Potty training was probably the hardest task, thus far, that my husband and I had to teach. It is something that is completely out of your control, which is SOOOO infuriating. I remember when our son was 18 months old and he wanted to sit on the potty. We were so thrilled; taking pictures, calling everyone and thinking he was going to train early. What a joke!
It took him until he was three years old to even SAY he had to use the bathroom and over three to actually be in underwear.
What I’ve learned from this ongoing process is that consistency is the key and there are no specific rules to follow. I tried charts, foods, toy rewards, praises and punishments and found that it has to be something you are committed to. My husband was more committed than I because I didn’t want to deal with the “little messes” throughout the house. He would put underwear on Luke and the first time he peed through them, I would panic and go right back to a diaper. Our pediatrician said to wait until he was three and then go for it. So that is what we did, but it was by default that he got trained.
I had just had our daughter and was literally down to three diapers. Luke was three and three months, and changing his diapers after changing a newborn’s seemed like changing Godzilla and Tinkerbell. It just wasn’t right. So needless to say, running out of diapers was my saving grace. I told Luke that was it. He was not happy but fortunately it was summer time. My husband and he did a lot of outside play, so Luke did a lot of outside pottying. It still was a struggle, but once he knew we meant business, he conceded to the fact that he had no choice.
It was basically the same way with our daughter, minus the newborn and peeing outside. Nicole had just turned three and I just took her diapers away. Her transition was much easier though — one accident the day the diapers came off and that was it. That night, she went to bed in panties and never had an accident until she was 5 and that was out of spite. (That’s a blog for another day!)
After talking with every mother I ever came in contact with, I gathered some suggestions and tips that may help you through your potty training process.
- Little boys need to be trained sitting with their penises pointing down. I remember when my sister told me she was training my nephew that way, I was mortified. At the time, I was still teaching and all I could think of was how cruel the other boys were going to be if they saw him peeing sitting down. I later found out that was the proper way to train little boys because they have no bowel control at that age – meaning, it could shoot out from either end. Let me tell you from experience that is not one of my better memories.
- Little girls, even though they are sitting, can pee straight forward instead of down. It has something to do with the fact that they are small and may not be seated properly. With Nicole, I held her on the seat, had her spread her legs a bit and lean forward. When she got bigger, I rested her feet on a stool so she was sitting comfortably, able to lean forward and hold herself up.
- Little boys have small leaks even when they are trained and love to try and aim at everything except the toilet!
- When teaching to stand, use models whenever possible. Fathers, grandfathers, older brothers, cousins — visual learning is always best.
- Some say that pull-ups are a crutch; others feel they are necessary and others say just put them on at night. I found them to be a crutch. I did use pull-ups at night in the beginning with Luke, but after him waking morning after morning dry, the cheap side of me took over. I felt I was wasting my money, just throwing dry pull-ups out. I did try to reuse them, since he only wore them at night, but they smelled and I felt like I was putting a dirty pair of underwear back on him.
- My son was 99.9% potty trained by the time he was four. Prior to then, his problem was that he didn’t want to stop playing to go or waited until it is was almost too late. He would then run like a maniac, miss the toilet completely and pee all over the bathroom or just have an accident in his pants. And although that was annoying, my major woe was night time sleeping. Again, he did not use a pull-up, and even if I stopped him from drinking a couple hours or so before bedtime, he would sometimes wet the bed. And he was such a heavy sleeper, he didn’t even notice. I tried waking him before I went to bed, with no luck. He was in such a deep sleep that he was a limp noodle. Then I remembered my mother telling me she used to wake my sister and me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, so I tried that and it worked. Our routine was to have him go to the bathroom right before bed and then between 2 and 4 am, when I usually woke myself, I’d wake him to go again. At that point, he wasn’t in such a deep sleep because he had been sleeping for so long and he was much more compliant. He’d pee and I put him right back in bed. I did all the work, so he didn’t need to wash his hands or even open his eyes. I did this until I noticed he would wake up in the morning and not need to use the bathroom until about 10 or 11 am.
- It can take up to the age of 7 for children to be fully potty trained, especially overnight. Some children have weaker bladder muscles and just can’t go the whole night through. (If you find that you have a major problem with this though, I would seek a doctor’s attention.)
- Last and most important, little boys (and husbands) can be trained to put the toilet seat back down after using it! It’s just a matter of constant repetition (or nagging), but it will work. Luke and Matt both put the seat down when they are through which makes for a happy Mommy!