Potty training even with its 13 letters is a four letter word of parenting. In our house potty training was a rough road. I know that some people have suffered through much worse in the potty training department so I will not complain, much.
We did great in the beginning. I was calm, cool and collected and Maddy was eager. Then she decided that potty training wasn’t actually that fun and I decided it was torture and at times struggled to remain calm, cool and collected. Then we had a breakthrough morning with her which involved a standoff of sorts followed by an aha moment for Maddy. She suddenly realized using the potty can be easy, quick and a whole heck of a lot cleaner. The morning also involved a bribe of a special milk from Starbucks. On a side note how awesome is it that my child can be bribed with milk? Awesome. Seriously awesome.
Now I am no expert but I did learn a few things in this process and in the middle of our low point I was searching for any and every idea that might work for Maddy. Now with some time under our belt to reflect I’m ready share a few things that worked for us just encase they might work for you as well.
1. Make underwear fun and exciting. We call Maddy’s underwear knickers because we have a very influential half English lady in our life. Maddy and I took a trip to the store and I let her pick her underwear all by herself. Surprisingly she bypassed Thomas underwear for My Little Kitty. Yes, I would have let her pick out boy underwear, whatever got her excited is what I wanted to buy. Maddy was already excited about wearing knickers but picking out special knickers was an exciting boost.
2. Make potty breaks a part of the routine. Our routine is first thing in the morning, right after lunch, right after nap, before dinner, and right before bed. Obviously in the beginning we sat on the potty a lot more frequently than this but these basic potty breaks have always been and still are a part of our schedule. Building potty breaks into the schedule helped reduce arguments. Arguments against using the potty were easily ended by stating the reminder that “we always use the potty, when we wake up/before we sleep/etc.” Having scheduled potty breaks also helped me remember to give reminders to try to use the potty. Sometimes moms get busy and forget and having a bit of a schedule helped.
3. Do not leave home without spare clothes. Even for months after Maddy was successfully rocking at using the potty I still couldn’t bring myself to venture far from home without our small wet bag stocked with a pair of knickers and clean shorts. It was like my safety blanket and something like it should be yours too. No child is perfect, accidents happen and it will be so much easier to keep your cool and deal with the situation when you can go into a nearby bathroom and clean up you child knowing you have back up clothing and a bag to take the dirty stuff home in.
4. Know what motivates your child. Sticker charts did nothing for Maddy. M&Ms after successful potty trips worked about half the time. We hit the jackpot when we realized that our daughter is most motivated by larger treats that were earned by successfully making it through the day dry. After about a week of treats like small packages of sidewalk chalk, new Thomas the Tank Engine bath toys, bubbles or getting to watch a full length Disney movie we were able to drop the treats entirely. Maddy needed big goals to work towards, while some children need those little constant rewards. If something isn’t working change up the tactic and try something new. Also, Maddy loves it when Mommy and Daddy do the happy dance and that was a great way to motivate her as well. At times she still asked us to happy dance after a trip to the bathroom.
5. Reward yourself. On especially tough days reward yourself for sticking with it and not losing your cool. I rewarded myself with a cookie, extra time with my book or an early bedtime so I could make it to the gym bright and early the following morning. No matter how frustrated I got I knew it was imperative that I not let Maddy see my frustration and disappointment. Obviously you can’t always hide your frustration but trying to do that more than not is definitely recommended. It wasn’t my job to guilt her, it was my job to help her
6. Remember potty training doesn’t happen over night, but it does get easier. Give it time and patience and you will be rewarded.
So Mama’s now it is your turn, what are your best potty training tips? How did you and your little one make it through potty training?