How to: Potty Train

Fisher Price Froggy Potty Seat (purchase at Amazon.com)

Potty training is not a fun experience. It is a messy one!

You need to go into this fully knowing what you are getting yourself into – lots of wet clothes, floors, etc. Have lots of sanitizing materials handy and lots of extra towels. And plan to stay home for it (I say at least over the weekend).

I was lucky that I had experience as a Behavioral Therapist for many years and had gone through it with other kiddos before the time came for my own little man. Those “practice runs” came in handy when my husband and I got started.

List of items needed (besides the towels and disinfectant for clean-up) :

  • Toilet seat (free standing or toilet seat insert – you decide!)
  • Step stool
  • Undies (tons – I probably started with a good 20 of them)
  • Wipes
  • Books/small games/toys
  • Reward (keep it small)

Thomas the Tank Undies (purchase at Amazon.com)

We started by deciding what weekend we were free to stay home and agreed to get started. I took Jayden shopping for the undies so he was able to choose the ones he liked. I got some fun character ones and some plain white and striped ones too.

Next up, we discussed what was going to be the reward. For staying dry, we chose stickers (you can get a lot of these at the dollar store) and for going in the potty, we chose M&Ms since Jayden loved them and we felt it would be motivating. The most important part of choosing the reward is that it is something that will entice the kiddo. If it isn’t motivating, it just wont happen. Remember, you are trying to reinforce the good behavior (going in the potty) so reward them right away with praise, “Great job staying dry!”, “Look, you went pee pee in the potty! Way to go!”. Also, you want to reward them right away with the tangible item. You want them to make the connection that if they do good, they get good things in return. If you wait too long you loose that connection, especially in the younger kiddos.

Next we set up the bathroom so that things were within reach. We put the M&Ms in a clear jar on the counter so he could see them. Stickers ended up on the counter as well, just out of reach. We put some books and toys in a little storage cube in the corner so we can grab things to keep him entertained while sitting there.

We started off with a potty seat insert and a stool. I recommend the stool because it helps the kiddo reach to get on and also gives them something to put their feet on so they are not just dangling. It didn’t work too well for us since Jayden is on the smaller side and he got scared being on the toilet. He just could not reach the stool and so I think he just felt like he was hanging on. Once we got the free standing potty, he was much more comfortable. The stool still came in handy because then it helped him get up to the sink for washing hands and brushing teeth. The first few days it seemed he was getting the pooping in the potty part pretty quickly, but was still having wet accidents as he just wasn’t able to control it yet. It went from ” I need to go potty” to “oops, I went peepee on the floor” in about 2 seconds. There wasn’t enough time to get him to the potty. This got better as he learned to hold it and make his way to the potty. Heads-up if you have a boy – be prepared to teach him to lean forward when peeing sitting down. If not, be ready to get squirted! 🙂

Jayden took to going peepee and poopoo in the potty pretty easily. Some things that we did that I feel helped were:

  • Choosing to start when the weather was nice – this way we were able to let him hang out in just his undies and made the process that much easier.
  • We allowed him to hang out in his birthday suit – he was a lot more aware of what was going on when he did not have something to catch his accidents.
  • As he got better and better at going in the potty, we started a potty chart – this way he got to earn a bigger prize if he earned a certain number of successes. We let him choose if he wanted to go for ice cream/Slurpee, a new Matchbox/Hot Wheels car, etc. before we started a fresh chart and he was very excited to work for the bigger prize. He wasn’t punished for having an accident, he just had to earn the right amount.
  • We took it one step at a time – we started with only potty training during the day, and saved night time potty training for when we accomplished the day time training. This worked in our favor because Jayden was so proud of himself and what he had accomplished that he was the one that told us he did not want diapers anymore and wanted to only have undies even when he went to bed. We have had only 2 or 3 night time accidents since he decided to get rid of all diapers.
  • We had open discussions with his school teachers about his routine – keeping the communication lines open was a must. They have Jayden for 8-9 hours most days and I feel school was a big help because his teachers worked right along with us when he was under their care. They gave him rewards (we put a baggie of goodies in his backpack for them), and he got lots of praise. We were given reports on how he was doing and given feedback on what was working or was not working. Remember, they have been doing this probably longer than you have and for more children – listen. You may not always agree, but you might learn a thing or two that you did not otherwise already think of.

Everyone has their own method that works… this is what worked for our family. If anything, maybe you got a few new ideas to help make your process a bit easier.

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