Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Potty Training For the Reluctant Toddler. . . What Worked For Us

We've been saying this a lot at our house lately. . .

And it's about time, too! Since Kirsten turned 3 in May (yes, I will post cute birthday party pictures someday!), I decided to stop waiting for her to show all the "signs of readiness" I've read about. This girl doesn't really like change, and I was beginning to fear that I waited for her to want to get rid of diapers I'd still be changing them when she's 4! Not acceptable. So, a couple of weekends ago I decided we'd stay home for the entire weekend and just go for it and see what happened.

The two purposes of this post are:
1. To help any of my readers who are having trouble with potty training or want potty training tips for the future.
2. So that my future self who may be racking my brains trying to remember what I did the first time will be able to look back on this and have a guide!

(A lot of these ideas came from a pamphlet or book my friend Miranda read and told me about. I'm not even sure what it's called! And I did adapt it to fit our situation. Every kid is different after all!) For the past few months I've tried various things, like having the potty in the living room where she can see it, having her sit there with treats and juice until she actually goes in it, giving her stickers and rewards, but nothing was really working and she still seemed content to use diapers all the time.

So here are all the dirty details for what we did over Potty Training Weekend:

*When she woke up that morning, we put her right into regular panties. No Pull-Ups or training pants. I didn't think those would work well on her anyway, since they're too much like diapers and she wouldn't care about wetting in them. She wasn't excited about the panties like I hoped she would be, despite the Sesame Street characters and Disney princesses on them.

*She wore regular clothes the whole time. No running around the house naked or with nothing on the bottom. I found that thin pants like leggings worked best, so I could really tell when she started wetting herself.

*Since the idea is for her to be able to recognize and tell us when she needs to go potty, we didn't ask, "Do you need to go potty?" Instead, we reminded her over and over, "Tell me when you need to go potty!" I still do this pretty often.

*For the whole weekend, we tried to follow her around and keep her in our sight as much as possible. This is so they can't just go off in corners and have accidents. As soon as you see them start to wet their pants, you pick them up and get them to the potty as quick as you can. If they can finish in the toilet, give them praise and a reward. If not, just tell them that next time they'll make it to the potty in time. Don't punish them for not making it, but do give them a wipe so they'll have to help clean up the mess too.

*This didn't work too well at first for Kirsten. She wet her pants four times in a row, all Saturday morning, and we never managed to get her to the potty in time to finish on it. I was starting to get discouraged, wondering does she even know when she has to go? But we kept putting her back in clean panties, asking her to tell us when she needs to go. And, lo and behold, right before her nap she finally told us she needed to go potty, and went on the toilet! For the rest of the day, she had no more potty accidents! I guess it finally sunk in that she didn't really like making her panties and pants all wet. Hooray!

*Don't force them to go potty if they say they don't need to, and don't make them sit on the potty until they go either. The only time I say "You have to go potty first" is before we leave to go somewhere and before a nap or bedtime.

*Another idea this method had that I liked is to keep the potty seats or seat covers in the bathroom. This helps them to learn that they'll need to get to the bathrooms to use the toilet. I bought a couple of Sesame Street seat covers, one for the upstairs and downstairs, and they work really well. I have step-stools in front of each one so Kirsten can climb up to them, and she sits on them just fine. I like them SO much better than our little plastic potty chair because you don't have to clean it up afterward. She can flush the toilet and everything is gone! Plus she thinks it's fun to flush everything away.
*I did find a good use for our plastic potty chair. . . I keep it in the minivan. She hasn't asked to use it yet when we go out (she just poops in her pants on the way home instead. . . GROSS), but it's nice to have it there in case she ever asks for it.

*Another tip. . . Buy toddler wipes. They clean up messes a ton better than toilet paper, but they're something new too. Baby wipes are for babies, just like diapers.

*We have a sticker chart with a bunch of Sesame Street stickers, and she gets to pick out a sticker every time she goes potty. When she fills up a chart, she gets to go to Chuck E. Cheese. I already took her once last week, and she's almost filled up her second chart now. I'm thinking I need to change the reward to something else pretty soon. I'm already sick of Chuck E. Cheese. At least I got a reward too. . . I went and got a pedicure on Saturday. Parents need rewards too! After all, we're the ones cleaning up all those messes!

*Reading books and watching videos about the potty is a great idea, of course. Kirsten's favorite is the Little Critter book called The New Potty. She also loves the Elmo's Potty Time video.

*It was pretty difficult to stay home all weekend, but it did pay off! She does really well! Of course she still has accidents (she wet her pants about an hour ago), but for the most part we are diaper-free and feeling great!

*She does still wear diapers to sleep in at night. I keep her in panties for her nap, but she wears a diaper overnight. Sometimes she does wake up dry, but other times she's really wet and I'm glad I don't have to clean up that bed. We'll get there eventually, but I want her to have the daytime down really well before I attempt the overnight panties.

*Poop is a lot tougher. For almost a week, she wouldn't poop in the toilet. She just waited until she had the diaper on overnight or pooped in her panties. I really HATE cleaning poop out of panties, it's so disgusting! But she's getting better, because she has pooped on the toilet about 5 times now. I try to make a really big deal out of it when she does (I get really excited, give her 2 stickers instead of 1, and a treat!) Going out is also kind of scary, because she doesn't really ask to use the toilet at public places even though I try reminding her a lot. I just make sure to pack extra panties and pants whenever we go somewhere.

So those are some things that are working for Kirsten! I know every kid is different, and I'm sure I'll have to switch a lot of things up when I potty train Natalie someday. I'd love to hear comments and tips! And I hope this post will help somebody!


  1. Everything you mentioned was almost exactly like what happened with Jacob! Except that he didn't like any books or dvd's about potty training! :) he does really well during the day. Almost no accidents at all. Poop on the other hand is something else. He -as you mentioned- waits till i put on his diaper before bedtime and he poops in it. He won't poop in the bathroom nor the potty seat! He had a few poop accidents in his underwear, and i HATE cleaning that! A few times, i just threw them away! :)
    It didnt' help that we've been away on our road trip for 4 weeks (although he did GREAT in the car with NO accidents what so ever!) now back to our routine, i'm hoping he'll start pooping in the bathroom! :)

  2. It was an online book called "3 Day Potty Training." Poop is definitely a lot harder. This is excactly what we did, except for no diapers or pullups at night; just panties. It has worked really well for us. It's been since memorial day weekend, and she hasn't wet herself at all. We are still working on the poop, though, but she's getting it.

  3. Good job! Glad it worked for you guys! I had different experiences with my 2 oldest ones. My son just turned 3 and has no interest whatsoever, and will scream if I put him on the toilet. Hopefully he will get over that soon!

    We're back in the Seattle area until sometime around the end of July if you want to get together and meet up in person.

  4. Have her call Rachel and Emily and tell them what a big girl she is! the more praise the better

  5. Nice! I think I need to do this soon. Lily has been readier than me for awhile now - I'm not looking forward to the clean-up (or all the reminders, or her realizing how to take off her clothing by herself), but I know it is inevitable. Diapers has seemed easier - but I'm starting to think it would be nice not to have to wrestle her into a new diaper when she's not in the mood for it. It's nice to get lots of real experiences from other moms as I gear up! :)

  6. YAY! Isn't success so sweet? I was SO excited when the day came for Lincoln that he had NO accidents for a WHOLE WEEK! And we partied it up after that too: his super reward was a day (really a few hours) at Disneyland! It was so awesome!
    Now that I'm potty training Orion, he's so different! He LOVES to go poopy, but still has a hard time with pee pee. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? :)

  7. Oh yeah, I remember when Savanna did that---waited till nighttime to do all the poops in her diaper. Grr! Looks like you've done a great job though, WOW!

  8. My son will be 3 in February. He absolutely refuses to use the potty most of the time. Some times he will go before his bath (to post-phone bedtime I think). As a recommendation from a friend of mine I bought the thick potty training undies. We did use them 1 afternoon when he was willing to do it and they help to keep most of the puddle off the floor but don't keep them dry so they know they've wet themselves. Just wanted to throw that out there for anyone interested. I hope my son warms up to the idea soon!

  9. My son will be 3 in February. He absolutely refuses to use the potty most of the time. Some times he will go before his bath (to post-phone bedtime I think). As a recommendation from a friend of mine I bought the thick potty training undies. We did use them 1 afternoon when he was willing to do it and they help to keep most of the puddle off the floor but don't keep them dry so they know they've wet themselves. Just wanted to throw that out there for anyone interested. I hope my son warms up to the idea soon!

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