Things never happen as planned when it comes to kids. I had decided originally that I would start potty training KB when he turned 27m old. But at that time KG was only five months old, it was the beginning of winter, I had a bunch of flight trips coming up, my mother had left – I just didn’t feel ready for it. So I just let it be. I figured I would wait till it warmed up and my trips were done with. But I had a line of guests visiting us every weekend almost…and I had two weekends without guests after which my FIL was coming to stay with us. This was last month. I figured I just had to start the dreaded training that weekend and have at least two weekends before my FIL arrived. I figured any change in routine will make it that much harder once he came. So when KB turned 32m old, I started his potty training. I decided to go the “all out” route (meaning no diapers or pull ups) rather than step by step because I was afraid that if the training dragged on for months bit by bit, I would find it really hard what with the increase in cooking (since FIL is diabetic and has to have proper healthy meals on time unlike us who would just eat what ever!) and having to take care of both kids by myself.
I am writing down what I did in some random order – it has worked reasonably well for the most part. Will write down problem situations at the end of this post. But I think one key thing is that the parents have to be ready for this mentally too for it to work well and also you have to judge when the child is somewhat ready for it. In my case, I felt KB was ready for it because I took him to tour his school and he has to be potty trained to join that school. He loved it so much and when I told him he needs to be potty trained that became his incentive instantly. No stickers needed. Just the mention of W school each time he talked about learning to use the potty…
Anyways – here it goes – what worked for me for potty training KB. (Note, this is not for parents in India who potty train their kids the moment they start walking! Or even before that! :) )I am not saying it is totally done – but it is not as bad as I expected it to be – KNOCK ON WOOD LOUDLY!!! Lest he regress! J This is a list I made for my friend who wanted me to send her tips to potty train her son. Figured it might help others too – so here it is.
- Allocate three full days straight for the initial training. No outings planned – except very local ones – say walk down the road to the park.
- With KB I took him to the potty even before that – first I got him used to flushing – which all kids enjoy. Next I used to take him to the potty after his poop session while he was still on diapers - but I used to wipe him off there and make him flush.
- I got him “The first years” potty ring with a handle – handle makes them feel secure initially. Now he doesn’t use a potty ring – only two weeks – they will get used to it. Con about the ring – it is not wide enough of a hole in my opinion.
Oh BTW – don’t get a potty chair etc - pain in the neck IMO. Just go straight to the potty with a potty ring. Too much of a pain to clean up if you use the potty chair etc.
- I got him “Elmo can use the potty” (since he loves Elmo) and “It’s potty time” books. He got used to reading about it and thinking about it.
- I took him to Target and made him pick his underpants. NO training pants or pull-ups. I think it works – to not give them that option at all. More accidents may be – but still worth sticking to it I think. Lucky for me – they had Elmo underpants. So I made a big deal of how he is now a big boy and just like Elmo from the book he too will be wearing big kid underpants.
- I bought FIVE of the 7 pack of underpants. We needed about 21 changes the first day! J
- What ever incentive you think will work - use it. Candy for some kids, stickers etc may work well. But incentives do help. As I said in KB’s case, he was enamored with the idea of school (since he doesn’t go to day care or preschool yet) – so that was his incentive. Each time he sat on it and “went”, he would say, “Now I can go to W school”.
- Prepped KB big time the previous two days saying in excited tones “Wow – no more diapers for KB since he is going to be a big boy” etc…and next morn after his milk – just took him off diapers. Pretty much emptied out his diaper drawer! J Expect him to just go where ever. But hopefully you can catch him in time at least for No 2. God hope! Thank fully – GOD please – so far escaped that gross mess. But hopefully you know his schedule and you can catch him before No 2. But he will surely have plenty of No 1 accidents the first day. So have mop cloth ready. Also BUY some plastic sheet – I got plastic tablecloth – to put under his bed sheet.
- Give him lot of fluids the first day so he gets a lot of opportunities to go sit in the potty…take him to the potty as often as he permits…every time he makes a mess you still take him and run to the potty and say he needs to tell you before he has to go.
- Don’t give him the diaper option – day or night. It helps really in developing that sense of control.
- Another KEY thing – you have to either stop nighttime milk or give it a whole hour at least BEFORE his bedtime. If not you will have to take him to pee at around 11.00 pm. But do it. For me, this was the big challenge. I take KB out every evening. Come back, make dinner and around 8.30, used to give him dinner and then around 10.00 pm his milk, change his diaper and he would go to bed. But now I have to give him dinner by 7.30 pm (I have to give KG her meal at 6.30pm which gives me very little time to cook our meals) – so that he will finish by 8.15 pm, have his milk by 9.15 pm at least and then go to bed at 10.15 pm. Just before bedtime I make him use the potty and then go to bed. But these days he just wakes up around midnight if he wants to pee and we take him to the potty. He is not happy about getting up, but he does it anyway. Same for naps – I just give him his lunch and about 45 min later, I make him pee and then go for his nap. He manages to keep it dry and goes when he wakes up.
Day one – he had many No 1 accidents. He still managed to tell us for No 2 thank heavens.
Day two – much fewer accidents. Surprisingly he was dry until morning (because I gave him his night milk nearly 2h before bed time the first two nights). Couple of nights, he was dry till about 5.30 am but around 7.00 am he was little wet – not fully though. But after those first few days, so far it’s been dry till morning (since we manage to take him when he cries a little in the middle of the night because he feels like going – the whole thing takes about 5 minutes).
I still have a hard time mainly when he is playing in the playground at the park. Especially on colder evenings. He is so engrossed in play that he tries to control himself as much as possible. Each time I ask him, he just says, “Already done”!
And when he cannot control anymore, he comes running to me and says “I need to go” and by the time I put KG back in her stroller and run with them both to the restroom (since I cannot leave her alone unless I go with another friend to the park), it is a little late. I just carry a pair of change clothes and change him there. He is not dripping wet, just a little wet from the delay. So I just clean him up and change him there. Am hoping this will resolve in a couple of months so he develops full control. I don’t know how he will manage in school. I still help him with getting on the potty and also with wiping. But I figured I would make him do everything start to finish once he develops some more bladder control. Until then I just help him out. He enjoys flushing and the ceremony of soaping his hands until there are a lot of bubbles and drying his hands etc. Praying that he will continue to be good (some people say they can suddenly regress as well – hope that doesn’t happen!) and also hope the playground situation gets easier.
Will stop here – if these tips help anyone, do let me know – just so I can feel good that it was worth writing it down! J