Potty Training: I Think We Often Forget the Training Part

Recently the topic of potty training resurfaced amongst my mommy friends because nary a month goes by where someone isn't struggling with this issue. With both my kids now fully potty-trained both day and night, I thought I'd offer up some tips. Here are a few of the questions I get pretty regularly from friends and my usual responses. (Note: These are not meant to be anything more than tips. I don't boast to be an expert in this area because if you've been reading this blog, you know I HATE to potty train.)

At what age did you potty train your two children?

Both my kids (boy and girl) were fully potty trained around two and a half. I don't believe all the stuff you read about kids showing readiness when they are interested in the potty or stay dry during the night. My kids were interested in the potty at a year. By 16 months I probably could have started the process. By two they were experts in defiance so I passed on it all. Never were they dry overnight! With both, they were "ready" when I found them changing their own diapers.

How long did it take you to potty train?

My son reacts to bribes so I had him fully trained (for daytime) in seven days. But after about the third day, we were more than halfway there. My daughter was a bit more difficult. Turns out my son really helped the process by teacher her to potty. She was fully trained (for daytime) in less than a week.

How did you do it so quickly?

This is where the training comes in. Potty training is no part-time gig. I'm sure it's different for different kids and different households, but when a family makes a decision to potty train, for several days it needs to be a full-time gig for child and trainer (mom, dad, nanny, daycare, etc.) Training is the key word. It's a lot of work. Think about training for a marathon or the Olympics. These are full body, mind and soul experiences for an athlete. Potty training should be the same.

When I potty trained both my kids, I did it over a weekend when I had extra hands around to help. We lived in the bathroom and life was, well, miserable for two to three full days. But then the bulk of the work was over.

Do you use pullups?

No! Once you start potty training. Pullups send a mixed signal to kids. If you don't want them to have an accident while you're out and you need the Pullups, consider underwear THEN put the Pullups over the underwear. This lets them know when they have wet (since they'll feel it) but it will keep your car seat, friend's furniture, etc. protected.

When did you nighttime potty train?

With my first, I waited a few months before we tackled nighttime. I was scared and not wanting to get up in the middle of the night. If you have a newborn baby or if you're pregnant or if you're just not mentally ready to tackle this (since it means loss of sleep) then don't. But I wouldn't recommend you go too long on this road. Again, the Pullups/diapers at night send a mixed signal. With my second child, once we told her the diapers were for big girls, she didn't want the diapers even at night or naps, so we just pitched them and went for the full on potty training.

How did you night time potty train?

Night time potty training, like daytime, is full on training--for both parent and child. I think this one may be more for us though. It's hard to get up at night once, twice or four times and change sheets. To make it easier, layer the sheets and a waterproof sheet so you just have to strip it off and not actually change it. Because as any mom knows, you can't turn on the light so you have to be able to do it in the dark. Have new PJs and undies ready to go each night so you don't have to hunt for them. Walk child to the toilet even though they have already gone. And for goodness sakes, don't give them drinks before bed!!!

Get rid of the Pullups when you do this. It's a crutch for you and even if it takes some time, you'll be diaper free sooner than you think. Pullups are expensive and the longer your kids go in them, the harder I would assume it is to break the habit.

Don't some kids have trouble with this? Aren't there kids peeing in beds until age 5?

Yes. There was an article about this a friend sent me. I'm sure there are kids with physiological issues with wetting the bed. I can't speak to this issue.

On the whole, I have to say that potty training is not for the weak of heart--though at some point, we all must be part of it. It takes some sweat and maybe even some tears (often from mom). Sure, if you want to go the route where child does it when he/she is ready and that works for you, then go for it. I'm speaking only about those wanting to get it done and over with. I know it can be done. Kids around the world learn to do this at a young age because in most countries diapers are expensive so they pitch the diapers long before we do.

Good luck and remember it's called 'training' for a reason.

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