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The 11 Stages of Potty Training

Image source: ThinkStock
Image source: Thinkstock

Thanks to Pull-Ups® Training Pants for sponsoring this post.

Potty training: two words that strike both hope and fear into the heart of every parent of a toddler. It’s exciting — no more diapers! It’s daunting — no more diapers? But it’s a rite of passage that every parent and child must go through. Sure, the end result is cheaper and easier, but getting there? Ugh. Any parent who has gone through it will tell you that while potty training a child is worth it, it is a hard-fought challenge.

Sure, potty training is different for every kid depending on whether they’re a boy or girl, if you start early or late, and a whole host of other factors, but for most parents, the process is pretty similar: we go through the same feelings of frustration, anger, and elation along the way.

Here are the stages of potty training that most parents experience:

1. Denial

Is the baby ready? You’re done changing diapers. You’re so done buying diapers, but the baby is so small! So what if he’s talking in sentences and can eat half a chicken? He’s just a baby! How is he old enough to give up diapers? Oh my God, he’s such a big kid! He was just born yesterday and tomorrow he’ll go to college!

2. Determination

Potty training is happening, and nothing will deter you. You’ve got potty seats in every room, potty books, a potty DVD, and even special rewards lined up to entice your kid into using the potty. Nothing can get you off track.

3. Confusion

 Why is everything getting off track? Your son is not doing anything that the books or the articles say he should be doing. He sits on the potty for 30 minutes only to stand up and pee on the floor. He holds it in so long that when you give in and give him a diaper, he pees through it. Why isn’t anything going according to plan?

4. Anger

Ok, this is too much. You’ve been trapped in your house for three days so you can be mere steps away from a potty should the need arise. You’ve been plying your son with water, juice, popsicles — anything to make him feel the urge to go. And what do you have to show for it? Pee on the floor. Poop on the carpet. A child who, at this point, is acting more like the family pet than anything else.

5. Elation

Oh! My! Gosh! He did it! He peed in the potty!! On purpose! He recognized he needed to pee, walked to the potty on his own and peed. In the potty! Amazing! Did you climb Mount Everest? Win the lottery? Lose 10 lbs? No, but it feels like that only better. You call your parents and your in-laws. You write an excited Facebook post. Must tell everyone. You are the best potty-trainer ever. Your son is potty-learned ever. You make the best potty team ever! Hurrah! Success!

6. Frustration

You quickly learn that one successful use of the potty does not a potty-trained child make. If he was able to do it once, he should be able to do it again, right? Not necessarily. Or even likely. Why is this so frustrating? It’s not such a hard concept — wait, is he spiting you on purpose? Do the defiant years start now, not when they become teenagers?

7. Horror

Oh my God. Will this ever end? This will never end. Is this going to be your life now? Are you going to be the mom no one ever hears from again? Will you ever be able to leave the house without regressing back to diapers? Will your next baby be named Potty as incentive to get this one trained?

8. Debate

Maybe you should go back to diapers. Just for a while. Just to regroup so everyone has a break. Your kid could use less pressure. Your floors could use less cleaning. Your nerves could use less stress.

But if you go back to diapers, will you lose the small amount of progress you’ve already made? Will it just make this process that much longer? If you don’t forge ahead, are you sending your kid the message that quitting is an option? That he can just up and quit the basketball team or piano lessons and there are no consequences for anything?!

9. Bribery

You’ve started promising anything and everything you can think of in order for your kid to pee-pee or poo-poo in the potty. A congratulatory phone call from “Elsa” (aka your sister). Fine, an Elsa doll. Ok, FINE, the Elsa castle set, tiara, wand, and dress. Happy now? Will THIS make it happen?

10. Hope 

And suddenly, there it is: progress. Things aren’t perfect, but he is starting to get the hang of things. For the first time since you started this process, you actually let yourself hope that yes, this will happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but there is a pee-colored light at the end of this tunnel. You remember that this is not a one-time act but a process. One that the two of you will get through together.

11. Acceptance

Ok, this is potty training. Sometimes he makes it to the potty; sometimes he doesn’t. If he pees in his pants, we wash them. If he makes it to the potty, we clap. He’s not going to figure it all out today, but with your help and encouragement, he will figure it out. And soon enough, your family will have a Big Kid.

Starting your potty training journey? Visit Pull-Ups® for tools, activities, and resources to make potty training fun for you and your toddler!

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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