Potty Training Magic


Well, we’ve decided to attempt potty training….

This is something I had not realised everyone and his dog has an opinion on. It’s really hard to navigate when you are a first-time parent and you hear these type of comments ALL THE TIME…

  • “Oh god it was horrendous, one of the worst things we’ve ever had to do”
  • “Isn’t she potty trained already? Shouldn’t you be doing it now?”
  • “Just wait til they are ready, then they just do it by themselves, and it’s easy”
  • “Most of the other kids her age are already potty-trained…”
  • “With boys it’s so much easier”
  • “Oh you don’t need to read any books about it, they don’t need to be “TRAINED” – when they are ready they’ll just know how to do it and you won’t have to do anything”
  • “Good luck – that was the hardest 6 months of my bloody life”
  • “No but really, when are you potty-training her?”
  • “Don’t rush it, I see so many parents trying to do it before their kids are ready, and it takes ages”
  • “Don’t bother about all that – just let them run around naked for a while and accept that there will be piss and shit all over everything”
  • “Seriously though, when ARE you going to potty-train her?”
  • “My kids were potty-trained at 18 months….”
  • “My kids weren’t potty-trained til they were 3 or 4”
  • “My kid learned in 2 days and it was easy”
  • “My kid took 7 months to learn and it was hell”
  • “If you’re having to read a book about it, or ask for advice then she’s probably not ready yet, and you should wait”

and so on….

After our disastrous attempt to try potty training early on in the lockdown, I decided this time I’d try and read a book or two and get some tips on how to do it (I hated getting told that I don’t need to read a book about it – I mean, for fuck’s sake, I’m a first-time parent figuring out how to do something new by myself, if I wanna read a bloody book to get some tips and advice then I bloody well will, you smug bastards!). I don’t know what on earth is so wrong with seeking advice or looking things up!

I saw a few recommendations from the mums on my facebook groups, including some useful “Don’t bother with this method, it’s crap” etc, so I picked a book that lots of people had liked, ordered it and read it, and frankly, it all made a lot of sense, but I wouldn’t have thought of it all myself, and it helped me see immediately what I did wrong the first time around. I also read it with a large gin as you can see here…

Of course the book suggested purchasing all their special branded stickers and rewards and a carry potty and flashcards and so on. Obviously I didn’t need to do that, but actually I realised I didn’t have a potty to take with us out and about, which is going to be essential, as you’re not allowed to just shit in the park. Plus the package came with a book and matching stickers so I just thought fuck it, I’ll buy it. 

The idea behind this particular method is:

  1. Encourage them to feel really excited about it by letting them choose their own potty, choose some special big-girl pants to wear, and generally talking it up, reading stories about the potty and so on so they feel in control of the process and excited about trying it out.
  2. Reinforce the messages by rewarding the child with stickers when they ask to sit on the potty or toilet, and even more stickers if they do a wee or a poo in the potty or toilet, and then having some bigger prizes/rewards if they get enough stickers so they’ve got something to work towards, which basically means they’ve got to practice using said potty frequently to get their rewards
  3. Don’t be upset if they have accidents, it might put them off, but make sure you are checking and putting them on the potty frequently 
  4. Once you have started, don’t go back to nappies no matter what (unless they are genuinely not engaging at all, in which case they are not ready to start potty training anyway). Except at night time as they won’t be ready for night-training yet. 

Seems very sensible and logical, and so we have picked out some special big-girl pants at the shop, and she chose her carry/travel potty that I needed to buy anyway, and we’ve been talking about how exciting it all is and “practising” a little bit sitting on the potty etc. She’s been showing signs of readiness since being back at nursery as she is seeing all the other children using the potty and the toilet etc. 

The only thing that really made me laugh was the bit about trying to make it a “fun and magical experience”. I mean I get that if it’s fun they are more likely to engage with it, but it’s literally faeces, how magical could it possibly be?

Also I hadn’t really thought through some of the logistics of it all. I mean, potties are fine, and close to the ground, but when they want to use the toilet, they need a step like this:

Have you ever watched a toddler trying to climb steps with their pants around their ankles? I mean, it’s hilarious, but it’s definitely not safe and if they have to stop and remove their pants/trousers it takes the kid so damn long she’s already wet herself. So that’s something they don’t seem to mention in the books! I’m curious how people get around this (other than just not having them wear clothes or pants at all, which the book doesn’t recommend).

I need to wait til we have a quiet weekend as we’re busy the next couple of weeks so it’s not worth trying while there’s other stuff going on. Once we’ve picked a weekend, we’ll put away all the nappies and go for it. The nice thing is that apart from the first weekend, she’ll be at nursery all week, so actually they will have to do most of the grunt work, and she’ll pick it up faster there because most of the other children are using the potty or the loo anyway. I’m expecting I’ll need to send her into nursery with some extra bags of clothes for accidents but as she’s already showing signs of being ready I hope she’ll pick it up quickly!

And as an aside, although I’m not quite ready for us to get going properly due to having a couple of busy weekends, with all this talking it up with her, she’s basically done it already! Even before I get the stickers and rewards out, she came home from nursery the other day, took off her nappy and did a wee in the toilet, and then did another wee in the potty, very proud of herself, and one morning she announced “I want to do a wee” and went off and did one on the toilet! This weekend I was washing up and found that she had just taken off her nappy and leggings and done a wee on the potty, completely unprompted, so clearly she is more ready this time around, and all the psyching her up is helping getting her excited about it. Though the downside is that she wants to be fully in charge, so she tried to pick up the potty and empty it down the loo like mummy does, and I have to wrestle it off her before she splashes urine all over the house on the way to the loo. Bless her she’s so helpful. Also she loves flushing the toilet a bit too much, so currently likes to sit on the loo and wee, wipe, flush, then sit on the loo again for 10 seconds, then wipe, flush, then sit on the loo again like it’s a game! 

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