Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Six R's to Potty Training

Mommy Proof #5: There are six R's to potty training: Reinforcements, Readiness, Reminders, Rewards, Responsibility, and RESULTS!

There are certain skills learned in childhood that last a lifetime. Learning to walk, using utensils to eat food, tying shoes, learning to read, riding a bike, but my favorite skill to help a child learn is POTTY TRAINING! Oh, the excitement that I feel when it is time to potty train. I did not always feel that way. My first child was not potty trained until after our second child was born. She was a way past 2 1/2 years old. My husband and I were wrist deep in changing both girls, passing wipes, diapers, and training diapers. One day, we had just finished changing the baby when our oldest child came up to us smelling like a raw sewage. Exaggeration, or not really: Size 4 diapers beside a newborn's diapers is like comparing a mountain to a molehill! A newborn's bottom compared to a 2 year old's is the scariest sight in the world. I felt like I was changing a giant's bottom. No more! She would have to be potty trained immediately. So that is what we did. It took almost three months before we used our last training diaper.

Two years later, we were blessed with another tiny little newborn bottom and cursed with a two year old's gigantic behind. This time, I was home alone with the kids for most of their waking hours. No more giggling over diaper changes. Goodbye to shared parenting doody, I mean duty. I was on my own for at least 12 out of 14 days as my husband traveled for work. I needed reinforcements. And that came in the form of a potty! My second child was trained in three weeks. My third child was trained in less than three days.

The six Rs to Potty Training:

1. Reinforcements: Uhhh, Potty, DUH! (I like the one that is all in one piece or very easy to clean!) It may be a good idea to have more than one. We also kept one in a bag in the car. Yes, we sure did! Training pants or white undies. Why white? When you are beginning to potty train your toddler, bleach is your friend. I have found that diapers designed to help "train" a child, hinder the progress rather than help. Clothes that are easy to pull up or down are a godsend. Stickers, colorful or character underwear, and any bite size snack that is not an appetite killer. We will get to why later!

2. Readiness signs: Can your child stay dry during naps? Bedtime? Does he or she follow simple requests? Is your child aware of the discomfort in being wet or soiled? Does your child "ask" to be changed? Does your child dislike being changed? Does your child have the physical dexterity to remove or change his/her clothes? If you answered, "Yes," to any of these questions, your child may be ready to train. Some may ask about speech being one of these signs. My third child was 23 months when I changed him. Throughout the training process, he never told me that he needed to go. He would just grab my hand and walk to the potty. You may see other signs in your child. Your child may show an interest in the potty. You may notice him acting like a Peeping Tom every time you go to the restroom. He or she may peek under the door as you try to go with an audience. Perk up at this invasion of privacy. Make it seem fun! Make a note to yourself to invade their privacy as teenagers. Set aside the unhealthy pleasure in that future memory and focus on the task at hand.

3. Reminders: Tell your child where pee (#1) and poop (#2) belong. Remind your little one to try and go to the bathroom. In the beginning, you will be urging them to sit on the potty very often. I start off with every 15 minutes while offering small beverages. "Let's go sit on the potty!" I would lead them to the potty and help them to sit on it. We would sing little songs or I would read a book or two. Children need verbal cues that help them visualize the act. There were many times when I would urge them on. I would have them look down and say, "PeePee come out!" There were many public bathroom audiences that chuckled at that.

4. Rewards:  Plenty of praise is needed! We made up songs that involved everyone at the time. Hearing my excitement would bring the whole family to the room. We would dance and high five. (After hand washing, that is!) That is where the bite size snacks come into play! After a successful potty try that results in #1 or #2 in the potty, your child will get a sticker or a few pieces of bite size snacks as a reward. We used goldfish crackers, M&Ms, skittles, raisins, or halved grapes. For #1, they received two bite size snacks. For #2, they would receive four. If it was at night, they received a sticker on the hand. Colorful or character undies are the BIG PRIZE! If the child stayed dry for the week, they are officially a BIG GIRL or BIG BOY and their undies will prove that!

5. Responsibility: If there is an accident, do not get upset. Remind the child of where poop and pee belong with a stern face and a firm tone. Have them "help" clean it up. I had my children spray water onto the spot after I cleaned it with cleaner. Then, they would dry the spot. They do not receive a reward, just the reminders. If your child DOES use the potty, they help to dispose of their waste with supervision and plenty of praise. This teaches the child responsibility of their own actions. Then, of course, it is time for hand washing.

6. RESULTS: Well, that is self explanatory. If the starting line is a diapered toddler, then the end result is a potty trained BIG KID!

Remember the end of Mommy Proof #4!

Please rest assured that only the coolest parents have been forced to clean up, contain, or throw away something that was covered in fecal matter.

There are going to be accidents, but who doesn't have a mistake or two when learning a new skill? Practice makes perfect! Happy Potty Training, Moms and Dads! I really do need a theme song for my potty training excitement....


  1. I'm getting ready to start potty training my 28 month old. Other than lots of undies and rewards and a potty, what other things would you recommend getting?

  2. That is pretty much it. I have used a potty training doll. You give the doll something to drink and then sit the doll on the potty. That is one of the best toys I have seen for an early potty trainer. I have used them for my boy and my girls. I will be purchasing another for the baby when it is time for him to potty train. It helps make a connection for the child. Liquid goes in here...goes out there! :D

  3. Hello again, Im in serious need of your assistance. My 32 month old has no interest in potty training. I hype up using the toilet and she tells me everything I want to hear. She has used the toilet a handful of times but nothing consistent. Its mainly my fault because "the village" (Daycare, Grand Parents & Mommy) haven't been all on one page. I plan on purchasing the potty training doll tonight and other essentials to help with the process. Can I give you a few examples of my independent diva..

    Amaya, lets go to the potty...Amaya- "Not Yet!"

    Amaya is walking around with wet clothes and has soiled her panties. Me- Amaya, how come you didn't tell mommy you needed to use the potty? Amaya-???? Me- Looking around to see if I could locate where she may have wet the floor. She doesn't have any indicators when she needs to use the bathroom other than hiding when she needs to poo.

    I plan on starting this weekend again (I took a break for a month) and taking a few days off of work towards the end of the week.

    Please Please Help!

    -First time mom in distress

  4. I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you, Truth! Check out my latest blog post!