Well, the time has finally come. I have put off potty training our fourth child Zeke because, well, he is our baby and I was determined to not have to go through what I went through with child no. 3. (It was a YEAR-long process.) I was going to wait until he was 3, introduce a potty, and then just go that route. But a few weeks back — unplanned — Zeke announced “I go potty!” My husband sat him on the potty and said, “If you go potty, you will get candy!”
The kid grunted and sat, sang a song, and PEED. It was magic. We had no intention of potty training this kid, and look at him go. We are still in the process of this, and in all honesty, we have been bad parents and didn’t do our part in the process. This kid is EAGER to learn, but we have had two road trips — one nearly 3,000 miles — so potty training has not been a priority. He asks to go potty, he goes potty. Then he demands candy. This is so weird to us. Maybe he just wants to be a big kid. No idea where this potty training drive came from — none of our other kids did anything of the such.
So now that we are on our way with our fourth child being potty trained, I thought maybe I could share some advice that isn’t your typical “how-to.” Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from potty training four kids.
1. There are a ZILLION ways to potty train a child
Google “How to potty train” and you will be presented with thousands upon thousands of techniques. My suggestion to you is to do what sounds best for your lifestyle. If the naked method works, great. If the doll method works, super. Try to make it work for you, though, since you are the one who will be having to do a lot of the work, the parenting, cheerleading, and cleaning (ugh).
2. Each child is different
Four kids and each child potty trained at a different age and learned in a different way. How your first child learns may be totally different than your next child.
3. Peeing, pooing, and nighttime —it’s a learning process
Something I didn’t even think about with our first child was that peeing, pooping, and the whole nighttime thing are actually different stages to potty training. Okay, before you wave your hands in the air to tell me your kid could poop on the potty the first week, see lesson no. 2.
The nighttime process is the hardest step for us. We are STILL battling this with kids no. 3 and 4.
4. Rewards do work
From candy to stickers, find out your child’s sweet spot and go for it. Our third child wanted stickers. He did great with the sticker chart, whereas our second balked at it. For our fourth, it’s ALL about the candy. We convinced him that a marshmallow (yes, a single marshmallow) is candy — and he will pee for it!
5. Don’t stress out
I think most potty training parents get stressed out by the process, which is 100 percent understandable. In addition to you being stressed, your toddler can feel stressed. If you are putting too much pressure on your child, chances are they won’t perform. We did this with our first. We were so bound and determined to get her potty trained that we kept after her. A wise relative suggested that we lay off a wee bit. We did, and it worked.
6. Accidents happen
Perfection isn’t going to happen. Your toddler will have accidents. Be prepared by keeping shorts or pants in the car, as well as extra sets of undies. For road trips or long periods where you are unable to take your child to the restroom, put a Pull-Ups® over his underwear.
7. Regression SUCKS!
After you have happily announced “MY KID IS POTTY TRAINED!” your kid forgets how to use the toilet. It happens and regression sucks.
With our third child, it was the never-ending story to get him potty trained. He got the stomach bug after we thought he was trained. We had put him in Pull-Ups® for our sanity, and he decided he enjoyed peeing in those rather than the potty. We had to start the process over.
Potty training is one of my least favorite stages, but as my husband keeps reminding me … if we can just get through this, NO MORE DIAPERS! I think we will spend that extra $60 a month on a date night. We deserve it.
What tips do you have from your potty training experience?