Thursday, May 24, 2012

game of thrones: 10 Tips for Potty Training

After many fits and starts, The Baby has been out of diapers during the waking hours for a month. Hallelujah! We had an enthusiastic early journey on the potty train months ago, but she suddenly abnegated all interest in researching her next developmental phase. She actually became more content then ever to sit and stew in her own marinade. I had given up all hope of an expedited transition into big girl underwear. As soon as I turned the focus off of voiding habits, she decided of her own volition ( a jar of M &M’s might have helped) to jump back into her studies. For all of the grief that we endured in her infancy as she asserted her unique temperament and needs, she has certainly, gratefully caught on to this process with greater ease than her siblings ever did.

Now we face the issue of fighting for the throne. Splitting two bathrooms between 6 people has been challenging. More often than not both are occupied. Like a yawn in a crowded room, the urge to go becomes contagious when you know the bathroom is on lockdown.  I would never begrudge my child a moment to satisfactorily flush out; but, the other day she was leisurely tending to her business while completing a cross word puzzle and I really had to go. “Mom, I doing pooping. And (straining to speak) it’s a BIG one!” She sure knows how to make me proud.

For those who are nearing the potty training phase, here are some methods that we have employed and that have worked for our four children over the past 15 years.

1.      Forget about it. Resign yourself to buying a life time’s supply of diapers. Like finding love, potty training mastery will find you when you turn your back on it.

2.      Do as I doo. Set modesty aside and lead by example. Every time you have to go, bring your little champ with you. Demonstrating how things work, helps to build her confidence and ameliorate any fears she might have of getting swallowed into that gaping, watery hole.

3.      It’s a Major Award! A Ball jar filled with M & M’s in plain view is sometimes the only booty your toddler needs to get her booty to the pot. If she used the potty instead of her pants, The Baby was given 4 mini M & Ms as a reward. A warning: this may cause your toddler to go into elimination overdrive. That first week, The Baby hit her mark least 200 times to rack up her rewards (that’s 800 M & Ms).

4.      The fabric of her lavatory life. Have your trainer wear only cotton underwear during the training hours. It helps her to decipher her body’s elimination cues. We found that using training pants which resembled diapers stifled the training process as it did not allow for that organic sensation of being wet. All it took was one pee drenched pair of Dora underwear for The Baby to realize that wet clothes were not comfortable. And the only way to avoid being water-logged was to skip to the loo.

5.      We wants it, we needs it! Must have the precious! Don’t get hung up on the prospect of the ruination of your possessions. All objects in the training arena are fair game for your super soaker. Our IKEA Tullsta armchair with a water stain in the shape of Africa is a testament to this. Anything that is precious should either be wrapped in plastic or removed. It will cause you less stress and tension and allow you to revel in this glorious rite of passage.

6.      Here I am. Rock me like a hurricane. As with any new change to routine or life transition, be present with your toddler. Not only does it provide reassurance during this time of development, it allows you to also pick up on their non-verbal elimination communication. Having cleared my own agenda (So sorry laundry, you have to wait), I was able to discern that when The Baby turned into a hurricane, ripping books and toys off the shelf and spinning them in the air, a poop was imminent.

7.      Yes we can can.  Celebrate each and every successful attempt. Praise her, sing a song about her deposits, dance a joyful jig for her.This positive reinforcement helps to perpetuate consistent use of the can. Speaking of cans, The Baby has her own ideas of how I should applaud her good work “Shake your butt, Mama! Shake it now!”

8.      VĂ¡manos!  Don’t be afraid to venture out into world with a diaper-less toddler. Pack extra clothes, plastic bags and a tarp. We make the restroom our first stop at each destination- turning it into an expedition of the indigenous porcelain thrones. Public bathrooms can be a bit overwhelming. The toilets are larger, the hand dryers are loud. But, the more you expose your toddler to the various latrine layouts, the more comfortable she will be with using the bathroom outside of the home. We do also have a waterproof pad we put in her car seat, just in case she finds the expedition too harrowing.

9.      Like pee off a duck’s back. Of course, as with anything else related to raising a toddler, patience and love are the keys to successful mastery of new skills. There will be accidents and often at the most inconvenient times like when you are already running late for an appointment and the contractor who was supposed to come the day prior to give you an estimate for new front steps shows up at your door. In pre-k, my children’s saintly teachers used to reiterate again and again when the children made mistakes, “It’s no big deal. These things happen.” Say it out loud. Say it in your head- even if it doesn’t seem true in that moment.

10. Pee Pee's big adventure. If  your toddler seems slow to get a handle on this new pursuit, entice her with a trip to a fun place that only allows potty trained kids, like the play center  at your local grocery store, or the ball pit at IKEA. Walk her up to the door, point out to her much fun she could have there and then read aloud the sign outside the door which says, “Only Children Who are Fully Potty Trained are Granted Admittance.” Showing her the amusements she’s missing out on could be the impetus which propels her bum first into her water closet work.  It worked for our late blooming second son.  We still owe him a trip to IKEA.


  1. I missed you! I do not miss potty training, HOWEVER, there are days that potty training sounds like a cake walk compared to the drama, disappointments, heartbreak and heartache that the kids want me to train them on. Maybe some of your tips will help in that department??

    1. We have the dubious honor of 'training' the toddler, pre-teen and teen sects. Middle school is the worst. Sorry, I haven't any tips. I won't be able to write about it until The Baby is good and done with middle school many years from now.