We just recently toilet trained our two year old. (Yay!) But it wasn’t without a little drama. Toilet training is HARD. I’ve always said, if I could outsource one part of parenting, it would so be toilet training. Wouldn’t it be cool to hire a toilet training assistant who could swoop in, magically train your child in a few days, and then leave your child proudly wearing underwear and accident free?
We can all dream.
So here’s what I’ve learned. Got anything to add? Put it in the comments!
Training Girls Is Not (Necessarily) Easier Than Training Boys
Everyone loved to remind me of this one as I prepared to toilet train my daughter. “Oh, girls are easier! You’ll see!” Why is that, anyway? Because actually, even though I trained both my son and my daughter at the age of 2 and 1/2, both children responded entirely differently to the process. And, my daughter, already so verbal, actually looked at me one morning when I asked her why she didn’t want to try the potty and said, “Because I don’t care!” Ha!
2. What Works for One Child Will Most Certainly NOT Work For the Next.
Yes. You read that right! A sticker chart and some new Hot Wheels cars and my son was good to go. Once he realized that when he used the toilet he would be met with tons of praise and a new sticker or car for his race track, he was on a roll. He rarely had an accident (until the regression after his sister was born three weeks later,) but generally, he followed the rules. He happily used public toilets, my portable toilet, and was never averse to just “trying” before we left the house. But then…enter my daughter. My daughter who had no interest in stickers, or little candies, or really anything. My daughter who won’t use the potty at my suggestion, but only on her own volition. My daughter who refuses to use my portable toilet (which puts me in slight panic mode every day as I traipse around town doing errands), or any public toilets, for that matter.
3. Get Creative.
What finally worked for my daughter? A suggestion by my cousin who has two fully grown daughters. We bought my daughter a doll, which we named the “potty princess.” She was able to hold the doll whenever she used the toilet, but then had to put her on the counter in the bathroom when she was done. The first few times, she sat on the toilet just to hold the doll, but then, she used her, I think, as a confidence booster; a safety blanket. Finally, when she was trained, she got to keep the doll. But that was like my fifth strategy. I knew she was cognitively ready; I just needed to find the right motivation. The doll worked.
4. Keep the Pressure Low
We tried a few months ago; she wasn’t ready. We stopped. If it’s not working by the end of the second/third day, let it go and try again in a few months. The second time, she really responded by the beginning of the second day, and soon, we could see that it clicked for her. I left the house on the fourth day, and since then, we’ve been going out daily, and we’ve been doing okay.
5. Be Prepared for Setbacks
There are ALWAYS setbacks. Your child is doing well at home, but won’t use any public toilets. Your child is doing great with “number one” but is terrified of “number two.” You have to constantly remind them to go. They use the toilet as a the best bedtime procrastination technique EVER. They still wear diapers at night for a year after they learn how to use the toilet during the day. All kids will experience some setbacks, but maybe not the same ones. It’s all okay. They’ll get there. Look at toilet training as moving through various stages. Underwear at home, then underwear in public, then underwear at naptime, and finally, underwear at night.
Toilet training is not my favorite part of early parenthood, but once it’s done, (and even once you start moving through the stages) what a game changer!
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. All kids learn how to use the toilet…and they all learn their own way!