive containers online, or little candies that we happen to acquire throughout different events like birthday parties and parades. Then for the big prize, we give her a toy! The frequent prizes seem to keep her excitement up.
However you decided to potty train your little one will work for you! It can be a scary and exciting experience. It can also be rewarding. Remember that your child is a little person that wants to receive your praise and love and eventually they will be successful in learning this new skill.