Potty Training - Try Something New!

Amy Smith

Potty Training is ROUGH

After potty training 5 ½ kids, I feel that I know more now than I did the first time, right?

My first boy was in cloth diapers until he got big enough to take the lid off of the diaper pail. When his little brother was born he was given a big box of disposable diapers. Have one in cloth was okay, but having two was so much more work. So I caved, found the money somewhere, and bought the disposable diapers. When I decided it was time to potty train the oldest, I put him back in cloth. That was a lot of work - he could get up and run away! Sometimes I would just let him go. Without the diaper, I spent a lot of time at home. This was no different than normal days, just more stressful. I had towels covering every surface that he might sit on.  I don’t remember any great tricks from that time. I just kind of gritted my teeth and cleaned up. A lot.

Trying Something Different

We must have made it, because he started preschool. Then I had another baby and  we moved to a bigger home. I had another boy a year later. Soon it was time to worry about preschool for my second son. He has autism so they let him come to preschool in diapers . I still pulled out the cloth diapers. I tried and tried, no luck. I tried no diaper, that didn’t seem to bug him. Plus I could not sit at home - he had to get to preschool. Then when he was almost 4, his other brother needed to get potty trained. That was probably motivated by his cousin who was giving my sister my sister a really rough time to train. So I took them all on, with a renewed sense of determination. I adopted the best idea I had heard yet - We would yell “I NEED TO GO POTTY!!” and then go, wash up and join all the kids at the top of the stairs for a “smarty party.” Everyone got one smarties candy. It was a big hit. It had helped that the oldest was 5 and thought this was great fun. I also helped design Organize It Mom!'s potty charts at this time. I loved the idea of a reminder of all the steps, washing hands, getting dressed, etc. I think it took about a month, and kids were potty trained. All of them, even the baby. So my hair brained idea is to potty train in groups. Sure, it worked right?

Sometimes I would have to add extra incentive for my boys when they would have accidents. I would put a candy bar just out of their reach, out of my reach, but not out of dad’s reach. If they stayed clean all day they got the candy bar from dad. If not, dad ate the candy in front of them. It worked great (and dad really enjoyed it).

Little Girls Go Potty Differently!

Then my little girl came along. Girls were supposed to be easier to potty train, that is what I had always heard.. Potty training time came. I coached the boys to yell again, but my oldest thought that was completely lame and would grouch about it. I still worked with my daughter. I knew she knew what to do but I think she needed a reason. Going to preschool was too abstract. She didn’t have any experience with that.

 Trying Something Different...Again.

One day we went to IKEA and the boys went into the playroom at the store while we shopped. That did it. She wanted to go to IKEA and play, but their rules are that you have to be potty trained. She was sold. I told her she had to go a week without diapers. Poof. Magic!  I love IKEA for that. It was their rule. Not mine. They were the bad guys. We went to IKEA a week later. I could not believe that it had really worked. It was the best time I ever had there. I was giddy! Thank you IKEA!

Lame, I guess. Although, such a blessing. Try something different. Find something that motivates them. Take them on a play date with a friend. Go to a store with a play place where the friend can play but your child cannot.  Huge. I don’t think I did potty training the perfect way. I think that there is no perfect answer, hence all of these blogs and books about potty training. Potty training is hard. My second son and I have a saying: “Hard? I like hard!” Hard things make us strong. Nothing feels better than accomplishing a big goal! You can do it. There is no official time line for when you are supposed to be done. Just enjoy teaching them and discovering the ways your kids learn. Never wish for anything more perfect than now. Enjoy.