This is the moment in your life where you don’t want to be a parent. Can’t they just figure out how to use the toilet on their own? Can we let them outside like we do our puppies?
Honestly, I was excited for potty training! I wanted to be done with washing the cloth diapers. I wanted to have to not worry if I brought enough diapers with us when we’re visiting family or out on an errand. Everything I’ve read has said that two is a little on the young side and just wait until show their readiness to start potty training.
Normally, boys and girls start showing readiness from 2–3 years old. Sometimes at 2.5, mostly by 3. Which is why most pre-k requires potty trained kids at age of 3 to be allowed in. But I wanted to do my research so I joined a Potty Training for Boys group on Facebook to do my due diligence. I know Facebook isn’t really a “resource” but it was at least a community of parents all trying to accomplish the same goals with their kids. I did also follow a few instagram potty training experts to weigh in on their tips as well.
I read all the horror stories from their kids not wanting to use the potty to poop withholding. I was scared to start trying because I did not want to mess it up. I decided we would hype up the whole potty business by buying a little potty for him to practice on and two potty books. I even got him a little caddy filled with toys and fun things to get him to stay on the potty.
Well… he showed his readiness at around 20 months. He was waking up dry from naps and sometimes even night sleep. He was going pee on the potty when we woke up. He was telling me he was peeing in his diaper and sometimes even pooping! It was great. But we had the holidays and a vacation standing in our way and I wanted to wait until we were home and the craziness was over to begin.
One week after he turned two, he said “Mama, no diap-y please.”
This was my opportunity and boy did I JUMP on that. I got an extra potty for the living area and he was stoked about it. Mind you, I wanted to try all the potty training methods. I was ready to do the naked method, the timer, whatever it took to get it done.
But my son had other ideas.
Right out of the gate, he said he wanted to wear underwear. We’ve been reading about underwear and he wanted it or there will be consequences! Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. But, he did want to wear underwear and at first I really wanted to do just the naked method but hey, let’s let him take the reins on this one. I’ve made a lot of the choices for him lately that I felt this was something I didn’t want to have to fight over.
We did do the timer the first two days and quickly realized that was NOT helping him know when he needed to pee.
So, on the third day, I ditched the timer, I put underwear on him, and let the accidents happen. After the second big pee accident… he suddenly got it?
Here’s how it went down:
Toddler: “Pee pee!”
Mom: “Let’s go to the potty!”
Toddler runs to the potty and we pull down underwear, sits, and pees!
Mom: “YOU DID IT!!! YAY!!!” runs around the room like a mad woman.
Toddler clapping in excitement and running around with mom.
I was SO impressed with how fast he caught on. The fourth day we had two accidents and half poops on the potty. Fifth day no pee accidents, and still half poops on the potty. By the end of the week, we had pee and poop only on the potty. By the end of week two we were wearing pants and he was telling me every time he needed to go.
We would have some accidents of him starting to pee and then stopping himself to run to the potty. Or the accidental pee while pooping, but that was to be expected. He’s TWO. He was just starting out! I didn’t care, he was telling me he had to go potty. This was huge.
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies. We didn’t magically skip accidents and went on the potty every time. There were bare-handed poop-catching incidents, pee all over pants and mama, peeing on clothes in a public restroom because mama made a mistake by not pushing his pants all the way to his ankles before having him sit on the toilet. It truly was a chaotic situation. But we got over it. I generally let him lead me throughout this whole process and I think that’s what made it so successful.
We didn’t do any prize methods. I tried to do it the first. I wanted to let him pick out ONE car for doing well on the first week. ONE CAR. Instead he insisted on a 20 pack. No matter how many times we redirected him. He said “No, that one.” I said nope we’re not doing prizes any more. That’s your grand prize. No more* prizes. No sticker chart. No treasure chest. Just high fives and big exciting praises.
Listen, I know this might not work with every kid. Some kids thrive on presents, candies, or prizes. Some kids thrive on sticker charts and waiting for a big prize. Not my kid. He wanted claps, high fives, fun songs, and crazy dances.
We’ve been having mostly dry nights except for when he was sick he did wake up in pee. Which was fine and we put him back on a nighttime diaper for the rest of the week to make sure he doesn’t get wet. I think his body is ready to be fully trained though.
It amazed me how fast this was for us. I was expecting more challenges or temper tantrums. We had a few small tantrums when we would prompt or ask if he needed to go. Finally he began to say his boundary mantra — “Stop please, I don’t like it.” whenever we’ve been annoyingly asking if he needed to go on the potty. We stopped asking. He started letting us know when he was ready to go.
It really turned into a “when he’s ready, he’ll let you know moment” for us. I didn’t know what that meant as I read all those comments or posts about it. HOW WILL YOU KNOW? You’ll know. They’ll tell you. Give them the words, the hand signs, or pictures and they’ll find a way to communicate their need to use the potty.
For the nonverbal parents out there struggling, I hear you. It’s a lot more work than that! I understand it can get frustrating to see other kids hitting milestones way before your kid does. Talk with their support team. Find out strategies they can work on with your toddler and what you can do at home to support them. Potty Training Consultant IG page has some helpful tips on their page. I linked them below.
We’re still working on pushing pants down and setting himself on the potty. He always yells, “Mama, I peepee/pooping!” and then will run off and get distracted before I have to guide him to the potty. I attribute that to him being two. I think as time goes on he’ll take himself — at least I hope so.
To all the parents/caretakers struggling right now through potty training. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Listen to your toddlers! Sometimes they’re not ready, they need more time and patience, or they need an alternative method/guidance, either way (surprisingly) they’ll let you know.
Here’s all the links to the products or people that helped us on our journey. I don’t get paid for any of these links!
Potty Training methods/tips instagram:
If you have any extra anecdotes or tips for other parents to use please post them in the comments! I look forward to seeing what worked for you.
*EDITED 3/1/23: added the word “more” in the sentence to make it clearer.