Potty Training- Hello from the Other Side

©Zarina Lukash from Getty Images via Canva.com

It is true; typically, by the time kids are in kindergarten, diapers are a thing of the past, a distant memory. So why does potty training seem to be such a pressured milestone? Every child seems to hit this milestone at such a varied pace. I will fully admit that while my daughter was still in diapers, we didn’t have to worry about where the bathroom was or if we would have to wait in line. In theory, diaper life seemed more straightforward, and there was less to worry about when it came to bathroom-related matters. We could change her virtually anywhere there was a bit of privacy. 

When it came time to begin thinking about potty training, I was instantly overwhelmed. I was consumed with the fear she would have an accident in the most public of places. Fearful she would pee on my sofa and I would never get it clean; unfortunately, I have the nose of a bloodhound. I tried to read about different training techniques, advice articles, and boot camps, but then, against my typical nature, I decided just to let her lead the way. 

We decided to wait until she seemed really interested, and then, on a 4-day weekend, decided to give it a go. Before bath time, we had been gently introducing going in the potty for almost a year to get her comfortable with the concept. 

When I say I bought everything you can use, I mean everything. We had multiple potties, some that made pretend flushing noises even, a ladder and seat combo, a folding cover to make the seat her size that was portable, another portable one with a mini stool, two different ones for mine and my husband’s vehicle, covers for public potties, and more. If it was out there, I tried it. 

And honestly, I would again. I found so many things worked at different stages of our potty training journey. When we first started, we used a mini potty that looked like an actual potty in the living room. Tip: put a puppy pad underneath to help with any spillage. Then we progressed to a little ladder with a toilet seat cover, thank goodness, as the prior was not fun to clean. Then she progressed to needing nothing even though the toilet was still much larger than she and proclaiming for all to hear, “Big girls don’t need help.” Side note: big girls do need help, but that is for another time. 

We still have, and likely will for a few years, a potty in both of our vehicles. These have been a lifesaver, whether on a road trip and the option is a gas station or when at the park and the public bathrooms are closed. We carry the potty, toilet paper, and extra bags in the car at all times. 

Potty training was one development stage I wanted to ensure my daughter was 100% ready for before moving forward. There is so much change in a toddler’s life and mind that it’s easy to overlook how intimidating this new process can be. It can be scary; my daughter still thinks she might fall in, and the toilet flushes too loud, embarrassing if they have an accident, painful if they are having digestive issues, and correlate that with the potty, and more. Another tip is bandages or post-it notes over automatic flusher sensors.

The biggest thing for us to ensure our success was that everyone was on the same page. My husband and I needed the same approach to any reward system and frequency of reminders in the early stages, as did her care team at preschool. We chose similar rewards: mini M&Ms for number 1 and a mini cupcake for number 2. Luckily, we have graduated from needing to be rewarded each time. 

Lastly, accidents happen. It is part of life. If we don’t get worked up about it or make a big deal, she will worry less and realize it’s not a big deal. It is easy to jump to panic and clean up mode quickly. But simultaneously, it is a vulnerable moment for a child learning. A moment that can show her that it is okay to have an accident. Accidents are part of life, as with potty training, we work to clean them up and keep growing and learning. 


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