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some potty training insight

so i thought i'd share a few things i learned during my year long potty training experience.

i say year-long because i tried last July and it was just not working. ever since then, while we weren't actively potty-training, i kept talking with her about how she really needs to start going in the potty soon and how big girls don't wear diapers and how she can go to preschool if she goes in the potty, etc. but i never got up the courage to really buckle down and try again.

her third birthday seemed like the perfect milestone, benchmark, whatever you want to call it. besides, for the past few months she'd been telling me that she'd start going in the potty in may, when she turned three.

so i held her to it: her third birthday came, and we started going in the potty the next day. and as i shared with you monday, it totally stuck!

i can say that because we're a week later and she goes in the potty every single time, let's me know she has to go, pulls down her own undies, let's me know when she's done, cleans up and flushes... just full-on a big girl. at nighttime too. so what did i learn?

her big girl prize for filling up her sticker chart each time she used the potty!

1) it's okay to wait. please don't worry about what everyone else is doing, or has done. if your bff potty trained her child at 18 months, that doesn't mean you need to feel pressure to do the same. every child is different, and you absolutely cannot force them to do this. it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, it's not worth the struggle if it's just not the right time for you and your child. like everyone says, they will not go to high school in diapers!

2) the negative consequences will not work. you have to be totally and completely over-the-top positive. the first time around, last July, i was totally confident that my daughter would get it right away. she is very smart and verbal and understands things, you know? i just assumed she'd be a potty-going champ. but it was new, it wasn't familiar, it was change... apparently she doesn't like new and unfamiliar. i got frustrated when she would have an accident [which, in my defense, was everysingletime] and i would make it obvious that i was frustrated. she'd feel like a failure and it turned her off altogether. in fact, there may have been some yelling and timeouts and a full on meltdown on her part. the trauma from these two days is why we waited so long to try again

3) you may have to stage a peer pressure scenario. last wednesday when i decided it was finally time, i let her know that she wouldn't be using diapers anymore. in fact, we didn't even have anymore [i had run out, so it seemed like the perfect excuse]. she sat down and went in the potty! yay!
but then r e f u s e d to put on big girl undies. cried and cried for a diaper to put on! so luckily it was a warm day and i let her play outside naked for a little while.

then her friend came over, who is fully potty trained and even goes in the "big potty"! she showed Reese her big girl undies and Reese watched as she stopped playing, ran inside, pulled down her undies, and went potty all by herself without even being asked or prompted or helped. that was the turning point.

Reese came over, asked for her princess undies, and started using the potty from then on. she does everything by herself, even pouring it into the big potty and flushing :) she loves the idea of being independent, a big girl, just like her little friend.

4) it will happen. eventually. "when they're ready, they're ready". i would hear this all the time and it is such an easy thing to say in hindsight. now that she's potty trained, it's easy for me to say. for those of you still in the thick of the unknown, this isn't much comfort. i know because i heard it a hundred times and it didn't quite comfort, and it's not exactly practical advice. but it's still true and it's still something i learned :) i will add, that when they're actually ready, it just sort of works. there's not much struggle or frustration, it just works. reese is now fully potty trained day and night, and doesn't even tell me anymore. she just goes in there and sits down!


5) for girls, stickers and cute undies are very good incentives. a sticker chart with promise of a prize when it's filled in is a great motivator. but of course, you know your child best and you might even ask them what they think would work. everyone told me to use candy or food but i personally just don't want to use sugar as a motivator. you do whatever works for you and you feel comfortable with.

6) again: positive, positive, positive! i can't stress this enough. the first time, i was so frustrated that she didn't take to it right away and it showed! i would huff out loud about how i hated the pee on the floor and how she should just go in the potty already! why was it so hard?? this ended in a huge meltdown and i think it really traumatized her. i feel bad about that. now that she's totally potty trained and feeling really good about herself, i think that memory will fade into no-big-deal-land, but it was a very big deal for awhile :(

anyway, that's what i learned. i hope it helps. i think the main things are: stay positive, make a HUGE DEAL when they do go in the potty, and don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself! there's no rule-book that says you have to potty train at any particular age or do it any certain way. it's not worth the frustration.


  1. Again many congrats on a potty trained kiddo! I'm kind of doing an "Annabel led" potty training approach. Like I said I'm not super committed but I it's definitely on our radar. She still wears diapers all the time but I figure if I can save a diaper or two a day then that's a win in my book. We praise her and clap a lot when she does go potty and she gets to flush as her reward. I definitely think we'll move to stickers and what not when she gets a little older and that will become more of a motivator. We're definitely taking our time. I agree with ya about whenever she's ready she'll do it. I just try to emphasize at every diaper change to let me know when she needs to go potty. She'll get it someday!


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