10 Great Potty Training Tips

For the most part, I want to write about the things I’m good at. But I think it’s only fair to admit when I’m terrible at something. Child #3 is potty trained and I still don’t know what I’m doing.

I’ve seen claims that there are all kinds of methods that magically have your kid trained in 2-3 days. I wanted it to be true so bad. I’m sure it does work for some kids at some stages. But all kids are pretty different. And as hard as I tried, that Bootcamp Potty Training style did not work for my first. You know…the child you are supposed to have the most energy and time for? And if it didn’t work for her, then I know it wasn’t for a lack of focus or effort on my part.

I did sleep training with my kids and it was very successful for us. I never thought potty training would be hard. I know the horribleness of it is all going to fade as the years pass—much like the pains of giving birth. But, if I’m honest, I told every one of them at some point during the process that I was over it and they could just keep using diapers until college.

Here’s a breakdown of the potty training types

The Power Tripper

The Power Tripper doesn’t care if they make a puddle or have to sit in soggy pants. They will happily leave their bowel movements anywhere they feel the urge. They can go quickly, but they have no desire to let anyone know when that urge hits. Rewards don’t matter, punishments don’t work and encouragement sometimes makes it worse.

You could live your life on the potty training timer, but chances are the real potty training will only happen when the kid decides they have an interest.

The Self-Motivated

The Self-Motivated trainer is the one that shows interest before the parents do. This dream child will start trying to hold urges and may even ask to try the potty. Chances are, the Self-Motivated potty trainer is watching an older sibling.

This child may take little to no effort to get into the rhythm of potty training.

The Cautious One

If you think about it, switching from a cozy diaper to a sterile toilet is a strange change that not all kids can dig. The Cautious One might balk at the idea of sitting on a cold seat with an exposed bottom. It might be the feeling of letting potty out into the void that freaks the kid out. Or pushing out a bowel movement might seem like an insurmountable task for such an on-demand situation. The Cautious One might cry or scream because the situation just feels all kinds of wrong.

There are tips that can help the kid envision releasing the potty or some parents even put a diaper on top of the seat until the situation starts to feel more normal.

The System Worker

The opportunist child has no interest in potty training, but does like rewards. The System Worker will catch on quickly and do the bare minimum required, so you are going to need a strong system. This kid might hold the potty as long as possible before eeking out the tiny amount that can no longer be contained. After getting the reward, chances are, the kid is going to let the rest of the potty out wherever.

You will need to set up a reward system that encourages speed and lasts over a long period of time. The System Worker my not feel there is a value in staying trained, so a 2-3 day scheme is not going to cut it.

The Deep Sleeper

Not all kids have full control over their bodies at a young age. The Deep Sleeper might have every interest in staying dry, but no control over sleep times. This kid will likely be embarrassed and frustrated by the inability to wake at night.

Patience and keeping the child’s dignity are the best things parents can do for Deep Sleepers. Sometimes waking the kid in the middle of the night can help stop the accidents.

10 Tips for Potty Training

I have a fourth child coming up in about a year. I know I’ll likely get eager to be done with diapers and jump on any signs I see. But, I’d probably be better off just waiting until he decides to train himself. With that said, my 10 tips for potty training are to stock up on:

  1. Clorox wipes
  2. Stain and odor removing carpet cleaner
  3. New (favorite character) underwear
  4. Pull-ups (these actually weren’t super helpful for the first two because they saw them like diapers, but they are necessary if you can’t trust them out or at night)
  5. Cup with a Straw for water (it helps if they have to go frequently and get to practice)
  6. M&Ms (enough for the trainee and any surrounding siblings that are actively cheering)
  7. Awesome toy (they can see and touch but not open until they are dry for 24 hours of awake time)
  8. A timer (start with 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off until the first potty. Then wait for 20 minutes and start the 10 on 5 off again. Eventually those times can start to spread out)
  9. Wine
  10. Coffee

Those last two are for you (plus about half the M&Ms). Potty training might be the hardest part of parenting so far. Good luck.

Remember, they can’t hold out forever.

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